Derald Hay negotiates contracts and advises clients during transactions, managing legal risk and maximizing business potential to reach goals in environmentally and financially sustainable ways.

Derald Hay

Derald Hay

Degrees Earned

J.D., Dickinson School of Law, 2007

M.S., Forest Resources, 2007

B.S., Forest Science, 2003 (now Forest Ecosystem Management)

Bringing Forestry to the Law

"I love the fact that I get to use my educational background to gain insight into the operational practicalities my clients face each day." -Derald Hay

As a Boy Scout, Hay knew he wanted to study something related to nature. "I loved being outdoors and learning about how ecosystems fit together. Forestry seemed like a natural fit," he explains. After summer internships at the Stone Valley Experimental Forest and an urban tree care company working through sweltering humidity and soaking downpours, Hay realized that he preferred spending his free time outdoors and working inside, but still wanted to use the valuable skills he had gained from his forestry education. Acting on the advice of faculty and alumni, he decided to attend Penn State's Dickinson School of Law and practice environmental law.

Today, Hay takes pride in his ability to 'speak the language' with his clients and regulatory agencies. He says, "It's rewarding to be an integral part of building a relationship between two entities that are excited to work collaboratively. It is my job to make sure I protect my client from potential risks that may crop up if a business relationship sours, or if unforeseen circumstances occur. Having a unique understanding of the business operations of timber investment management organizations and wood product manufacturers helps me to anticipate issues and nimbly respond while negotiating contracts." He stays connected to Penn State and forestry by serving on one of Penn State's alumni boards, and by participating in the alumni association. Hay plans to pass those connections along to his boys, who attended their first Penn State football game this fall.

Q: What was your favorite thing about forestry?

A: The most interesting part of my major was that about half of my core courses involved practicums that had me going outside and walking through the woods. I actually got to feel, touch and experience the concepts that I was being taught in the classroom. And with forestry being a smaller major, the students got to know each other and the faculty on a personal and professional level. It felt like a small community within the Penn State infrastructure. I had the opportunity to interact, both in and out of class, with everyone in the school. In some majors, it's easy to become anonymous when class sizes are large. Within Ecosystem Management and the College of Agricultural Sciences, the staff care about you, the professors know your name and pull for your success, and your classmates are your best friends.

Q: Was there an activity or course that was particularly important to you?

A: Being an Ag Advocate was one of the most rewarding experiences I had in college, because it gave me an opportunity to interact in a leadership role with new and prospective students, the administration of the College of Agricultural Sciences and professors. I got to know a lot more about the college and what happens outside of my own bubble of experience. In fact, I still keep in touch with many of the people involved with Ag Advocates.

Q: How does having a degree in forestry from Penn State impact you today?

A: It has given me a tremendous opportunity to market my skills as a lawyer and experience with forestry, because clients look to me as a trusted adviser. There is a level of credibility that accompanies my forestry degree from Penn State--that goes without saying. People trust the Penn State brand. They trust Penn State forestry.

In addition, as a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, I also got to know other students who are now moving into leadership roles in their respective industries. These connections are valuable because I can lean on my fraternity brothers in developing new business opportunities.

Q: What did you do as a forestry student?

Alpha Gamma Rho agricultural fraternity

Society of American Foresters

Ag Advocates

Ag Student Council

Q: Where can we find your work?

Fox Rothschild