Skip to main content

Alabama Law Welcomes the Class of 2021

Dean Mark E. Brandon welcomed the Class of 2021 during First-Year Orientation.

Brandon said the class is joining a long list of former law students who have made a positive mark on the community, the nation, and the world, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., Nelle Harper Lee, Millard Fuller, and Judge John England, Jr.

“Each of them left a trace that is still visible, still meaningful,” he said. “In your own way, I hope that you will do the same.”

Forty-seven percent of the 119 class members are women, and 20 percent identify as members of a racial or ethnic minority. The members of the Class of 2021 have lived, worked, or studied in 35 countries outside of the United States, including those in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

“Individually and collectively, you are impressive, and we’re excited to welcome you to the community that is Alabama Law,” Brandon said.

Brandon offered advice in four areas he said he wished he had better understood when he started law school more than 40 years ago.

First, he encouraged law students to educate themselves broadly and deeply. He suggested they take on courses in all the basic fields of law, including challenging courses and those in fields they might not expect to like.

“If you develop a sense of the whole, you will acquire a more sophisticated sense of the parts.”

Second, he noted that law consists of rules, but it doesn’t consist only of rules.

“What you’ll learn is that the rules are knit together with other stuff,” he said. “They’re knit together with principles, with considerations of policy and social advantage, with values.”

Third, he urged them to take care of themselves and make friends inside and outside of the Law School.

“Friendship — and connection with other people — is a basic good,” he said. “If your experience in law school resembles mine, you may have already met classmates who will become friends for life.”

Finally, Brandon invited the members of the Class of 2021 to leave a mark on law school, society, and the law.

“Starting today, the way you approach law school, the way you approach your studies, the way you engage with one another will gradually form the foundation of your professional reputation for years to come,” he said. “I can attest that this is true, and I hope that you believe me when I tell you that it matters.”

Proof Wins 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal announced that C. E. Tobisman, author of Proof, will receive the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Tobisman is the eighth winner of the Prize. The award, authorized by Lee, is given to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

“I am honored, humbled, and frankly, totally stunned,” Tobisman said. “The spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird is the spirit of one person’s ability to make the world a little more fair. That the selection committee saw that spirit in my book is something that I will treasure forever.”

Eight years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and to honor former law student and author Harper Lee, the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal partnered to create the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

Proof was chosen by a distinguished panel of writers and scholars. They are: Dr. Hilary Green, Assistant Professor of History in the Department of Gender and Race Studies at The University of Alabama; Jini Koh, Attorney and University of Alabama School of Law Graduate; Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for and The National Law Journal; and Dr. Sena Jeter Naslund, Author, Co-founder and former Program Director of the Spalding University MFA in Writing.

The Selection Committee praised the novel for advancing Lee’s legacy and her charge to award legal fiction that shows how lawyers can change society.

Proof best captures the spirit of iconic characters, role of the legal profession in addressing social issues, and the concluding legal monologue of To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman,” Green said. “Caroline Auden is the perfect cross between lawyer Atticus Finch and the grown up Scout.”

Mauro added: “C. E. Tobisman’s Proof proves that a true page-turner can also have substance. The main character is Caroline Auden, a Los Angeles solo practitioner who takes on elder abuse and corporate skullduggery with quick-witted determination. In the tradition of Harper Lee, Tobisman shows that lawyers can effect societal change.”

Tobisman will be honored with a signed special edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. The 2018 prize will be awarded at the Library of Congress in conjunction with the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. After the award is presented, the Selection Committee will discuss Tobisman’s Proof in relation to Lee’s work.

“It’s exciting see to this award go to a practicing attorney who’s relatively new to the fiction scene,” said Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “We also love seeing attention being drawn to the important field of elder law. We look forward to seeing what Cindy Tobisman will bring to the genre of legal fiction.”

About C. E. Tobisman

Tobisman has published two novels featuring hacker-turned-lawyer Caroline Auden. Her first book, “Doubt,” was published in 2016, and the sequel, “Proof,” was released in 2017, both by Thomas & Mercer. Tobisman has bachelor’s and J.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to authoring legal thrillers, she’s an appellate attorney in Los Angeles.

Professor Krotoszynski: Policies that Appear Neutral Can Be Unlawful if Created for a Discriminatory Reason

Professor Ronald Krotoszynski is quoted in the ABA Journal about proposed Alabama legislation that would require couples who wish to marry to file an affidavit with their counties.

For more, read “States May Scrap Marriage Licenses as Counties Resist Same-sex Ruling.” 

Professor Vars Participates in UA Town Hall on Guns in Alabama

Professor Fred Vars recently participated in a UA Town Hall on Guns in Alabama.




Professor Vance Writes Op-Ed About Ending Attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Professor Joyce White Vance, along with Barbara McQuade, writes an op-ed for The Hill. The essay argues that attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller should end in order to protect our democracy.

For more, read “Baseless Attacks on Robert Mueller Must End to Protect Our Democracy.”


Alabama Law Alumni, Students Win Alabama State Bar Awards

Alabama Alumni and students recently were presented with awards for their service to the legal profession during the 2018 Alabama State Bar Annual Meeting in Sandestin, Florida

Alabama Law recipients were:

Billy C. Bedsole (’61) received the J. Anthony “Tony” McLain Professionalism Award. The award recognizes members for distinguished service in the advancement of professionalism.

Katherine R. Brown (’05) and Jeanne Dowdle Rasco (’89) received the President’s Award in Recognition of Exemplary Service to the Profession.

Penny Davis (’78) received the Supreme Court of Alabama Lifetime Service Award. The award recognizes a lawyer for his or her outstanding service to the legal profession and the citizenry of Alabama.

Judge Harold V. Hughston, Jr. (‘79) received the Judicial Award of Merit. The award is presented to a judge who is determined to have contributed significantly to the administration of justice in Alabama.

Lea Luterstein (2L) received the Law Student Award for taking every opportunity to participate in public service and pro bono activities during her first two years in law school and logging more than 280 hours of service.

Thomas A. Nettles, IV (’79) received the Walter R. Gewin Award. The award honors lawyers and professors whose outstanding service provides the best possible continuing legal education.

Jean M. Powers (’90) received the Local Bar Achievement Award. The award recognizes local bar associations for their outstanding contributions to their community judged by the quality and extent of programs, level of participation of the bar, and overall impact of the programs on its citizens.

Alex Priester (2L) received the Justice Janie L. Shores Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to an outstanding woman who is an Alabama resident attending law school in Alabama.

Alyce Manley Spruell (‘83) received the Maud McLure Kelly Award. The award is named in honor of the first woman admitted to the practice of law in Alabama

James O. Standridge (’77) received the Jeanne Marie Leslie Service Award. The award recognizes exemplary service to lawyers in need in the areas of substance abuse and mental health.

Professor Delgado Participates in Online First Amendment Roundtable, Responds to Louis Michael Seidman’s Essay on Free Speech

Professor Richard Delgado participated in an online roundtable discussion of a provocative new essay “Can Free Speech Be Progressive?” by Professor Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown University Law Center. First Amendment Watch invited five leading First Amendment scholars to write commentaries on Seidman’s forthcoming essay, which will be published in a future issue of Columbia Law Review.

In his essay, Seidman raises intriguing questions about the First Amendment protections of speech and press today. While freedom of speech pushed progressive causes forward in the second half of the 20th century—it protected civil rights demonstrators, shielded artists from suppression, and protected antiwar protestors—it may be less aligned with progressive goals now.

For more, read “First Amendment Watch Roundtable: Richard Delgado Responds to Louis Michael Seidman.

Professor Hill Weighs in on Proposed Banking Fix for Marijuana

Professor Julie Hill is quoted by the Associated Press in a story about a proposed U.S. banking fix for marijuana.

For more, read “Proposed U.S. Banking Fix for Marijuana May Not Open All Doors.”


Alabama Law Alumna Confirmed as Federal District Judge

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Annemarie Carney Axon (’99) to serve as a district court judge for the Northern District of Alabama.

Axon, an attorney for Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt, LLC, was nominated in 2017 by President Donald Trump.

For more, read “Alabama Lawyer Confirmed as Federal District Judge.”


Professor Vance Joins Lawyers and Legal Scholars Who Send Letter Rebutting White House Lawyers

Professor Joyce White Vance was among 14 lawyers and legal scholars who rebutted a memo that says President Donald Trump could not have obstructed the federal investigation into ties between his campaign and Russia.

For more, read Law Professors Torch Trump Legal Memo.”