Office of General Counsel U. S. Department of Agriculture

Academic Year

Faculty Supervisor: Professor Elaine Gagliardi (Transactional)/ Professor Sandi Zellmer (Environmental)

Supervising Attorney : Jody Miller, Alan Campbell, Jennifer Newbold, Babak Rastgoufard

Prerequisite:  Professional Responsibility, Introduction to Environmental Law (only if the student enrolls in this field placement for the purpose of satisfying the Environmental Law Certificate clinical requirement), Business Organizations (only if the students enrolls in this field placement as a transactional placement).

Areas of Emphases:  Environmental law; contract-drafting; agricultural law; business law; water rights; civil procedure; public lands law; Federal Tort Claims Act; mining law; criminal law; professional responsibility; research and writing; civil litigation; contract review and analysis.

Sample Projects

  • Research and draft summary judgment brief
  • Research and assess water right priorities
  • Review and analyze loan documents
  • Research and advise as to public land access issue
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

General Information

Students placed with the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture handle a variety of civil and, in some cases, criminal matters.  The Office of General Counsel represents Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service encompassing Northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and parts of South Dakota, with responsibilities encompassing federal contract appeals, forest planning, mining claim review and contests, claims and objections under Montana and Idaho water law, federal tort claims, land acquisition and special uses, and law enforcement.  The office also represents the Montana Offices of Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Commodity Credit Corp., Natural Resource Conservation Service, Agricultural Research Service, Food & Nutrition Service (Food Stamps), and other U.S.D.A. agencies with responsibilities including loan servicing, foreclosure actions, bankruptcy proceedings, tort claims, water right claims and objections, criminal prosecutions of food stamp violations, and general advisory opinions.

Students who are seriously considering USDA must visit the USDA Table during the Clinic Fair and meet with the attorneys. Students must be in the academic top 50% of their class, and if placed must submit a resume and sign a Volunteer Agreement.