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Date Created: 12/21/15
SKILL SHARPENER 1.800.973.1177 Agricultural Law Center at Drake Law School is a Hub with Many Spokes [by Erica Winter] Drake Law School, Des Moines, IA, is the only law school in the nation to offer a certiﬁcate in agricultural law and is one of the few with an Agricultural Law Center. The center, open since 1983, was formed in courses do not stay on the theoretical side, which includes courses on several agri- an effort to give focus to the study of agricul- using agriculture only as an example of larg- cultural topics, such as estate planning for tural law, says its Director, Professor Neil e r issues. Instead, the courses and agricul- farmers, the law of rural development, and Hamilton. There are courses on agricultural tural center here “take a farm-level approach taxation. The summer institute, which has and food law for current J.D. students and with practical applications” for legal study, been running for about 20 years, is a series also continuing education courses for lawyers says Hamilton. of one-week, one-credit classes, with im- in the region who work with clients in the m ersion in one topic from Monday through agricultural ﬁeld. Students come to Drake speciﬁcally for Thursday night and a ﬁnal exam on Friday. the agricultural law program, says Hamil- Students then move on to the next course the Also, the center’s formation was a response ton, with many coming from rural farming following week. to farmers’ concerns that lawyers simply did backgrounds and seeking a foundation in the not understand the issues related to rural agricultural legal ﬁeld. Graduates go on to In addition to its mission of education for law and agricultural life. By training new lawyers careers in “a diverse ﬁeld of practice,” says students and lawyers, the center supports who understand agricultural law, Drake has Hamilton. writing and research through the Drake Jour- “certainly helped to change that situation nal of Agricultural Law, created by students here in Iowa and the Midwest,” says Hamil- Third-year Drake Law student Amber Brady about 10 years ago, and also through faculty ton. grew up on a family farm in central Texas and scholarship. Brady is the Editor of the journal earned a Master’s degree in Animal Science, this year. The food and agricultural law specialization with an emphasis on food production, before certiﬁcate program at Drake started four coming to law school. Her interest in food The center also focuses on public policy work years ago. Six J.D. students will graduate production issues continued, including food as host to the nonpartisan State and Local with certiﬁcates this year, and eight students safety regulation and litigation. She decided Food Policy Councils. Drake Law’s Agricul- expect to do so next year. not to pursue the certiﬁcate program, Brady ural Law Center faculty works on developing says, opting instead to join the moot court effective food and agriculture policy ideas and Agricultural law reaches into areas both and mock trial teams. then provides the information to those shap- expected and unexpected, including covering ing local food policies in their own states, issues regarding the agricultural impact on a Still, Brady praises Drake’s agricultural law towns, or tribes. region’s natural environment, land ownership program for the range and ﬂexibility of its questions, and estate planning. Then there curriculum. If a student wanted to return to a The Agricultural Law Center’s website acts are agricultural issues in international trade rural hometown and open a general prac- as a clearinghouse for policy information law, intellectual property issues, and health tice, she says, there are classes in wills and developed there and for information and policy regulations. Drake’s center “casts the trusts and business tax with an agricultural strategies developed by local food councils. net wider” to include food law, dealing with focus; or if the student were more interested It also advocates for formation of new food food labeling and safety, says Hamilton. in policy, he/she could opt for that side of policy councils. For this project, Drake has agricultural law. “You can make it your own,” teamed up with the USDA Risk Management The study of agricultural law not only looks she says of Drake’s program. Agency, the National Agricultural Law Center, at the law’s impact on agriculture and food, various nonproﬁt groups, and local govern- says Hamilton, but it also acts as “a window Students can even opt to study agricultural m ent agencies. or portal into all legal issues.” Still, Drake’s law through the summer institute at Drake, PAGE 1 continued on back SKILL SHARPENER 1.800.973.1177 Drake Law alumni have gone on to practice in law ﬁrms that have agricultural companies or farmers for clients, says Hamilton. They have also gone to work in Washington, DC, for law and agricultural policymakers, have become in-house attorneys for the Farm Bu - reau Federation; or gone on to the University of Arkansas’ LL.M. program in Agricultural Law (which Hamilton helped to create before coming to Drake). Brady will be one of those taking a ﬁrm job after graduation. She will return to her na - tive Texas and work in the litigation section of a law ﬁrm, dealing primarily with oil and gas issues. Eventually, she hopes to work in agricultural litigation, she says. PAGE 2
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