U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the General Counsel

Field Placement
Academic Year

Faculty Supervisor

Professor Elaine Gagliardi (Transactional)/ Professor Sandi Zellmer (Environmental)

Supervising Attorney

Jody Miller, Elise Foster, Jennifer Newbold, Babak Rastgoufard


Transactional Placements:  Professional Responsibility, Business Organizations
Recommended:  It is strongly recommended that students in this placement take Administrative Law.

Environmental Placements: Professional Responsibility
Recommended:  It is strongly recommended that students in this placement take Introduction to Environmental Law, Public Lands, and/or Administrative Law.

Areas of Emphasis

Research, analysis, oral and written communication, problem-solving, and client-counseling on subjects related to wildfire, forest planning, endangered species, hazardous waste management and cleanup, water law, mining law, administrative procedure, civil procedure, civil litigation.

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

General Information

Students placed with the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture handle a variety of civil matters.  The Office of General Counsel provides advice and counsel to Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service encompassing Northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and parts of South Dakota.  Environmental clinic students will focus on natural resources litigation under NEPA, NFMA, and ESA, and will work on issues that include 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., Transactional clinic students will work with various U.S.D.A. agencies, including  Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Commodity Credit Corporation, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Agricultural Research Service, Food & Nutrition Service covering various issues such as loan servicing, foreclosure actions, bankruptcy proceedings, tort claims, water right claims and objections, federal contract appeals, and general advisory opinions.

Important:  This Field Placement requires an extensive background check and security clearance. The security clearance application process begins approximately three (3) months prior to the start of the semester in which the student is enrolled. If you have any questions about the federal security clearance process, you should speak with Geri Sturgill before making your clinic selection. Students must be in the academic top 50% of their class and must submit a resume and sign a Volunteer Agreement if placed.