Sunday, February 26, 2012

Allen Olson Teaches Condensed Course on Farm Programs

Allen Olson returned to teach in the LL.M. Program last week, teaching as one of our visiting condensed course professors.  With over 30 years of experience as a practicing lawyer, much of it involved in representing farmers and agribusinesses, plus prior teaching experience in the LL.M. Program, we are always delighted to welcome Allen back to Fayetteville.

Allen received his B.A. from Cornell University in 1971, his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1974, and his LL.M. in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1996. He has practiced law in Virginia, Nebraska and Georgia.

Allen is a past member of the Board of Directors of the American Agricultural Law Association and is a past Chair of the Agriculture Law Section of the Georgia State Bar. He is the author of numerous articles on agricultural law topics and is a frequent speaker at agricultural law conferences nationwide.

Allen has a law office in Albany, Georgia with a practice concentrated on agricultural law matters, including federal farm programs, payment limitations, USDA administrative appeals, crop insurance litigation, conservation easements, farm business planning, and other matters affecting farmers and related agricultural businesses.

His course last week focused on farm program matters, taught in the context of a practical look at representing farmers.  We are grateful that Allen can take time out of his busy practice to be with us for a week -  his course offers an important, hands-on experience for our LL.M. candidates.

Retail Food Industry Speakers, Don Wiseman & Erik Lieberman

Don Wiseman, senior associate general counsel at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Erik Lieberman, senior regulatory counsel at the Food Marketing Institute visited the LL.M. Program last week and each delivered a presentation on food law & policy issues from the perspective of the retail food industry.

Don Wiseman has practiced law for more than 30 years. He has served as a senior associate general counsel at Walmart, the largest food retailer in North America, since February 2009. He is the company's principal subject matter legal expert for food safety and regulatory compliance, as well as consumer product safety and compliance. Prior to joining Walmart, from 2003 through 2007, he was the senior vice president and general counsel of Swift Foods Co. of Greeley, Colo., the world's third-largest fresh beef and pork processor. From 1991 to 2003, he was the senior vice president and general counsel of Memphis-based Perkins Restaurants, the operator and franchisor of the 500-unit Perkins Restaurant and Bakery chain.

As the regulatory counsel for the Food Marketing Institute, Erik Lieberman represents the food retailing and wholesaling industries before federal agencies including the FDA, USDA, Department of Labor and Department of Justice. Erik lobbies against regulations that the industry views as burdensome and assists food retailers and wholesalers in complying with regulations that are enacted. Previously he served as the majority regulatory counsel for the House Small Business Committee. From 2004-2007, he was director of government affairs at the National Grocers Association. Prior to that, he served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Erik has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and the Washington Post and regularly featured in trade and industry publications.

Our appreciation is extended to Don and Erik for presenting an informative session on retail perspectives. Our special guests to the LL.M. Program provide an important part of our curriculum, as they help us consider issues from all of the varying perspectives along the food chain, from farm to fork.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Doug O'Brien Conferences with LL.M. Class

On Friday, we were delighted to welcome one of our most distinguished alumni, Doug O'Brien.  Doug serves as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the USDA, where he oversees the extensive coordinated efforts of USDA to help rural communities.  Prior to this position, Doug served as a Senior Advisor to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and was the Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

Doug spoke to our LL.M. class by Skype video conference, talking about his work, the experience that led him to USDA, and his support for the LL.M. Program.

Doug has had a fascinating career.  Before joining the USDA, he served as the Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and before that served as Senior Advisor to Iowa Governor Chet Culver. We are proud to recall Doug's days at the University of Arkansas School of Law, teaching in the LL.M. Program and serving first as Senior Staff Attorney and later as Co-Director of the National Agricultural Law Center in a joint position with the Drake Agricultural Law Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

Doug is former counsel for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, where he worked on the 2002 Farm Bill, focusing on livestock marketing, concentration, agricultural credit, and cooperative issues.

He also served as Legislative Assistant for Representative Leonard Boswell, focusing primarily on Rep. Boswell's work on the House Agriculture Committee, and as a Clerk for Justice Jerry Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Doug graduated from Loras College and earned a Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of Iowa.  He earned his LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law and was in our 1997-98 class.  

As Doug's USDA Biography notes, he was "raised on a diversified farm in Iowa [and] has dedicated his career to agriculture and rural policy."

We are very proud of his achievements and grateful for his continued support.

Monday, February 6, 2012

More LL.M. Alumni News

Claire Mitchell just joined the firm of Stoel Rives, working in their Seattle office an associate in the Corporate group. Her practice will focus on food liability law.  She reports that she is enjoying the practice and has been able to work on a wide variety of matters  including compliance with FDA food packaging requirements, liquor distributorship agreements and vegetable contracts between growers and manufacturers.  Congratulations, Claire!

Jeremy Pyle announced the launch of the new law firm McFarland, Pyle & Stone, with offices in Denver, Portland, and Colorado Springs.  Jeremy will be based in the Portland office with a practice  focusing on small business, agricultural & food law, environmental law, land use law, and bankruptcy.

Keep the news items coming!