March 2017


Law School Hosts Symposium on The Legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird: Advocacy in an Unjust Society

Some of the nation’s foremost experts on the intersection of law and literature discussed the moral significance of Harper Lee’s novels Friday, March 3, at The University of Alabama School of Law.

The occasion was a symposium on The Legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird: Advocacy in an Unjust Society.  The conference explored the life and legacy of Harper Lee, how literature can influence social change and how lawyers should practice law in an unjust society.

Among the participants was John Grisham, author and two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.   Mr. Grisham spoke about “Enacting Social Change through Literature.”

Grisham has been asked over the years to compare his debut novel to Lee’s work.  Grisham’s A Time to Kill tells the story of a white lawyer defending a black man in Mississippi, while Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is about a white lawyer defending a black man in Alabama.  Despite these structural similarities, Grisham said the books are quite different.

“When I wrote A Time to Kill, I was not thinking about To Kill a Mockingbird. I didn’t see a parallel,” Grisham said. “Read the first chapter of A Time to Kill, and you will realize this is a very different book than the first chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird.”

U.S. Senate Confirms Jeff Sessions (’73) as the 84th Attorney General of the United States

Jeff Sessions (’73) was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 8 to serve as the 84th Attorney General of the United States.

Born in Selma, Alabama, Sessions received his Juris Doctor from The University of Alabama School of Law after completing his undergraduate education at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. He has represented Alabama in the United States Senate for the past 20 years. In that time, he gave numerous Alabama Law graduates the opportunity to serve as clerks for him on the Committee on the Judiciary.

Modeled like a judicial clerkship, The Clerkship Program allowed law school graduates to work for Sessions for a year as he served as a member of the committee that provides oversight of the Department of Justice and the agencies under its jurisdiction, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security. This provided many Alabama Law alumni a front-row seat at hearings on executive nominations for federal judges and positions in several agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Parole Commission.

Judge Patrick Higginbotham Receives 2017 Sam W. Pipes Distinguished Alumnus Award

Congratulations to Judge Patrick Higginbotham (’61), the recipient of the 2017 Sam W. Pipes Distinguished Alumnus Award. Higginbotham received the award at the Farrah Law Alumni Society Banquet Friday in Birmingham. The award is given to an outstanding alumnus of the University of Alabama School of Law who has distinguished himself or herself through service to the bar, the University of Alabama and the School of Law.

The Law School also celebrated the permanent endowment of the following funds:

  • Carey J. Chitwood Endowed Scholarship Fund
  • Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. and Mrs. Ruth Jenkins Johnson Memorial Endowed Scholarship
  • Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Endowed Lecture on Constitutional Rights and Liberties
  • John C. H. Miller Endowed Scholarship
  • Proctor Family Endowed Scholarship
  • Edward P. Turner, Jr. Family Endowed Scholarship
  • Wilmer & Lee, P.A. Endowed Scholarship

Bruce Siegal Intellectual Property Moot Court Team Wins Award

UA Law students Alyssa Barksdale (‘17), William Logan (‘17 ), Buddy Rushing (‘17 ), and Carter Spires (‘17 ) competed Saturday in the Southern regional of the Saul Lefkowitz Trademark Law Moot Court Competition.  The Bruce Siegal Intellectual Property Moot Court Team faced 11 other teams from throughout the Southeast. The team had an outstanding day and won the prize for Best Oral Advocacy Team.

Two ABA Moot Court Teams Compete at Regional Competition

Two UA Law teams competed in the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition in Philadelphia.

UA Law students Eunji Jo (’17), Briana Knox (’17) and MaryLauren Kulovitz (’17), Allison Garnett, (’17) Sarah Jackson (’17) and Park Wynn (’17) competed in this elite competition, which has six regions and about 200 teams.  This year’s case tested a university’s duties under Title IX for off-campus sexual assaults. The teams were assisted by the Law School’s 2L Moot Court Fellows: Nikki Skolnekovich (’18), Caroline Stephens (’18) and Mary Caroline Wynn (’18).

Garnett, Jackson and Wynn won the regional finals and will compete in April in the national finals. Two Alabama Law students finished in the region’s top ten oralists (out of almost 100 advocates):  Wynn was awarded fourth best advocate and Knox won eighth best.  Jo, Knox and Kulovitz won third prize for team brief.

National Environmental Moot Court Team Competes in New York City

Congratulations are in order for the National Environmental Law Moot Court Team – Robby Anderson (‘17), Carrington Jackson (‘17), Katlyn Stricklend  (‘17) and student coach and advisor, Haley Cobb (‘18).

The team performed admirably at the National Competition, which was held Thursday through Saturday, March 2-4, in New York City.  Sixty-four law schools competed in this year’s event – the nation’s most prestigious Environmental Law moot court and one of the largest, if not the largest, held under one roof.

The UA Law team faced teams from Berkeley, UC Davis, Columbia, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Baylor, Houston, and William Mitchell and succeeded in advancing to the Quarter-Final Round, with Carrington Jackson winning an award for best advocate.  The competition involved a fiendishly complicated problem involving seven issues and three parties on appeal.

Law School Hosts Magda Brown, a Holocaust Survivor

Magda Brown’s family members lost their jobs, their homes and their freedom. Then they lost each other.

Brown recounted at the University of Alabama School of Law how she survived the Holocaust and how her parents were sent to the gas chambers.

She had lived a normal life, until the laws in Hungary began to strip away her family’s liberty. They were forced from their home to walk to a brickyard, which was adjacent to a set of railroad tracks. They were told the families would stay together. Brown calls it the “lie of all lies of the 20th century.”

“Think about that,” she said. “We had absolutely nothing else. No materials whatsoever, but we had our family. So, with that we go like the sheep to the gallows without any resistance.”

Middle School Students Visit Law School

More than 100 Tuscaloosa middle school students recently visited the Law School.

Students from Hillcrest, Eastwood and Collins-Riverside middle schools participated in the Law School’s first Middle School Open House, a program designed to introduce middle school students to law school.

Dean Mark E. Brandon welcomed the students and encouraged them to take courses on government, as well as courses that teach them how to communicate effectively and think logically.

Throughout the day, students were introduced to legal terminology and procedures. They watched as Alabama law students participated in a mock trial, The Three Bears v. Goldilocks. The Three Bears claimed Goldilocks had bad manners when she entered their home, ate their porridge, slept in their beds and broke a chair. After The Three Bears and Goldilocks testified about the day in question, a jury of middle school students found Goldilocks guilty of bad manners.

Keith Norman: Serving the State

Keith Norman (’81) has excelled at service-oriented leadership.

For 23 years, he has been the Executive Director of the Alabama State Bar, the licensing and regulatory authority for more than 18,000 lawyers. There, he manages 45 employees and administers licensing, admissions, discipline and continuing legal education.

In June, Norman will retire from the position and leave the organization under the leadership of Birmingham lawyer Phillip McCallum, a past president of the state bar.

“Being executive director for as long as I have, it’s always good to not wear out your welcome or stay too long,” Norman said. “You need to have new leadership come in.”


BLSA Banquet

The Black Law Student Association will hold its 16th Annual BLSA Banquet March 23 at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The event will begin with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m., with the banquet beginning at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets here and RSVP for the event here. For more information, contact

The Law School will commemorate the 45th Anniversary of the Law School’s first African-American graduates with a symposium on March 31, titled Bending the Arc of History: African-Americans and the University of Alabama School of Law. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a luncheon at noon. Speakers will discuss Jim Crow, those who were denied admission to the Law School and the effects on students who followed in their footsteps. During the Trailblazers Luncheon, some of the Law School’s first African-American students will reflect on their experiences at the Law School. The event will conclude with a Paul R. Jones art exhibit and reception. RSVP is required to receive a complimentary ticket to the luncheon. RSVP at

Confirmed speakers are as follows:

Judge Sonja Bivins, James “Jim” Blacksher, Justice Ralph Cook,  J. Mason Davis, Judge John England, Jr., Professor Bryan Fair, Shomari Figures, Booker Forte, Jr., Fred D. Gray, Sr., Bridget Harris, Don Hays, Ronald Jackson, Frank James, George Jones, Marcus Maples, Kelsie Mattox, Senator Hank Sanders and Sue Thompson.

Public Interest Institute Fundraiser

Join us Thursday, April 6, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., at Trim Tab Brewing Company, 2721 5th Ave S, Birmingham, for a fundraising event featuring food, drinks and a silent auction. Tickets are $25, with proceeds benefiting the Law School’s Public Interest Summer Grant program, which provides funding for students working in unpaid public service positions during the summer.

Alumni Weekend and Class Reunions

Please join Dean Mark E. Brandon and UA Law faculty and staff on April 22 for an Alumni Picnic. The picnic is open to all graduates and their families, but will provide special opportunities to celebrate Class Reunions honoring the classes of 1967, 1977, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2007. Visit Alumni Weekend for more information.

Class Notes

William A. Bell, Jr. (’05) was elected Jefferson County District Judge in November and started his term January.

John A. Carey (’79), President and CEO of the New Mexico Society of CPAs, has announced his retirement from the organization, effective June 30.

Laura S. Chism (’14) has joined Dorroh & Mills, P.C. as Of Counsel in Tuscaloosa.

Laura Crissey (‘01) has joined Gilmore & Rowley. The firm has been renamed Gilmore, Rowley, Crissey & Wilson in Tuscaloosa.

Joel Dorroh (’92) announced Dorroh & Associates has changed its name to Dorroh & Mills, P.C.

Christopher Driskill (‘09) was elected Partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in the firm’s Birmingham office.

Christopher Driver (‘15) has joined Badham & Buck as an associate in Birmingham.

Kathie Farnell (‘77) has written Duck and Cover. Her memoir will be published by University of South Carolina Press and will be available in April.

Andrew Freeman (‘05) has been named Partner in Charge of Adams and Reese’s Mobile office.

James E. Gentry (‘94) was sworn in as District Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Isleib (‘09) has written Playing for a Winner:How Baseball Teams’ Success Raises Players’ Reputations.

Leroy Nix (‘09) has been confirmed by the Alabama Legislature as a member of the University of Montevallo Board of Trustees.

Morgan W. Jones (‘02) was elected Partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in the firm’s Nashville office.

Steve Marshall (‘90) was sworn in as Alabama Attorney General.

Jason Pierce (’96) was sworn in as District Attorney in Scottsboro.

Russell B. Register (‘15) has joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s national office in Indianapolis, Indiana as Assistant Director of Enforcement.

Martin E. Roberts (‘85) has been appointed as interim Chief Executive Officer at RPX Corp.

Brian Robbins (‘12) has joined Maynard Cooper & Gale’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice as an associate in the firm’s Birmingham office.

Robert Shreve (‘11) has joined Burr Forman as an associate in the firm’s Mobile office.

Stephen Wadsworth (‘09) has been named Partner at Campbell Guin in Birmingham.

Jason R. Watkins (‘99) has joined the Advisory Board of Veterans Recovery Resources.

Hays Webb (‘97) was sworn in as Tuscaloosa County District Attorney.

Martin E. Weinberg (‘01) has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority.

Wade Wilson (‘99) has joined Gilmore & Rowley. The firm has been renamed Gilmore, Rowley, Crissey & Wilson in Tuscaloosa.


Christian & Small, LLP contributed $5,000 to the Christian & Small Annual Diversity Scholarship.

James W. Hart, Jr. donated $5,000 to the Dominic DeSimone Memorial Endowed Book Scholarship.

Faculty Notes

PROFESSOR BILL ANDREEN continues to direct the Joint Summer School Program with the Australian National University College of Law, which is now in its 17th year. A group of nine law students from the ANU, plus ANU Professor Mark Nolan, visited Tuscaloosa for five weeks in January and February.  The Australian students studied Comparative Approaches to Counter-Terrorism Law (taught by UA Professor Jenny Carroll as well as by Professor Nolan) and also took a Survey of U.S. Law (taught by members of the Alabama Law Faculty).  In July and August, Professor Andreen will lead a group of 10 Alabama law students to the ANU where they will study Comparative Approaches to Counter-Terrorism Law (taught by Jenny Carroll and Mark Nolan) and will take a Survey of Australian Law (taught by the ANU Law Faculty).  Professor Andreen published an article titled, “An Update on the Tri-State Water Wars” (co-authored with Dr. Bennett Bearden) in the Winter 2017 issue of The Wave, published by the Alabama Water Environment Association.  He also presented a talk titled, “Water Crisis in the Southeast: Too Much Water; Not Enough; and Too Dirty in Any Case” at the February 2017 Symposium of the Fordham Environmental Law Journal.

PROFESSOR RICHARD DELGADO’s article, “Words that Wound: A Tort Action for Racial Insults, Epithets, and Name-Calling,” was recently listed on SSRN’s Top Ten download list for: LSN: Personal Injury Law (Topic). As of January 24, 2017, the paper had been downloaded 1,084 times:

PROFESSOR SHAHAR DILLBARY’s article, “Causation Actually,” will be published later this month as the lead article in the Georgia Law Review.

Professor Dillbary recently posted on SSRN his most recent article: “Tort-tracting: The Surprising Value of Agreements to Commit Torts.” This provocative article focuses on agreements to commit or induce the commission of a tort. Examples include an agreement between factories to use a production process that would pollute a lake, or an agreement where one entices another to publish a false statement by promising to share the cost of the injury. The article reveals that such agreements are enforced by none other than tort law. The result is ironic: Tort law invites and enforces wrongdoing. Using leading decisions, the article explains how tort law allows parties to enter into agreements to commit or induce a tort, and how they are enforced. The abstract and a draft of the article are available at

Another article, “Regulatory Avoidance and Suicide: An Empirical Analysis,” co-authored with Professors Griffin Edwards (UAB) and Fred Vars (UASL), is receiving much attention. A review of the article on Harvard Law’s blog is available at

Professor Dillbary is currently scheduled to present his Tort-tracting article to the Law and Economics Society, at Oxford University (London) and the Haifa Law & Economics Workshop (Israel). Earlier this month, he gave a talk in Professor Sullivan’s Contracts class on the unconscionability doctrine and the effects of anti-price gouging laws. The talk builds on his previous article “Emergencies, Body Parts and Price Gouging,” (Cambridge University Press, 2009) where Professor Dillbary examines distressed markets and emergencies. A draft of this article is available at

The views, opinions, and conclusions expressed by faculty in their publications or research activities are those of the author and not necessarily those of The University of Alabama or its officers and trustees. The content of faculty publications has not been approved by the University of Alabama, and the author is solely responsible for that content.