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Irma S. Russell (on sabbatical and leave for 2014-15)

Irma S. Russell (on sabbatical and leave for 2014-15)

Professor of Law
Law 306

Professor 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 teaches are Environmental Law, Administrative Law, International Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Professional Responsibility, Contracts, Environmental Law Seminar, International Environmental Law Seminar, Environmental Justice, Appellate Practice and Procedure, International Human Rights, and International Business Transactions.  She has taught in summer abroad programs for the University of San Diego School of Law, University of Tulsa College of Law, and St. Mary’s Law School in Spain. Ireland, Austria, Poland and Russia.

Professor Russell is past chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources and of the AALS Section of Natural Resources and Energy Law.  She currently serves on the Board of Dividing the Waters, an organization of judges and lawyers focused on issues of water adjudication in the Western United States, and on the Editorial Board of Natural Resources and Energy.  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 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 others 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.  Professor Russell is an elected member of the American Law Institute, the Judicial Conference for the Tenth Judicial Circuit, and the American College of Environmental Lawyers.

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 and engaged in private practice in Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee.

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


Book and Chapters

Book: ETHICS and ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICE: THE PRACTITIONER'S GUIDE (with co-editor Vicki Wright, forthcoming 2015).

Book: Mastering Contract Law, (with co-author Barbara Bucholtz 2011).

Book: Issues of Legal Ethics in the Practice of Environmental Law (American Bar Association 2003).

Chapter: Legal Ethics Issues in Environmental Justice (American Bar Association 1999)

Issues of Legal Ethics in Environmental Justice Matters Environmental Justice (ABA 2007) (Updated for second edition with co-author: Joanne Sum-Ping). 

Chapter: The Political and Administrative History of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, THE FEDERAL COURTS OF THE TENTH CIRCUIT: A HISTORY (1994).  (Expanded and updated from article noted below.)

Chapter: Federal Statutes and Regulations Governing the Use of Pesticides and an Annotation of Federal Pesticide Regulations, in Pest Control in Museums, 1980. (Updated in second edition, 1988.) 

Journal Articles

Restating Environmental Law, 40 COLUM. J. OF ENVTL L. (forthcoming 2015 with Professors Tracy Hester, Robert Percival, Victor Flatt, and Joel Mintz).

Streamlining NEPA to Combat Global Climate change:  Heresy or Necessity? 39 Envtl. L. 1049 (2009) (Lewis & Clark Law School Symposium, Greening the Grid:  Building a Legal Framework for Carbon Neutrality).

Introduction: The Sustainability Principle, 4 Environmental & Energy Law & Policy J. 166 (2009).

Sustainability Principle in Energy, 44 Tulsa l. Rev.  891 (Symposium on Sustainability) (2008).

Measure for Measure: Cost Benefit Analysis and Environmental Policy, 43 Tulsa l. Rev.  891 (Symposium honoring the work of Cass Sunstein) (2008).

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 Environmental & Energy L. & Pol’y 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).    

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.)

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

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).

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

The Role of Public Opinion, Public Interest Groups, and Political Parties in Creating and

Implementing Environmental Policy, 23 Env. L. Rprt. 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.)

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

Restating Environmental Law, 33 The Envtl Forum issue 1 (Jan/Feb 2015) (with Professors Tracy Hester, Robert Percival, Victor Flatt, and Joel Mintz). 

Following Justice Breyer’s Suggestion: Regulations Propose Definitions of Waters, (forthcoming in NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT, 2014 issue).

Chapter, Ethics and Professionalism, ABA SEER YEAR IN REVIEW, (2013).

Co-authored with Jeffery S. Dennis, State and Local Governments Address the Twin Challenges of Climate Change and Energy Alternatives, 23 Natural Resources & Environment 9 (September 2008). 

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.

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

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

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

Book Review on TRADE AND THE ENVIRONMENT, by Alan M. Rugman and John J. Kirton, Julie A. Soloway, ASIA PAC. J. ENVT’L. L. 301 (1998).

Custody Disputes Involving a Lesbian Mother, 5 TENN. FAM. L. LETTER 8 (November 1990), with Dorothy Pounders.  (Reprinted in 3 MEMPHIS BAR ASSOCIATION MAG.  16 (Winter 1993).)

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.)

SELECTED PRESENTATIONS – 2006 to present and future commitments to speak

May 14-15, 2015, Arkansas Bar Association's Environmental Law Section CLE Presentation Eureka Springs, Arkansas (committed to speak).

March 26, 2015, “The Lawyer’s Duties in Advising Corporate Clients in an Age of Enhanced Monitoring,” George Washington University Law Symposium on The Role of Advanced Monitoring, Remote Sensing and New Forms of Information Gathering, Analysis and Disclosure in Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (committed to speak at Symposium in Washington D.C. and produce article for publication in the GW Law Review).

January 14 & 15, 2015, “Transparency and Engagement: Dual Imperatives for a Complex World,” International Symposium on Parliaments in the Open Government Era, Oslo, Norway (committed to speak at Symposium in Oslo and produce an article for publication).

November 4, 2014, “50 Years of Evolving Water Law and Management in the US – Montana Water Law,” Annual Water Resources Conference “50 Years Of Water Resources Management: Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going?” (Presentation with Professors John Peck and James May with plans for article publication).

October 10, 2014, Ethics Panel with John Barkett and Ashley Hallene, “The Ethics of Getting Social with Bits and Bytes,” American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, 22nd Section Fall Meeting, Miami, Florida.

September 22-23, 2014, participant and facilitator, The Ethics of Communicating Scientific Uncertainty: Understanding How Scientists, Environmental Lawyers, and Journalists Treat Uncertainty, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, National Science Foundation and the Environmental Law Institute.

February 20, 2014, Panel presentation "40 Years of the ESA: Our Nation's Pioneering Wildlife Law, Still under Siege" with Professors Zyg Platter and Victor Flatt,  Law Professors’ Workshop National Environmental Moot Court Competition at Pace Law School, White Plains, New York. 

June 6, 2013, “Energy and Its Future: Are we Prepared to Meet Our Demand?” Billings Library Foundation, Billings, MT.

April 25, 2013, “Law Reform on Energy Policy,” Law and the Environment 2013: 11th Annual Conference for Environmental Professionals, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.

April 13, 2013, “Eco-Faith, Eco-Ethics—Religious Advocacy on Climate Change and the Environment,” Environment Symposium, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, Salt Lake City, UT.

April 26, 2012, Roundtable discussion on how Canada and the U.S. will balance their energy portfolios, reduce carbon emissions, and promote domestic and cross-border energy security  (Moderator) SEER Spring Council Meeting, Vancouver, Canada.

April 21, 2012, “The Environment and Constitutions,” (Moderator) Humanities Montana We the People: Conversations on the Montana and U.S. Constitution, Helena, Montana.

February 23, 2012, “The Human Right to Water in the United States,” ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources 30th Annual Water Law Conference, San Diego, California.

January 6, 2012, “Adaptation Strategies: Responding to Climate Changes as the New Normal,” AALS Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.

January 5, 2012, “Organizing and Financing Legal Education,” AALS Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.

October 13, 2011, “How to Keep the Lights On: Is NEPA Up to the Challenge?” (Moderator) American Bar Association SEER Fall Meeting, Indianapolis, Indiana.

April 8, 2011, “Ethical Issues Associated with Water Law,” 2011 National Environment Energy and Resources Law Summit, Banff, Alberta, Canada.

April 6, 2011, “Ethical Limits on Client Information with the Client’s Other Professionals,” co-presenter with Mark L. Tuft, Practicing Law Institute, San Francisco, CA.

September 17, 2010, “Ethics 20/20 and Social Media,” Montana State Bar Association Annual Meeting, Great Falls, MT.

August 12, 2010, “The Third Branch: Integrity, Impartiality, and Independence,” National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks, Whitefish, MT.

August 12, 2010, “A Question of Ethics,” National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks, Whitefish, MT.

March 5, 2010, “NEPA and Energy Law,” Montana State Bar Association Energy CLE, Great Falls.

May 25, 2010, “Issues of Ethics and Civility,” Advanced Trial Advocacy, Missoula, MT.

January 7, 2010, panelist on two panels: “Contract and the Theory of Efficient Breach and Dean’s Panel, AALS, New Orleans.

December 3, 2009, “Energy and Legal Ethics,” Energy Bar Association, Washington, D.C.

April 23, 2009, Building a Legal Framework for Carbon Neutrality Lewis & Clark College.

February 2009, Symposium Professor for University of Houston Law Center, Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal, Sustainability Symposium.

January 2009, topic of Sustainability Law and Natural Resources, AALS Section on Natural Resources, San Diego.

August 2, 2008, Panelist, Global Climate Challenge, Southeast Association of American Law Schools (SEALS) Annual Meeting, Palm Beach, FL. 

April 24, 2008, Presenter, Environmental Law Institute, on the Topic of Ethics Issues in Hazardous Substances Law, for the Silver Anniversary Presentation of ALI-ABA’s Annual Advanced Course of Study, Hazardous Substances, Site Remediation, and Enforcement in Washington, D.C.

May 18, 2008, Panelist, Ethics Panel for ALI Annual Meeting (with Geoff Hazard, Larry Fox and Bob Mundheim).

February 23, 2008, Panelist, CLE Panel on Ethics Issues in Environmental Law at the Pace National Environmental Moot Court Competition. 

February 8, 2008, “The Broken Promise of Efficient Breach Theory,” International Conference on Contracts, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, CA.

January 5, 2008, Panelist, AALS Section on Dispute Resolution Hard Bargaining and Distributive Bargaining, Ethical Issues, with Richard Ruben of University of Missouri, at AALS Annual Meeting, NY, NY.

November 29, 2007, Presenter, Energy Incentives, Oklahoma Corporation Commission Energy Summit, Oklahoma City.

October 11, 2007, Presenter, Global Climate Change Panel, Environmental Federation of Oklahoma Annual Conference, Midwest City, OK.

October 26, 2008, “Legal Ethics in Energy Practice: Baselines and Examples” at Oklahoma University Eugene Kuntz Conference on Natural Resources Law and Policy, Oklahoma City

October 5, 2007, Presenter and host, National Conversation on Climate Action, Sponsored by NELPI, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Oklahoma Climatology Survey.

August 18, 2007, Speaker, Brazil-United States Conference on Biofuels:  Biofuels & the Promise of Sustainable Energy, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, “Biofuels & Government Policies and Incentives.”

August 2, 2007, moderator, Democracy and Environmental Law, Southeast Association of American Law Schools (SEALS), Amelia Island, FL.

June 9, 2007, “Ethics Issues in Environmental Practice,” Oklahoma Bar Association Environmental Section.

May 31, 2007 “Environmental Regulations and the Future of Electric Utilities,” 38th Annual Energy Information Dissemination Program in Stillwater, OK, May 31, 2007

October 27, 2006, “Ethics Issues in Hazardous Substances Law, “ (with John Pendergrass, Environmental Law Institute), ALI-ABA’s Annual Advanced Course, Hazardous Substances, Site Remediation, and Enforcement in Washington, D.C.

October 18, 2006, Speaker, Annual Symposium of IUCN in conjunction with Pace Law School, on Beyond the Private Attorney General: Delegation of Enforcement of Environmental Permits.

July 22, 2006, “Viewing Environmental Policy and Law through the Lens of Sustainable Development:  Clarification or a Muddle?" Southeast Association of American Law Schools (SEALS), Palm Beach, FL.

March 3, 2006, Liquefied Natural Gas, Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal’s “Should We Site it Here?: LNG, the Environment, and Federalism,” University of Houston.

February 23, 2006, Moderator, CLE Panel on Ethics Issues in Environmental Law at the Pace National Environmental Moot Court Competition. 

February 2, 2006, Presenter, Live Audio Conference: Ethics and Professional Responsibility for Environmental Lawyers, National Constitution Center Conferences.

January 4 and 7, 2006, Moderator AALS Section on Professional Responsibility, Program, “Defense of Defendants Accused of Terrorism,” and Professional Responsibility and Religious Traditions, Washington, DC.