Recipient of the 2016 AALA Excellence in Agricultural Law Award for Academia
Past President of AALA
Employer: The Ohio State University, College of Food, Agriculture & Environmental Sciences
Education and Work Experience:
B.S. and M.S., Ohio State University, Resource Policy
J.D., University of Wyoming College of Law
Before joining OSU, I spent six years as a Staff Attorney for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and an Associate Attorney with Wright & Logan LPA in Ohio.
How did you get interested/involved in agriculture law?
I had focused my undergrad and graduate studies in natural resource policy and attended law school at the U. of Wyoming because it had so many classes in resource law. But it also offered a class in agricultural law, which I hadn’t even realized was a practice area until I took the class. Combining resource law and agricultural law made perfect sense for my background in both areas. But I pursued agricultural law not just for its sensibility—also because I so enjoyed the many issues and legal content areas that arise in agricultural law. And I knew that working in agriculture would allow me to work with conviction, a job benefit that I continuously appreciate.
What is your current role and what type of work are you doing for agriculture?
I’m a faculty member in the Department of Extension, which involves teaching, research and outreach. I teach an Agribusiness Law class for undergraduate students and direct the OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program. Our program provides agricultural law information and resources to the agricultural, local government and legal communities in Ohio. We also collaborate with the National Agricultural Law Center’s Agricultural & Food Law Consortium to conduct research projects of regional and national relevance for agriculture.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities you see in your job and the ag law profession?
I’m constantly challenged by the increasing social and environmental demands placed upon those engaged in agricultural production. GMOs, animal welfare, local foods, sustainability, nutrient regulation—there are so many highly visible and often controversial issues that affect agricultural production. But these demands create opportunities for those of us in agricultural law to help guide the discussion and the ensuing policy and legal outcomes, as well as to help navigate everyday impacts and opportunities for farmers.
Why did you join the AALA and what keeps you active in the organization?
I remember being pretty excited years ago when I learned about AALA and that an Ohio attorney, Paul Wright, was the President. I reached out to Paul and not only joined AALA, but also obtained a job with his law firm. That’s one good reason for being in AALA—it connects us to others in agricultural law all around the country. I stay active because I enjoy and benefit from the connections and knowledge I receive from AALA.