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Law School Installs Art Exhibit


The University of Alabama School of Law recently installed an exhibit of American art.

The Law School’s exhibit features five works by four artists: Israel Aten, Adger Cowans, Sam Gilliam and Lionel Lofton. The pieces are on loan from The Paul R. Jones Collection, which is part of UA’s College of Arts & Sciences.

In 2008, Jones donated a portion of his art collection to the University of Alabama. With more than 1,700 pieces, the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama is one of the largest collections of African-American art in the world.

The Jones collection is designed to share the works of American artists and their significance with the people of Alabama and beyond. It is also used to educate students on the importance of art in life. Works from the Jones collection are on exhibit year-round at the Paul R. Jones Gallery in Tuscaloosa and are exhibited in galleries on campus and at other educational institutions and venues. The Jones collection is incorporated into curricula at UA, providing students with opportunities to learn and experience the significance of art first-hand.

Professor Rushin Weighs in on How President-Elect Donald Trump Will Handle Police Reform

Professor Stephen Rushin is quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times about how President-Elect Donald Trump will handle the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of Chicago police.

For more, read “Big Question What Trump Will Do About U.S. Probe of Chicago Cops.”


Krotoszynski: A Poll Tax by Another Name

Professor Ronald Krotoszynski writes an op-ed in The New York Times about long lines at the polls.

For more, read “A Poll Tax by Another Name.”

Professor Rushin Comments on How Role of Department of Justice Could Change Under Donald Trump

Professor Stephen Rushin is quoted in The Baltimore Sun about how President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration may address policing and federal oversight.

Rushin said: “It’s hard to imagine a Rudy Giuliani DOJ being the same rigorous enforcement arm as Eric Holder’s or Loretta Lynch’s DOJ” on police reform.

For more, read Trump, the self-styled ‘law and order’ candidate, could change tone on policing, federal oversight.”

Law School Graduates Featured as Women Who Shape the State has named its 2016 Women Who Shape the State, a list of Alabama women who have changed their neighborhoods, cities and Alabama for the better.

The program evolved out of the Birmingham-based Women Who Make a Difference, which launched in 2013. Last year the list was expanded to honor women throughout Alabama. More than 100 women were nominated and 30 were selected. 

UA Law School graduates on the list are:

  • Mary Margaret Carroll (’10)
  • Leigh Davis (’97)
  • Mary Scott Hunter (’98)
  • Deborah J. Long (’80)
  • Patricia C. Wallwork (’00)

For more, read “Meet’s 2016 Women Who Shape the State.”

Professor Vars’s Research Featured in Forbes

Research conducted by Professor Fredrick Vars (along with Karen Cropsey and Richard Shelton of UAB and Cheryl McCullumsmith of Cincinnati) is featured in a Forbes story about how to reduce firearm-related suicides.

For more, read “A Clever, Low-Cost, Non-Inflammatory Strategy To Reduce Firearm-Related Suicides.”

U.S. News Ranks Alabama School of Law Among Top Law Schools for Salary-Debt Ratio

The University of Alabama School of Law is ranked 2nd among 10 law schools where starting salaries exceed debt, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The magazine compiled a list of the 10 law schools where the salary-debt ratio was highest among 2014 graduates. Unranked law schools, which do not submit enough data for U.S. News to calculate a rank, were not considered for the list.

UA Law has kept tuition low, helping to ensure its graduates leave with less debt than they might at comparable law schools. 

For more, read “10 Law Schools Where Starting Salaries Exceed Debt.”

Norman Singer, a Professor for Nearly 40 Years, Was a Prolific Scholar

Norman Singer, the Charles O. Stokes Professor Emeritus of Law and Anthropology, passed away Monday at Druid City Hospital. His family was with him, as was his friend and former student Anil Mujumdar.

Singer took his bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School (Penn) and his J.D. (summa) from Boston University Law School.  After law school, he did a four-year stint in the Peace Corps.  On returning to the States he took an S.J.D. from Harvard; his dissertation was on traditional legal systems in Ethiopia.  He was a committed internationalist, having taught or worked in Ethiopia, Albania, Cambodia, Croatia, Egypt, Fiji, Iraq, Jamaica, Morocco, Rwanda, Sudan, Trinidad, Yugoslavia, and Zanzibar.

Among his many projects, he lent his legal expertise to restructuring land tenures in countries with poorly functioning (or non-existent) private land tenures.  He was a prolific scholar, having authored 26 books/monographs, seven book chapters, 21 journal articles, 26 book reviews, and five published reports.  Perhaps his best-known scholarly work was the treatise, Sutherland on Statutory Construction, which he co-authored with his eldest son, Shambie Singer.  He is survived by a loving and supportive family, including his wife, Anna Jacobs Singer; sons, Shambie, Jeremy (Nicole) and Micah (Ali); stepdaughters, Joanna Jacobs and Stephanie Jacobs; and three grandchildren.

There will be a graveside service at Evergreen Cemetery on Wednesday, November 2, at 2:00 p.m.

For more, read The Tuscaloosa News obituary.

Law School, ADAP Reunite

The University of Alabama School of Law and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program are pleased to announce they have reunited.

ADAP was housed at the Law School for 28 years. In 2004, ADAP moved from the Law School to the Office of Academic Affairs, where the program’s director reported to the provost. Under the new agreement, ADAP offices will remain at Martha Parham West, and Director James A. Tucker will report to Dean Mark E. Brandon.

“We at the School of Law are pleased to be reuniting with the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program,” Brandon said. “ADAP’s mission – to provide advocacy and representation for Alabamians with disabilities – is consistent with law’s highest aspirations.  Our students will benefit enormously from opportunities to work with the program.”

In August 2017, the Law School and ADAP plan to launch a law clinic for children with disabilities. The clinic will provide practical experience to law students under the supervision of licensed attorneys and will support the guarantee that every student at UA Law has the opportunity to gain clinical experience before graduating.

“We’re really looking forward to offering a clinical experience to students and to exposing a broad range of students to the issues that people with disability encounter in the legal system,” Tucker said. “I think law graduates will then be able to be well-positioned to serve persons with disabilities as they move forward with their practice and be attuned to disability issues throughout their careers.”

ADAP is a federally funded advocacy organization that provides legal services to Alabamians with disabilities. It has 20 full-time employees, including 10 lawyers and four advocates.

J. Cole Portis: Serving the State

J. Cole Portis

J. Cole Portis (’90), the 141st President of the Alabama State Bar, embraces the story of the good Samaritan and has crafted a plan to serve lawyers and the public as his neighbor.

Portis, Principal and Section Head of the Product Liability/Personal Injury Section for Beasley Allen in Montgomery, is using his 13-month tenure as President of the bar to serve the profession and the state, initiating programs that will help lawyers become more effective, attract more lawyers to the profession and, ultimately, advise the state leaders on some of Alabama’s most pressing issues.

He is opening the lines of communication and visiting more than 60 local bar associations so that he and others can listen to what members want and need. He is inviting leaders of those associations to Montgomery for conversations about what’s happening within the bar. To supplement those meetings, he helped develop a portal that lawyers can access through so that any member can offer suggestions about benefits and address other bar matters.

“Listen, this is your bar,’’ he told members at the Alabama State Bar Annual Meeting & Legal Expo in June. “We need to listen to you. We need to pay attention to you, and we need to serve you.”

Portis is familiar with service. He is the father of nine children ages 6 to 22. Portis and his wife, Joy, adopted six of their children and are strong advocates for adoption. They founded Love 100 Ministry, which assists Alabama families with adoption costs, and have fostered many children.

“I don’t know that everyone is called to be a foster parent, but I would say everyone is called to ensure that children in Alabama who are in our foster care system are taken care of,” he said. “I think we all have that responsibility.”

Portis’s calling to serve resonates throughout his practice. He represents those who have lost someone or have been injured. While he knows that legal professionals are often referred to as lawyers and attorneys, he said he feels like he is a “counselor of law,” someone who counsels individuals through their grief.

Portis and his staff have successfully handled more than 100 cases that were tried or resolved for more than $1 million, and he was nominated, along with his colleagues, for the 2014 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for leading the first lawsuit to go to trial against Toyota. That case linked sudden unintended acceleration to electronic throttle control problems.

“He’s a very successful lawyer at trial, but he’s also successful in managing an entire section with over 14 lawyers and approximately 30 support staff: the Product Liability/Personal Injury section,” said Thomas J. Methvin, principal and managing attorney at Beasley Allen. “That’s been the bread and butter section since we were founded in 1979.”

Helping others is also the common thread running through Portis’s Alabama State Bar agenda. While the Alabama Bar has the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program, which provides help to lawyers, judges and law students who are addicted and have mental health disorders, Portis is starting a wellness initiative that will help lawyers take care of themselves before concerns become problems. The initiative will primarily deal with mind, body and spirit, and provide resources for stress, nutrition and faith.

He is focusing on the practice of law and is designing a program that will help lawyers tap into educational opportunities involved in the practice of law as well as new areas of law. With technology evolving on a daily basis, Portis wants to show lawyers what technology is available to help them in their practice and introduce them to emerging technology. He notes that lawyers do not go to school to learn how to run businesses, but law offices are businesses. To help lawyers become more efficient, he wants the Alabama State Bar to provide lawyers with the tools for running effective businesses, including foundational principles and marketing.

Portis asked Monet Gaines, Assistant Attorney General in the Opinions Division, to be his Vice President, and she didn’t hesitate to help him accomplish his goals.

Gaines has agreed to help Portis increase interest in the legal profession and boost minority participation in the bar. The bar has a successful program aimed at attracting high school students, and Portis would like to promote becoming a lawyer to college students, emphasizing there are several roads they can take that end at the same destination.

“He really seeks to make a difference in everything that he does, not just this,” Gaines said. “He really has a heart toward service. Listening to what he’s passionate about is just exciting to me.”

Under his leadership, the Alabama State Bar also will promote the legal profession by advocating for the public and volunteering to represent those who cannot afford legal representation, increase foster care among lawyers and issue a call to all lawyers to be engaged in public service, including the Alabama Legislature, because lawyers understand how to be analytical and solve problems.

Those who know Portis say he will accomplish all of his goals in 13 short months. Colleagues and friends describe him as someone who is calm, someone who lives what he believes.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to do it,” said Cooper Shattuck, a State Bar Commissioner and General Counsel for The University of Alabama System.

“He won’t do it on his own. He will enlist help because he’s a magnet for people who want to be productive, people who want to accomplish things.”

Portis’s goals have been decades in the making. He has fond memories of law school because that is where he formed many relationships that mean so much to him. It has been those same relationships that have spurred him on in his practice. He vividly remembers attending UA Law during his first year and sitting in Professor Harry Cohen’s class. He remembers not being as prepared as he should have been and knowing Cohen would call on him to see what he knew about a case. He also remembers knowing he was “was going to completely flub it.”

“Going from an insecure student with very little knowledge and then to be able to practice at Beasley Allen and really have the opportunity to handle some landmark cases and to be in leadership positions is just — I guess this is a word — unfathomable,” he said. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me. God has blessed me richly.”