The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

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PartyOfOne
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The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:14 am

Long time reader, first time poster here --

The consensus view is that an energy revolution is coming - we just don't know how exactly it will happen and what technologies will lead the way. Certainly, even the most fervent Drill-Now folks agree we can't just burn more and more oil from a finite supply, forever.

Whether via wind turbines, solar panels, biofuels, or other magic, as the "green" energy revolution gains steam, there figures to be a breadth of influential legal work concerning IP/innovation, global economics, and public interest to be done - work that could very well end up defining the next era of jurisprudence, commerce, and international politics.

My question - What law schools offer the best stepping stone to careers in this area? Might some of the traditional legal powerhouses (HYSCCN) be falling behind here?

A quick Google search led me to http://www.cleantech.com, which offers a list of the top "cleantech" research universities in the country. While admittedly not an impeccable source, this seems to me a reasonable and informed list. Four of the Top Five on this list align with leading law schools:

1. MIT
2. UC-Berkeley
3. UT-Austin
4. Stanford
5. UM-Ann Arbor

Now consider, for example, Cleantech's write-up of the University of Texas:

The University of Texas at Austin is a historical leader in energy innovation, R&D and teaching. With abundant oil and gas on its own lands, and deep connections to the energy industry, UT has directly profited from its energy leadership and its graduates have populated the highest executive ranks of the world’s energy companies (CEO of ExxonMobil, CEO of ConocoPhillips, President of Shell are just a few examples). The good news is that UT is using its leadership of the conventional energy industry as a launching pad for continued leadership in the cleantech revolution. Those same oil and gas companies are investing aggressively into cleantech and they turn to UT for the expertise and people to make those innovations work. The inventor of the lithium-ion battery, John Goodenough, is a professor of mechanical engineering at UT. The university also is a leader in algae based biofuels. UT is a part of a multimillion dollar DARPA-sponsored project to produce jet fuels from algae. UT Austin was also awarded $35 million in research on carbon sequestration by the Department of Energy. Notable cleantech spinouts include: ActaCell, Advanced Hydro, Graphene Energy, Organic Fuels, and Inspired Solar.
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Furthermore, in apparent contrast to many top law schools, the UT-Law School is cooperating dynamically with entities both within the University and beyond on these issues. The Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law at UT-Law is particularly on point: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/energy/

Similar energy-related opportunities at Harvard and Columbia Law seem comparatively lacking in scope, interdisciplinary cooperation, and real-world engagement.

So what do the great prognosticators of TLS think? Does the sacred US News order maintain in the vast and evolving area of energy/environmental/trade law?

For full non-troll disclosure, I must admit I am in at Texas and waiting to hear from several in the T-14 (no other decisions, holds, or anythings yet beyond UT). So sure, there's some bias here.

Thanks for your thoughts.

yournamehere
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby yournamehere » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:22 am

Dean Sager invites distinguished alums back to speak all the time. I had the opportunity to sit in on one of these lunches a couple weeks ago with Jack Balagia, who is the General Counsel for ExxonMobil. He's a UT Law alum, and he's on the board of the law school. If that doesn't speak to UT Law's connections within the energy industry, then I don't know what does.

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stratocophic
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby stratocophic » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:33 am

I have a similar view of the future, and fully intend to worm my way into energy-efficient legislation/become indispensable in terms of mechanical patents for power generation tech if at all possible. You may be onto something, as I've heard the engineering reputation for Ivies is generally putrid and merely piggybacks on the rest of the respective institution's successes. However, and probably more importantly, the reputation for those schools (at least T10s) is incomparable and would serve you in better stead than simply (in essence) going to the better engineering school. That is, unless you intend to get an MS in EE, ChemE, or ME in addition to the JD.

jelizabeth88
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby jelizabeth88 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:47 am

I have no sort of authority on the issue, but I applied to UT because of its energy law program. I e-mailed the director of the Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law and she was really nice and wrote me back a long reply like 10 hours later. I'd be happy to pm you her e-mail if you'd like, basically she said that UT is really committed to energy law and that the new center was a reflection of that. UT has a ton of cool courses to offer on the subject and an advisory board of lawyers who work in the field. UT may not be Harvard but they have a damn fine energy law program IMO. Personally, I'm not really interested in all of environmental law and pretty much exclusively in alt. energy and climate change stuff, so UT seems like a really good option for me. They ARE after all the only law school in the country with a Wind Law course. 8)

Anyways, exciting to see someone else is as interested in this as I am, good luck making a decision!

270910
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby 270910 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:50 am

Fun fact: the program at the school won't matter a lick come hiring. Law school isn't about learning the law. Go to the school that maximizes cost/benefit. On the margins, sure, head to UT over Georgetown at sticker. But passing up, say, Columbia for the PRESTIGIOUS ENERGY LAWL program at UT would be tom-foolery.

Renzo
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby Renzo » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:53 am

You spent too much time thinking about this. No one cares about specialties or school "centers." Do you want to practice in Tx? then go to Tx. Do you want to practice someplace else? go someplace else.

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kittenmittons
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby kittenmittons » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:54 am

Where do you want to practice when you graduate?

jelizabeth88
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby jelizabeth88 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:01 am

Centers and programs don't matter THAT much, but when it comes down to a few schools that are really similarly ranked it does. I'd have a hard time justifying going to Cornell over UT, for example, since they don't really have much in terms of energy law anything. Beyond the fact, of course, that Cornell is in upstate New York.

09042014
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby 09042014 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:04 am

Letter lawyers set energy policy will be fail.

PartyOfOne
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:04 am

Where do I want to practice? Am I the only person that has difficulty answering this question?

I'm from Texas, have roots there, could see myself having a great life and career there... but I'm not ready to commit today to being there forever. And I've heard the arguments about the national marketability of the T-14.

I do think there's a precipitous dropoff after HYS. CCN are clearly second order here. And beyond that, I'm not convinced there's a significant national difference between the rest of the T-14 and Texas, especially for areas beyond BigLaw.

Renzo
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby Renzo » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:09 am

PartyOfOne wrote:Where do I want to practice? Am I the only person that has difficulty answering this question?

I'm from Texas, have roots there, could see myself having a great life and career there... but I'm not ready to commit today to being there forever. And I've heard the arguments about the national marketability of the T-14.

I do think there's a precipitous dropoff after HYS. CCN are clearly second order here. And beyond that, I'm not convinced there's a significant national difference between the rest of the T-14 and Texas, especially for areas beyond BigLaw.

You basically have one year from the time you start law school to decide what you want to do, and where. If you want biglaw, that mostly comes from OCI at the very beginning of your 2L year. So at a minimum you need to know if you're going to try for biglaw, and if so you need to know what market you want to shoot for.

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tinman
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby tinman » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:13 am

I certainly not an expert, but I am a 1L at Yale who is definitely open to working in energy law or IP. I also have a science Ph.D.

Here I my thoughts:
First, the only benefit that I can see in going to a school with a good engineering program (for example, the schools that are leaders in clean tech) is that engineers will think more highly of you. This benefit is marginal at best, I think, and should not seriously affect your decisions.

Definitely look for a school with a strong IP program or strong business. I just checked out the rankings: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/intellectual-property-law Given your interests and the fact that you are already accepted at UT, Stanford, Berkeley, and Columbia stand out for me from this list.

As far as I know, black gold courses through UT's veins. I imagine the UT law alumni connections with BigLaw and general councils serving BigOil are very strong. If you don't mind getting your hands dirty and helping to destroy the environment, UT could be a great place to go to get into the energy law field.

In general, I think it's best to go to the best school that accepts you. For what it is worth, I turned down Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard and a full scholarship at Columbia to go to Yale despite my strong interest in IP and science law (for which Yale is by far the weakest of them all). I don't regret it. I'm taking an awesome IP class this semester, and I don't think it's actually a good idea to specialize too much in law school. And I love the general feel of Yale. If fact, the thing that bothers me the most is that the alumni connections in science law are weak from Yale. I don't consider this as much as I should have, perhaps.

That being said, if two schools are similarly ranked, if one is strong in IP, business, and offers some energy law classes (they do exist), that could be a plus.

Anyway, I think UT is a good fit for you, so I think you are in a nice place as you wait on other schools.

PartyOfOne
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Re: The T-14 vs UT: Energy Law

Postby PartyOfOne » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:29 am

Thanks for the thoughts. I'm very happy to have the UT acceptance in pocket, and I may very well end up attending there.

Like I said, I think HYS is a no-brainer, gotta go there - although I didn't apply to Yale because four years was enough (oh yeah, and I had no chance). CCN would be a difficult decision over Texas (and between one another) - clearly my Texas ties and the comfort of the more predictable path become a factor personally. My other apps are to Virginia and Berkeley, and at this point it would take a drastic shift or moving visit for me to choose either over Texas.

I should have applied to Penn and Michigan also, but didn't.

I was a Y undergrad. Check out The Place in Guilford during the spring; it's fantastic.

http://frommers.boston.com/frommers/det ... +Shoreline




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