Oil & Gas at the UNM School of Law

Big HillAn important resource for New Mexico is its oil and gas reserves. Because many of New Mexico’s leaders are educated at the University of New Mexico School of Law before they go on to positions of leadership, the study of the legal issues involved in oil and gas production is an important part of the natural resources curriculum. Many of New Mexico’s leading oil and gas lawyers are graduates of the School of Law. 

In recent years, the School of Law has been asked to perform important research in this area.  In 2010, students collaborated on a study of carbon sequestration and pore space ownership funded by a grant from ConocoPhillips. In 2011, at the behest of the state Legislature, the School of Law produced A Study of the Use of Natural Gas as a Transportation Fuel. Given the importance of these issues to the state, the need for research is not likely to subside.

The UNM School of Law’s oil and gas curriculum has included a basic course and various advanced courses. In recent years, leading oil and gas attorney Bill Carr (`72), of the law firm of Holland & Hart in its Santa Fe office, has taught the basic course as an adjunct professor. He also has assisted the school in many of its education efforts related to oil and gas, including discussing oil and gas issues at the School of Law’s semi-regular Legal Briefing for Legislators. Marte Lightstone (`86), with Modrall Sperling in Albuquerque, has taught a class on Advanced Oil & Gas issues, cross-listed with the Anderson School of Management, to introduce law and business students to upstream and downstream issues in the field of oil and gas.

In a state in which oil and gas is an important resource and issues of protection of the environment and sustainability are also vital, the UNM School of Law provides a forum near the state’s largest population center, consideration, research and debate of many of these issues. The School of Law community has, in recent years, invited speakers from industry groups, such as the Independent Petroleum Association and the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, and from environmental groups, to address subjects related to the regulation of exploration, drilling and production.