November 2020



Professor Elliott Wins

Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award

Brilliant. Approachable. Great. Dedicated. Caring.

When you ask Alabama Law students about Professor Heather Elliott, these are words you hear repeated often.  When she received The University of Alabama’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award at the 2020 Virtual Campus Assembly on October 12, students as well as her colleagues on the faculty and staff were thrilled for this well-deserved recognition.

Second-year student Tucker Crain has Elliott as his academic advisor.  “Interacting with Professor Elliott outside of class is awesome,” he says.  “She’s one of the smartest people ever, but she’s super approachable and always willing to help with any issue.”

Elliott teaches civil procedure, land use law and planning, water law, legislation and regulation, and professional responsibility, and researches in the areas of Alabama water law and policy and the role of courts and agencies in a democratic society.  Having joined the faculty in 2008, she is the Alumni, Class of ’36 Professor of Law.

“Not only has she done terrific scholarship in areas as diverse as environmental law, federalism, administrative law, and the constitutional doctrines of standing, but she has also built a record as a spectacular teacher,” said Mark Brandon, Dean and Thomas E. McMillan Professor of Law.

“She always fully explained the material and was very in tune with specific areas of the course that could be confusing to us.  Everything she did had a purpose, and it resulted in a better experience for all of us,” said second-year student Jesse Westerhouse of her legislation and regulation class.  “I took her class when we transitioned to online class because of COVID, and the transition was seamless. She set up multiple times a week to meet [virtually] in small groups with students to make sure we had a chance to discuss the material, recorded videos explaining the material, and was generally accessible at just about any time to talk about the class or life in general.”

Second-year student Madelyn Beatty also took Elliott’s legislation and regulation class.  “An example of Professor Elliott’s commitment to her students and our law school as a whole came up the spring of my 1L year when she and a few other professors conducted a panel for us on how to choose upper level courses to enroll in,” she said.  “After this panel, Professor Elliott let me discuss the specific courses I wanted to take on more than one occasion. She genuinely cared that I found a good upper level course plan.”

The Outstanding Commitment to Teaching award was created in 1976 by the University of Alabama National Alumni Association.  The award recognizes four faculty members annually, based on the faculty members’ commitment to teaching and the impact they have had on students through the teaching and learning process.



Two at Alabama Law Win Pro Bono Awards

During the October 2020 celebration of Pro Bono Month, the Alabama State Bar highlighted recipients of the Pro Bono Awards, including two members of the Alabama Law community.  Susan Donovan, the director of the Mediation Law Clinic, won the Mediator Award, and Mindy Kidd, third-year student, won the Law Student Award.

“Volunteer work led me to law school,” said Kidd in a video created by the State Bar.  “After several years volunteering in that capacity, it seemed like the next logical step was to attend law school.”

Donovan highlighted the impact of pro bono legal work in her video interview.  “There are a lot of people in our state that can’t afford lawyers and yet they need legal services; so in some small way, I like to give back.”

Of the relationship between pro bono service and the legal skills and training she is receiving at The University of Alabama School of Law, Kidd said, “[it] made me see the value of what my education can do for not just my own benefit but hopefully for those around me, too.”

The Alabama State Bar Pro Bono Awards are given annually, recognizing students, mediators, attorneys and firms.

Class Notes

Joseph M. Aguirre (’15) has joined the law firm of Boyd & Jenerette PA as an Associate in the firm’s Jacksonville, FL office.

LaBarron Boone (’95) of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, PC in Montgomery, AL has been selected to serve on the Executive Committee for The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Lawyers group.

Katie Boyd Britt (’13) has been named as a member of the Board of Trustees at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL.

William N. “Bill” Clark, Sr. (’71) has moved from Redden Mills Clark & Shaw LLP to Wallace Jordan Ratliff & Brandt LLC in Birmingham, AL as a Partner as the two firms merge.

Roger Guilian (’98), General Counsel, Vice President, and Corporate Secretary for Volkert, Inc. in Mobile, AL, accepted membership in the International Association of Defense Counsel.  

Maya Hoyt (’20) has joined the law firm of Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart LLP in Birmingham, AL as an Associate.

Katharyn I. Christian McGee (’08), pro bono counsel at Duane Morris, has been recognized with a Next Generation Leader Award by United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Kat was also named to The Legal Intelligencer’s 2020 Pennsylvania Lawyers on the Fast Track list.

Markenson Pierre (’18) has joined Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin’s Fort Lauderdale, FL office as an Associate.

James M. Robertson (’91) has joined Balch & Bingham’s Intellectual Property & Trademark practice groups.

Stephen W. “Steve” Shaw (’80) has moved from Redden Mills Clark & Shaw LLP to Wallace Jordan Ratliff & Brandt LLC in Birmingham, AL as a Partner as the two firms merge.

Wesley Smithart (’20) has joined Lightfoot Franklin & White as an Associate attorney in the firm’s Birmingham office.

Paul Young (’79) of Enterprise, AL has been inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers.


The Honorable Truman M. Hobbs, Jr. (’83) donated $5,000 to the Alabama Law Alumni Society

Faculty Notes

Professor Richard Delgado  had  articles accepted in UC-Davis Social Justice Law Review,  the Journal of Law in Society, and UC-Hastings’ Constitutional Law Quarterly.

Time magazine on September 29 discussed Professor Delgado’s role as a founding figure in the field of Critical Race Theory, as well as his and Jean Stefancic‘s book Critical Race Theory:  An Introduction.  The article discusses President Donald Trump’s attack on Critical Race Theory and anti-bias training in a speech at the National Archives Museum, and an OMB memorandum calling for an end to both forms of instruction by federal agencies.  The Time article discusses how Critical Race Theory has shaped academic and popular understandings of America’s civil rights legacy. ​

Professor Russell Gold‘s article Paying for Pretrial Detention was published in the North Carolina Law Review.

Professor Adam Steinman‘s article Appellate Courts and Civil Juries was accepted for publication in the Wisconsin Law Review. It will be the lead article in the 2021 Volume. The piece was featured as “highly recommended” on the Legal Theory Blog.

He also published No Laughing Matter in the Courts Law Section of JOTWELL.

Professor Steinman’s recent article Access to Justice, Rationality, and Personal Jurisdiction, 71 Vanderbilt L. Rev. 1401 (2018), was featured in the American Law Institute’s Fall 2020 ALI Reporter.

Professor Steinman continues to co-edit the Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog, including this post on the Ford cases that were argued before the Supreme Court during the first week of the October Term.

Professor Joyce Vance‘s article, “Treat Every Defendant Equally and Fairly: The Challenges Facing the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices as the Justice Department Turns 150 Years Old” (Tentative Title) was selected for publication by Yale L.J. Forum (forthcoming 2020).

She is finishing her work for the Birmingham Police Transformation Task Force, a 5 member task force designed to study and make recommendations to Birmingham’s Mayor on police reform.

Vance co-authored an essay in the Washington Post with Barb McQuade, “A rap sheet for a former president,” October 18, 2020, (Print Edition).

She was featured multiple times on MSNBC, commenting on the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings and the Supreme Court.  She also had articles appear on the websites of Time Magazine, USA Today and MSNBC, and was quoted by the Washington Post, New York Times and Boston Globe.


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.