He has hiked from the South Rim to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. He received the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award from the American Recreation Coalition in 2015. He has argued two cases relating to conservation issues before the U.S. Supreme Court. Jay Nixon is a passionate legal champion for conservation and the outdoor economy, especially in Missouri.
“Conservation has a long time frame,” said Nixon, Missouri’s 55th Governor (2009–2017) and 40th Attorney General (1993–2009). “The fight between development and conservation will continue as we continue to define the necessity of the conservation process.”
Nixon — now a partner with Dowd Bennett in St. Louis — is currently awaiting court decisions on two separate cases that share the values of conservation, as well as legal precedents, policy analysis and legal analysis. He argued both cases during the same week in 2021. “The clarity of being on one side of an argument gives you the capacity to advocate for that position,” Nixon said. “As an attorney, I can give my clients the best advocacy I possibly can for their position.”
• In the Missouri Supreme Court, he represents Plaintiff Conservation Federation of Missouri in Conservation Commission v. Schmitt. “Previous destruction of Missouri’s forests in the 1920s led to the formation of its Conservation Commission,” Nixon said. “Now, Missouri is regularly recognized for its conservation department, trails, camping and park system. Our courts are helping to protect these values.”
• In the Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District, he represents various defendants, including the Sierra Club and the Eleven Point Headwaters Stream Team, in McGibney v. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “Missourians are the owners of our state parks, including Eleven Point State Park,” Nixon said. “This is essential to the survival of our parks, outdoor lifestyles and outdoor economy. We did our best to show the court how out of normal it is to say to a state that it has to sell a state park instead of preserving it.”
As a professor at the Washington University School of Law, Nixon has the ongoing opportunity to raise awareness about conservation for Missouri’s future lawyers. He teaches a course on the law and policy of rails and trails. His unique understanding of legislative and executive functions plus his experience as an attorney position him well for this role.
“Our courts are the backstop to preventing the erosion of Missouri’s value of our conservation system,” Nixon said. “Our citizens have passed laws regarding independence of choices to make sure that the long range is taken into account and followed.”