Nancy Assaf McLaughlin portrait
  • Robert W. Swenson Professor of Law, College Of Law
  • Professor, College Of Law
  • Professor, College Of Law - Dean

Research Summary

Professor McLaughlin's research focuses on conservation easements, tax incentives, charities law, and nonprofit governance issues.


  • JD, Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • BS, Physchology, Honors, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Professor McLaughlin is a leading national expert on conservation easements and the tax incentives offered for their donation. She has published more than thirty articles as well as book chapters and reports on conservation easements and tax incentives and she lectures extensively on these issues. Each year, she organizes the virtual program, Trying Times: Conservation Easements and Federal Tax Law, which features six panelists with extensive experience in the field, including a Special Counsel with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.

Professor McLaughlin served as Reporter for the Uniform Law Commission's Uniform Conservation Easement Act Study Committee and as an Observer regarding conservation easement law for the Uniform Easement Relocation Act. She is a member of the ABA’s Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law Section and its Charitable Planning and Organizations Group, and she served on the Section’s Conservation Easement Task Force, which published an extensive report on recommended reforms to federal tax law.
Professor McLaughlin is a member of the Board of Directors of Utah Open Lands (a state-wide land trust), a member of the Habitat Protection Advisory Committee of the national Wildlife Land Trust, and a member of the Lands Protection Committee of Vital Ground, a land trust that conserves and connects habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife. She also served on the Land Trust Alliance’s Conservation Defense Advisory Council and as a member of its Conservation Easement Amendment Policy Group.
Professor McLaughlin is a member of the American Law Institute and served as Associate Reporter for the first edition of the Restatement of the Law of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations (Am. Law Inst. 2021). She also is a Fellow and served on the Board of Regents of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), and serves as ACTEC's representative on the Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Trusts & Estates Acts.
Professor McLaughlin consults with land trusts, landowners, government entities, federal and state regulators, and others regarding conservation easements and nonprofit governance issues. 
Her courses have included Trusts & Estates, Conservation Easements, Private Land Conservation, The Law of Charitable Gifts, Estate Planning, Federal Income Tax, and Gift & Estate Tax.          

Selected Publications

Keeping The Perpetual In Florida's Conservation Easements, 18 FIU L. Rev. 347 (2024)

Laws Governing Restrictions on Charitable Gifts: The Consequences of Codification, 70 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 2 (2023)

Enforcing Conservation Easements: The Through Line, 34 Geo. Envtl. L. Rev. 167 (2022)

Building Better Conservation Easements for America the Beautiful, Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. Online (2021) (with John D. Leshy & K.King Burnett)

Conservation Easements and the Proceeds Regulation, 56 Real Prop. Tr. & Est. L.J. 111 (2021) (Quoted in Oakbrook Land Holdings, LLC v. Comm’r, 28 F.4th 700 (6th Cir. 2022))

Restatement of the Law, Charitable Nonprofit Organizations (Am. Law Inst. 2021) (Associate Reporter, with Jill Horwitz, Reporter, and Marion Fremont-Smith, Consultant)

Amendment Clauses in Easements: Ensuring Protection in Perpetuity, 168 Tax Notes 819 (Aug. 3, 2020)

Some Dirty Realities About Syndicated Conservation Easements, 167 Tax Notes 1729 (June 8, 2020) (with Stephen J. Small, Mark Weston, and Philip Tabas)

ABA RPTE Conservation Easement Task Force Report: Recommendations Regarding Conservation Easements and Federal Tax Law, 53 Real Prop. Tr. & Est. L.J. 245 (2019) (with W. William Weeks et al.)

Tax Incentives for Conservation Easement Donations: Learning from the U.S. Experience, in Tax Law and the Environment: A Multidisciplinary and Worldwide Perspective (Lexington Books 2018) (available from author upon request)

Tax-Deductible Conservation Easements and the Essential Perpetuity Requirements, 37 Va. Tax Rev. 1 (2017) 

Uniform Conservation Easement Act Study Committee Background Report (Uniform Law Commission, June 11, 2017)

Conservation Easements and the Valuation Conundrum, 19 Fla. Tax Rev. 225 (2016) (featured in P.J. Reilly, Conservation Easement Tax Deductions and Valuation Abuse, (Jan. 15, 2016))

An Introduction to Conservation Easements in the United States: A Simple Concept and a Complicated Mosaic of Law, 1 J. L. Prop. & Soc'y 107 (2015) (with Professor Federico Cheever)

Interpreting Conservation Easements, 29 Prob. & Prop. 30 (2015) 

13 Richard R. Powell, Powell on Real Property (Michael Allan Wolf, ed. 2014), Selected Sections, Chapter 34A: Conservation Easements

Conservation Easement Enabling Statutes: Perspectives on Reform, 3 Utah L. Rev. 811 (2013) (with Jeff Pidot)

Conservation Easements and The Doctrine of Merger, 74 Duke J. L. & Contemp. Probs 279 (2011)
Conservation Easements: Perpetuity and Beyond, 34 Ecology Law Quarterly 673 (2007)

Keeping the Perpetual in Perpetual Conservation Easements, Vermont Digger (Feb. 10, 2014) (with Professors John Echeverria & Janet Milne) 

                                                                                 View and download all articles at SSRN