Blewett School of Law Welcomes New Faculty: Sandi Zellmer, Craig Cowie

The Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana is proud to announce that Sandra (Sandi) Zellmer and Craig Cowie and will become the newest members of the UM Law community. Professor Zellmer, who has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor for the 2017-2018 academic year, will continue with the law school full-time as a Professor of Law, teaching in the Natural Resources & Environmental Law Clinic and related courses. Cowie will join the faculty for the 2018 fall semester as an Assistant Professor of Law and the inaugural Director of the School of Law’s new Blewett Consumer Law & Protection Program.

A nationally-recognized teacher and scholar in the fields of natural resources, water, public lands, wildlife, and environmental law, Professor Zellmer joins the Blewett School of Law from the University of Nebraska College of Law, where she was a Robert B. Daugherty Professor of Law. Most recently, she supervised the Blewett School of Law’s Land Use & Natural Resources Clinic and taught Public Lands as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. She is a co-author of a leading casebook on natural resources law, as well as a hornbook on natural resources law and Water Law in a Nutshell. Zellmer has also published dozens of book chapters and articles. Her piece on "Missouri River Mud: Clean Water and Endangered Species," which she presented at the American Bar Association 's Annual Water Law Conference in 2011, was awarded "Best Paper" by the ABA.

“Sandi has been a treasured colleague, friend, and mentor to me. I am so sorry to see her go, but Montana is very lucky to have her!” noted Professor Jessica Shoemaker, University of Nebraska College of Law.

Prior to teaching, Zellmer was a trial attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, litigating public lands and wildlife issues for various federal agencies, including the National Forest Service, National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service. Zellmer received her J.D. as a Sterling Honor Graduate (summa cum laude equivalent) from the University of South Dakota School of Law and her LL.M. in Environmental Law with Highest Honors from The George Washington University National Law Center. After clerking for the Honorable William W. Justice, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, she practiced law at Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Craig Cowie will take the lead in building the Blewett Consumer Law & Protection Program, with the mission of developing and supporting consumer law and protection and access to justice through clinical study, research, scholarship, symposia, and student internships. Working for the past six years at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and serving the last three years as Assistant Litigation Deputy, Cowie brings a wealth of experience in consumer protection and litigation to this exciting new initiative.

"Time and again, Craig has proven himself a formidable force in the area of consumer protection law,” said former Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rich Cordray. "Montana law students and all those who work with him as Director of the Blewett Consumer Law & Protection Program will have a chance to learn from one of the best.”

Chris Peterson, senior fellow at Consumer Federation of America and the John J Flynn Endowed Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, echoed those sentiments. “Professor Cowie has an impressive track record in protecting consumers from financial tricks and traps," he noted. "The University of Montana hit the bullseye in hiring a promising scholar with experience at both a premier corporate firm and also at the highest levels of public service."

Cowie received his J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he was elected to the Order of the Coif, and received an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Sidney R. Thomas on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then worked as a Litigation Fellow for the National Prison Project of the ACLU Foundation in Washington, DC before joining the litigation department at Jenner & Block in Washington, DC.

“These outstanding individuals will play key roles for UM in the years to come,” said School of Law Dean Paul Kirgis. “With her national profile, Professor Zellmer will help cement our existing strength in Natural Resources and Environmental Law, while Professor Cowie has the experience and energy to build a world-class program in the increasingly important field of Consumer Law. We are thrilled to have them.”