Law students aid Professor Contreras in updating important property law resource

Aug 05, 2021 | Faculty

The Utah Real Property Law treatise is an important resource for property law in Utah. With property lawyers across the state relying on this treatise, it is vital that the included information is accurate and up-to-date.

“The book covers the full range of real property issues in Utah, from land purchases and sales, to easements and servitudes, to mining and natural resources,” Professor Jorge Contreras said. “It is the only comprehensive real property treatise for our state.”

The original treatise was published in 1978 and was updated in 2014, but with property law changing rapidly, it was due for another update.

The S.J. Quinney College of Law was approached by the Utah State Bar and, as a long-time property professor at the college, Professor Contreras agreed to lead the project. He brought four students on board to help him: Dalton Smuin, Justin Rich, Tanner Weaver, and Jimmy Godin.

“Property was one of my favorite 1L classes, so when Professor Contreras told us in class that we could research Utah real property law for the summer with him, I thought it sounded very interesting,” Smuin said. “I also thought that researching Utah property law would be beneficial to me throughout my career because I want to practice in Utah. I have already used what I learned from the project while working in a firm.”

Professor Contreras worked with the students to review every chapter and methodically check each case and statutory reference for updates. They worked to eliminate text that was outdated or obsolete.

Once an updated draft was completed last fall, the Bar solicited help from its members to review each of the many sections of the treatise. Professor Contreras collected the input from these volunteer reviewers and compiled it into the final version of the treatise, which was completed earlier this year.

“Every real property lawyer I have talked to since finishing the treatise has told me how excited they are for it to be published,” said Rich. “It seems that the previous version was widely used by property lawyers in the state. It was exciting to work on a project that will contribute something meaningful to the legal community in Utah.”

The book is available for sale on Amazon. All proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to law student scholarship funds at the U and BYU.