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Irma S. Russell

Irma S. Russell

Professor of Law
Law 306

Irma Russell served as Dean of The University of Montana School of Law from 2009 to 2014. Prior to coming to Montana, Russell was the NELPI Professor and Director of the National Energy-Environment Law & Policy Institute at the University of Tulsa College of Law.  Among the courses she has taught are Environmental Law, International Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Professional Responsibility, Administrative Law, Contracts, Environmental Law Seminar, International Environmental Law Seminar, Environmental Justice Seminar, Appellate Practice and Procedure, Sales and Leasing, Commercial Transactions, Legal Research and Writing, Appellate Advocacy, International Human Rights, International Business Transactions, Agency & Partnership, and Remedies.

Professor Russell is past chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources and the past chair of the AALS Section of Natural Resources and Energy Law.  She is member of the Board of Dividing the Waters, an organization of judges and lawyers focused on issues of water adjudication in the Western United States.  She has served as the chair of the Professionalism Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar and as a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism and the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.  She also has served as chair of the following AALS Sections: Natural Resources & Energy, Professional Responsibility, and Socio-Economics, and as a member of the Publications Committee of the Center for Professional Responsibility.

In practice, Russell represented potentially responsible parties, government entities, lenders, and other clients on issues arising under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), wetlands designation, site mitigation, and other environmental issues. She served as the Liaison of the ABA Environmental Section to the Association of American Law Schools and Chair of the Strategic Response Committee of the ABA Environmental Section. She also served as the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Ethics Committee, and as Section Liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. She was founding Chair of the Memphis Bar Association Environmental Law Section and served as Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Environmental Section. Dean Russell is an elected member of the American Law Institute, Phi Kappa Phi, the Judicial Conference for the Tenth Judicial Circuit, and the American Bar Association.

Professor Russell earned undergraduate degrees in liberal arts and education, a master’s degree in English literature, and her law degree at the University of Kansas. She clerked for The Honorable James K. Logan, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Russell engaged in private practice for several years in Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Russell's publications may be accessed on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at


Book and Chapters

Mastering Contract Law (co-author: Barbara Bucholtz) (Carolina Academic Press) (2011).

Issues of Legal Ethics in the Practice of Environmental Law (ABA 2003).

Chapter, Issues of Legal Ethics in Environmental Justice Matters (co-author: Joanne Sum-Ping) in The Law of Environmental Justice (Michael B. Gerrard & Sheila R. Foster eds., 2nd ed., ABA 2008).

Chapter, The Political and Administrative History of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in The Federal Courts of the Tenth Circuit: a History (James Logan ed., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit 1980).

Chapter, Federal Statutes and Regulations Governing the Use of Pesticides and an Annotation of Federal Pesticide Regulations in Pest Control in Museums (1980).

Chapter, Prisoners’ Rights – Failure to Provide Law Libraries Denies Inmates Right of Access to the Courts in Prisoners’ Rights Sourcebook (Ira Robbins ed., Clark Boardman Co. 1980).

Journal Articles

The Sustainability Principle, (Introduction, Symposium on Sustainability: Moving from Theory to Practical Application) Env’l & Energy Law & Policy Journal 165 (2009).

Streamlining NEPA to Combat Global Climate Change: Heresy or Necessity? 39 Lewis & Clark Env’l Law J. 1049 (2009).

Measure for Measure: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Environmental Policy, 43 Tulsa L. Rev. 891 (2008) (Symposium: The Scholarship of Cass Sunstein).

The Sustainability Principle in Sustainable Energy, 44 Tulsa L.Rev. 121 (2008) (Symposium).

The Evolving Regulation of the Legal Profession: The Costs of Indeterminacy and Certainty, 2008 Prof. Law. 137 (2008) (From Canons to Codes to Rules: 1908-2008 and Beyond, A Centennial Celebration of the ABA Legacy of Lawyer Ethics).

The Power Structure: Energy, Politics, and the Public Interest in the LNG Debate, 2 Envtl. & Energy L. & Policy J. 49 (symposium issue of University of Houston Law Center) (2007).

Got Wheels?: Article 2A, Standardized Rental Car Terms, and Unilateral Private Ordering, 42 Loyola L.A. L. Rev. 137 (2007) (Symposium edition).

The Logic of Legal Remedies and the Relative Weight of Norms: Assessing the Public Interest in the Tort Reform Debate, 39 Akron L. Rev. 1053 (2006) (reprinted in AMICUS Books and ICFAI Publications, wings of ICFAI University in India).

A Common Tragedy: Promises to Benefit the Public Interest and the Enforceability Problem, 10 Tex. Wes. L. Rev. (2005). (Presented at The Common Law of Contracts as a World Force in Two Ages of Revolution, Gloucester, England, June 2004.)

Keeping the Wheels on the Wagon: Observations on Issues of Legal Ethics for Lawyers Representing Business Organizations, 3 Wyo L. Rev. 513 (2003) (reprinted in The Defense Law Journal, Matthew Bender, 2006).

Reinventing the Deal: A Sequential Approach to Analyzing Claims for Enforcement of Modified Sales Contracts, 53 Fla. L. Rev. 49 (2001).

Unreasonable Risk: Model Rule 1.6, Environmental Hazards, and Positive Law, 55 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 117 (1998).

Cries and Whispers: Environmental Hazards, Model Rule 1.6, and the Attorney's Conflicting Duties to Clients and Others, 72 Wash. L. Rev. 409 (1997).

The Role of Public Opinion, Public Interest Groups, and Political Parties in Creating and Implementing Environmental Policy, 23 Env. L. Reprt. 10665 (1993) (work identified in William H. Rodgers, Jr., The Most Creative Moments in the History of Environmental Law, 2000 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1, 26, example of “Paradigm Shifters and Domain Openers”).

Within the Best Interests of the Child: The Factor of Parental Status in Custody Disputes Arising from Surrogacy Contracts, 27 J. Fam. L. 585 (1989).

The Political and Administrative History of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 60 Denv. L.J. 119 (1983), with Judge Stanley (expanded, updated, and republished as a chapter in The Federal Courts of the Tenth Circuit: A History noted above).

Beyond Shooting Snaildarters in Porkbarrels: Endangered Species and Land Use in America, 70 Geo. L.J. 1433 (1982) (with George C. Coggins).

Columns and Shorter Articles

State and Local Governments Address the Twin Challenges of Climate Change and Energy Alternatives, 23 Nat. Resources & Env. 9 (September 2008) (with Jeffery S. Dennis).

Natural Gas: Today’s Alternative Fuel? Energy Newsletter, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER), 2006-08 (with Justin Scroggs).

A Multiple-Strategy Approach to Solving the Energy Puzzle, 38 Trends 10 (March/April 2007).

Introduction, Public Health Emergencies and the Law: Terrorism and Other Dangers Symposium: Public Health and the Law: Responding to Terrorism and Other Public Health Emergencies in New York.

Regular Columnist, Teaching Contracts, AALS Contracts Newsletter, 2002-2006.

SLAPP Suits (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (2006).

21st Century Law, Technology and Ethics: The Lawyer’s Role as a Public Citizen Serving the Public Good, 35 U. Mem. L. Rev. (Introduction to Symposium edition) (2005).

The Lawyer as Public Citizen: Meeting the Pro Bono Challenge, 72 UMKC L. Rev. 1 (2004).

Chapter, Contract Interpretation and Life Experiences, in Teaching the Law School Curriculum (ed. Steve Friedland & Gerry Hess eds., 2003).

The Evolution of MJP, Trends (March/April 2003).

Why I Use "Seinfeld" as Precedent, 10 The Law Teacher 12 (Fall 2002).

Memorandum to Ethics 2000 Commission, (Feb. 9, 2001), available at

Client Confidences and Public Confidence in the Legal Profession: Observations on the ABA House of Delegates Deliberations on the Duty of Confidentiality, The Prof. Law (Spring 2002).

The Ethics 2000 Process: Revisions to the ABA Model Rules Approved by the ABA House of Delegates, Trends (Newsletter of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy & Resources (Spring 2002).

Just Between Us, Trends (July 2001).

Book Review on Trade and the Environment, by Alan M. Rugman and John J. Kirton with Julie A. Soloway, Asia Pac. J. Envtl. L. 301 (1998).

Environmental Ethics: The Potential for Conflicts in Representing Multiple PRPs, Newsl. Envtl. L. Sec. Tenn. B. Assn. 3 (June 1996).

An Authentic Life in the Law: A Tribute to James K. Logan, 43 Kan. L. Rev. 609 (1995).

Modification of Custody: When May Pre-existing Evidence be Considered?, 5 Tenn. Fam. L. Ltr. 10 (1991) (with Dorothy Pounders).

Custody Disputes Involving a Lesbian Mother, 5 Tenn. Fam. L. Ltr. 8 (November 1990) (with Dorothy Pounders). (Reprinted in 3 Memphis B. Assn. Mag. 16 (Winter 1993).)

Tennessee's Surrogacy Statute, 4 Tenn. Fam. L. Ltr. 12 (1989).

Note, Prisoners' Rights--Failure to Provide Law Libraries Denies Inmates' Right of Access to the Courts, Kan. L. Rev. 636 (1978). (Reprinted in Robbins, Prisoners’ Rights Sourcebook 1980.)