Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Certificate Beginning Fall 2021
UND School of Law is proud to announce the addition of a new certificate program in Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources beginning fall of 2021. The new certificate program will enable students to gain a solid foundation to practice in the areas of energy production, economic use of natural resources, and preservation. UND Law now offers three certificate programs, with the existing Indian and Tribal Law and Aviation Law programs currently in place. These certificates are designed to provide students with knowledge, skills, and experiences that will help them pursue legal careers in these subject areas.
North Dakota’s economic and scenic landscape lends itself to a variety of careers that require expertise in environmental law, energy law, and natural resources law. The current need for legal professionals to practice in these specific areas throughout the state, especially in Western North Dakota, makes the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources certificate (EENR) appealing. Completion of the program will signify that a new attorney has a fundamental understanding of the relevant law and emerging issues that impact residents of North Dakota and the companies who do business in the state. “There has been a growing need for lawyers with specialized knowledge in the areas of energy, environmental, and natural resources law,” said UND School of Law Dean Michael McGinniss. “This certificate program will provide an excellent pathway for our students to prepare themselves to serve North Dakota, surrounding regions, and the nation as effective, innovative, and ethical leaders in these areas of law.”
The idea for the certificate came from UND School of Law’s Energy Law Association (ELA) in spring 2019. The organization, UND’s first and only student organization devoted to the issues and opportunities in energy and natural resources law, works to promote legal careers within the energy industry. Members can obtain working knowledge of the bodies and functions of oil and gas, public utilities, and environmental law. “As a resident of Williston, North Dakota, I was surprised to find that UND Law did not already offer special programming related to energy law,” said Lindsay Walsh, Assistant State’s Attorney for Williams County, North Dakota and 2019-2020 President of the ELA. The student organization proposed the law certificate because of student demand and industry needs. UND School of Law’s Student Bar Association distributed a survey to the student body in the 2018-2019 academic year in an effort to gage interest in an oil and gas law certificate. The survey results showed overwhelming support for such a certificate. The ELA agreed to work on a proposal the following year. “Proposing a certificate program for UND Law was the best way to satisfy the demand of the students, the desire of the ELA members, and provide the industry with home-grown attorneys with specialized knowledge of North Dakota’s leading industry,” added Walsh. “It is extremely exciting and gratifying to learn that UND Law was able to utilize our research and proposal to help develop a certificate program for future law students.”
Students wishing to pursue the EENR Certificate program must have completed the first-year curriculum and be in good academic standing. Additionally, law students currently enrolled and in good standing in other ABA-accredited law schools may complete the program as a full-time visiting second or third-year student at UND School of Law. The program requires students to successfully complete seventeen hours of focused coursework from required courses from the core curriculum, primary courses that are relevant to practicing in the energy, environment, and natural resource disciplines, and a two-credit approved special project in addition to the successful completion of the J.D. program.
“I am grateful to Lindsay and all the students in our Energy Law Association for proposing and supporting this exciting new certificate program, and to our Curriculum & Assessment Committee for developing its specific features,” said Dean McGinniss. “I am confident it will benefit our students and our state for years to come.”