Tulane University Law School has named Kim Talus, a renowned European scholar of energy law, as inaugural holder of the James McCulloch Chair in Energy Law. Talus also will become founding director of the new Tulane Center for Energy Law when he joins the law faculty in January 2018.
The chair was launched with a $2 million endowment gift from energy industry veteran Jim McCulloch (A&S ’74, L ’77), executive vice president and general counsel for Houston-based Forum Energy Technologies, and his wife, Susan. Through the center, Tulane Law aims to leverage its strengths in the related fields of maritime, environmental and international law to build a world-leading program in energy law.
Talus currently holds a dual appointment as Professor of Energy Law at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland, where he is a founding co-director of the Center for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law. He also has taught at University College London and the Universities of Bonn, Houston, Malta and Sydney.
He has published seven books and more than 100 articles and chapters dealing with every sector of the energy field and has lectured across the globe, including in Australia, Brazil, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. He also is editor in chief of the Oil, Gas and Energy Law journal.
Talus’ appointment was hailed by leading energy law scholars consulted during the international search.
Nigel Bankes, chair of Natural Resources Law at the University of Calgary and vice-chair of the Canadian Institute of Resources Law, called Tulane’s recruitment of Talus “quite a coup.” “Kim Talus is quite simply the most prominent and well-rounded energy lawyer in Europe,” Bankes wrote.
Tina Hunter, chair at the University of Aberdeen and director of Aberdeen’s Centre of Energy Law, said Talus’ work is “exemplary and ground-breaking, and his leadership in the field of energy law, and in particular European energy law, is first class.”
Sirja-Leena Penttinen, a lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland and frequent Talus collaborator, is set to join the Tulane Center for Energy Law as assistant director. Penttinen has authored or co-authored four books and more than a dozen articles on energy and competition law in Europe and elsewhere. She also has played an integral role at UEF’s Center for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law. She has been a researcher in Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and Malta and has presented her work at colloquia and conferences in London, Madrid, Berlin, Brisbane, Houston and elsewhere.
The Center for Energy Law will allow Tulane to take a global leadership role in a field that is vital to Louisiana and rapidly growing in importance on many fronts, with high-stakes implications for the economy, environment and international security.
“Energy law and policy is inherently and increasingly international and has never been more important,” Dean David Meyer said. “Tulane Law School is uniquely positioned to lead in this area, given its location in the heart of America’s energy corridor and its long leadership in the closely allied fields of environmental, international, and maritime law.”
“Kim Talus, as Europe’s leading energy scholar with broad experience and connections around the world, is uniquely qualified to build a distinctive energy law program that understands energy in its international context,” Meyer said.
“We intend to make Tulane a crossroads for scholars, policymakers and leaders from around the world to engage the most urgent and vexing challenges relating to the responsible development and use of energy.”
In recent years, Tulane Law has been raising its profile in the field, expanding opportunities for students to learn firsthand about the industry. For instance, through a partnership with Valero Energy Corp., students take field visits that show them the refining business close up and introduce them to the complex compliance issues the company’s lawyers encounter. A similar partnership with Blessey Marine gives students an inside view into the legal issues facing the nation’s largest fleet of vessels carrying energy products across the United States.
In spring of 2017, adjunct Professor Bob Sloan, a former Entergy general counsel who also has experience in nuclear non-proliferation, took students to tour the power company’s Waterford 3 nuclear power plant on the Mississippi River, adding a valuable dimension to his energy law, regulation and policy course that covers the entire range of major energy sources.
The law school also has engaged internationally on energy. Through a partnership arranged by the U.S. Department of State, Tulane Law faculty traveled to Azerbaijan to teach courses in energy, environmental and maritime law in 2013 and 2014. And, in November 2016, Tulane Law hosted a U.S.-China Energy and Trade Law Forum led by Professor Guiguo Wang, Tulane’s Eason-Weinmann Chair of International and Comparative Law and one of the world’s leading scholars in international trade and economic law.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kim Talus and Sirja-Leena Penttinen to Tulane and excited about what they will help us build here,” Meyer said.