Newswise — Law student Michael Dodge earns a special distinction this weekend at the University of Mississippi when he is awarded the juris doctor degree. Dodge, of Long Beach, becomes the first graduate to also receive a special space law certificate, the only one of its kind in the country.He is among 177 graduates scheduled to be awarded degrees Saturday (May 10) at the law school's 11 a.m. commencement ceremony in the Grove. Robert Bailess, president of the Mississippi Bar, is the speaker. Bailess earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss and is a partner in the Vicksburg firm Wheeless, Shappley, Bailess & Rector LLP.

Dodge is to be awarded the space law certificate through the law school's National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law.

"For me the certificate provides both a tremendous sense of achievement, and also a potential enticement for employers," Dodge said, adding that no where else could he have gained such a comprehensive education in space, air and remote sensing law.

"The professors and personnel here are the highest quality that can be found anywhere in the world, and I have learned from them the necessary skills I will need to effectively practice space law," he said. "Ole Miss is, simply put, the space law expert, and anyone wishing practice in this field should get their legal education here."

Dodge said his interest in space law stems from a fascination with space exploration that began when he was a young child, so when he started law school, his interest in space was based mostly on science and history.

"Once I came to the law school, I read that there was an attorney here that specialized in space law," he said. "After that, I became curious as to why space needed regulation, and how legal regimes could be constructed to govern such an expanse. After meeting Professor (Joanne) Gabrynowicz, my curiosity only grew, and ever since, I have been dedicated to researching legal issues associated with humankind's utilization of space."

Gabrynowicz, director of the center, said the new concentration provides Dodge and students to come with a competitive edge in the aerospace industry.

"Students in this program have unparalleled opportunities to participate in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court competition, the Journal of Space Law, center conferences and events, and internships that strengthen their future employment options," she said.

She explained that the certificate is available by offering the only dedicated aerospace law curriculum in the nation from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. Requirements to earn the certificate include courses on U.S. space and aviation law, international space and aviation law, and remote sensing; participation in the publication of the Journal of Space Law; and independent research.

Law Dean Samuel M. Davis said, "We are particularly proud to be offering these space law certificates for the first time, since ours is the only program of its kind in the U.S. and only one of two in North America."

Established in 1999, the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law is a source for research, education, outreach activities and information exchange among academic, government and commercial organizations related to the legal aspects of human activities using aerospace technologies.

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