From the Classroom to the California Supreme Court, Prof. Selmi Practices What He Writes and Teaches

A founding dean of California environmental law, Professor Dan Selmi  has established himself as a professor who derives his expertise from a mélange of courtroom experiences and scholarly endeavors.

Selmi most recently argued Coatings Association, Inc. v. South Coast Air Quality District before the California Supreme Court. The case was a challenge to a California Court of Appeal decision that held that local air quality districts only had the authority to order sources of polluting emissions to reduce based on technology that already existed.

“Air quality districts were up on arms across the state and asked the Supreme Court to take the case, and the court did,” he said.

At the Supreme Court, Selmi argued that air quality districts should be allowed to order emitters to comply with a higher standard of pollution control than exists today. And he won. He is now representing an historic-preservation group in an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Selmi’s path to environmental law began in law school, where he found the zoning component of property c lass to be the most compelling. Now, he is constantly on the lookout for environmental laws that need to be created – or modified.

“We tend to pass laws generally, and then we don’t go back and fix them in the way that they should be fixed,” he said.  “The first law that gets passed tends to stay in place for a long time.”

Selmi has argued more than 30 environmental cases at the appellate level. And for him, that speaks volumes about the school he has called home for 30 years.

“Loyola has always prided itself on turning out lawyers who were more equipped to start practicing law than anywhere else,” he said. “That’s why I teach Appellate Advocacy:  because it’s a hands-on class that teaches lawyers how to actually practice law. So when you get an opportunity to work on a case like Coatings, I can do the case and then take what I’ve learned there and use it in the classroom, which I’ve certainly done this fall teaching Appellate Advocacy.”


"The Contract Transformation in Land Use Regulation,” 63 Stanford L. Rev. 591 (2011)

Co-author, Land Use Regulation: Cases and Materials (with James Kushner and Edward Ziegler) (3d ed.) (2008) (with teacher’s manual) (Fourth edition forthcoming in 2012)

Short Article, “The Year in Review: Ten Environmental and Land Use Cases From 2010,” California Environmental Law Reporter (Feb. 2011) (latest in Professor Selmi's series of “Year in Review” articles published annually since the inception of the Reporter in 1991)

2011 Annual Update to State Environmental Law (West) (two-volume treatise updated annually)