Opportunity Meets Fortitude: The Out-of-Classroom Experiences of Kirstin Eidenbach
Monday, May 4 2009
May 4, 2009
Photos are available at www.today.uidaho.edu/PhotoList.aspx
Written by Donna Emert
MOSCOW, Idaho –“Extracurricular activities” takes on new meaning in the University of Idaho's College of Law, or at the very least, seems to pack a wallop not always associated with the term.
Third-year law student Kirstin Eidenbach offers one illustration: in the past three years, in addition to meeting the rigorous academic demands of the University of Idaho juris doctor program, she has drafted a model law addressing the protection of primates and launched a critical studies journal.
Her work researching and writing a model law to regulate private ownership of primates was accomplished with the support of the Jane Goodal Institute’s ChimpanZoo. The work also fulfilled a College of Law academic requirement for a minimum 40 hours of pro bono service. Eidenbach will be among the first to have met the new requirement when she graduates May 16.
“When I contacted the Jane Goodal Institute, they were looking at creative ways that states and individuals could begin to approach the private ownership of chimpanzees,” said Eidenbach. “Most of the institute’s resources are committed to scientific endeavors, but my resume just happened to hit their desk at the moment they were considering this legal issue.”
Eidenbach studied primatology as an undergraduate, ultimately working with lemurs in Madagascar in her senior year. She is passionate about protecting primates and other wild animals, and keeping people safe. The recent, brutal chimpanzee attack on a Stamford, Conn., woman is one of several tragic events that illustrate the value of the legislation, Eidenbach noted.
Her model law grafts essential elements of Tennessee and Louisiana law – some of the most effective laws in the nation for the protection of wild animals. Based on those examples, her model weds the scientific insight of professionals in the state’s zoos with the practical, on-the-ground expertise of law enforcement.
For example, when handling violations of the law, Louisiana mandates that both law enforcement and zoological personnel be on site, each to handle situations calling for their respective skills. Eidenbach also found that the inclusion of a grandfather clause for current primate owners, a component of both the Tennessee and Louisiana programs, is almost always necessary for a bill’s successful passage. Her model law seeks to provide a template for use by both governmental bodies and concerned citizens.
The pro bono experience provided Eidenbach insights not only into the mechanics of drafting a law, but also into the culture and values the law reflects.
“One of the things I learned is that the law is inextricably linked to society and to social perspectives,” said Eidenbach. “I discovered the passage of this type of statute usually follows a violent attack. One of the recommendations my proposal makes is that advocates take advantage of social concern, and these unfortunate events, because that’s when the public is most informed and can make a decision.”
Exploring societal expectations, presumptions and perspectives, and how they are formed and maintained, is another Eidenbach passion. She is the engine behind the new University of Idaho Journal of Critical Studies, the crit. The cutting-edge, multi-media publication provides a forum for analysis, scholarly discussion and critical assessment of legal, social, economic, and political issues and institutions. Eidenbach conceptualized the publication and secured a grant to get the journal started in her first year of law school, and has since served as editor-in-chief and contributing author.
“When I talk about the crit, it gives me a great sense of pride to have created something that now has legs of its own to stand on,” Eidenbach said. “The University of Idaho is now known as a participant in a national legal dialog.”
Her successes have been largely self-propelled, but Eidenbach also recognizes the value of having opportunities to seize, and the people who have helped her explore those opportunities fully.
“Education is what you make of it,” said Eidenbach. “Especially here, the resources available to students are incredible. The faculty are supportive, motivated, willing to help, well connected and willing to share those connections with you.”
Michael Satz, faculty advisor on the crit, “has been instrumental in the success of the publication, providing academic guidance, critical legal studies expertise and unwavering support,” said Eidenbach. “Getting something of this size off the ground is a huge undertaking. He has helped us tremendously.”
“The best part of my job is that I am given the opportunity to work with students like Kirstin Eidenbach,” said Satz. “Kirstin is committed to the study of law and improving the legal academy and the practice of law. Her works during her time at the College of Law have been nothing short of phenomenal. Kirstin stands out as a model of achievement. It has truly been a pleasure watching Kirstin grow, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes with her career as a lawyer and an advocate.”
Eidenbach recently has been accepted into the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy LLM program with a concentration in Critical Race Theory and Practice.
To read the crit, visit www.thecritui.com
Serving Idaho since 1909, the College of Law has been recognized nationally for its distinctive programs, including its clinical legal education, pro bono service, diversity initiatives, and cross-disciplinary fields of study, including environmental and natural resources law, business law and entrepreneurship, advocacy and dispute resolution, and Native American law. For more information about the College of Law and its legacy, visit www.law.uidaho.edu
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu
Media Contact: Joni Kirk, University Communications, (208) 885-7725, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu