Houston program scouts scholars to teach energy law

By Pamela King

E&E Publishing

Over the next three years, the University of Houston Law Center will host five attorney scholars to do research and teach courses pertaining to energy law.

The program, which is sponsored in part by Houston law firm Andrews Kurth LLP, is an effort to drive more attorneys to teach energy law in a city that is widely known as the oil and gas capital of the United States.

“Houston is synonymous with energy,” Bob Jewell, managing partner of Andrews Kurth, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with a great university to help further scholarship in this important area.”

Each scholar was selected through an application process and will spend two years at the law center. Three of the participants have just begun their first semester, during which they will focus solely on research before starting to teach one course in the spring, said Richard Alderman, associate dean of the law center.

Although there is no shortage of attorneys and students looking to become law professors, it is difficult to find candidates with a specific focus on energy, he said.

“There’s a real need for energy law professors,” Alderman said. Pursuing the energy scholars program was a “logical position” for the law center, he said.

One of this year’s participants, Susan Maples, has dedicated her career so far to oil and gas issues. After graduating from Columbia Law School in 2007, she worked with the university’s human rights clinic to expose exploitative mineral rights contracts in developing countries, and she now serves as natural resources adviser to the president of Liberia. Alderman said Maples will focus on shale gas research during her time with the energy scholars program.

Susan Sakmar and Julian Cardenas Garcia round out the fall 2012 Andrews Kurth scholars class. Sakmar is an author and adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, and Garcia is a Venezuelan attorney conducting doctoral research at the French Center of International Trade and Investment Law. Both will study international energy issues over the next two years.

Maples, Sakmar and Garcia will be joined next year by Justin Dargin, a fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a doctoral candidate at Oxford University, and Monika Ehrman, current general counsel to a Dallas-based energy firm and a former petroleum engineer.

Alderman said that, depending on the success of the first wave of Andrews Kurth scholars, the law center will continue to bring in new participants.

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September 2012