What classes and support does ASL offer in Natural Resources law?


Natural Resources Law Program

The Appalachian School of Law is continuing to bolster its offerings in Natural Resources and Energy Law. ASL's location in southwestern Virginia, the heart of the Appalachian oil and gas and coal-producing region, makes an emphasis on the topic a natural fit.


The ASL Natural Resources Law Program’s mission is to train attorneys to navigate the increasingly complex world of natural resources law in terms of energy production, conservation, and improving sustainability. At the center of this mission is ASL’s commitment to offer a place for rational discussion, intelligent debate, and collaboration to foster cutting-edge programs and innovative scholarship with the ultimate goal to make students more effective and scientifically grounded policymakers and advocates.


ASL offers a Certificate in Natural Resources Law for students who want to practice in the natural resources, energy or environmental field. The cornerstone of the Certificate is our dynamic and exciting Natural Resources Law Curriculum. The program offers several introductory classes, such as Natural Resources Law and Environmental Law, designed to familiarize students with the law and issues. Additionally, ASL offers upper-level classes that allow students a chance to study cutting edge issues like Sustainable Energy, which focuses on the legal implications of policies and technologies that seek to minimize carbon emissions in the development and delivery of energy. Also available is Oil & Gas Law, which examines correlative rights of surface and mineral owners, and the rights to explore, mine and extract, develop, and transportation. Finally, ASL continues to innovate its Summer and January Term offerings by offering short courses (one or two-week terms) like the Law of Renewables, Oil & Gas Law and Introduction to Natural Resources.

Partnership with Virginia Tech

Interested students may earn a joint Certificate of Graduate Study in Natural Resources from ASL and the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources. Students at both schools can take a combination of courses at both institutions both traditionally and via distance learning. Students must take 12 credit hours of approved coursework to earn the certificate.

Distinguished Professorship in Real Estate Law

Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McClanahan became ASL's first Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law.  McClanahan, an expert in natural gas, coal and oil issues, grew up in Buchanan County. She practiced law with the Law Offices of PennStuart in Abingdon and was a recognized expert in real estate law, regularly lecturing, writing, and publishing on various related topics. She was the 1994 El Paso fellow at the University of Colorado Natural Resources Law Center. She served as Virginia's chief deputy attorney general prior to the Virginia General Assembly appointing her to the bench and served eight years on the Virginia Court of Appeals. The General Assembly elevated her to the Virginia Supreme Court this year, making her only the fourth female justice to serve on the Court.

Appalachian Natural Resources Law Journal

ASL's Natural Resources Law Journal is a student-formed, student-run, faculty-advised organization dedicated to educating students, practitioners, and the surrounding community concerning legal issues related to natural resources. ANRLJ published its first issue in 2007.

Recent Graduates

ASL is proud to boast successful alumni who are working in Natural Resources law. Among them is Troy Nichols '04, who recently joined Alpha Coal Sales Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., as corporate counsel.  Alpha is a Fortune 500 company and ranks as the world's fifth-largest supplier of coal and third-largest supplier of metallurgical coal. Before joining Alpha, Troy practiced at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs in Lexington, Kentucky, where he served as a senior associate and was a member of the firm's Natural Resources & Environmental Service Team. Blair N. Wood '10 practices with the Creekmore Law Firm in Blacksburg, Va. The firm's business litigation practice helps in the defense of oil, gas, and coalbed methane litigation across Virginia and West Virginia. Wood was president of the Energy and Mineral Law Society while at ASL and graduated first in her class.

Current and Former ASL Employers

Alpha Coal Sales Mountain Institute
Alpha Natural Resources Noble Energy
British Petroleum Penn Stuart & Eskridge
CNX Land Resources Rhino Energy
Creekmore Law Firm Shell Oil
Environmental Protection Agency Steptoe & Johnson
Equitable Resources Teco Coal Corporation
EQT Production Company VA Dept of Environmental Quality
Frontier Energy Group Western Land Services
Jackson Kelly Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs
Jones & Associates York Professional Land Services
Street Law Firm