December 8, 2011
Bennett Bearden became the third person to earn a JSD in International Water Resources Law on Dec. 2, 2011, with a successful on-campus defense of his dissertation, "Following the Proper Channels: Tributaries in the Mekong Legal Regime," before a three-judge panel.
Bearden, special counsel on water law and policy at the Alabama Office of the State Geologist, credited his advisor, Professor Steve McCaffrey, for what he termed "the most enjoyable and rewarding educational experience of my life."
Coming from a person who holds a B.S. and M.S. in Geology from the University of Alabama, a J.D. from the Birmingham School of Law, an LLM in Commercial and Corporate Law from the University of London, and a Certificate in Watershed Management from the University of British Columbia, that is a strong endorsement of McGeorge's water resources program.
A JSD (Doctor of Juridical Science) is legal education's equivalent of a Ph.D. The JSD typically requires three to five years to complete, and requires an advanced study in law as a scientific discipline and a dissertation, which serves as an original contribution to the scholarly field of law.
Flavia Loures, a UNESCO special counsel, Worldwide Fund for Nature's Global Freshwater Program senior program officer, and the leading practitioner campaigning for the ratification of the United Nations Watercourses Convention, joined Professors Rachael Salcido and Gregory Weber on the dissertation defense panel.
Bennett, the 2008 recipient of the McGeorge's Slater International Water Law Award, is a member of the Alabama State Bar, the Washington, D.C. Bar and is admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales. He is a frequent panelist at water conferences and a former adjunct professor at the University of Alabama and the Birmingham School of Law.
Arizona water law attorney Margaret Vick, '83, JSD '09, and Taiwanese attorney/engineer Wen-Lu Wang, JSD '10, are the only other successful candidates for McGeorge's unique degree.