COLUMBUS, Ohio – Members of the American Agricultural Law Association (AALA) elected Peggy Kirk Hall of The Ohio State University as its next president during the organization’s annual conference in late October. Hall is the director of Ohio State’s Agricultural and Resource Law Program.
“AALA is the only organization of its kind for attorneys who work in the agricultural field,” Hall said. “We have about 700 members across the country, and the organization just celebrated its 26th year.”
Hall, who administers the legal research and outreach program for OSU Extension and teaches agricultural law in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, said AALA was formed as a voice for attorneys active in agriculture.
She said the founding of the organization came at a time when farmers were particularly concerned with legal issues in agriculture.
“If you think back to the timing of its founding, that’s when a lot of farms were experiencing hardships and bankruptcy,” Hall said. “Those attorneys trying to assist farmers in the ’80s were trying to collectively address the legal issues facing farmers and agriculture.”
Hall previously served on the AALA’s Board of Directors, has chaired the Ohio State Bar Association’s Agricultural Law Committee, is on the advisory board for the National Agricultural Law Center and chairs the Land Heritage Trust of Union County.
She and her family own and operate a grain farm in Union County, Ohio.
“My interest in agricultural law started back in FFA,” Hall said. “I was one of the first girls in my FFA Chapter, and I had an adviser who really encouraged me to pursue those interests.”
She pursued her undergraduate education at Ohio State, but notes that her degree was not in agriculture.
“It took me a while to figure out that I could focus on ag and resource policy, so that’s what I did for my master's,” she explained.
She earned her law degree at the University of Wyoming law school, which Hall said has a highly respected program in ag and resource law.
AALA is the nation’s only professional association for attorneys who focus on the needs of the agricultural community, providing an independent forum for the analysis and investigation of agricultural law issues. Members include attorneys from law firms, government, organizations, academia and agricultural businesses around the United States.
Hall’s three-year term with AALA began at the association’s annual conference, held Oct. 20-22 in Austin, Texas.
“As an academic attorney in agricultural law, I don’t have any legal colleagues here who do what I do, so the association has been that extended environment where I have colleagues I can collaborate with and learn from, to discuss issues,” she said. “We constantly exchange ideas and information, and that’s what drew me in to the association, to have that opportunity to exchange and analyze with others who were doing what I do. It is really fitting with my role at Ohio State, because it helps me be a better professional.”