Alec Vogelpohl has won the Ohio State Bar Association’s 2015 Environmental Law Award for his paper titled “Ohio’s Public Trust Doctrine: The State’s Duty to Prevent Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie.”The article was published in the Ohio State Bar Association’s Environment, Energy and Resources Law Seminar materials, and Vogelpohl received a prize of $1,000 donated by the Ohio law firm McMahon DeGulis LLP.
The Ohio State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Award is the prize for a writing contest for law students on topics that advance the application and practice of environmental, energy or resources law in the state.
Vogelpohl’s paper analyzes how the public trust doctrine, rooted in the U.S. Constitution, statutes and common law, imposes a duty on the state to protect the public’s rights of navigation, commerce and fishing in Lake Erie. The state is violating its duties under the public trust doctrine by failing to address key sources of nutrient pollution contributing to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, Vogelpohl argued, and the state should be forced to regulate those sources.
“Alec’s novel paper does a great job of applying an ancient legal doctrine to an important modern problem,” said Ken Kilbert, associate dean for academic affairs, professor of law, and director of the UT College of Law’s Legal Institute of the Great Lakes.
Vogelpohl graduated cum laude last month with a certificate of concentration in environmental law.
Last year, he earned a Best Oralist Award at the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition.
This is the sixth year for the Ohio State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Award, and it marks the second time a UT law student captured the top prize. 2012 law alumnus M. Zack Hohl won three years ago.
According to the Ohio State Bar Association website, a panel of environmental lawyers and association members reviewed the submitted articles, which were judged on the following criteria: relevance to the practice of law in Ohio, timeliness and importance of the selected topic, organization, quality of legal analysis, quality of legal research, and quality of the overall writing.
This year there were two second-place winners: Alex Savickas, who also graduated from the UT College of Law in May, and a student from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.