Energy program up for approval

08 22, 2012 by LSu Reveille

The Paul M. Hebert Law Center could add a new energy law program to its curriculum if the Louisiana Board of Regents approves it today.

The Energy Law Center would give students the opportunity to earn their Juris Doctorate or Master of Laws degree in a new energy concentration. The field of study would give students wishing to work in energy finance or energy taxation fields a leg-up in the job market, said Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss.

“Recognize the obvious: LSU A&M and LSU AgCenter already have significant valuable programs that are highly relevant to anyone wanting to have expertise in energy law,” Weiss said.

He said engineering and business classes, paired with classes at the Energy Law Center, would serve as a “double threat” in the “interdisciplinary program.”

Financially, the Energy Law Center will be made possible because of a $600,000 donation that established the Nesser Family Endowed Chair in Energy Law in 2011. The state matched the donation with $400,000.

Weiss said the Law Center is planning a campaign to raise endowments, and he said the program will directly correlate with the state’s energy economy.

“I see it as our mission of the state’s flagship law school to produce the future leaders of both the industry and government who are knowledgeable,” Weiss said. “Law students... increasingly are going to want some focus to their studies that enhances their ability to get a really good job.”

The program would better train students to work in a growing field with alternative energy resources on the rise, said Mineral Law Institute Director Keith Hall.

“The oil and gas industry is one of Louisiana’s biggest industries,” Hall said. “It’s going to continue to be the biggest.”

Weiss said he has been conversing with a few deans on campus regarding the program in general and its financial backing.

“I think it’s a shining example that various units at LSU have to cooperate with each other for the common good,” he said. “Cooperation and integration of programs works very well, in fact, may even work best when it comes from the bottom up and not the top down.”

The Energy Law Center has already attained three faculty members to begin teaching specialized energy law courses this semester and after.

“As soon as the Board of Regents approves, we will formally begin using this name,” Weiss said. “It is in a sense up and running now, but the full build-out will take two to three years.”

Weiss said he expects all stages of the program to be phased in within two or three years. The phases include adding courses, perfecting plans with the University and LSU AgCenter and hiring adjunct faculty.

The Energy Law Center should attract top students nationwide and worldwide, Weiss said.

First year law student Billy Wright said he thinks the program will also keep Louisiana students in the state.

“People who are interested in that kind of law... can go in-state instead of Houston or another school,” he said. “It’s not something I’m particularly interested in, but I know a lot of people would have stayed.”