Law Student Scholarship Recipients

Ten share $34,000 in awards

Scholarship Recipients Announced at Annual Institute

As part of its mission to foster the study of energy and mineral law, the EMLF annually awards scholarships to students attending EMLF member law schools. Composed of law professors and practicing attorneys, the scholarship committee had the difficult task of choosing the recipients from a number of qualified applicants representing member law schools.

This year's beneficiaries came from eight different law schools, with West Virginia University College of Law and Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law each having two honorees. Other schools represented were Louisiana State University Law Center, Penn State Law, Appalachian School of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law, Washburn University School of Law, and American University Washington College of Law.

EMLF Law Student Scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year totaled $34,000, and were awarded to the following ten law students:

Unless noted, all awards are from the general scholarship fund.


Chinonso Tansi Anozie

A native of Nigeria, Chinonso Tansi Anozie came to the United States having already passed the bar in Nigeria. But when he was awarded a merit-based Niger Delta Development Commission scholarship to further his education in the United States, he accepted and came to the University of Oklahoma College of Law to pursue a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in Energy and Natural Resources Law, graduating at the top of his class.

Last fall he was admitted to Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law's Doctor of Juridicial Science (S.J.D) program, but deferred his admission until this fall. Particularly interested in legal research and teaching, he is continuing the research he began at OU, focusing on “driving a conversation in institutional and regulatory energy sector reforms in the Global South, achieving energy sustenance and eliminating extreme poverty.” His objective is to provide innovative guides and comparative analysis of countries that adopted regulatory reforms in changing the energy landscape.

Since coming to the United States, his work experience has included interning at a law office in Houston and also acting as a legal consultant, where he is active in negotiating opportunities in Nigeria in the energy field.

It was his childhood experiences that led him down this path. As he wrote in his application, “Growing up as a child with barely five hours of electricity or going to bed in the freezing West African harmattan cold without heating was not fun. Neither was watching Mother prepare meals in the open with diesel stoves or improvised firewood fuel. All these experiences reinforced my resolution to search a solution to energy shortage some day.”



Jacob I. Cunningham

Third year law student Jacob Cunningham came to Louisiana State University having earned a degree in criminology and law from the University of Florida. The Florida native’s interest in natural resource law led him to Louisiana where he is pursuing a graduate certificate in energy law and policy along with his J.D.

He has sought out opportunities to further his involvement in the energy field, becoming a member of LSU’s Scholars for Environment and Energy Development, as well as a member of the Energy Bar Association. Most recently, he was hired for a research assistant position which is focused on domestic oil and gas leases, and environmental regulations related to extraction procedures. In addition to these activities, he has held two judicial externships at the state appellate and federal district court level and has competed in intra-school moot court.

In March of this year he competed in the Judge John R. Brown National Admiralty Moot Court Competition and won first place in the championship round and was awarded Best Overall Brief.

As he wrote in his application, “As developing countries modernize and the demand for U.S. energy exports rise, I hope the skills I gained allow me to actively participate in the LNG Tanker and maritime transportation industry.”

In trying to envision the future, he said, “As our world embraces new technology and new advanced devices emerge every day, the demand to power these devices and to power people’s lives presents the opportunity for individuals, like myself, to invest in a field with confidence that it will exist in perpetuity. As the world continues to advance in technology, there’s no doubt that there will be new ways of utilizing resources and even the discovery of new types of resources.”

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Anthony K. Faini - Cabot Scholarship

Graduating from West Virginia University with an MBA in business administration, after receiving a BA in communications from WVU, Anthony Faini is in the process of completing a J.D. with a concentration in energy and sustainable development law is pursuing a joint J.D./LL.M. (Master of Laws degree) in energy, expecting to graduate next year.

Presently working for WVU as a research assistant, he has had experience in several energy firms, plus spent this past summer as an associate with Steptoe and Johnson. It was while working as a landman for an oil and gas company that his interest in energy law was piqued, saying “it was a positive experience that permanently reshaped my career goals.”

Recently, he was named president of the Energy Law Association at the WVU College of Law for the 2018-2019 academic year. As president, he plans on providing chances for other WVU law students to learn and network with industry professionals through a variety of events, gaining experience as he has through attending EMLF events in the past.

Married and father of two boys, he is a Virginia native.


Daniella Johner - Sean Cassidy Scholarship and EMLF Scholarship

Third year law student Daniella Johner came to Penn State with both a BA and Master's in criminal justice. As her interest in energy law has grown, so has her academic achievement. Her success in law school is tied to a dedicated work ethic spurred by her course work in energy and natural resources law which began when she enrolled in oil and gas law to “bolster my knowledge for the Texas bar exam.” But the more she studied, the more her interest in oil and gas law blossomed. Getting off to a shaky start, she is now among the top 20 students in her class.

She will be participating in Penn State Law’s Rural Economic Development Clinic this fall. The clinic selected six students based on their potential careers, trustworthiness, academic achievements and leadership abilities.  She also will be serving as a research assistant to the clinic’s director.

While at Penn State, she has served as associate editor of the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs, and is a student member of several bar associations.

Her short term goal is to gain first-hand experience in energy and related fields through her participation in the clinic this fall. “This first-hand experience, in addition to the research I will be performing for the center, will allow me to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day tasks an attorney in the  energy sector encounters,” she wrote.

Ultimately, her long-term goal is to apply the knowledge and education she gains during her  time in law school when she returns to Texas intending to contribute to the energy market there, as being a “well-rounded professional,” in one of the largest energy producing areas of the United States.


Payton Johnson - James E. Davis Scholarship and EMLF Scholarship

Appalachian Law School third year student Payton Johnson is a Virginia native, growing up in nearby Abingdon. He holds a bachelor's in economics from Campbell University, coming to ALS as, in his words, “a late bloomer.” But he has flourished in law school where he is president of the Federalist Society, treasurer of the honors fraternity Phi Delta Phi, vice president of the Energy and Mineral Law society and vice chair of the Moot Court Board.

Honors include champion of the Intra-School Moot Court, dean’s list, Virginia Criminal Procedure Book Award and Professional Responsibility Book Award. 

Coming from a coal mining family, his maternal grandfather “worked his fingers to the bone  to ensure his children and their children did not have to work in the mines.” Payton said he learned the importance of hard work and never taking anything for granted from his grandfather. He brought that determination to a business endeavor, a biofuels refinery but the downturn in price of a barrel of oil put an end to his company, becoming the springboard for his entrance into a law school, a childhood dream that he thought had passed him by.

Tragedy struck just before the beginning of his spring semester 1L year. He lost his younger brother to a drunk driver. “He was my biggest fan and supporter. . . . I turned my anger and sadness into drive to be the best and live a life that he would be proud of. Law school, instead of being this challenging rite of passage, was now my escape.”

He intends to stay in Southwest Virginia after graduation and provide assistance and leadership to the people he respects the most. "My love for alternative fuels will not go away and I hope at some point in time to rekindle the idea of Appalachian Biofuels" and to respect the memories of his heroes, his grandfather and brother.


Stephen Austin Jones

A native Texan hailing from Arlington, TX, Stephen Jones is a third year law student at Texas Tech University School of Law, having earned a bachelor’s degree in business communications from Colorado State University. He is the first in his family to attend college.

Interested in energy and natural resource law since his second year in law school, he has sought out opportunities that have led to a better understanding of the importance of the industry in his native state, believing that to “understand the problems presented and to pose workable solutions, it is first important to understand the industry.” In addition to course work, those opportunities have included numerous field trips, panel discussions and lectures.

While he has not decided whether he will pursue private practice or government work, he is determined to make a contribution to the industry, writing, “I am passionate about natural resource conservation, responsible development and management of our natural resources, and transparency to the public . . . and want to make a lasting impact on the future of energy and natural resource law.”

While at Texas Tech, he has been active with the Texas Tech Law Review, both as staff member and articles editor; the Texas Bank Lawyer as a senior writer and editorial board member; and the Texas Tech Law Board of Barristers Intra-school Advocacy Competitions where he is serving as chairman of the board this year, and has won numerous competitions.

This year he will be working as a research assistant at the School of Law.


Lauren Payne - Cabot Scholarship

A bachelor of science degree with an emphasis on environmental and natural resource economics brought Lauren Payne, an Ohio native, to West Virginia University’s College of Law where she is a third year student.

While in law school she has been active in energy-related groups, including the  Energy Law Association where she is serving as vice president this year, the Environmental Law Society (secretary and treasurer 2017 -18), and moot court competitions.

Knowing that she wanted to be a lawyer since she was six years old, her interest in energy and natural resources law began early in her undergraduate career. She knew after the first course, she’d made the right decision. “I chose WVU Law primarily to be in their energy and sustainable law concentration and participate in their land use clinic. The law courses I have taken have solidified my intense interest in energy law.”

She believes in encouraging cooperation between energy lawyers and environmental lawyers and involving the larger community in issues dealing with both areas, stressing increased communication amongst all groups, bridging gaps and dealing with energy issues in a practical manner.

Her long term goal is to be a general counsel for an energy company. “I believe this position will allow me to help energy companies be more efficient in their legal proceedings,” she writes.


Margaret M. Pennell - Mary Sue Schulberg Scholarship and EMLF Scholarship

Another Texan, Margaret Pennell, third year student at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, received a bachelor of arts degree from Baylor University, majoring in political science.

“As a child, my summers were spent coloring production maps for my father and helping him pull deed records for title research. My father has been a petroleum landman for 40 years, and so the energy industry has been a central part of my life. Though I may not have always understood the details when I was young, I have always had an appreciation for energy law.”

Various experiences throughout her school years continued to pique her interest which really blossomed in law school, increasing as she has added more natural resources classes, coupled with first-hand experience with an oil and gas  company.

“The more exposure I have to the industry, the more excited I become about making it my career. I see a shift in the future toward cleaner energy — specifically, a shift from coal and lignite to natural gas-driven electricity. Also, as our nation continues to deplete our oil and natural gas reserves, it will become even more critical to develop renewable energy technologies. With these new technologies, new energy laws will likely follow. The future of natural resources law will require innovative thinking, and I hope and plan to be an active part of it.”


Jeffrey M. Pike

Long before he knew there was an energy and mineral law field, Jeffrey Pike was familiar with the term “mineral interest,” saying he had not a clue what it meant or how important it would become to him later in life.

After he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kansas State University, the Kansas native went on to Washburn University School of Law, still not quite sure what his field of law would be. But he took his first class in oil and gas law, and, in his words,  he was “instantly hooked.”  He had spent the previous summer working for a law firm that deals with oil and gas issues and that oil and gas class combined two of his favorite first year courses, property and contracts, “in a way that made me excited to go to class every day.”

After graduation he intends to stay in Kansas. “I love Kansas and growing up here has made me who I am today. I want be part of the oil and gas industry so I can help an industry that is so important to a state that has given me so much.”

While at Washburn, the third year law student has been involved with the Washburn Law Journal as the notes editor, and is a teaching assistant for legal analysis, research and writing classes.

It was his grandfather — fascinated with minerals — who bought mineral rights in North Dakota, setting Jeff off on this course. “I wish my grandpa was still alive today to see not only that his investment in North Dakota paid off, but also that his fascination with minerals is alive and well in me.”


Andrew R. Urueta

It all began with a course at Texas Tech University when Andrew Urueta enrolled in Sustainability: Energy, Environment, and Society. That ignited his passion for energy and natural resources law. Throughout the rest of his undergraduate years, he continued to explore his interest in the energy and natural resources field by joining organizations or volunteering for events focused on the field.

Now a third year law student at American University Washington College of Law, the El Paso, Texas, native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Texas Tech. He also holds  a non-degree Arabic certificate from The American  University in Cairo.

While at American University he has been active in the Environmental Law Society and the Latino/a Law Students’ Association and as well as note and comment editor for the American University Law Review. He has also worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and a DC law firm, both jobs giving him insight into the energy law field.

As he wrote in his application, “My experiences before and during law school have given me a passion for energy and natural resources law as well as the legal and technical skills to effectively contribute to the field. My career aspirations are to one day work for a government agency or a private company doing energy law work.”

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