Federal Practice

Since she began practicing law in 1995, Beth Brennan has appeared regularly in federal court. She was co-counsel on several environmental cases in the late 90s and early 2000s involving issues related to forest plans, the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act. She represented amicus curiae in federal litigation in the late 1990s regarding whether Montana Initiative 125, which prohibited direct corporate expenditures in ballot initiative campaigns, violated the First Amendment. Montana Chamber of Commerce v. Argenbright, 226 F.3d 1049 (2000). In 2002-2003, Beth represented irrigators from the Tongue River valley in eastern Montana in Clean Water Act litigation addressing whether wastewater from coalbed methane operations was a “pollutant.” Northern Plains Resource Council v. Fidelity Exploration & Devpt. Co., 325 F.3d 1155 (2003); Fidelity Exploration & Devpt. Co. v Northern Plains Resource Council, 124 S. Ct. 434 (2003) (denying Fidelity’s petition for certiorari).

In 2003, Beth began a one-year term as law clerk for U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy of the U.S. District of Montana. She worked on a multitude of cases during her tenure, botThe U.S. Supreme Courth civil and criminal.

In 2009, while teaching at the University of Montana School of Law, Beth co-taught a class that devoted itself to online coverage of the criminal trial, U.S. v. W.R. Grace. This unique litigation charged executives of the W.R. Grace Company for knowingly exposing its vermiculite mine workers in Libby, Montana to the dangers of asbestos. The class afforded law and journalism students an unparalleled opportunity to observe firsthand an 11-week trial in federal court, litigated by some of the best lawyers in the country. Students had to understand the substantive law as well as the Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Rules of Evidence well enough that they could accurately report what had occurred that day at trial. The Grace Case blog was closely watched by interested observers across the country as it pioneered online trial coverage and afforded instant updates as the trial progressed.

Beth continues to act as co-counsel and consultant for a variety of cases in federal court, including insurance litigation and personal injury litigation.