November 27, 2023

Caroline Lobdell ’02 Leaves a Rich Legacy of the Western Resources Legal Center

After 16 years as WRLC’s founding executive director and supervising attorney, Caroline Lobdell has stepped down. She leaves behind a rich legacy.

After 16 years serving as the Western Resources Legal Center’s (WRLC) Executive Director, Professor Caroline Lobdell ’02 stepped down to take a position at a water resources management utility. She leaves behind a rich legacy.

Professor Lobdell has served as WRLC’s Executive Director and supervising attorney since its creation in 2007. She is a natural resources and Indian law scholar with extensive experience in complex litigation and contested case hearings. She is also the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the Oregon State Bar’s Environment & Natural Resources Section Leadership Award, the Oregon Women for Agriculture’s Service to Agriculture Award, the Public Lands Council President’s Award, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Top Industry Promoter Award, and the Oregon Cattlemen’s Exceptional Leadership and Service Award.

WRLC provides law students with opportunities to gain experience representing natural resource users on legal issues. Through WRLC, students have prepared U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs and comments to government agencies, conducted client interviews, participated in federal hearings, drafted pleadings, and obtained hands-on experience with other community practitioners and industry leaders. WRLC is the nation’s only hands-on legal training program that specializes in advocacy on behalf of natural resource users. Professor Lobdell’s leadership and vision has been the driving force for all these accomplishments.

Emeritus Dean and Law Professor Jim Huffman encouraged the law school to endorse a natural resources practical skills offering in 2007. It was established as an independent nonprofit, and Professor Lobdell was appointed as its first executive director.

“Hiring Caroline proved to be a stroke of genius, or more truthfully, a stroke of good luck,” said Huffman. “Caroline is a skilled lawyer, gifted teacher and mentor, talented fundraiser, and superlative representative of WRLC and the law school.”

Professor Lobdell was instrumental in building WRLC from the ground up. Under her supervision and expertise, WRLC acquired funding from organizations across the country; secured new partners including the Washington State Farm Bureau, California Cattlemen’s Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, Arizona Cattlemen’s Association, and the Harney County Farm Bureau; and earned a grant from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. Professor Lobdell also helped students gain valuable experience in the field, including by submitting numerous amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court and the Washington Supreme Court among others, drafting summary judgment briefs and 9th Circuit court briefs, preparing administrative reviews of presidential administrations, and much more.

“Caroline was a transformative member of our community,” said Professor Robert Klonoff. “In addition to teaching students the essential skills for practicing law, she helped her students, one by one, find spectacular jobs. Her commitment to her students was exemplary.”

Professor Lobdell will be dearly missed by students and staff alike. “Professor Lobdell had an immeasurable impact on the life and career of any student with the privilege of being in her classroom,” said Jesse Miles ’20, an alum of WRLC. “Her intense advocacy for WRLC’s clients matched her extraordinary advocacy for WRLC student success. Professor Lobdell’s legacy at WRLC will live on through the skilled lawyers produced under her guidance and care.”

“Caroline had a lot of support from dedicated board members, but without her, WRLC would not be the success it is today,” said Huffman. “We were fortunate to have her for as long as we did.” Associate Dean for Environmental Law, Janice Weis, agrees: “Caroline has the ability to make strong connections with all kinds of people and her warmth and dedication to our students truly allowed WRLC to flourish.”

Professor Jessie Barrington now serves as WRLC’s new executive director following Professor Lobdell’s departure.