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David J. Aronofsky

David J. Aronofsky

UM Legal Counsel / International Project Specialist
UH 133 (Main Hall)

David Aronofsky is The University of Montana General Counsel, as well as an adjunct faculty member in the Schools of Law and Education and MBA program. He oversees all legal work for the University's several campuses located throughout western Montana. David received his J.D. and B.S. in Education from the University of Texas at Austin; a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Florida State University; and an M.Ed. in Counseling from Southern Methodist University. He is licensed to practice law in Montana, Texas and the District of Columbia. In addition, he is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court plus a number of federal appellate and district courts. He is an elected American Law Institute member, and currently participates in ALI international law projects. His General Counsel activities include litigating successfully the 9th Circuit Flint v. Dennison case upholding student election campaign spending limits and the Montana Supreme Court Ray v. Montana Tech case defining administrator speech parameters. He and the Montana Attorney General’s office also obtained summary judgment dismissal of Christian Legal Society v. Eck, 625 F.Supp.2d 1026 (D. Mont. 2009), a case pending on appeal in the 9th Circuit which unsuccessfully challenged the Student Bar Association denial of plaintiff’s student activity fee funding.

Before coming to The University of Montana in 1994, David was an attorney at a large Washington, D.C. law firm for 12 years. His legal specialty areas included education law; most aspects of private and public international law with emphasis on Latin America,  Asia and developing countries generally, including in-depth involvement with international trade organizations and multilateral development banks; and commercial and civil rights litigation. He received a 1990 Fulbright Scholar award to serve as a legal advisor to Chile's Congress during the country’s first year of post-dictatorship democratic rule and to design a Chilean law school legislation course/clinical program. For more than 25 years he has continuously lectured and consulted with emerging democracy governments on economic and political law reforms. He worked with all 50 U.S. state legislatures as coordinator of his firm’s state government relations practice; and with most U.S. Congressional committees on numerous substantive law matters including international trade and finance. His U.S. and international legislative expertise is extensive.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was a higher education consultant in the Peace Corps and privately in Chile, where he designed the reorganization of two universities. He also worked on various education and human resources training projects elsewhere in Latin America. He speaks and writes Spanish fluently.

David’s UM Law School teaching has included Public International Law, International Business & Trade Law, Technology Law, International Criminal Law, and Advanced Legislation (requiring students to draft bills for the Montana Legislature, with over 100 projects enacted to date); plus Advanced Higher Education Law and Advanced K-12  Law for graduate education and law students.  He has also taught Contracts. He has prepared numerous Montana higher education bills enacted into law, including the state’s faculty research and development legislation; and the 1995 law restructuring the Montana University System. He also authored higher education governance and tax reform white papers on proposed state constitutional amendments.  David’s broad range of scholarly international and education law publications include two co-authored Montana Education Law books and various articles.

David has received Fulbright Scholar and Senior Specialist awards to teach law in Chile, Uruguay and Honduras, and to serve as legal advisor to Chile’s first post-dictatorship elected Congress in1990.  He has also lectured and taught extensively in mainland China and Taiwan at a number of different universities, and currently coordinates a new ABA-approved summer program for 3 U.S. (including UM) and 3 Chinese law schools starting in 2011. Since 2004 he has taken Montana law and graduate students to Chile every January for a 2-week course studying free trade and environmental linkages with emphasis on northern Patagonia, where he helped establish a multi-disciplinary ecosystems research center with Chile’s national and regional governments plus several Chilean and European universities.

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