July 27, 2016

Business Insider Ranks Alabama School of Law Among Top 15 Law Schools


The University of Alabama School of Law is ranked 13th among the nation’s top law schools and third among public schools, according to Business Insider‘s The 50 Best Law Schools in America for 2016.

Alabama Law has been consistently ranked as one of the best law schools in the country by several law and business news publications.

Using data from the American Bar Association, the Business Insider ranking focused on the percentage of graduates who land full-time, long-term, highly coveted jobs, which includes positions at big law firms that pay well — those with more than 251 employees — and federal clerkships.

The ranking also considered the percentage of graduates with full-time, long-term jobs that require passing the bar, the percentage that are unemployed but seeking employment, bar-passage rate, tuition, and median LSAT scores.

For more, read “The 50 Best Law Schools in America 2016.”

July 13, 2016

Attica Locke Wins 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Locke Attica ap1The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal are pleased to announce Attica Locke, author of “Pleasantville,” will receive the 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

Locke is the sixth winner of the prize. The prize, authorized by Lee, is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

“I clearly recall the summer I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and wrote my first stories on the back of my dad’s legal stationery,” Locke said. “There could be no higher praise for me than winning this prize. I am deeply moved.”

“Pleasantville” was chosen by a distinguished panel of writers. They are: Dr. Philip Beidler, author and professor of English, University of Alabama; Helen Ellis, author, “American Housewife”; Homer Hickam, author, “Rocket Boys”; Rheta Grimsley Johnson, author, journalist and syndicated columnist; and Angela Johnson, author, “Wind Flyers” and “Heaven.”

The Selection Committee said “Pleasantville” has beautiful prose and strong characters, much like “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“In “Pleasantville,” Attica Locke takes us out of a courtroom and into a lawyer’s home and heart,” Ellis said.

Locke will be honored with a signed special edition of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a $3,000 cash award and a feature article in the ABA Journal.

Pleasantville“I think the finalists this year were, collectively, the best in the history of the Harper Lee Prize,” said Allen Pusey, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal, a co-sponsor of the prize. “Pleasantville” is a richly constructed narrative truly worthy of this recognition.”

Locke’s novel will be honored during a ceremony on Sept. 22, at 5:30 p.m., at the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the National Book Festival. Following the award presentation, the Selection Committee will convene a panel discussion of “Pleasantville,” in relationship to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

About Attica Locke

Attica Locke’s first novel, “Black Water Rising,” was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize in the UK (now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction). Her second book, “The Cutting Season,” published by Dennis Lehane books, is a national bestseller, and is a winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. A graduate of Northwestern University, Locke was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab. She’s written scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, and HBO, and is a writer and producer of the Fox drama, “Empire.” A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

July 7, 2016

Professor Rushin Comments on Police Departments Turning over Shooting Investigations to Federal Officials

Professor Stephen Rushin is quoted on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and 89.3 KPCC’s “AirTalk” about local police departments handing over investigations of police shootings to federal authorities.

“Handing this over to the federal government allows them to essentially hand the baton entirely to a separate group of people to be more directly responsible for the investigation and the outcome of that investigation.”

For more, read or listen to:

“Justice Department Investigates Baton Rouge Police Shooting”

“Alton Sterling, Philando Castile Police Shootings Reignite Criticism of Law Enforcement”

“Police Pitching Hot Cases to FBI”

July 1, 2016

Professor Pierson Comments on U.S. Supreme Court Decision in McDonnell v. United States

Professor Pamela Pierson is quoted in on the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in the McDonnell v. United States case and how it affects former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s bribery conviction.

“The Supreme Court is now holding the government to a higher standard in the political corruption cases,” Pierson said. “The Supreme Court did set aside the conviction of a public official. I would think that on the strength of his arguments, that [Siegelman’s] case should be reconsidered.”

For more, read “Did SCOTUS Help ‘Free Don Siegelman’? Pardon Likelier than Conviction Being Overturned: Experts.”

June 27, 2016

Alabama State Bar Installs J. Cole Portis as President

The Alabama State Bar recently installed Montgomery attorney J. Cole Portis (’90) as its 141st president.

“I am blessed to have the opportunity to lead our state bar, which has been entrusted with the obligation to serve our profession, seek improvements in our judicial system and serve the public,” said Portis of the Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery. “We are committed to a new era of engagement with lawyers to ensure that they have resources available to help them in their practice.”

Portis has served on multiple committees and task forces within the Alabama State Bar, including the Finance and Audit Committee, Client Security Fund Committee and various others. He has also served on the Alabama State Bar Board of Bar Commissioners for the 15th judicial circuit since 2007.

Portis joined the Beasley Allen Law Firm in 1991, where he is now a principal. He represents people and families who are injured or killed by defective products. In addition to handling litigation matters at Beasley Allen, he manages the firm’s product liability/personal injury section.

For more, read “Cole Portis Installed as 141st President of Alabama State Bar.”

June 24, 2016

Professor Hill Weighs in on Marijuana Businessman Who Was Denied Life Insurance

Professor Julie A. Hill is quoted in U.S. News & World Report about a marijuana businessman who was denied life insurance.

“These and other laws make it very risky to accept any money that you know comes from a marijuana business, regardless of whether you are a bank,” she says. Among the prohibitions are “knowingly engag[ing] in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of value greater than $10,000.”

For more, read “Marijuana Businessman Denied Life Insurance.”

June 23, 2016

Professor Hamill Comments on Whether Donald Trump Has the Qualities Voters Seek in a President

Professor Susan Pace Hamill is quoted in Vanity Fair about whether Donald Trump has the qualities voters seek in a president. 

“The president has a duty of loyalty and care to the United States,” said Susan Pace Hamill, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law and Honors College and an expert in tax avoidance for small businesses. “He or she is a fiduciary to the public. Donald Trump is a deal-maker for himself. There is not a fiduciary bone in his body. This is generally acceptable in the rough-and-tumble world of business but is not remotely in the universe of what you want out of a public official.”

For more, read “The Great Trump Tax Mysteries: Is He Hiding Loopholes, Errors, or Something More Serious?”

June 23, 2016

Professor Vars Writes Poem to Explain Why There Is No Tort Recovery for Injuries

Professor Fredrick Vars offers this poem as a novel explanation for why there is no tort recovery for very unlikely injuries.

Fredrick E. Vars†
Tort law asks juries to ignore what they know
And give plaintiffs relief only if they show
That the defendant should have foreseen the harm
As likely enough to raise an alarm.1
At that we do poorly,2 especially so
When the chance of the harm is markedly low.
For here people err in a damaging way:
“Those small odds are bigger,” they typically say.3
These defects in reason, if left unchecked,
Could mean an award for every sore neck.
But tort law gives judges an unnoticed4 trump
To counter the bias as would a good ump.
No recovery lies for events too rare.5
It’s as if the injury just isn’t there.
With caution this doctrine should judges apply,
Though after this rhyme at least they’ll know why.6

Vars, Fredrick E., Ode to Adams v. Bullock: Cardozo Was a Behavioral Economist (2016). 19 Green Bag 2d 331 (2016); U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2796604. Available at SSRN:

June 22, 2016

Professor Rushin Weighs in on Collaborative Reform

Professor Stephen Rushin is quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer about collaborative police reform. 

“Collaborative reform suggests at minimum that you have buy-in from the top executives within a department,” said Rushin, an assistant professor of law at the University of Alabama who has studied Justice Department investigations. “To change a big organization, you have to have buy-in … so they are already part of the way toward success.”

For more, read “U.S. Officials Hear from Chester Residents about Police.”

June 21, 2016

UA Law Student, Veteran Receives Tillman Scholarship

Dan Walters, a graduate student pursuing JD/MBA degrees at The University of Alabama, is one of 60 students nationwide selected as a 2016 Tillman Scholar.

Dan Walters_Tillman Scholar2Walters (’18) joined the U.S. Army when he was 18. While serving on active duty, his assignments included serving as an infantry platoon leader and a company commander to a unit of more than 200 soldiers. He also advised local Afghanistan figures of justice. Walters plans to stay in his hometown of Greensboro and use his degrees to practice law, advise new business owners and, perhaps, start his own business.

“I am honored to have been selected for such a prestigious scholarship,” Walters said. “It means a great deal to me to represent the legacy of Pat Tillman, a great American and a soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice. And as always, I am proud to represent the University in my endeavors.”

The class of 2016 scholars will receive more than $1.8 million in academic scholarships.

The Pat Tillman Foundation provides scholarships to service members, veterans and military spouses who, according to the foundation’s website, “show extraordinary academic and leadership potential, a true sense of vocation, and a deep commitment to create positive change through their work in the fields of medicine, law, business, education and the arts.”

More than 400 scholarships have been awarded since the Tillman Scholars Program was founded in 2008.

The Pat Tillman Foundation was established in 2004 after Tillman’s death while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan.