College of Law

Home Remembrances of Professor Emeritus Bill Lockhart

Professor Emeritus Bill Lockhart passed away Tuesday, April 16, 2024. He taught at Utah Law for 47 years and was a lifetime advocate for protecting public lands, especially within the National Park System, and an expert within constitutional law.

Lockhart’s former colleagues and students have submitted their memories of him below, demonstrating the impact he had during his five decades at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.

To contribute your own memory of Professor Lockhart, email one to three paragraphs (along with your name and title) to We will update this page frequently as we receive submissions.

Read the College of Law's remembrance feature.

Note: Submissions have been edited for clarity and length.


Darren Hawkins

Professor, Political Science, Brigham Young University

As a young undergraduate student at the U., I had an internship at the National Parks and Conservation Association, where Bill was a consultant. I met regularly with him as I worked on a major report on water resources in our national parks. I learned so much from his expert, deep knowledge of environmental law and his caring, dedicated attitude. He had a gentle way about him that I admired greatly. He mentored me and improved my work with appropriate praise and critique. I appreciate his influence in my life.

Mark Squillace

Raphael J. Moses Professor of Natural Resources Law, University of Colorado Law School

As a student at Utah Law back in the late 1970s, Professor Lockhart was a mentor to me. I studied administrative law with him and subsequently arranged with him to do an independent study project on certain provisions in the then-recently enacted federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. As I recall my paper was well in excess of 50 pages, and although he gave me an “A," I remember him commenting that my paper lacked sufficient detail. Bill Lockhart had high standards and expected his students to meet them!

After I entered the academy in the mid-1980s, Bill and I became friends, in part as the result of a meeting at a major law firm in Salt Lake City to which we were both invited. Although I don’t recall the meeting in detail, it involved some sort of negotiation with industry lawyers over certain coal mining practices. It was not a formal meeting, but Bill and I ended up essentially cross-examining one of the industry lawyers to great effect. One of my favorite memories from that meeting was what happened when it was time for lunch. The firm had arranged for lunch to be brought into the meeting, but Bill would not accept the lunch unless they let him pay for it. Bill Lockhart could not be bought for a ham sandwich. Bill and I bonded over our experience at that meeting and although we did not see much of each other over the years, we remained good friends. I will miss him.

Bruce Plenk

Utah Law alum

Most of my law school classmates thought I was nuts to take Prof. Lockhart’s Admin Law class, but I actually liked it, mostly. Even more, I enjoyed the clinic work with him to keep a nuclear waste dump out of Canyonlands NP, where we used both the meat and the tedium of the class. Voila! No dump!!

I got the message: You can use the law for the good.

David Leta

Utah Law alum

It was the spring semester of 1976, my last semester before graduating from law school. That semester I was taking Administrative Law from Professor Lockhart, but this class was unlike any other that I had taken at the College of Law. In addition to the normal classwork of studying rules, regulations, procedures and cases related to Administrative Law, Bill gave us "an administrative law project" to work on, which, in reality, was his way of getting free labor to help him work on an local environmental case of concern, while, at the same time, teaching us about administrative law in real time. The project was the proposed development of an open pit coal mine in Southern Utah that would have permanently damaged a large area of sensitive public land. Bill was dead-set against this development and used us as field soldiers to help him stop it. He divided the class into "teams," each of which was assigned to a particular environmental aspect of the proposed development, e.g., water, air, wildlife, recreation, etc., and then we were told to investigate the administrative approval aspects of the proposed project that related to each such topic area and figure out ways to administratively challenge the proposed development. As a result, we filed numerous administrative objections. Then, during spring break, a group of us headed to southern Utah for a camping trip, which was totally unrelated to the class project. However, while having breakfast in a small cafe in Escalante, Utah, we saw, with delight, the headline of The Salt Lake Tribune that morning which read something to the effect of "project killed." As we cheered and high-fived each other, the local residents in the cafe gave us a collective dirty look. They were not as happy. Nevertheless, the class and the process was one of my most memorable learning experiences as a law student, and it demonstrated how Bill was both a memorable and important teacher for his students. Bill and I remained friends thereafter, and I will miss him greatly.

Bob Keiter

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law professor and director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment

It was my great fortune to meet Bill more than 30 years ago when we both were in the early stages of examining the laws governing national parks as a vehicle to safeguard the parks from threatening outside developments. He and his eventual wife (Terri Martin) were then deeply engaged in campaigns to stop a nuclear waste facility proposal adjacent to Canyonlands National Park and energy development proposals in the northern Rockies. They soon prevailed in these controversies and several others over the years, with Bill providing the legal muscle to safeguard our national treasures. His lawyer’s stamp is on several important judicial decisions in both the federal and Utah courts.

As I recall, we met at a conference in Colorado and promptly connected over our interest in the national parks and commitment to protecting them. At the time, I was at the University of Wyoming, while Bill was a long-tenured Utah faculty member. That initial connection led to Bill graciously inviting me on a Colorado River rafting trip through Canyonlands, where we cemented our professional relationship and began a personal one too. Soon thereafter, Bill invited me to join a book project on the national parks that he was overseeing for the National Parks Conservation Association—an opportunity that introduced me to NPCA and eventually resulted in my multi-year tenure on NPCA’s Board of Trustees.

Next, 30 years ago, I received a fateful call from Bill inquiring whether I would be interested in moving from Wyoming to Utah to bolster the College of Law’s natural resources law program. It was apparent Utah was interested in my services due to Bill’s recommendation. Linda and I made the move in 1993 and have not looked back since. Soon after my arrival, Bill joined with several of my new Utah colleagues to conceive and create the College’s Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources, and the Environment, which has become the law school’s flagship program. As we grew the center, Bill was a regular participant and trusted colleague in charting its future.

At the same time, Bill was pursuing his growing interest in international environmental law, securing Fulbright Scholar appointments in Africa and India—all of which stands as a testament to his lifelong commitment to learning and employing his legal knowledge and skills to conserve the world’s vital natural assets. Following his retirement, Bill continued to engage with the Stegner Center and regularly attended our programs, always ready with suggestions about future topics and speakers.

Simply put, Bill was a wonderful colleague, mentor, and friend to whom I owe much in my career. His commitment to the College of Law, his colleagues and students during his 50-plus year career was both clear and memorable—as was his selfless commitment to making the world a better place and his accomplishments along the way. He will be missed by all.

Amos Guiora

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law professor

In my initial talk (2006) at SJQ, he asked the most pointed, challenging questions. He knew little about terrorism/counterterrorism but was curious enough to listen, weigh in and push back. I always appreciated that about him.

Bob Adler

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law professor emeritus and former dean

Bill was a great friend and colleague who contributed immensely to the law school and was very devoted to its students for decades. For many years I encountered alums who singled him out as a positive influence, especially in public lands and natural resources law. He had not been well for quite a few years. I called him a couple of times to check in during the early COVID period, and his attitude always remained positive. Bill continued to make his way to the law school periodically to attend Stegner Center events, at least until recently. He will be missed.

Jan Nystrom

Associate director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment

I will miss Bill, as I appreciated his generosity of spirit and his fierce and uncompromising advocacy for the environment and civil rights. We were all the beneficiaries of his work in India, given the number of dignitaries and legal scholars he brought from India to participate in his classes and in Stegner Center programs. I also appreciated his kindness and will remember, always, his thoughtfulness when my mother passed away.

Dick Aaron

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law professor emeritus

Understandably few remain who knew Bill Lockhart or his Siberian Husky, Caleb, who seemed indistinguishable in appearance from a wolf.  Permit me to offer a brief acquaintance.

Bill practiced law briefly in Minneapolis at a different law firm from my own. He headed to Utah before I did, probably with a head start of information because his dad was dean of Minnesota Law School. Before U.S. News and World Report, reputation was amongst the insiders. Utah was a place of remarkable transformation which insiders, like Harvard dean Erwin Griswold, identified as one of the best 20 law schools in the U.S.

Mills Lane, one of our most interesting and celebrity graduates, was awed in Wild Bill’s Con Law class because a question was framed in a sentence that accounted for all qualifications. By the time the statement reached the question mark, it was hard to remember all of the predicates. He took Con Law—and everything—very seriously.

Most serious to Bill was the threat to the beauty and abundance of Utah. His energy was protecting that beauty and abundance through the tools of litigation which many in the Utah government and business community found vexing. Willis Ritter was Chief District judge, a former faculty member, and a controversial and complex man. On one point there was no disagreement. Ritter suffered no fools and dismissed anything less than excellence. When Ritter was frustrated by the political fumbling in filling the vacancy, he appointed Bill Lockhart as the U.S. Attorney.

Bill’s legacy is hidden in the reporters and archives and the memories of a dwindling group. All of us who find this law school a place of opportunity worth investing our professional lives, simply assume its stature. Bill’s shoulders were one of those on which we stand.

Virginia Beane

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, administrative director

I saw Bill recently, and by accident, at the top of Boulder Mountain. We were both at the stop that overlooks the magnificent Escalante below. We chatted briefly. It was so good to see him, and how perfect. What an extraordinary life.

Debora Threedy

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law professor emerita

When I first arrived on the faculty, I think Bill assumed we wouldn’t have much in common, as I was a city girl from Chicago and my areas of expertise (mainly commercial law and contracts) didn’t seem to have much to do with environmental concerns. But over the next few years, in a series of startling coincidences, Bill and I kept running into each other way back in the wilds of Utah—once just outside of Capitol Reef Park, once at the head of a box canyon in the San Rafael Swell, and once on the Dirty Devil River (I was backpacking along the river, Bill was canoeing down the river)—and it eventually dawned on him that we had a lot more in common than might at first appear!

He was a warrior hero in the fight to protect Utah’s amazing wild lands.