The Natural Resource Users Law and Policy Center — the first of its kind in the nation — has been launched at the University of Arizona to address the currently unmet legal needs of ranchers, farmers, miners and others whose business involves the use of natural resources.
The UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension System and the James E. Rogers College of Law have partnered to launch the center, and the two units are jointly conducting a nationwide search for a center director. The director will collaborate with stakeholders, mentoring student clinicians and fellows and also designing and implementing the center's structure.
"As Arizona's flagship and land-grant university, located in the region that is home to the vast majority of the country’s public lands, the University of Arizona is ideally positioned to host this center," said Shane Burgess, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"I am thrilled that this new center will highlight the bright future our students can have by following their CALS degrees with a professional degree from the College of Law," Burgess said. "This collaboration is a huge opportunity for CALS."
The businesses that the center will work with — most often run by families, individuals or small entities in Arizona — confront a wide array of legal and regulatory issues, including land, environment, tourism, water, employment, trade, food safety and security, and economics.
These issues often are difficult to resolve without the advice of private legal counsel, which many natural resource users cannot afford.
"The Natural Resource Users Law and Policy Center will pair carefully supervised students trained in the law and natural resource use with resource users in Arizona who need legal services and policy advice," said Marc Miller, dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law.
The center will include a Natural Resource Users Public Interest Law Clinic staffed by students at both colleges, who will work directly with ranchers, farmers, miners and others.
Drawing on the statewide reach of the UA's Cooperative Extension System and other affiliated facilities, the center also will serve clients in multiple locations throughout Arizona.
"The Cooperative Extension System has a long history of bringing University of Arizona expertise to bear on practical issues and problems encountered by citizens of Arizona," said Jeff Silvertooth, director of UA Cooperative Extension. "This new partnership will allow us to serve even more Arizonans and contribute to the economic development of the state."
Richard Morrison, an attorney at Salmon, Lewis and Weldon PLC in Phoenix, said he is excited about the development of the center.
"Having represented agricultural interests all of my career, I know there have never been enough agricultural lawyers and there has always been an issue of affordability," Morrison said. "I believe this clinic can provide the solution."
Arizona rancher and UA alumnus Andy Groseta, owner of Groseta Ranches, said that in addition to giving students new educational and career opportunities, the center will provide a much-needed service.
"The Natural Resource Users Law and Policy Center will train aspiring attorneys to help natural resource users navigate a complex legal landscape and also reach resolutions in bureaucratic and administrative matters," Groseta said.
"I am very pleased that the UA is stepping up to the plate in being a nationally recognized leader to provide legal and policy solutions for natural resource use, not only in Arizona but throughout the nation."