October 2020


Alabama Law Enrolls Three PLUS Participants in Class of 2023

When the University of Alabama School of Law welcomed the Class of 2023, three of the students had already walked the halls of the building as members of the inaugural class of the Alabama Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars Program (PLUS).

In 2018, Layne Lightfoot, Roxana Ramos, and Courtney Zotaj, all 1Ls, had learned in the classrooms, met several members of the faculty, and explored the campus when they were still undergraduates at the University of Alabama and Jacksonville State University.

Alabama PLUS allowed Zotaj, of Huntsville, to apply to multiple law schools. She focused her search in the Southeast, with Alabama Law topping the list.

“From our resume and professional skills workshops to panels on career paths in the law, the PLUS Program solidified my decision to apply to law school and gave me the tools I would not have had otherwise to navigate the application process,” she said.

In 2017, the University of Alabama School of Law received a $300,000 grant from the Law School Admission Council to create PLUS. The grant was extended for an additional year due to the pandemic. The program is designed to help prepare students for the law school admission process, to promote success in law school, and to inform students about careers in the legal profession.

Alabama Law Awards 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction at National Book Festival

Victor Methos, the author of The Hallows, received the 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction during a virtual ceremony at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival.

Methos and the members of the Selection Committee discussed The Hallows in relation to To Kill a Mockingbird. Dean Mark E. Brandon moderated the discussion.

Ten years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, and to honor former UA law student and celebrated author Harper Lee, the University of Alabama School of Law created the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Watch the ceremony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=micGvoajbX4

Professor Vars Publishes Article in New England Journal of Medicine

A new article in one of the nation’s most prestigious medical journals suggests that doctors and mental health professionals could use voluntary do-not-sell lists for firearms as a new tool in their suicide prevention toolkit.

Professor Fredrick Vars, the Ira Drayton Pruitt, Sr. Professor of Law, developed the proposal, which would allow those at risk of suicide to voluntarily place their name on a registry, prohibiting gun stores from selling them a firearm.

“Clinicians routinely assess their patients’ risk of suicide, yet they are limited in terms of the practical interventions they can use for patients who are not actively suicidal but who fear they may become suicidal,” Vars wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The article, published in the October issue of the journal, explains how Vars’s proposal has been adopted in Virginia and Washington state. Data show that many people would like to restrict their ability to purchase firearms. A survey of 200 patients receiving psychiatric care in Alabama found that 46 percent said they would register for a do-not-sell list if it were available. In a more general survey, 31 percent of Internet users reported they wanted to participate in a gun registry.


Brannon J. Buck (’97) donated $5,000 to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

The Albert G. Rives Charitable Trust donated $9,417 to the Albert G. and Hester Rives Fund.

Class Notes

Francis H. “Rasch” Brown, III (’85) was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers at the 2020 Annual Meeting and 70th Anniversary Celebration of the College.

David A. Kimberley (‘85) has been appointed as the Acting Deputy Director of the Alabama Law Institute Division of the Legislative Services Agency.

Rob Landry (’94) has been appointed to the editorial board of the American Business Law Journal.

Jim Shaw (’71) was featured in the Birmingham Business Journal’s Best of the Bar for 2020.

Nina R. Speer (’17) was featured in an article at Thrive Global, a behavior change tech company helping individuals and corporations unlock human potential.

Faculty Notes

PROFESSOR DEEPA DAS ACEVEDO was invited to become a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Law and Society Review, the flagship publication of the Law and Society Association. The Editorial Advisory Board is a group of accomplished scholars who share their expertise with the journal and the broader scholarly community by providing advice about reviewers for submitted papers and input into editorial decisions.

In late August, Professor Acevedo accepted a publication offer from Arizona State Law Journal for her article, “Essentializing Labor Before, During, and After the Coronavirus Pandemic.” The article builds on ideas proposed in her essay of a similar title published earlier this year in the online publication of the Society for the Anthropology of Work.

PROFESSOR JOHN FELIPE ACEVEDO published an essay, “Reclaiming Black Dignity,” 99 Texas Law Review Online 1 (2020), which is available at https://texaslawreview.org/reclaiming-black-dignity/.

PROFESSOR RICHARD DELGADO published articles in UCLA Law Review (“Love in the Time of Cholera”), UC-Davis Law Review (“Rodrigo’s Rebuke”), Arizona State Law Review (“Borders by Consent”), and Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy (“Comment on Slater”), and had new articles accepted in the  UC-Davis Social Justice Law Review and the Journal of Law in Society.

His work was reviewed in The New Criterion and RealClear Investigations. He gave a faculty workshop at Wayne State University Law School.

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 Donald Trump’s attack on Critical Race Theory and anti-bias training in a speech at the National Archives Museum, and his issuance of an OMB memorandum calling for an end to the movement.  The article discusses how Critical Race Theory has shaped academic and popular understanding of America’s civil rights history. Link: https://time.com/5891138/critical-race-theory-explained/

PROFESSOR SHAHAR DILLBARY recently published two empirical articles and two theoretical articles (three of which were subject to peer review).

“Incentivized Torts: An Empirical Analysis” will appear in the Northwestern Law Review (together with Cherie Metcalf and Brock Stoddard) (available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=3661549). “The Case Against Collective Liability” will be published as the lead article in the Boston College Law Review (available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3601329). “Is a Fine Still a Price? Replication as Robustness in Empirical Legal Studies” will be published in the International Review of Law and Economics (together with Cherie Metcalf, Emily Satterthwaite, and Brock Stoddard) (available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3659604). Finally, “Multiple Causes and Stacked Inferences” was recently published in the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE) (available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=3659591).

Professor Dillbary is currently working on several theoretical, experimental, and empirical research projects. These projects range over various subject matters including tort law, discrimination law, evidence law, the effect of different liability and damages regimes on healthcare providers’ incentives to engage in defensive and offensive practices, anti-price gouging laws, and collusive behaviors.\

PROFESSOR TARA LEIGH GROVE recently published “Presidential Laws and the Missing Interpretive Theory,” 168 U. Pa. L. Rev. 877 (2020), https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3338466.

Professor Grove was quoted in the following articles: Cara Bayles, “RBG’s Biggest Opinions, From Civil Rights To Civil Procedure,” Law360 (Sept. 20, 2020), https://www.law360.com/texas/articles/1311928/rbg-s-biggest-opinions-from-civil-rights-to-civil-procedure,

Greg Stohr, “Trump’s Court Redo Is Set to be Even Broader If He Wins New Term,” Bloomberg (Aug. 21, 2020), https://www.bloombergquint.com/politics/trump-s-court-redo-is-set-to-be-even-broader-if-he-wins-new-term, and

Tamara Keith, “‘All Bark And No Bite’: Trump Holds Prescription Drug-Pricing Order In Search Of Deal,” NPR Morning Edition (Aug. 9, 2020), https://www.npr.org/2020/08/07/899937565/all-bark-and-no-bite-trump-holds-prescription-drug-pricing-order-in-search-of-de.

Her Comments drew on her article, “Presidential Laws and the Missing Interpretive Theory,” 168 U. Pa. L. Rev. 877 (2020).

PROFESSOR PAUL HORWITZ‘s review of the recent book, Why Associations Matter, by Luke Sheehan, appears online in Law & Liberty. Professor Horwitz was a co-organizer of the Tenth Annual Law and Religion Roundtable, which was held in a virtual format this summer.

PROFESSOR JOYCE WHITE 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,” is forthcoming in the Yale L.J. Forum in 2020. She co-authored, along with Andrew Weissmann, Chuck Rosenberg, Mimi Rocah, Barb McQuade, an op-ed, “Kenosha Visit Reality: Trump Is Anything But a ‘Law and Order’ “leader,” in USA Today on September 2, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/09/02/kenosha-visit-trump-not-law-and-order-president-column/5681545002/.

She also wrote “Do Not Be Alarmed If the Election Night Count Is Slow,” for Al.com on September 9, 2020, https://www.al.com/opinion/2020/09/joyce-white-vance-do-not-be-alarmed-if-the-election-night-count-is-slow.html.

Professor Vance served as a panelist on The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Panel Discussion on Voter Suppression & The Attack on the Post Office, August 17, 2020. She also was a member of the New York City Bar’s Rule of Law Panel, The Rule of Law and the Impact of the Trump Administration on DOJ, along with Professors Tim Snyder, Cass Sunstein, and Dennis Parker, September 15, 2020.

She appeared on the Talking Feds podcast, which was released on August 19, 2020, and September 3, 2020. Professor Vance co-hosted two episodes of the 19th Amendment Commemoration, along with Professor Barb McQuade from Michigan and Jill Wine-Banks, with special guests Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan, Former Civil Rights Division Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, and Legal Defense Fund Chief Executive Officer Sherrilyn Ifill. She also appeared on MSNBC on August 19, 2020, for Morning Joe, where she discussed coverage of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and on September 15, 2020, for Deadline White House, where she analyzed coverage of Attorney General William Barr’s and President Trump’s statements regarding the election and possible litigation.

PROFESSOR FRED VARS co-authored an article, “Gun Owners Support the Right Not to Bear Arms,” in the Emory Law Journal.

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.