Student-attorney snags win in red snapper case

With her final year of law school approaching, Michelle Felterman (L ’17) last summer agreed with her father on graduation gift: a charter-fishing excursion.

So it was serendipitous when the first case she undertook as a student-attorney in Tulane’s Environmental Law Clinic had her representing the Charter Fisherman’s Association in its effort to uphold a rule on red snapper fishing quotas in federal waters.

Tulane Environmental Law Clinic student-attorney Michelle Felterman (L ’17) secured a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of her client, the Charter Fisherman’s Association.

Felterman argued the CFA’s position before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2016, and on Jan. 17, the court ruled 3-0 in favor of her client.

“The clinics are about learning by doing and representing actual clients, and that’s what we did here,” said Professor Adam Babich, Environmental Law Clinic director. “We also serve a public interest to help represent people who would find it difficult to pay for it otherwise.”

The CFA came to the clinic in early 2014 to intervene in a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Commerce Department by a nonprofit group representing recreational anglers, such as private boat owners. The charter fishermen, who are hired to take people fishing, wanted to keep the regulation the other group opposed. While the legal arguments centered on a government agency’s interpretation and enforcement, the case boiled down to the competing interests of different groups of anglers over access to limited numbers of red snapper.

In 2015, Alison Dunbar (L ’16), then a clinic student-attorney, argued for the CFA in U.S. District Court, which later ruled in the group’s favor. But that decision was appealed, which led to Felterman’s chance at appearing in the 5th Circuit for her first-ever court argument.

Felterman came to the case with appropriate scientific background, having studied the impact of commercial fishing on alligator gar off the Louisiana coast. But she had to immerse herself not just in the case details and the law but also the art of preparing for appellate court.

On argument day, a Justice Department attorney presented the government’s case. Felterman then told the three-judge panel about the real-world impact on “small businessmen trying to make a living.”

When she finished and Chief Judge Carl Stewart welcomed her to the court, she said, “I think at that point is when I started breathing again.”

From New Delhi to New Orleans: A journey with Bob Marley

By Divesh Kaul
(Divesh Kaul, a trained lawyer from India, has taught in Bhutan and India and worked in the nonprofit sector. He completed an LLM at Tulane Law School in 2016. Unwilling to put New Orleans behind him yet, he now is pursuing an SJD with a focus on international economic law. He hopes to work in that area and/or in human rights. Here’s why he wanted to continue at Tulane Law.)

Ooh, yeah! All right! We’re jammin’, I wanna jam it with you, and I hope you like jammin’, too.

After my long flight from India, this Bob Marley song playing in a taxi was first music I heard upon my arrival in New Orleans in July 2015.

Divesh Kaul (LLM '16) now is studying for a Tulane Law SJD.

Divesh Kaul (LLM ’16) now is studying for a Tulane Law SJD.

The Haitian driver, Victorien, was taking me to Tulane University, which would be my home for the next year. During the half-hour drive, Victorien shared his ordeals in Haiti, where he had been a police officer, and how happy he was to be living in New Orleans with his family. His eyes glimmered while he drove and joyfully described his experiences in New Orleans. Marley meanwhile sang in the background:

‘Cos every day we pay the price with a little sacrifice, jammin’ till the jam is through.

I stayed in Tulane’s student housing for a week while searching for an apartment. It was there that I met Fakrul, a graduate student from Bangladesh, who was also looking for an apartment to rent. Thanks to the law school’s orientation session for LLM students, I found my two other futures housemates, Nicholas from Bolivia and Zhang Chao from China. Four of us decided to move into an apartment that was a 15-minute walk from the campus. It turned out that the day we moved in, July 30, was the same day that Bob Marley & the Wailers had visited New Orleans in 1978 during the “Kaya Tour,” where they sang in a concert at The Warehouse:

Exodus! movement of Jah people … we’re leaving Babylon … are you satisfied with the life you’re living? we know where we’re going, we know where we’re from.

An apartment shared among four Tulane students from four different nationalities was no less than a culinary delight. The sharing was not limited to numerous collective meals. The Bolivian housemate became a fan of Bollywood films. My Chinese and Bangladeshi housemates enjoyed free haircuts given by me. Our umpteen household discussions ranged from cultural stereotypes to funny anecdotes, from theology to national issues and from quotidian matters to interdisciplinary discourses. Also, Zhang Chao issued us a travel advisory for his country when we learnt that wearing a green hat in China meant one’s wife was unfaithful!

Tulane Law LLM and international students for 2015-16 gather in the courtyard.

Tulane Law LLM and international students for 2015-16 gather in the courtyard.

I reached Tulane a month before the fall semester began, but as international students we already were busy. The orientation was intensive, but daily interactions with the LLM and exchange students from 39 different nationalities and the blossoming of numerous friendships made it the most enjoyable period. For every international student in our LLM batch, studying in an American law school was a new venture. Some had left their countries for the first time. Some never wrote an exam on computer before. Others came from a non-common law background.

Each one of us had apprehensions. Even so, we realized that each one of us had some strengths, too. The LLM students sat together in smaller congenial groups in study rooms, the students lounge, Tulane University’s LBC student center or elsewhere and had the longest discussions on law topics. In the process, we became each other’s strengths while we helped each other prevail over the academic barriers. During one such group discussion, James, one of my batch-mates from Zimbabwe, told me that 35 years earlier, in April 1980, when his country won independence, India’s then-Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, visited their country and participated in their independence celebrations. That year, 1980, was also the year Marley performed his last “Uprising Tour,” and he sang on the eve of Zimbabwean independence:

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny … so arms in arms, with arms we will fight this little struggle ’cause that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

Kaul traveled to New York City among other locations during his first year in New Orleans.

Kaul traveled to New York City among other locations during his first year in New Orleans.

The welcome lunch offered by Dean David Meyer and his wife, Professor Amy Gajda, at their residence was a great celebration of our new beginnings. I also fondly cherish Professor Herb Larson and his wife, Julianne, greeting and treating us a couple of times at their Edwardian house equipped with a magnificent piano and a large antique mahogany dining table.
The fall and spring sessions progressed at full steam, with LLM and JD students shoulder to shoulder marching across the corridors, rushing from one class to another, sneaking in to symposia and seminars, reading endless black legal letters in the library and making outlines, conversing in the student lounge filled with the aroma of dark roast coffee and working for law reviews.

Tulane Law LLMs got in the New Orleans spirit for Halloween.

Tulane Law LLMs got in the New Orleans spirit for Halloween.

Despite the strenuous schedule, never-ending readings and memorandums, students managed to balance law school with family, work and — most certainly — leisure. Some went together to watch the latest flick, others preferred a weekend drink at a bar. Students visited the legendary French Quarter, saw the Halloween parade and took part in celebrating New Year’s Eve. Law school and students’ associations also performed their sets of rituals, including organizing formal balls and pizza parties. The Mardi Gras parades in February were a centerpiece of the New Orleans experience. The celebrations coinciding with the 71st birth anniversary of Bob Marley were icing on the cake. One night, after experiencing the extensive parades in the French Quarter, we righteously grabbed some coke and rums at Café Negril on Frenchmen Street, where the live band sang:

You’re gonna lively up yourself and don’t be no drag, you lively up yourself and don’t say no … you rock so like you never did before … be alive today!

While we progressed in our graduate study in law, Tulane and New Orleans suitably embraced us with open arms and let us live like never before. I learnt a lot about America’s evolution through various civil and political struggles and how law contributed in them. The 14th Amendment and cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell v. Hodges have been some of the legal landmarks instrumental in America’s shaping. During a day tour to the Whitney Plantation Museum of Slavery, our tour guide quoted Marcus Garvey: “the man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.” Prejudice and suppression have prevailed in all nations and among all races, and slavery exists even today in many forms, the guide observed.

Bob Marley, too, was influenced by Garvey’s speech in Nova Scotia in October 1937 when he wrote the “Redemption Song”:

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds … won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom.

Humanity, nonetheless, has come a long way ahead from the “separate but equal” doctrine, segregation laws and colonialism. I have also learned that music has been one of the tools of liberation from suffering and poverty. In Kingston, Bob Marley found it through reggae. In New Orleans, Louis Armstrong found it through jazz.

Kaul and friends celebrated the conclusion of their LLM year with a cruise.

Kaul and friends celebrated the conclusion of their LLM year with a cruise.

No doubt my learnings at Tulane were more than academic. I discerned a portrayal of various national characters from my LLM batch-mates such as Italian enthusiasm, German compassion, Greek resilience, Irish wittiness, Chinese humility, Bolivian wisdom, Turkish generosity, Panamanian boldness, Nigerian calmness, Zimbabwean contentedness, Venezuelan perseverance, Albanian forthrightness and American openness. I must admit that I learnt the correct way to practice meditation through the ancient Indian tradition of Yoga only after attending Professor Keith Werhan’s “mindful lawyering” sessions. I realized that sometimes one needed an outsider’s perspective to understand the pros and cons of one’s national system and appreciate it better.

Just before my spring exams commenced, I also came to know that Bob Marley’s grandson, Nico Marley, who is a business student and football player at Tulane.

My Zimbabwean batch-mate, James, once mentioned a Zulu saying, “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu,” meaning a person is a person because of people. That swiftly reminded me of an ancient Indian proverb with similar connotations, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning the world is one family. Bob Marley justly summarized these ancient words of wisdom:

Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.

A gulf sunset near Cuba.

Tulane truly has been a global village where our academic upbringing ensued with members of global community instilling in us precious values from all over the world. After spring exams, my LLM journey culminated with a seven-day cruise with my six batch-mates from New Orleans to the Caribbean, covering Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. 

Environmental and energy law program abuzz with activity

It’s no secret that Tulane Law’s environmental and energy track, as one of the school’s largest J.D. certificate programs, offers a robust array of academic opportunities. But it’s also an area that propels students outside the classroom and into the field, connecting with environmental and energy industry attorneys and professionals.

Through Tulane Law’s new ongoing partnership with Valero Energy Corporation and the law school’s award-winning Summit on Environmental Law and Policy, students get in-depth looks into key energy and environmental law issues – and into the overlap between these two powerful fields.

Energy law: Valero refinery visit

Andre Marquette, environmental engineering manager at Valero's St. Charles refinery, explains how the crude unit works before students step inside.

Andre Marquette, environmental engineering manager at Valero’s St. Charles refinery, explains how the crude unit works before students step inside.

At the forefront of Tulane’s expanding energy law program, Valero hosts Tulane Law students each semester for a day exploring refinery operations at the company’s Norco, Louisiana facility and learning about the role of legal counsel in a large, complex corporation.

Wanadi Molina Cardozo (LLM ’15) examines byproducts from the oil refining process.

Students begin the day with an introduction to the company’s refining processes and safety precautions, then are outfitted in fire-retardant suits, hard hats, safety goggles and air monitors before surveying the refinery with a team of engineers. They see key components of the facility’s daily operations, touring the control room, crude oil processing unit, molten sulfur recovery furnace (described by the engineers as “real fire and brimstone”) and bubbling vats of waste water being treated.

“Before attending the field trip to the Valero refinery, I was really interested in seeing how things worked on the ground at a refinery,” said Katherine Van Marter (L/MS ‘16), a Tulane Law and Payson Center student.

Students learn about the different refinery processes the control room operators oversee.

The tour gives students a look into the refinery’s science and business processes so they can better understand its legal needs.

“The trip to the St. Charles Valero refinery was altogether a great experience that both introduced me to the oil refinery industry and provided me with a unique insight into the daily legal activities of a Fortune 500 company,” Albert Farr (L ’15) said.

After the tour, students meet with Valero’s in-house counsel, flown in from corporate headquarters in San Antonio, and outside counsel from New Orleans. The attorneys explain their efforts ensuring compliance with a complex host of regulations, including environmental, health and safety and even homeland security rules.

The attorneys also discuss the overlap of legal and social issues at Valero, highlighting the importance of fostering partnerships with each facility’s surrounding community. And they take on tough questions from students, addressing environmental and international issues confronting the oil and gas industry.

Tulane Law | Valero Trip

Enrique Rubio, Nathan Sarkas and Dennis Zhao (all LLM ’15) get outfitted in Valero’s safety gear.

Students said the discussion with corporate counsel shed light on the company’s policies and the attorneys’ roles in advising their client.

“I am definitely more interested in in-house practice as a result of touring the refinery,” said Bryan Kitz (L ’15). “The lawyers offered great feedback and perspective.”

“Working in house seems like a great position, and the influence and ability that their in-house counsel has had in shaping their policies makes the opportunity to ‘change
from within’ very attractive!” Van Marter said.

Environmental law: Summit on Environmental Law and Policy

Tulane Law | Environmental Law Summit

Maria Kalousi-Tatum (L ’16) and Amelia Carder (L ’17) run the summit’s registration table, checking in attorneys, academics and representatives from government, industry and nonprofits.

Back at Weinmann Hall, environmental law remains a powerful draw for Tulane Law students. Environmental students lead the annual Summit on Environmental Law and Policy, a two-day event covering a host of environmental and energy law issues.

Voted the 2013 Student Program of the Year by the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, the summit attracts key figures from the environmental arena each year – and it’s orchestrated by a team of more than 50 students.

Tulane Law | Environmental Law Summit

CLE Chair Amanda Serfess, Logistics Chair Rachael Waxler Ruiz and Executive Summit Chair Emily Prince (all L ’16) helped organize the 20th Annual Summit on Environmental Law and Policy.

“There’s nothing else at Tulane Law with this degree of student programming,” said Emily Prince (L ’16), executive summit chair.

Students create the summit from the ground up, conceptualizing program topics, finding environmental leaders to participate in lectures and panels, creating a budget and raising funds, planning social media outreach and overseeing the details of each day.

Alison Dunbar (L ’16), the summit’s finance chair, described her experience as “an opportunity to develop my communication and organization skills,” plus “network with
individuals and organizations in the environmental law field.”

This year’s summit covered “Energy, Water, Wildlife and Beyond,” exploring the intersections between environmental, energy and water law. The program featured a record-breaking 23 panels on issues affecting local, regional and global communities, including climate change, fracking, endangered species and the contentious New Orleans levee board litigation.

“Ideally, we’d like to do everything we can to help the environment, but practically speaking, we also love our iPhones and other commodities. We wanted to focus on the overlap between the environmental and energy law fields this year,” Prince said. “So we had a strong energy focus but covered other topics like water and wildlife as well.”

Tulane Law | Environmental Law Summit

Organizations like the Louisiana Wildlife Federation set up booths to discuss their causes with summit attendees.

The 2015 summit organizers connected with key figures in these arenas, securing keynote speakers Gen. Russel Honoré, commander of the U.S. Army’s Katrina joint task force, and Pat Mulroy, a leader in the international water community.

“It was surreal, getting to work with people who are such a big deal in their fields. It was scary at first . . . but I definitely learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to keep asking!” Prince said.

The summit is always open to the public and this year drew more than 800 attendees, including attorneys, academics, students and representatives from industry and government.

Student summer work reflections: Part two

In our second installment on summer jobs, 2L students share accounts of their work in environmental law, maritime law and college sports compliance.

Jae Sung Shrader (L ’16)

Jae Sung Shrader (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Jae Sung Shrader, pictured with Kevin Koskovich (both L ’16) at Tulane’s Summit on Environmental Law & Policy, worked on the largest environmental settlement in history at the EPA.

Environmental settlement clean-up:
Jae Sung Shrader interned with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 office in Atlanta, tackling issues involved in the largest settlement in environmental law history: a $5.15 billion agreement between the EPA and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation originally related to fraudulent asset conveyance claims.

The parties announced the settlement in April, and the EPA created a multistate environmental response trust to manage the funds, Shrader said. After creating the trust, the EPA evaluated how its policies, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Superfund, were implicated in the settlement.

“This is where my science background came in handy,” Shrader said. “Having already taken environmental sciences, organic chemistry, geology and other courses, being able to identify issues on the fly during conferences with the Department of Justice, various attorneys and consulting scientists was invaluable. When briefs and memoranda needed to be edited, it was easy for me to go through them without tripping on the scientific jargon.”

“After the large litigation was done, the next stage was to figure out the exact percentages that were going to sites around the nation from the trust,” she said. “We focused on the sites in our region, which manages the Southeast – Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas.”

As a legal intern, Shrader worked closely with EPA officials on the settlement administration. “My mentor always tried to include me when he could: Editing DOJ documents, getting my opinion on certain outcomes, bringing me to every meeting with different attorneys and scientists, listening to my questions and incorporating my suggestions into his work,” Shrader said. “It was such a good experience to be in the middle of the process and helping when I could.”

Environmental issues are Shrader’s longtime passion, she said. Before law school, she chaired the Energy and Conservation Organization at the University of Miami, where she managed a $100,000 budget to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. She earned a dual degree from Miami in biological sciences and environmental law and policy.

Shrader spent the second half of her summer working in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, focusing on clean air issues. During the school year, she is actively involved in planning the Energy and Environmental Law Summit.

Jeffrey Notarianni (L ’16)

Jeffrey Notarianni (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Jeffrey Notarianni (L ’15, third row, third from left) participated in Tulane’s study abroad program in Rhodes, Greece before interning with the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy.

Navigating the law of the sea: Jeffrey Notarianni completed an externship coordinating the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy, an international maritime course for attorneys and scholars.

“I had an incredibly interesting summer externship in Greece. While there, I met diplomats, international judges and very high-powered people from around the world,” said Notarianni, who helped prepare and run the three-week program.

“The participants were either attorneys (JDs, or their country’s equivalent) or academics (PhDs), and about 70 percent of them were Permanent Mission to the U.N. or Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their country,” he said. “I’d visit with all of these powerful people, casually drinking coffee with them over breakfast in the morning or having dinner with them at night.”

Notarianni also got to observe a meeting between the Prime Minister of Greece and President of China in his office courtyard and watch the World Cup with Academy students who collectively rooted for all 32 teams.

“Another great thing about working for the Rhodes Academy was that the courses focused on cases that were being litigated in real time,” Notarianni said. “One attorney lectured on maritime delimitation, and he also happened to be the head attorney in the delimitation litigation between Bangladesh and India. Around the time of his lecture, the U.N. arbitration tribunal issued its ruling in his side’s favor. It was great to see him win the case while he was lecturing on the same subject.”

Before the externship, Notarianni took classes in Tulane’s Rhodes summer study abroad program. He learned about the Rhodes Academy opportunity through Professor Günther Handl, who organized two law student positions there this year.

Notarianni, who is working toward a maritime law certificate, said he aimed to practice in that field long before starting at Tulane. During one summer, he crewed a tall ship from Erie, Pennsylvania, and he has been interested in the industry since.

Ben Trachman (L ‘16)

Ben Trachman (L '15) | Tulane Law School

Ben Trachman (L ’15) studies in the law school courtyard after finishing a shift working in Tulane’s athletics compliance office.

Playing the college sports field:
Ben Trachman, a Tulane sports law student, completed an externship with
the NCAA’s enforcement team in Indianapolis, helping to make sure regional college teams complied with regulations.

“As an extern, I received and reviewed self-reported NCAA bylaw violations of institutions and conferences,” Trachman said. “I had an opportunity to use the legislative database (LSDBi) to ensure correct bylaw citation and that proper penalties were imposed by the institution. I also corresponded with institutional contacts regarding the NCAA’s stance on reported secondary violations.”

Trachman also helped police scouting and recruiting of high school athletes. “During my time with the NCAA, I was able to attend various basketball certification events throughout Indiana and ensure that there were no recruiting violations by college coaches of top high school prospects,” he said.

Trachman found the job online through Tulane’s Career Resources Interactive System. He learned more about the position through other Tulane alumni who have worked with NCAA, including Renee Gomila (L ‘00), an associate director of enforcement.

Trachman, a University of Michigan graduate, said he chose Tulane for the sports law program. He’s working toward a sports law certificate, is a junior member of The Sports Lawyers Journal and has worked in Tulane’s athletics compliance office the past two years.