Monterey College of Law Announces Third Branch Campus - Lunar College of Law

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Monterey College of Law, a 501(c)3 California non-profit terrestrial corporation located in Seaside, California, has announced its intent to file for authorization from the State Bar of California to open its third branch campus – Lunar College of Law. The new lunar branch will join the law school’s two other branches, San Luis Obispo College of Law and Kern County College of Law offering a hybrid online JD degree that can be completed terrestrially or extra-terrestrially. The marketing of the program is proposed to begin April 1, 2021 and the first student cohort is proposed to start classes April 1, 2022. As the first accredited law school authorized on the lunar surface, the program will be subject to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations.

Monterey College of Law, a 501(c)3 California non-profit terrestrial corporation located in Seaside, California has announced its intent to file for authorization from the State Bar of California to open its third branch campus – Lunar College of Law. The new lunar branch will join the law school’s two other branches, San Luis Obispo College of Law and Kern County College of Law offering a hybrid online JD degree that can be completed terrestrially or extra-terrestrially. The marketing of the program is proposed to begin April 1, 2021 and the first student cohort is proposed to start classes April 1, 2022. As the first accredited law school authorized on the lunar surface, the program will be subject to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations.(1)

The curriculum will feature a traditional JD curriculum enhanced by special courses in Space Law.(2) Space law is a collection of domestic, international, and intergalactic agreements and guidelines that govern issues like space exploration, military and weapons use, and planetary commercial exploitation.(3)

According to Dean of Academics Elizabeth Xyr, “As a ‘space’ pilot program the curriculum will initially be offered as an offsite and possibly off-planet combination of synchronous, and asynchronous methodologies. Upon future establishment of a lunar campus facility, the program will transition to a hybrid JD program with combination of terrestrial and extraterrestrial synchronous and asynchronous courses,” according to Xyr.

The LCL administration will initially be located at the terrestrial main campus in Seaside, California along with the other senior administrative staff. However, upon establishment of the LCL lunar campus facility, it is anticipated that the dean will make scheduled trips to the lunar campus subject to flight schedule and availability on SpaceX(4), U.S., or International space shuttles.

Program Description

There are four main practice areas for future space lawyers. The first is private industry and firms, such as launch providers, satellite manufactures and law firms. The second practice area is in policy making and regulation, working with agencies like the U.S. State Department and the Federal Aviation Administration. The third practice area can be found in national security, where space law experts are employed by the military, the U.S. Space Force (5), the Department of Defense or defense contractors. The fourth area will develop as further contact with extraterrestrials (6) develop into an intergalactic body of treaties, laws, and regulations.(7) The LCL Space Law curriculum will feature courses in all four areas.

Mitchel L. Winick, President and Dean of the law school noted, “Opening successful branch campus locations is not a new venture for the law school. MCL was approved to open its first branch campus, San Luis Obispo College of Law, in 2015, followed by a second branch campus, Kern County College of Law in 2017. Opening a third campus is well within our (atmos)sphere of influence.”

The law school will be utilizing several established digital education platforms for hosting the online courses and academic content. A preliminary agreement is being developed to utilize Elon Musk’s Starlink(8) service to provide direct communication links with LCL students regardless of their terrestrial or extraterrestrial locations.

According to Winick, “The law school has confirmed an initial lunar location and received of a deed for 100 lunar acres through the Stellar Society Embassy(9) that conforms with all Stellar Real Estate Regulations. (See Attachments.)

It is anticipated that future development of the Moon will be authorized under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations.(10) Additional commercial developments, such a space hotel (11) is already in design according to the team at Orbital Assembly, a space construction company.(12) According to Orbital Assembly, “companies like ULA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin are the railroads of the late 1800's, opening up low Earth orbit and beyond to construction, resource harvesting, development, and infrastructure.”(13)

Administration

Mitchel L. Winick has served as the full-time dean of the law school since August 2005. Dean Winick is particularly well suited for overseeing the LCL program. He grew up in the shadow of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Texas and as a child toured the facility numerous times. He has been an avid space frontier devotee, having followed the launch of the Russian Sputnik satellite, the launching and flights of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station programs, the landing of the first man on the Moon, the landing of the Mars Rover, and the successful start-up of SpaceX, among other historic space-flight achievements. He is also a huge fan of science fiction books and movies.

Dean Elizabeth Xyr will serve as the Academic Dean for LCL. Dean Xyr has developed the current MCL hybrid curriculum out of what some have described as “thin air” . . . an appropriate preparation for developing the LCL Space Law curriculum. She has successfully expanded the hybrid online JD program to serve students and faculty across multiple locations and successfully provided academic counseling for more than one student euphemistically categorized as a “space case.” Having grown up in the Central Valley of California, she is experienced in dealing with remote locations that have limited resources . . . not unlike the lunar environment.

Market for a Lunar Branch Campus

Since 1999 it has been possible to acquire a lunar property and become a landowner on the Moon. The community already consists of more than 50,000 lunar landowners.(14) Darby Dyar, professor of astronomy and geology at Mount Holyoke College, says “the moon is to people today what the New World was to Europeans 600 years ago. In my lifetime, we will establish some kind of permanent station on the moon.”(15) As recently as 2016, NASA Scientists have said that the Moon could be colonized by 2022.(16)

For Additional Market Analysis, see the following:

  • Site Selection for Lunar Industrialization, Economic Development, and Settlement, by Dennis Wingo.(17)
  • Lunar Station: The Next Logical Step in Space Development, Robert Bruce Pittman, Lynn D. Harper, Mark E. Newfield, and Daniel J. Rasky (18)
  • Toward a Low-Cost Lunar Settlement: Preface to the New Space Special Articles, Alexandra Hall, Chris McKay, and John Cumbers (19)
  • A Summary of the Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture That Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public–Private Partnerships, Alexandra Hall and Charles Miller (20)

Stellar Advisory Board to be Appointed

The MCL Board of Trustees will appoint an advisory board for the LCL program comprised of lawyers, judges, astronauts, and scientists in the field of Space Law. The advisory board will meet quarterly on a lunar cycle and provide input to the MCL Trustees on issues and policies of importance to the LCL program. (21) Advisory Board members will serve terms of three lunar-years. (22)

Following the successful model that MCL has employed for the past 50 years, the adjunct law faculty for the LCL program will be practicing lawyers and judges. The law school anticipates adding specialists in the area of Space Law to the faculty. (23)

If approved by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California, the first student cohort admitted to the proposed branch campus program will start April 1, 2022.

"While you are considering your options to become the foremost expert in Space Law, Monterey College of Law would love to wish you a happy April Fool's Day."

NOTES:

(1) 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations: Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html
(2) Space Law: Becoming an expert, http://www.nationaljurist.com/lawyer-statesman/space-law-becoming-expert
(3) Space: The final legal frontier, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/08/31/space-final-legal-frontier/
(4) SpaceX: Facts about Elon Musk's private spaceflight company, https://www.space.com/18853-spacex.html
(5) United States Space Force, https://www.spaceforce.mil
(6) Astronomer and Harvard Professor Avi Loeb Says Aliens Have Visited, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/astronomer-avi-loeb-says-aliens-have-visited-and-hes-not-kidding1/
(7) Communicating with Extraterrestrials, https://www.nsa.gov/Portals/70/documents/news-features/declassified-documents/cryptologic-spectrum/communications_with_extraterrestrial.pdf
(8) https://www.cnet.com/how-to/starlink-explained-what-to-know-about-elon-musk-satellite-internet-venture
(9) Since 1999 it has been possible to acquire a lunar property and become a proud landowner on the Moon. Each deeded parcel comprises 100 acres and is located on the side of the Moon that can be seen from Earth. The community already consists of more than 50,000 lunar landowners. https://buyplanets.net/
(10) Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html
(11) https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/travel/2021/03/orbital-assembly-s-space-hotel-planned-to-open-in-2027.html
(12) https://orbitalassembly.com/#!
(13) https://orbitalassembly.com/invest
(14) https://buyplanets.net
(15) Solar System Exploration Research Institute (formerly the NASA Lunar Science Institute), https://sservi.nasa.gov/articles/colonizing-the-moon
(16) https://www.sciencealert.com/nasa-scientists-say-we-could-colonise-the-moon-by-2022-for-just-10-billion
(17) https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/space.2015.0023
(18) https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/space.2015.0031
(19) https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/space.2015.0039
(20) https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/space.2015.0037
(21) https://www.space.com/33440-space-law.html
(22) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_calendar
(23) Space Lawyers: They Exist, https://www.fastcompany.com/3000243/space-lawyers-they-exist and Mark Sundahl ’01, One of the World’s Leading Space Law Experts, https://www.uchastings.edu/2018/08/15/mark-sundahl-01-one-of-the-worlds-leading-space-law-experts/

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Mitchel Winick, President and Dean
Monterey College of Law
+1 (831) 582-4000 Ext: 1015
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