February 07, 2018
Kim Talus, the inaugural James McCulloch Chair in Energy Law, joined Tulane Law School in late January and is already at work in the classroom and in launching a new Tulane Center for Energy Law.Talus
, considered one of the most prominent energy lawyers in Europe, moved to Tulane from Finland, where he held faculty appointments at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland and co-directed a center on energy law.
Talus said he was drawn to Tulane because of the unique opportunity to work in energy law alongside strong environmental and maritime law programs that build on broad international elements.
“It seemed like a very natural fit,” Talus said recently from his yet unpacked office at Weinmann Hall. “Adding an energy component to that mix reinforces all aspects of the field. And then, of course, it’s Louisiana. Almost everything related to energy is happening here.”
The creation of the center puts Tulane Law at the forefront of a global industry that is crucial not only to Louisiana, but to the nation.
“Every major challenge facing the global community today – from economic inequality and development to climate change, international security and terrorism – relates to energy policy,” said Tulane Law School Dean David Meyer.
“Tulane Law School already leads in maritime, environmental, and international law,” he said. “The energy law center plays to those strengths and fills in a vital missing piece.”
Talus’ hiring reflects a major new investment in energy law studies at Tulane. The James McCulloch Chair in Energy Law was funded through a $2-million gift by James McCulloch (A&S ’74, L ’77), executive vice president and general counsel for Houston-based Forum Energy Technologies, and his wife, Susan.
A major drive is now underway to raise support for the new Tulane Center for Energy Law. Meyer said the new energy law center is being built in the model of Tulane’s Maritime Law Center and Eason-Weinmann Center for International and Comparative Law, which have driven Tulane’s leadership in those fields.
Talus said Tulane’s energy law center will be comprehensive in terms of energy sources and policy and will leverage Tulane’s distinctive reputation and expertise in international and comparative law.
“This center incorporates the legal study of not just oil and gas and not just renewables, but all forms of energy,” Talus said. “We have a great opportunity here to build a program that will combine all aspects of energy and energy research, and that is very exciting.”
This spring, Talus is teaching Introduction to International and Comparative Energy Law, a course he calls the foundation to a deeper curriculum in all aspects of energy law.
“Students might think they don’t need an international context in this area of law, but then they graduate, and find that they are assigned to work in areas that have an international element,” said Talus. “So much of energy law has an international component.”
Talus will be teaching both semesters in various areas of energy law. He’s working on a future curriculum to expand courses and include a research component. Through the center, Talus plans to host visiting researchers to collaborate with Tulane faculty and work with students.
He has big plans in the coming years: Add courses that have a strong research component, add a website to publish that research, host national conferences that will bring the international energy community here, and make Tulane Law a crossroads for key players from academia, government, industry and elsewhere to engage on emerging issues relating to energy law and policy.
Talus will be joined by Sirja-Leena Penttinen, a frequent academic collaborator, who will serve as Assistant Director of the new center.
Penttinen, an expert on renewable energy sources and EU law and policy, 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.