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Professor Margaret Montoya Visits Alabama Law, Discusses Latinx and the Law

Margaret Montoya, Professor Emerita of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, lectured Monday, January 22, at The University of Alabama School of Law.

During her lecture titled, “Latinx and the Law,” Montoya said law schools haven’t yet acknowledged that everyone deserves to be heard.

“We know that important learning takes place during verbal exchanges in the classroom. We also know that it can be difficult for students of color, particularly women students of color, to speak up with the same assuredness as white students. But when students of color remain silent or when they self-censor, when they don’t tell stories, or when they don’t raise issues that are pertinent to them, the full promise of the classroom is lost,” Montoya said. “Law Schools have spent a lot of money, and they are dedicated to creating diverse student bodies. But learning in these spaces only reaches its full promise when the pedagogy is developed to make sure that everyone speaks, that everyone is heard.”

Montoya is a 1978 graduate of Harvard Law School. She was the first Latina to be accepted to Harvard Law. Her article, Mascaras, Trenzas y Greñas: Un/Masking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse, bridges autobiographical narratives with legal analysis and draws attention to opposing the cultural assimilation that often occurs when someone attains degrees in higher education.

In 2010, she was the lead scholar of a comprehensive report, “Diversity in the Legal Profession: Next Steps,” a study commissioned by the American Bar Association. The study analyzed data about how to advance diversity within the legal profession.

Montoya’s lecture was sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

Alabama Law Welcomes Students from Australian National University College of Law

Alabama Law’s Summer Exchange Program with the Australian National University (ANU) College of Law has entered its eighteenth year with the arrival of ten law students from the ANU.  They arrived in Tuscaloosa on January 6 for a five-week visit at the Law School.

The ANU students are taking a class on Comparative Statutory Interpretation and a Survey of U.S. Law, according to Professor William Andreen, Director of the UA-ANU Exchange Program. The comparative class, which is also being offered to Alabama Law students, is being team-taught by Professor Andreen and Associate Professor Miriam Gani from the ANU.

During their stay in Tuscaloosa, the students will visit the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, the Alabama Supreme Court, the Tuscaloosa County Jail, the Rosa Parks Museum, and Bryant-Denny Stadium.

For five weeks this summer, a group of ten Alabama students will, in turn, travel to the ANU in Canberra where they will take a Survey of Australian Law as well as the Comparative Statutory Interpretation class.  During their trip, the UA students will visit the Australian High Court, the local Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Parliament, and a local legal aid office – in addition, of course, to kangaroos, koalas, and emus at the nearby Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Alabama Law Announces Call for Entries for 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal are now accepting submissions for the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The Prize, authorized by Ms. 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.  Past winners include “Gone Again” by James Grippando,  “Pleasantville” by Attica Lock, and “The Secret of Magic” by Deborah Johnson.

The work must be:

  • A published book-length work of fiction.
  • Published originally in 2017.
  • Readily available to readers via commercial sources (retail or online bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or iTunes).

An electronically published work with an ISBN may be submitted but unpublished manuscripts may not. All entries must be submitted by Friday, March 31, 2018. There is no entry fee.

The winning title will be honored at a ceremony and panel discussion, and the winner will receive a signed special edition of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

For more information, visit

Professor Hill Comments on Cannibas Banking Policy

Professor Julie Hill is quoted in The Los Angeles Times about the effect Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to scrap a policy that offered legal shelter for state marijuana sales may have on marijuana businesses.

For more, read “Trump Administration’s Crackdown on Pot Sales Could Push Banks out of Cannabis Industry.”

Professors Delgado and Stefancic Argue that the First Amendment Should Not Protect Hate Speech and White Supremacy

Professors Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic are quoted in an NBC News op-ed about why regulating hate speech would make the United States a fairer country.

For more, read “Is the First Amendment Too Broad? The Case for Regulating Hate Speech in America.”

Alabama Law Students Provided More Than 28,000 Hours of Volunteer Service to Surrounding Community

The Class of 2017 contributed a cumulative total of 28,183 hours of volunteer service while attending Alabama Law.  Each year the American Association of Law Schools asks member institutions to calculate the number of hours their students have spent in providing free legal help in their communities.

This number includes time spent working in the law school’s clinical programs, which serve the elderly, indigent criminal defendants, and victims of domestic violence, among others; externships and internships with nonprofit or governmental legal offices; and local pro bono projects such as the Free Legal Advice Clinic, Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic, Wills for Heroes, and Project Homeless Connect.

“Our students are eager for opportunities to help provide access to legal services to those in their community who are in need of assistance,” said Glory McLaughlin, Assistant Dean for Public Interest Law and Director of the Public Interest Institute. “I am continuously impressed with the capacity of law students to demonstrate creativity, compassion, and a real desire to make a difference.”

Engaging in pro bono work not only serves the needs of the surrounding community, but also helps law students develop critical professional skills, such as interviewing clients, drafting documents, and making legal arguments.

“It’s a win-win situation,” McLaughlin said. “Our students help to close the justice gap, and at the same time, get experience putting their classroom learning to practical use.  We want to ensure that they get the most out of their legal education, and that we are sending the best new lawyers out into the world that we possibly can.”