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 seven different law schools, with West Virginia University College of Law and Washburn University School of Law each having two honorees. Other schools represented were South Texas College of Law Houston; Duquesne University School of Law; Appalachian School of Law; SMU Dedman School of Law; and Penn State Law.
EMLF Law Student Scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year totaled $27,000, and were awarded to the following nine law students:
- Grant Armentor, South Texas College of Law Houston
- Jessica M. Barnes, Duquesne University School of Law
- Courtney Cole, Appalachian School of Law
- Bailey Emory, West Virginia University College of Law, Cabot Scholarship
- Tyler R. Laudick, Washburn University School of Law
- Benjamin N. (Ben) Moore, SMU Dedman School of Law
- Erin O’Brien, West Virginia University College of Law
- Desireé (Desi) Smith, Washburn University School of Law, EMLF Scholarship and the Mary Sue Schulberg Scholarship
- Sarah Straub, Penn State Law, EMLF Scholarship and the James H. Davis, III Memorial Scholarship
Unless noted, all awards are from the general scholarship fund.
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Grant Armentor, South Texas College of Law Houston
Lake Charles, Louisiana native Grant Armentor is a third year law student at South Texas College of Law Houston and is in the top two percent of his class.
He earned a BS in Finance from Louisiana State University prior to coming to Houston where he has been taking mineral law courses. He is also a research assistant for College of Law.
In addition to course work, he has been active in leadership roles for the Oil and Gas Law Society and editor of the Harry L. Reed Oil & Gas Institute Energy Newsletter.
This past summer he served as a summer associate with Haynes and Boone, LLP’s Energy Group Practice.
In his application, Grant wrote: “Being located in Houston, one of the world’s major hubs for energy practice, I have a perfect opportunity to contribute to the energy and natural resources law field. My determination to succeed, my aspiration to achieve my career goals, and my acquired education of energy law at STCL will provide me with the tools necessary to leave a positive impact in the field of energy law.”
Grant didn’t necessarily start out to be a lawyer but his interest in oil and gas began while in high school when he worked for his father’s business which involved pressure washing oil and gas equipment, sand blasting paint off motorized pumps and disassembling greasy equipment. Not only did it pique his interest in oil and gas, it helped develop perseverance — plus his parents instilled in him how hard work could help get him to his goal.
His decision to pursue a career in law came in his junior year as an undergraduate and, taking a leap of faith, he opted to study law. He intends, once employed, to pay it forward “so that future students may also have an opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming an energy lawyer.”
Jessica M. Barnes, Duquesne University School of Law
A third year law student at Duquesne University School of Law, Jessica Barnes originates from Cleveland, OH. She attended nearby Heidelberg University in Tiffin, where she majored in Environmental Science and Business Administration, earning a bachelor of science degree.
While at Duquesne, she has served as treasurer and vice president of the Environmental Law Society; was a junior staff member of the Duquesne Law Review; student associate of the Lexus Review and student representative of the Themis Bar Review.
Her previous work experience includes interning for Babst Calland in their Pittsburgh office and serving as a research fellow for the National Science Foundation at The University of Toledo, Lake Erie Center, where she participated in research associated with the environmental and economic issues related to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
As Jessica wrote in her application, “My interest began while I was an undergraduate student at Heidelberg University in Ohio. While there, I was a double major in environmental science and business administration. My environmental science courses included the study of water systems, ecology, and chemistry. My business courses included economics, business ethics, and finance. Overall, I was curious about how the concepts of natural resources and economic development coexisted and intermingled, such as in environmental sustainability.”
She cites the work she has done for Babst Calland as not only benefitting her as a law student but further supporting her interest in energy and natural law. Her references specifically point to her work ethic and commitment to energy, mineral and natural resources law.
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Courtney Cole, Appalachian School of Law
Courtney Cole hails from Cleveland, Ohio and received a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major — biology and criminal justice — from Muskingum University. She went on to Appalachian School of Law where she is a third year student.
She was active in various organizations at Muskingum and has continued at Appalachian: vice president of the Environmental Law Society, photographer for the Legacy Committee, member of the Business and International Law Society, and a team member of the Energy Moot Court competition team.
A lover of nature, as she wrote in her application, “It wasn’t until I paused to take it all in that I really opened my eyes and saw all the environment has to offer. In my time of need, the environment showed me the beauty in a world that seemed to be dark everywhere, coupled with crime and danger. On the hiking trails, I found wildlife that appeared innocent. The air and the breeze made me feel alive. All of these reasons are why I have chosen to pursue a career in environmental law.”
Courtney hopes, after graduation, to go onto a job in the environmental field, “working to better the rules and regulations surrounding both our protection of the environment and our usage of the Earth’s resources.”
As one of her references wrote: “She shows great enthusiasm for the practice of law, takes advantage of every professional opportunity she is given, and represents herself and the school in stellar fashion.”
Bailey Emory, West Virginia University College of Law, Cabot Scholarship
Pennsylvania native Bailey Emory elected to go to law school after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Jefferson College with a double major of environmental science and philosophy. She began her law school career at Capital University before transferring to West Virginia University where she is now a third year student, concentrating on energy and sustainable development law.
She has been active in a variety of organizations while in law school: Environmental Law Society, Energy Law Society, Woman’s Leadership Council, Public Interest Advocate and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.
A lifelong resident of Uniontown, PA, she has been exposed to the energy industry her entire life. Her father is an industrial electrician and as she said, “I’ve learned first-hand about the field from him. When the fracking boom hit Pennsylvania, Uniontown’s economy grew substantially, as many people worked in the industry. I witnessed what the energy industry can do for a small town and recognized the importance and necessity of environmental compliance.”
Because of that experience, Bailey knew she wanted to further her studies in the environmental field and decided law school was the best avenue to pursue.
“The natural gas industry has put me through law school, and part of my reason for wanting to practice in this field is because I want to give back to the industry that helped me further my education.”
Her goal after graduation is to work for a coal or natural gas company in their regulatory and compliance department. Eventually, she wants to go back to Uniontown to open her own firm specializing in the energy and natural resource sectors.
Tyler R. Laudick, Washburn University School of Law
Tyler Laudick, a Wichita native, graduated from Wichita State University with a biomedical engineering degree before coming to Washburn University School of Law where he is in his third year.
He has been active with a variety of organizations while at Washburn: competitor in the Jessup Moot Court team where he was the top oralist; Notes Editor for the Washburn Law Journal; small group leader for the School of Law; judicial extern to the Hon. Angel D. Mitchell and clerk for the law firm of Tenopir and Huerter.
Presently he works for the United States District Court in Topeka while attending classes.
Tyler describes himself as “ . . . enthusiastic and motivated to continue learning and developing my skills so I can make a positive impact in the natural resources community,” and his references agree.
He acknowledged that his background in biomedical engineering may seem like a strange fit for the field of natural resource law but countered that by saying his past experiences have provided him with a comprehensive background of problem solving and analytics. “Moreover, I have learned to apply these talents I acquired to build and develop legal skills,” he went on to explain.
“For instance, my participation in the Washburn Law Journal has provided important legal writing and research opportunities. I want to use my education and experiences to tackle important issues surrounding natural resources.”
As Tyler describes it, his decision “to pursue a career that fulfills my desire to be a leader in my community as well as being able to apply the skills I acquired as an engineering major coincides with my passion for the law.”
He plans to use all he learns to make a positive impact on the natural resources community.
Benjamin N. (Ben) Moore, SMU Dedman School of Law
Graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor in Business Administration, Texas native Ben Moore is currently a third year student at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
He was president of the Pre-Law Society during his undergraduate years and while at SMU, he has participated in both the Business Law Leadership Program and the Dallas Bar Association (as a student member).
His interest in energy and natural resources law began as he worked to earn an undergraduate degree. As he explains in his application, “The dean of the business school selected me for the Economic Club of Oklahoma scholarship, which is an organization made up of business leaders of Oklahoma, many in the oil and gas industry. Thanks to that award I met several prominent figures in the industry, including a preeminent energy lawyer. During conversations that followed, he introduced me to oil and gas law, and since then I’ve been eager to take law school courses to further my knowledge.”
He is pursuing joint JD/MBA degrees, with the goal of being able to advise on legal matters while also approaching issues with a business mindset. As Ben says, “I believe that these dual degrees will be especially advantageous in the energy industry because the legal and business issues are so deeply interconnected.”
Upon graduation, he hopes to return to Texas to join a law firm and pursue a career in energy mergers and acquisitions law, finding the practice of law in the energy industry to be “both intellectually stimulating and absolutely critical to continued economic prosperity,” particularly in his home state of Texas.
Erin O’Brien, West Virginia University College of Law
Erin O’Brien, a Buffalo, New York native, is attending West Virginia University College of Law where she is a third year student, having graduated with a BS in Chemistry (with a concentration in forensic chemistry) from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She is also serving as a research assistant at the WVU Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization.
Activities while in law school include vice president of the Democratic Law Society; academic and curriculum chair of the Student Bar Association and a member of the Women’s Leadership Council.
Written referrals have noted she is “very passionate about energy and natural resources law” and that she can be “expected to make a significant contribution in the field.” Writings include papers on relevant issues in the energy industry: How the Trump-era EPA is Limiting the Protections under Sec. 401 of the Clean Water Act and Water Justice in West Virginia: The Southern Coalfields’ Fight for Water Infrastructure.
In her application for the scholarship, Erin wrote, “I envision myself as a legal advocate in the energy and environmental area working for a federal agency focusing on water, land use planning, and toxic substances. I aspire to be a lawyer who brings both my knowledge of the law and the scientific skillset I gained while acquiring my chemistry degree.”
As her law professors wrote, she also describes herself as passionate about energy and the environment.
“My current involvement in energy and environmental law will only grow as I enter practice. I find the federal administrative and procedural areas of the law fascinating, especially in the context of energy and the environment. Drafting and writing a federal regulation, from notice-and-comment all the way to the final rule, would be an absolute dream,” Erin wrote.
When she graduates, she hopes to work in a government agency setting, saying, “I am unwavering in my belief of making a difference in this world and working for a federal agency will help me do so. I refuse to sacrifice my career goals for a monetary value.”
Desireé (Desi) Smith, Washburn University School of Law, EMLF Scholarship and the Mary Sue Schulberg Scholarship
Grand Junction, CO native Desireé Smith is a third year student at Washburn University School of Law, having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications from Colorado State University.
Since coming to Washburn, where she is first in her class, Desi has been active in the Oil & Gas Society/Center for Excellence; staff writer for the Washburn Law Journal; vice president of the Washburn Student Bar Association; and social media chair and co-director of the Children and Family Law Center.
She grew up in a rural area of Western Colorado where, in her words, “access to natural resources was a common topic of conversation and a common source of discontentment.” Access to water and other natural resources are issues in the local farming and livestock industries, and oil and gas production is also very prevalent.
While her initial intent was to study family law, she quickly became intrigued by Washburn’s many oil and gas law courses and switched her emphasis. “I look forward to making an impact on this industry and taking on the evolving challenges this industry presents,” Desi wrote in her application.
Her references were quite complimentary of her abilities as well as her commitment to the rural areas of Kansas and Colorado where she would eventually like to practice.
Sarah Straub, Penn State Law, EMLF Scholarship and the James H. Davis, III Memorial Scholarship
Lewisburg, PA native Sarah Straub earned a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from Central Penn College before coming to Penn State Law, University Park where is currently a third year student.
Presently, she is a research assistant at the Penn State Center for Agriculture and Shale Law as well as working as a law clerk for Mette, Evans & Woodside.
Her journey to law school has taken some time because she has worked full time between degrees to help retire debt because, in her words, “I want to ensure I can accept a position post-graduation without considering the pay and focusing only on the organization’s mission.”
Her intent is to return to the community where she grew up to practice law.
“My focus at Penn State has been on gaining the skills to take back home and assist my neighbors with their legal issues regarding agriculture, natural resources and energy,’ Sarah wrote in her application.
Noting that she understands the apprehension some members of rural communities have toward lawyers, the legal community, and the government’s regulation of land usage, she wrote, “I want to use my practice to work with agricultural and energy clients to solve their issues and shift their view of the law as a means to improve their businesses, rather than an obstacle to be avoided. I want to use my practice to educate farmers and rural landowners to work within the regulations and improve their practices.”
Her references praised her work ethic, her thoroughness and precision, and her can-do attitude, as well as her desire to excel.