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Friday, May 16, 2008

Boldly going where no lawyer has gone before

As a Star Trek fan, I simply can’t resist passing along this tidbit of information that other “trekkie” lawyers -- and even some non-trekkies -- might find interesting.

Last Saturday, a student at the University of Mississippi School of Law leapt into the final frontier of the legal system when he received the first-ever space law certificate in the United States. According to a report at space.com, Michael Dodge of Long Beach, Miss., earned this special distinction along with his law degree through the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law at the law school.

I’ve never heard of it, but the center has actually been around since 1999. Apparently it’s the only dedicated aerospace law curriculum in the nation from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. Requirements of the program include:
-- courses on U.S. space and aviation law, international space and aviation law, and remote sensing;
-- participation in the publication of the Journal of Space Law; and
-- independent research.

I guess there is a practice area for every interest these days, although there does seem to be a legitimate need for this unique niche. Issues facing a “space lawyer” range from the fallout over satellite shoot-downs to legal disputes between astronauts onboard the International Space Station. The expanding privatization of the space sector may also pose new legal challenges.

I wonder if Mr. Dodge will decide to office on the space station? Or a space ship? Or the moon? Regardless of where he sets up shop, I do have a warning for Dodge's potential clients: Don’t wear a red shirt when entering his law office …

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