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Sandra Zellmer

Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Law Program


Personal Summary

Sandra Zellmer is a Professor and Director of Natural Resources Clinics at the University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law, where she teaches public lands, wildlife law, torts, and related courses. Zellmer has published dozens of law review articles as well as several books, including A Century of Unnatural Disasters: Mississippi River Stories (NYU 2014) (with Klein), Water Law in a Nutshell (2015) (with Getches and Amos), Natural Resources Hornbook (2015) (with Laitos), Developing Skills in Environmental Law (2016) (with Glicksman), and Water Law & Policy Casebook (2018) (with Thompson, Abrams, and Leshy). Zellmer is a trustee of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, as well as a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform. She is active with the American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources Committees on Public Lands and on Water Resources. Prior to Montana, Zellmer served on the faculty and held the Robert B. Daugherty Chair at the University of Nebraska College of Law. Before teaching, she was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, litigating public lands issues for the National Park Service, Forest Service, and other federal agencies. She also practiced law in the Environmental Litigation Group at Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and clerked for the Honorable William W. Justice, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas.

In her free time, she slakes her passion for the outdoors by hiking, trail-running, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and paddling, often in the National Forests and Parks of the Rocky Mountains. She is an avid knitter, a wannabe pianist, and a devoted greyhound servant.


The George Washington University National Law Center, Washington, DC

  • Degree: LL.M.—Environmental Law, with Highest Honors
  • Awards: Shaw Fellowship

University of South Dakota School of Law, Vermillion, SD

  • Degree: Juris Doctor, Sterling Honor Graduate (1st in class)
  • Awards: Joe Robbie Award; Nat’l Order of Barristers; Moot Ct. Board; ABA Moot Ct. Competition (national finals)

Morningside College, Sioux City, IA

  • Degree: Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude

Courses Taught

Montana:  Public Lands; Wildlife; Environmental Clinic/Externships; Water Law; Torts

Nebraska:  Environmental Law; Environmental Ethics; Disaster Law; Water Law; Natural Resources; Torts

Visitorships and Summer Programs:  Comparative Environmental Law (Auckland and Lewis & Clark); Toxic & Environmental Torts and Advanced Environmental Law (Tulane); Disaster Law (Pepperdine)

Teaching Experience

Professor, University of Nebraska College of Law, Lincoln, NE 

Robert B. Daugherty Chair

- McCollum/Hevelone Research Chair

Associate Professor, University of Toledo College of Law

Visitorships and Summer Programs:  Disaster Law (Pepperdine); Comparative Environmental Law at Univ. of Auckland (New Zealand), Tulane (Spetses, Greece), and Lewis & Clark Law School (Portland, OR); Toxic & Environmental Torts and Advanced Environmental Law (Tulane); Environmental Law, Federal Indian Law, and Property (Drake)



Research Interests

Environmental law, public lands, wildlife, water law, disaster law, federalism, toxic torts, takings, environmental ethics


For articles, see

Books and other publications are listed on my cv.


National Affiliations and Awards include:

National Academy of Sciences National Research Council--Missouri River Recovery Committee

Senior Specialist Roster, Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

Member Scholar, Center for Progressive Reform

Board of Directors and Trustee, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation

Board of Directors, Society for Wilderness Stewardship

Board of Directors, Northern Prairies Land Trust

ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources: Chair, Marine Resources Committee (2002-04); Vice-Chair, Public Lands Committee (2012-present)




Professional Experience

U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC (1994-97)

     -  Trial Attorney, Environment & Natural Resources Division General Litigation Section

The Honorable William Wayne JusticeU.S. Dist. Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler, TX (1992-93)

     -  Law Clerk

Faegre & BensonMinneapolis, MN (1990-92)

      - Attorney—General Litigation & Environmental Law Practice Groups 

International Experience

Canada-US Transboundary Resource Management, Faculty of Law, Univ. of Calgary, AB, Canada

Pipelines & Protests, Univ. of Alberta Law Centre, Edmonton AB, Canada

The Role of Law in Disaster Management, World Water Congress, Edinburgh, Scotland

Legal Issues for Protected Areas, IUCN World Parks Congress, Sydney, Australia

Water Law, Conservation & Climate Adaptation, IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, Jeju, Korea

U.S. Water Law ABC’s, M.S. Swaminathan Foundation, Chennai, India

University of Auckland College of Law Interim Session, Comparative Envtl. Law Class, Auckland, NZ

'Tulane Law School Summer Program, Comparative Envtl. Law Class, Spetses Greece

Book: Comparative Environmental & Natural Resources Law (Carolina Press)

Honors / Awards

Robert B. Daugherty Chair, University of Nebraska (2010-18)

Faculty Scholarship Award, University of Montana School of Law (2019)

Alumni Council Distinguished Faculty Award, University of Nebraska College of Law  (2016)

Robert B. Daugherty Faculty Fellow, University of Nebraska (2015-18)

McCollum/Hevelone Research Chair,  University of Nebraska College of Law (2006-2010)

Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award, U.S. Department of Justice (1997)