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Program Nationally Ranked in 
preLaw Magazine and U.S. News & World Report

preLaw Top School Environmental Law 2019For a second year, our Natural Resources & Environmental Law Program (NREP) has been nationally ranked, joining 35 law schools nationwide receiving an “A” grade or higher in prelaw Magazine. The Law School also made the top 40 environmental law programs in U.S. News & World Report. We owe this recognition to our natural resources certificate concentration and curricular offerings, Public Land & Resources Law Review, Environmental Law Group, environmental moot court team, joint degrees, and clinic placements focusing on natural resources case work.


38th Public Land Law Conference (Oct. 3-4)
Carved by Glaciers: Stewardship Across the Northern Rockies
in Partnership with the University of Calgary Law School

Glacier National Park, George Bird Grinnell (and others) on glacier

Glacier National Park, George Bird Grinnell (and others) on glacier
Credit: Morton J. Elrod (courtesy of the Mansfield Library Archive)

Please join us for our 38th Public Land Law Conference, featuring distinguished speakers from Canada and the U.S., who will compare the countries’ legal approaches to environmental regulation, energy development and infrastructure, climate change, wildlife corridors, water management, fisheries, and indigenous rights in the Northern Rockies. The conference will feature a day-long fieldtrip to the Bitterroot Valley, along with an opening keynote address by Canadian Supreme Court Justice Russell S. Brown. Registration details forthcoming soon!

School of Law Commits to Carbon Neutrality

Carbon Neutral logoThe School of Law and the UM Office of Sustainability have joined forces to offset the law school building’s carbon footprint. Led by our student Environmental Law Group (ELG), participants calculated the school’s carbon dioxide equivalent (751 metric tons/year), determined the funds needed to offset emissions ($565 annually), and selected a provider of carbon offsets. ELG successfully met its offset target for 2018 and is continuing to fundraise for 2019.


Summer Indian Law Program

 Summer Indian Law 2019

Join students and practitioners from across the country in classes taught by nationally renowned Indian law scholars and practitioners. (CLE credit available).

June 3-7: Intro to American Indian Law I: Indian Law Research (Online), Prof. Stacey Gordon Sterling, Blewett School of Law, University of Montana

June 10-14: Intro to American Indian Law II: Mastering American Indian Law, Prof. Maylinn Smith, Blewett School of Law, University of Montana

June 17-21: Civil Regulatory and Adjudicatory Jurisdiction in Indian Country, Paul Spruhan, Navajo Nation Department of Justice

June 24-28: American Indian Property Law: The Story of Cobell, Prof. Alex Pearl, Director, Center for Water Law and Policy, Texas Tech University School of Law

July 8-12: Criminal Justice in Indian Country, Prof. Jordan Gross, Blewett School of Law, University of Montana

July 15-19: Social Justice Issues in Indian Country: Indian Education Law, Prof. Maylinn Smith, Blewett School of Law, University of Montana

July 22-26: Indigenous Cultural Protection and Preservation: Cultural Rights of Indigenous People, Regents’ Prof. Rebecca Tsosie, University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law

July 29-August 2: Social Justice Issues in Indian Country: Supreme Court Jurisprudence and Indian Country, Prof. Matthew Fletcher, Michigan State University

To register, visit

Cremer Award for Best Environmental Law Paper

Peter Taylor, Class of 2019Congratulations to this year’s winner of the Cremer Award for Best Paper in Environmental Law:

Peter TaylorHorse Processing and Economic Development in Indian Country (written in Economic Development in Indian Country). Peter, who recently graduated, will be joining the law firm of Crowley Fleck, PLLP, where he will practice natural resources law.


2019 Wyss Scholar Profile

Dan Brister, Class of 2020This year’s Wyss Scholar is student Dan Brister, who received his master’s degree in environmental studies from UM and is entering his third year at the School of Law. Dan has a long history of environmental advocacy and served as the executive director of the Buffalo Field Campaign, from which he wrote a book of essays on the herds of Yellowstone. “I will spend the rest of my life working with grassroots nonprofit conservation organizations and the tribes in fighting to protect the unique wild landscapes and species of the West,” he said.

The Wyss Scholars Program provides financial support to a UM law student who has committed to a career in Western land conservation with a federal or state land management agency or at a nonprofit in the region. The Program is funded through the Wyss Foundation, a private charitable foundation dedicated to supporting innovative, lasting solutions that improve lives, empower communities, and strengthen connections to the land.

Environmental Moot Court Coach Retires

Lowell Chandler, Heidi Fanslow, and Nathan Burke

Lowell Chandler, Heidi Fanslow, and Nathan Burke
31st Annual Jeffrey G. Miller National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in White Plains, NY

Heidi Fanslow (UM Law ‘94) has retired after 20 years of coaching the Environmental Law Moot Court Team for the law school. We are grateful for her extraordinary service, as well as the many volunteer judges who make our team a success each year. Upon reflecting on her coaching experience, Heidi observed: "I thank all of my students for the past two decades for making my coaching the most rewarding experience since attending law school."

Natural Resources Faculty Activities

Professor Sandra Zellmer (far right) conducting “case rounds” with her clinic students Oliver Wood,  Lowell Chandler, Molly Kelly, and Molly Woodman (right to left) in the Rattlesnake Wilderness.

Professor Sandra Zellmer (far right) conducting “case rounds” with her clinic students Oliver Wood,
Lowell Chandler, Molly Kelly, and Molly Woodman (right to left) in the Rattlesnake Wilderness.

Professor Monte Mills recently published his paper Current Developments in Indian Water Law and Treaty Rights: Old Promises, Recent Challenges, and the Potential for a New Future as part of the proceedings of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s 64th Annual Institute. He also published Report from the Royalty Policy Committee: The Past, Present and Future of the Royalty Policy Committee as part of the Foundation’s Special Institute on Federal and Indian Oil & Gas Royalty Valuation and Management.

Adjunct Professor Stephen R. Brown was recently appointed as Associate Water Judge of the Montana Water Court, where he now presides over matters arising in statewide adjudication. He was formerly the managing partner at the firm Garlington, Lohn & Robinson, where he practiced water and natural resources and energy law in Montana for over two decades. Professor Brown will continue teaching Oil & Gas and Natural Resource Development courses at the law school.

Professor Michelle Bryan presented the national webinar The Surface Water-Groundwater Connection: Law vs. Science to judges in the National Judicial College. Along with Water Court Judges Russ McElyea and Steve Brown, she is also completing final work on the forthcoming MONTANA WATER LAW TREATISE. Professor Bryan also received the 2019 NALSA Excellence in Teaching Award for her efforts to incorporate Indian law concepts throughout her teaching.

Professor Sam Panarella recently authored a book chapter on the history of federal law and policy regarding renewable and distributed energy for an upcoming book on alternative energy to be published by the American Bar Association. Professor Panarella will once again be teaching a course on comparative climate change and renewable energy law to Chinese and American students this summer in China.

Professor Sara Rinfret (Director, MPA Program) recently published her book US ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY IN ACTION (Palgrave Macmillan 2019). She is also a co-author of the forthcoming textbook THE ENVIRONMENTAL CASE: TRANSLATING VALUES INTO POLICY (CQ Press, 5th Ed. 2019).

Professor Stacey Gordon Sterling is presenting on the intersection of animal law and environmental law at Belmont Law Review’s upcoming symposium Contemporary Issues in Environmental Law in Nashville, Tennessee. She also received the Ken Shughart Humanitarian Award from the Humane Society of Western Montana for her many activities in support of animals, including her leadership in drafting legislation to protect both domestic animals and wildlife.

Professor Sandra Zellmer recently presented her paper Pervasive Federal Involvement in Interstate Water Management But Few Federal Hooks for Supreme Court Resolution, at the 37th ABA Water Law Conference, where she also received the Best Paper Award. She also oversaw clinic students working on a fascinating array of public lands, wildlife, and water law projects for National Wildlife Federation, EarthJustice, Montana Dept. of Natural Resources Conservation, Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and Missoula Parks & Recreation--Open Space & Conservation Lands (see photo above).

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