About citizenyang


Margaret Russell Op-ed on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission


Here’s a thoughtful op-ed piece by my colleague Margaret Russell on the pending Supreme Court case regarding a Colorado baker’s violation of the state’s public accommodation anti-discrimination laws in refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple’s due to his religious beliefs:  https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/12/01/wedding-cake-debate-serving-public


California Bar Success


“Graduates of Santa Clara University School of Law have exceeded the California ABA-accredited law school average pass rate on the state’s bar examination for the third year in a row.

Santa Clara Law’s pass rate for first-time takers for the July 2017 exam was 78%. This is 8 points higher than the average for first-time takers from California ABA-accredited law schools, 18 points higher than the average for all first-time takers, and 29 points above the overall pass rate.”

For the full news, see this link to SCU Law website:


White River Environmental Law Writing Competition (Deadline: Dec. 11, 2017)

Sponsored by the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and Vermont Law School

Contest Information

The winning essay will receive a $1000 cash prize and an offer of publication with the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. At the discretion of the reviewing editors, additional submissions may also receive offers of publication. The winner of the competition will be announced in early 2018.

Applicants are invited to submit original essays addressing any relevant topic in the fields of environmental law, natural resource law, energy law, environmental justice, land use law, animal law, and agricultural law.
Eligibility and Judging Criteria
The competition is open to all students currently pursuing a degree (J.D. or LL.M) at an accredited law school in the United States. Submissions written as a class component, as a journal requirement, or otherwise for academic credit are acceptable. All submissions should:
Address a relevant topic in environmental law
Be between 15-30 double-spaced pages in length
Contain accurate Blue Book citations in footnote form
Adhere to standard conventions of American grammar and spelling
Display original work and research that has not been previously published

All submissions will be reviewed by the editors of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. Criteria for reviewing submissions include originality of ideas, depth of research, timeliness and relevance of topics addressed, and writing quality.

Submission Requirement
All submissions should be e-mailed in either Word or PDF format to vjel@vermontlaw.edu by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on December 11, 2017. Please include “Competition Submission” in the e-mail subject line. To ensure anonymity and impartiality in the judging of submissions, please include with your submission a cover page that includes your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, law school, and year of graduation. Do not include your name or any other personal information in any other part of your submission.

Reform of Administrative Law and Enforcement in China


China LAO Delg2 11-13-2017I had a very interesting Monday morning earlier this week, which happened to be in a law firm conference room in Palo Alto.  I gave a presentation introducing the basics of American administrative law to a delegation of senior officials of the Legislative Affairs Office (LAO) of China’s State Council (as well as some officials from provincial legislative affairs offices).   The group of 14 officials are in the US on a study tour, spending this week in the SF Bay area and next week in Washington DC.  In DC, they’ll visit the US Department of Justice and the Interior Department.

When my research assistant Shuyang had researched ongoing activities of the LAO, he came across an interesting administrative reform pilot project, loosely translated as the 3 systems (pillars?) of administrative law enforcement.  These pilot projects, supervised by the LAO, are being implemented in many places in China and are designed to enhance government transparency and to ensure that enforcement occurs consistent with the law.  A February 10, 2017 English language press release  of the State Council  describes the purpose of this pilot project as focused on “information disclosure, full-process recording, and legal review of major law enforcement decisions.”  That appears to mean sharing more information about administrative enforcement processes with the public, better documentation of the enforcement proceedings themselves as well as evidence collection, and ensuring through LAO audits that enforcement processes comport with applicable law.

That is an interesting development, based on what I have seen in my previous lives as head of the US-China Partnership on Environmental Law at Vermont Law School and as EPA Deputy General Counsel.  In many respect, any reform effort that increases transparency of government decision-making, especially administrative enforcement processes, and ensures that enforcement proceedings comport better with the law will be really valuable in moving China closer to the rule of law.

However, I have to confess that none of that came up in my discussions with the delegation.  What did come up was a government proposal to add lawyers to each ministry/agency in China.  The parallel that some of the officials seemed to draw to the US are agency general counsels.  (It was only when they mentioned this that I understood the context of their numerous questions about my former role as EPA Deputy General Counsel.)  I have no idea how definitive this proposal is, but it seemed intriguing.  Compared to the US government, the role of lawyers is rather limited in China’s government bureaucracy.  Formally introducing “general counsel” officers into China’s government ministries would certainly focus government decision-maker more explicitly on the legality of their actions and the rule of law.  At the same time though, it was not clear to me how such new legal officers would interact with existing entities in the bureaucracy that already house lawyers, such as the Law and Policy Department within the Ministry of Environmental Protection.   That Department has always had great lawyers.  I guess we’ll  have to stay tuned to future developments.

China LAO Delg 11-13-2017Here’s a picture of me with  the head of the delegation, Director General Li Mingzheng of the Government Legal Affairs Research Center in the LAO.  The gift in the picture is a stylish silk neck tie.  Undoubtedly, it will seriously enhance my wardrobe.  But even with out that gracious gift, the discussion with the delegation members itself was well worth my time that morning.

Position: Director, Texas A&M Energy Institute (Deadline: unclear, consideration starts Dec. 1, College Station, TX)


Position Announcement
Director, Texas A&M Energy Institute
The Texas A&M Energy Institute (http://energy.tamu.edu ) was founded in 2009 and it is a joint institute between Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). It is led by a director who reports to the Texas A&M University Vice President for Research. The Texas A&M Energy Institute pursues and supports new approaches for multi-disciplinary energy research, education and external partnerships. These approaches cross departmental and college boundaries and address all facets of the energy landscape that naturally connect engineering, sciences, technologies, economics, law and policy. Dedicated to discovering energy solutions and improving the quality of life, the Texas A&M Energy Institute engages undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral associates, research staff, and faculty members toward the study and development of innovative technologies and policies for energy production and energy conservation.
The Energy Institute engages in interdisciplinary research with over 250 faculty affiliates from nine colleges, more than 20 Texas A&M University departments, two Texas A&M University branch campuses, and two Texas A&M University System agencies. Beyond research, it aims to educate the next generation of leaders in energy through its innovative Master of Science in Energy and Energy Certificate educational programs, foster an integrated approach and research agenda across disciplines and develop quantitative tools for the analysis of energy systems that will point the way to sustainability for decision-makers and a better quality of life.
The Energy Institute Director is the chief academic and administrative official for the institute whose responsibilities include:
1. Guiding the development and implementation of a vision for the Energy Institute.
2. Overseeing the Master in Energy and Certificate in Energy programs and providing leadership in energy education and energy research across Texas A&M.
3. Working to ensure resources necessary for the smooth operation of the Energy Institute, including from external awards and business and industry collaborations.
4. Fostering and engaging the growing Energy Institute faculty affiliates and carrying forward the vision on interdisciplinary engagement and inclusiveness across campus.
5. Engaging external agencies, stakeholders and industries at the local, state, national, and international levels to promote the vision, goals and activities of the Energy Institute.
6. Working to create a community of energy scholars and provide an internal and external point of entry for identifying and contacting energy expertise at Texas A&M.
7. Closely following new trends and emerging fields in energy research where Texas A&M can successfully position itself for funding opportunities and collaborations.
Preference for the position will be given to candidates who are qualified to hold an appointment at the rank of full professor with tenure at Texas A&M University. Inquiries, nominations and candidate materials, including a CV and narrative describing background, qualifications and brief a strategic vision for the Energy Institute can be sent in confidence to Ms. Shelly Martin via email to shelly.martin@tamu.edu . Consideration of applicants will begin December 1, 2017 but the position will remain open until filled. For further information, please contact Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, Interim Vice President for Research and search committee chair at vpr@tamu.edu .
Texas A&M University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer committed to diversity.

Fellowship: 2018-2020 Fellow in Climate Change Law, Columbia University Law School, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law (Deadline: Jan 15, 2018, but rolling review; New York City)

Here’s another fellowship opportunity that came across my email.

“Ongoing search for the 2018-2020 Climate Law Fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. The listing is available here. The university does not use this language in its postings, but we do strongly encourage people of color, women, l/g/b/t/q individuals, and those with disabilities to apply.

The deadline to apply is January 15, but applications are taken on a rolling basis, so I always recommended highly interested candidates apply before then.

Please forward to graduating students and those within 3 years of their JD or LLM who you think might be interested.”

Fellowship: Fellow in Conservation Law, Environmental Resilience Institute, Indiana University (Deadline: unclear, Bloomington, IA)

The Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) at Indiana University (IU) invites applications for a Fellow position in conservation law to begin in Fall 2018; the appointment is renewable for up to four years. Applicants with interests in private-land conservation, easements and other property tools, bird migration conservation, and public-private collaborations are especially encouraged to apply. Potential for collaborations with faculty and other fellows within the Environmental Resilience Institute as well as outside partners will be considered assets. Fellows will enjoy a generous research allowance, a rich collaborative environment, and eligibility to serve as PI on external grants. Fellows may work with law faculty and other attorneys affiliated with the Conservation Law Center (http://conservationlawcenter.org/).

The position is part of IU’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative (http://grandchallenges.iu.edu/p4ec). With a primary appointment in the ERI, the successful candidate will join a cohort of twelve Fellows of the ERI and a growing community of colleagues across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities who are engaged in this collaborative program of research and communication about environmental change. Formal affiliation with relevant department(s) and school(s) will be arranged on a case-by-case basis. Excellent fellow candidates will have experience with and openness toward multi-and trans-disciplinary collaborative research.

Applicants must have a J.D. prior to employment along with demonstrated relevant research or practice experience in conservation law; applicants with prior post-J.D. experience will be favored in the review process. Fellows will be expected to develop independent research programs that interface with ERI’s multidisciplinary initiative. Appointment will be for two years initially, with opportunity for renewal.

Apply through: http://indiana.peopleadmin.com/postings/4905

[Additional info:   The fellow will have the opportunity to work closely with Robert Fischman, Dan Cole, and Bill Weeks. The fellow’s office will be located at the law school, but there will be opportunities for collaboration with the Conservation Law Center, the Ostrom Workshop, and the Environmental Resilience Institute.]