McLaughlin Receives Two Prestigious Appointments

by Lauren Heal

S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Nancy A. McLaughlin was recently elected as a member of The American Law Institute and as an academic fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

The American Law Institute (ALI), which was founded in 1923, drafts and publishes Restatements of the Law, model codes, and legal studies to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs. Its members consist of judges, practicing lawyers, and legal scholars from all areas of the United States as well as some foreign countries. Members are selected on the basis of professional achievement and demonstrated interest in the improvement of the law.

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) is a professional association consisting of lawyers from throughout the United States who are selected on the basis of their professional reputations and contributions to the fields of trusts and estates. One of the central purposes of ACTEC is to study and improve the law and professional responsibility. For more information on The American Law Institute or the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, please visit or

Professor McLaughlin’s election to these prestigious organizations comes as no surprise to Dean Hiram Chodosh. “These extraordinary appointments express to the world what we have known for some time,” he says. “Professor McLaughlin has become one of the very top scholars of her generation and the leading voice on critical issues arising from the increasing use of conservation easements to achieve environmental objectives.”

Professor McLaughlin’s scholarship focuses on conservation easements and nonprofit conservation organization governance issues, and she writes and lectures extensively on these issues (most of her articles are available for download from her webpage). In 2006-2007 she was awarded research fellowships by the University of Utah and the Tanner Humanities Center in recognition of the quality of her scholarship and the uniqueness and importance of her work. And she has won two unsolicited writing awards the 2005 American Agricultural Law Association’s Professional Scholarship Award for Rethinking the Perpetual Nature of Conservation Easements, published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, and the 2004 Probate & Property Editors’ Excellence in Writing Award for her article Questionable Conservation Easement Donations, published in that journal.

Professor McLaughlin has been active in promoting the clarification and simplification of the law as it relates to conservation easements and the nonprofit and governmental entities that acquire such easements. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws consulted with Professor McLaughlin regarding proposed changes to the comments to the Uniform Conservation Easement Act. Those changes, which confirm the Commissioners’ intent that conservation easements be enforced as charitable assets, were officially adopted in February of 2007 and reference Professor McLaughlin’s law journal articles. Professor McLaughlin also served as a member of the Conservation Easement Amendment Policy Group formed in 2005 by the Land Trust Alliance, which is the umbrella organization for the nation’s over 1,700 local, state, and regional land trusts. The goal of the group was to formulate conservation easement amendment policies and procedures that would permit land trusts to both respond to changing conditions and comply with all applicable laws. In October of 2007 Professor McLaughlin was one of four panelists who presented the Land Trust Alliance’s final 100+ page report, entitled Amending Conservation Easements: Evolving Practices and Legal Principles, at the Alliance’s national conference in Denver, Colorado.

Professor McLaughlin’s work on conservation easements has generated a great deal of interest, and she has been invited to present at a variety of academic and non academic venues, including Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Florida College of Law, Brigham Young University, University of Denver College of Law, Florida State University College of Law, Indiana University School of Law, the annual national and southwest conferences of the Land Trust Alliance, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Yosemite Environmental Law Conference, the University of Oregon School of Law’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, and the Natural Resource Law Teacher’s Institute. In November of 2007, the University of Virginia School of Law’s Virginia Environmental Law Journal hosted a symposium inspired by her article,Condemning Open Space: Making Way for National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (or Not)(forthcoming in the journal in the spring of 2008), at which she was the featured speaker.

Professor McLaughlin has also been consulted or interviewed by various media outlets about conservation easements and nonprofit governance issues, including the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, and National Public Radio.

Among her other professional activities, she serves as part of a network of academics and attorneys consulted by the Land Trust Alliance with regard to its Conservation Defense Initiative; she serves on the advisory board of Utah Open Lands (a state-wide land trust) and Vital Ground (a land trust that works to protect grizzly bear habitat on privately-owned land); she serves as a member of the Habitat Protection Advisory Committee of the Wildlife Land Trust (a land trust that works to protect wildlife by preserving natural habitats and permanent sanctuaries); and, since 2000, she has served as a professional editor of the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Journal.

Despite her extensive scholarship, professional activities, and speaking engagements, Professor McLaughlin reserves time for both her teaching and her students. In the spring of 2007 she was awarded the University of Utah’s 2007 Early Career Teaching Award and in 2006 she was awarded the College of Law’s Peter W. Billings Excellence in Teaching Award.