Sawyer Connelly, Editor in Chief
Sawyer hails from the Acadian forests and coast of Northern New England. He found his way west to Colorado College, receiving a degree in Environmental Science and English. During his undergrad, he fell in love with the indomitable western landscape. After a brief stint working as a fly-fishing guide in Scandinavia, he began a career in conservation advocacy working on federal, state, and local issues related to public lands, hunting, and conservation for NGOs, federal, and state agencies. He returned to school to pursue an MS/JD. He is interested in conservation funding, energy, water, and equity. In his free time, he can be found exploring rivers, mountains, or prairies with his two bird dogs and partner, Erika.
Jennifer Kieffer, Editor in Chief
Jennifer grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in Marin County. After exploring the beaches and headlands of Northern California, she moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana. Once in Montana, she spent time around the state working for various regenerative farms and ranches, while earning her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies. In an effort to serve sustainably minded producers through legal reform, Jennifer is pursuing a law degree and a Masters of Public Administration.
Anna Belinski, Publication Editor
Anna is from Aspen, Colorado where she was raised exploring the Elk Mountain range of the Rocky Mountains and spending as much time as possible taking extra environmental science courses or backpacking, rafting, and skiing in the surrounding valleys. From a young age Anna knew environmental law was her passion, stemming from the desire to protect and advocate for the intersections of human health and wellbeing and our natural environment. Anna attended Gonzaga University for undergrad where she double majored in Environmental Studies and Sociology.
Amanda Spear, Publication Editor
Amanda was born and raised in Butte, Montana. She has been fortunate enough to spend a significant amount of time exploring the great outdoors. Some of her favorite hobbies include skiing, camping, hunting, spending time with family, and the occasional Netflix series. Amanda attended Montana State University and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering. After spending some time in Western New York, she was ecstatic to be able to return to Montana to attend law school. Amanda looks forward to practicing law in the great state of Montana.
Brian Brammer, Managing Editor
Brian grew up in Ohio, but after being stationed in the Mojave from 2008-10, he decided to stay out west. He has lived in a half-dozen western states, including a stint as a gold miner in the Alaskan bush. Most recently, he spent five years working with current and former members of the chronically homeless community in Portland. He enjoys small towns, hiking, and gawking at birds with his dog Coop.
Ali Stapleton, Managing Editor
Ali grew up in Colorado and was incredibly lucky to have the great outdoors in her backyard. She lived in Durango Colorado prior to moving to Montana and experienced firsthand the impact of the Gold King Mine Spill. This event sparked her interest in water law and natural resource conservation. This ultimately led Ali to Montana to pursue her legal career. Some of her favorite activities are climbing, backpacking, fly fishing, and mountaineering. Her favorite place that she has alpine climbed is the Wind River Range, and she goes back any chance she can get.
Eliot Thompson, Business and Technology Editor
Eliot grew up in the cornfields of Southern Illinois. After wandering into a degree in political science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, he escaped to Montana for a two-year stint with AmeriCorps to experience geographic diversity. Eventually, Eliot succumbed to the magnetic, juristic draw of law school. Outside of school, Eliot enjoys hiking, watches birds, plays board games, and suffers through legislative sessions.
While not originally from Montana, Louisa grew up here and has fallen in love with the West. She graduated from Montana State University Bozeman in 2018 and came to the University of Montana School of Law in 2022. While not studying, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, running, gardening, and traveling.
Sapphire grew up in the rolling hills of the Rocky Boy's Reservation in north-central Montana. She is a proud Chippewa-Cree tribal citizen. As a young Indigenous mother, Sapphire understands the importance of preserving our lands for future generations. She wants her son to grow up harvesting traditional medicines, picking juneberries and chokecherries, and hunting and preparing traditional foods like their ancestors. Pursuing a Juris Doctorate concentrating in American Indian Law and Environment ensures she can advocate for tribal sovereignty and protect her culture through the legal realm. In her free time, Sapphire enjoys sewing, beading, and chasing her son.
Amber is from Lemmon, South Dakota, where she developed an appreciation for the Great Plains and the merits of slow, small-town life. At the University of South Dakota, she ran cross country and track and discovered a love of conservation work and studies. After attaining her B.A. in Sustainability, Amber got to know Montana through her work as an election organizer with MontPIRG. She is now pursuing a juris doctorate—complete with certificates of specialization in Natural Resources and Environmental Law and American Indian Law—due to her interest in renewable energy development and the eradication of environmental justices within the pursuit. She also enjoys serving as Law School Representative on the ACLU Montana board of directors.
Brandy is originally from just south of Detroit. When she was younger, she enjoyed ice skating at Campus Martius, exploring the wonders of the Hiedelberg project, and going to Red Wings games at the Joe Louis Arena. What she didn't enjoy so much were the rapidly developing sewage plants, garbage dumps, and other polluting industrial facilities that formed along the barriers of the lower-income areas of Detroit. After attending Central Michigan University to study sociology and criminal justice, Brandy realized the extensive work that needed to be done to defend historically disadvantaged and low-income communities against the deliberate placements of hazardous waste sites. Brandy is excited to take action against deliberate environmental injustice through the practice of law and contribute to the expanding academic field of research surrounding these issues.
Will grew up in San Diego, California, but has lived and worked in a number of different states since graduating from college. Before coming to law school, Will worked seasonal jobs and converted a van into a camper, travelling around the country for a year and a half. In his free time, Will enjoys hiking, skiing, and poking around abandoned mines. He is passionate about protecting public lands and the wild animals that depend on them.
Sarah Yarlott grew up in Missoula, Montana. Sarah is a tribal member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and descendant of the Crow Nation. She received her undergraduate from the University of Montana in English Literature and Creative Writing. Prior to law school Sarah was a professional scratch baker and amateur peak bagger. While on a hike up the Great Northern Mountain, Sarah decided the time had come to pursue a law degree. Sarah spends her free time hiking, backpacking, lifting weights, and hanging out with her dog and husband.
Meridian grew up in Moscow, Idaho, and graduated from Utah State University with a degree in conservation-restoration ecology and natural resources pre-law. Her background recreating and guiding on western rivers led her to pursue law school to advocate for protecting these important places. Meridian has worked with numerous environmental nonprofits and hopes to have a career working in environmental policy and law for a nonprofit in the Western US. In her free time, you can find Meridian climbing peaks with her dog, rafting rivers with friends and family, finding the best lines to ski, and catching sunrises and sunsets with her camera.
Ayden was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and grew up exploring the Uinta and Wasatch Mountains. While growing up, he spent time camping and fishing in Montana as his grandparents are from Butte, Montana. Ayden attended Cal-State Long Beach and returned to the mountain west to attend law school after somewhat successfully learning how to surf. Mountain biking, fly-fishing, and river rafting are some activities he enjoys outside of school. He is interested in practicing in the environmental field, whether in transactional or regulatory work.
Professor Michelle Bryan
Professor Michelle Bryan teaches in the Natural Resources & Environmental Law Program and is Co-Director of the Land Use & Natural Resources Clinic, which works on behalf of Montana governments and is among only a few such clinics nationwide. She has been honored to receive the Garlington, Lohn & Robinson Faculty Teaching Award and the Margery Hunter Brown Faculty Merit Award for her professionalism in the classroom, her research, and her public service. Growing up in farming and ranching communities in the West, Professor Bryan was drawn to the fields of natural resources and environmental law. Before joining the law faculty, she worked in private practice representing a variety of clients including local governments, private landowners, non-profits, developers, and affected neighbors and community groups. She brings this diversity of perspective to her scholarship, her teaching, and her work with government clients. Her current research interests include the relationship between land and water use, planning in an age of climate change, the balancing of environmental and land use rights, and the role of public trust in water use. Outside of teaching, Professor Bryan has served as board member and past president of the Montana Justice Foundation. She enjoys hiking, fly fishing, and exploring the vast spaces Montana. Professor Bryan graduated from The University of Montana School of Law with high honors and served as an editor of the Montana Law Review. Prior to law school she was a policy specialist for the Water Resources Center in Bozeman, Montana.
Professor Kekek Stark
Kekek Stark is an Assistant Professor of Law with the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. In this capacity he is the Co-Director of the following programs: the Indian Law Program; the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic; and the American Indian Governance and Policy Institute. He is a Turtle Mountain Ojibwe and member of the Bizhiw (Lynx) Clan. Kekek is a former president of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, a forum Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow and alumnus of Hamline University School of Law. Kekek worked as an assistant professor with the American Indian Studies Department at the University of Minnesota – Duluth as well as an adjunct faculty member at several institutions. In addition to his teaching experience, Kekek served as the Attorney General for the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, as a policy analyst in the Division of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and as a policy analyst for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians. As a practitioner of Indigenous law, Kekek has firsthand experience in training students in how to work productively with Indigenous principles and procedures. Along the way, he has helped build institutions grounded in Anishinaabe law and has helped students and communities forge better relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous institutions and peoples, strengthening tribal sovereignty.