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A Note for Dean Ray Nimmer

Raymond T. Nimmer

The Houston legal market is burgeoning while others are flat or fading. Major firms are moving to Houston in part because of the energy industry and we are matching that momentum. The Law Centerís commitment to energy and environmental law is longstanding and recognized at home and around the world. Thatís only fitting given that we are located in the energy capital of the world and the two fields are inextricably intertwined. I am very pleased with our success in this important area, and we have recently embarked on several new initiatives to make our commitment even stronger.

The first underscores our dedication to scholarship and the future of energy law and the environment with the hiring of five Andrews Kurth Energy Law Scholars over the next three years. The goal is to increase scholarship and academic interest in energy law and policy by providing a setting in which highly qualified individuals might be encouraged to pursue careers as law professors. The scholars will teach one class and devote time to research, writing, and other scholarly pursuits. The energy scholars bring a diversity of backgrounds, spanning the country from Boston to San Francisco and internationally from Venezuela to Liberia, with careers and academic experiences ranging from corporate counsel to professors.

Three scholars joined us this fall: Julian Cardenas Garcia, a Venezuelan attorney and recent doctoral research fellow at the French Center of International Trade and Investment Law; Susan D. Maples, a Columbia Law School graduate and former natural resources adviser to the president of Liberia; and Susan L. Sakmar, an author who previously served as adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco Law School. Two more scholars will arrive for the fall 2013 semester: Justin Dargin, a fellow at a Middle Eastern oriented research arm of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs-Harvard University and a doctoral candidate at Oxford; and Monika Erhman, currently general counsel to a Dallas-based oil and gas company and a former petroleum engineer and practicing attorney with extensive experience in the energy field.

The second major endeavor is the launch of a new dual degree program with the University of Calgary. The International Energy Lawyers Program, which started this fall, allows students to earn American and Canadian law degrees and to sit for bar exams in both countries. Having lawyers who will be able to practice on both sides of the border will go a long way toward helping the U.S. and Canada deal with the common issues of energy security and development of a comprehensive energy policy for North America.

In addition, our new Center for U.S. and Mexican Law has undertaken a joint research project with the Harte Research Institute to study issues associated with the potentially conflicting national regulation of oil and gas exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. The research project is expected to be undertaken in phases over two or three years with the first phase identifying potential conflicts and subsequent phases recommending future actions and accommodations to ease safe, cooperative production.

Furthermore, our Energy, Environment & Natural Resource Center (EENR) remains at the forefront in linking our growing need for energy with its impact on nature and natural resources. The Center provides a forum for education and discussion of the most important issues of the day, such as climate change, air pollution, clean coal, and renewable energy. Our curriculum dealing with these critical issues is among the broadest, and strongest, in the nation. This past year, our LL.M. energy program attracted 31 practicing attorneys from the U.S. and abroad. The program has very strong faculty including Tracy Hester, EENR director and assistant professor of law, who is a veteran attorney specializing in environmental issues,
Jacqueline L. Weaver, A.A. White Professor of Law, and Associate Professor of Law Marcilynn A. Burke, who will soon return from Washington, D.C., where she is presently serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM) at the U.S. Department of the Interior .

New initiatives, renowned faculty, and continued growth of EENR will enhance our already high standing among the worldís leading institutions for the study of energy and environmental law and provide a strong impetus for graduates to move forward and excel in law firms and in the energy industry.


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