College of Law

Student Resources


The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law offers variety and depth in its course offerings in natural resources and environmental law. Besides a number of survey courses, the school offers several seminars on advanced environmental topics. Courses and seminars are open to both JD and LLM students. Class sizes range from approximately 30 to 45 students for regular courses and 12 students for seminars. Clinical opportunities and skill courses are also available. Most courses are available on a regular basis, though seminar topics may vary from year to year.

View the College of Law Course Schedule

The following list shows curriculum offerings over the past few years. All course offerings are subject to change.

Administrative Law and Regulation

Combines the study of administrative law with an introduction to the theories and problems of regulation. Covers the basic doctrines of federal administrative law and considers problems drawn from a variety of areas of government activity to examine the application of these doctrines to, and their effect on, government decision making. (3 or 4 credit hours)

Air Pollution Control

Examines the regulation and control of sources of air pollution, with particular emphasis on the federal Clean Air Act and its state analogues. The course is designed to develop skills in analyzing both case law and complex statutory and regulatory provisions.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Studies the theory and practice of ADR and covers the major forms of ADR, including mediation, binding and nonbinding arbitration, early neutral evaluation, and mini-trials. There is a substantial focus on developing mediation skills through mock exercises. (2 credit hours)

Colorado River Seminar

The Colorado River Seminar is a paper-based, graduate-level seminar that enables students to complete research projects of their own choosing in the areas of domestic, international, and comparative water law and policy. The seminar focuses on a river system on which more than forty-million people rely for their lives and livelihoods, including residents of Salt Lake City and other Wasatch Front communities. Colloquially called the “Law of the River,” the elaborate body of laws and policies governing this river system is perhaps the most complex transboundary water regime on the planet. The seminar explores the Law of the River’s historical evolution, its current doctrinal composition, and cutting-edge policy issues now facing it, including a two-decade-long drought unprecedented in the historical record.

Conservation Easements: Theory & Practice

This course will cover important issues associated with the widespread use of the perpetual conservation easement as a land protection tool. All aspects of the law will be covered, including state real property law, state and federal laws governing the operations of charities (land trusts), state laws governing the administration of assets held for the benefit of the public, and the federal tax incentives provided to landowners who donate conservation easements as charitable gifts. Students will engage in legal and interdisciplinary research on specific assigned topics relating to conservation easements and draft detailed memorandum analyzing and summarizing the results of this research. This class is not a seminar. Please contact instructor for details on this course.

Contemporary Issues in Natural Resources Law and Policy

Explores current natural resource issues from a legal and policy perspective. Potential issues to be examined include the continuing vitality of the multiple-use principle, proposed revisions to national forest planning and timber policies, the growing importance of recreation on the public lands, wilderness designation policy, and local consensus-based management processes. (2 credit hour seminar)

Energy Law

This course offers an introduction to federal and state regulation of energy. Both "traditional" fuels and emerging, "alternative" energy sources will be covered. Course units will place particular focus on the history of energy law; current energy policy under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and other statutes; the tension between state and federal jurisdiction; ratemaking; regulation, deregulation, and energy markets; energy law as an environmental issue; and the future of energy. Case studies will provide a window into cutting-edge issues in energy law and policy.

Environmental Crimes

The Environmental Crimes course will discuss investigations of alleged criminal violations of federal pollution and wildlife laws, charging decisions, proving the case, sentencing, and restitution issues, and how counsel can advise their clients to avoid these issues. This class will cover criminal provisions of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, RCRA, the Lacey Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, just to name a few.

Environmental Law

Introduces the legal and policy issues of environmental protection, including the study of federal law regulating air and water pollution, as an example of the problems of pollution control and the varieties of legal and institutional response. Federal statutes are addressed with particular attention to hazardous waste regulation and cleanup. (3 credit hours)

Environmental Practice

Covers all major elements of environmental practice, including client counseling, negotiation, litigation, and rule-making practice. Each student participates in the Environmental Clinic and is placed in an outside law office, including government, private, and public interest placements. (3 credit hours; 2 or 3 credit hours for clinical placement)

International Environmental Law

Familiarizes students with the basic issues and concepts of international environmental law, explores the underlying conflicts, and examines emerging institutional frameworks. (3 credit hours)

Land Development

Examines the acquisition, finance and development of real estate. The first portion of the course covers the fundamental concepts, issues, and documents involved in real estate transfer and finance. The second portion examines public land use controls such as zoning and subdivision regulations, and private land use controls such as restrictive covenants and nuisance litigation. (3 credit hours)

Land Use Controls

This course prepares student to represent private and public clients with respect to the development of real estate. It primarily examines public land use controls such as zoning and subdivision regulations, and briefly considers private land use controls such as restrictive covenants and nuisance litigation that may limit the available options for deriving profit or pleasure from real property. It includes a history of land use planning and public law in the U.S., including regulatory takings, and modern challenges of rapid growth and urban sprawl, and “green” regulations.

Law and the American Indian

Analyzes the development of the legal and political relationship between Indian tribes and the United States as viewed through court decisions and acts of Congress. Emphasis is placed on current legal problems and issues. (3 credit hours; 2 credit hour seminar)

Mining Law

Examines the acquisition and extraction of minerals, primarily from the public land, mining entry and location of claims, mineral leasing, rights of way, and regulation of extraction techniques. (2 or 3 credit hours)

Natural Resources

Provides the basic introduction and overview of management of public land and natural resources. Begins with the history of acquisition, disposition, and management of the public land, including allocation of authority between federal and state governments. After an introduction to the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the course examines several major resource areas including minerals, petroleum, timber and range, wildlife, water, recreation, and preservation. The economic, social, and environmental dimensions of natural resources management are emphasized throughout. (4 credit hours)

Oil and Gas Law

Examines the ownership, acquisition, and development of domestic and international petroleum resources. Policy, conservation, and environmental issues affecting development are addressed, as well as various joint development arrangements. (3 credit hours)

Public International Law

Introduces the basic doctrines and institutions of public international law through the study of historical and contemporary issues of controversy. Covers treaties and conventions; the development of customary law; the role/identity of individuals, states, and international organizations in the international legal system; human rights; self-determination; and law of force and cooperation. Also explores how U.S. courts use and respond to international law. (3 credit hours)

Regulated Industries

Looks at the laws and governmental agencies that regulate entry, rate-making, competition, and service of such industries as communications, public utilities, oil and gas, and land and air transportation. (3 credit hours)

Toxic Torts

Explores the legal, scientific, and other policy issues presented by this rapidly developing area of personal injury law, including environmental torts and product liability cases. Among the issues to be addressed are newly-developing theories of “injury,” the problems of proving causation, availability of punitive damages in mass exposure (e.g., asbestos) cases, effect of government-mandated warnings (e.g., employee right-to-know and cigarette warnings), and insurance issues related to long-term exposures and latent diseases. (2 credit hours)

Water Law

Examines the bases for federal power over water in the United States, conflicts between federal and state governments over water management, controversies between states over water resources, and the system of prior appropriation. (3 credit hours)

Wildlife Law

Focuses on the legal and administrative structures affecting the preservation of viable populations of wildlife and species diversity. Concentrates on the Endangered Species Act and other legal and regulatory structures established to preserve species and biological diversity. Portions of the course focus on the role and authority of relevant government agencies and the modes and effectiveness of judicial review or congressional oversight of those agencies. (3 credit hours)