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Alabama Law Welcomes PLUS Participants

The University of Alabama School of Law welcomed the inaugural class of the Alabama LSAC Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars Program to the rigors of legal education this week.

The program, funded by a $300,000 grant from the Law School Admission Council, aims to help prepare students for the law school admission process, success in law school, and careers in the legal profession. In addition to this year’s program, the Alabama PLUS Program will invite about 30 undergraduate students to the Law School in the summers of 2019 and 2020.

During four weeks of intense study, 31 participants will receive an introduction to the law, including legal writing and analysis, and legal ethics. Dean Mark E. Brandon encouraged them to think broadly about their education in the coming weeks and to explore the versatility of a law degree.

Law degrees, he said, can be used to build better and stronger communities, to make the lives of individuals and families more stable and secure, and to resolve conflicts between people without resorting to force.

“You want to make deals?  You’re using law,” Brandon said. “You want to help build organizations or enterprises that can do things individuals can’t do on their own? Law gives you ways to do that. Do you just get jazzed making arguments on behalf of people? Law provides plenty of opportunities for that.”

The program attracted promising students from groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession and from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as students facing other significant barriers to entering the legal profession.

“We’re very excited to have such a remarkable group of students from a variety of different colleges and majors at the Law School for the inaugural Alabama LSAC PLUS Program,” said Daiquiri J. Steele, Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in residence.  “We’re delighted to see their energy and excitement about the program.”

Professor Carroll Explains Alabama Courts of Civil and Criminal Appeals

Professor Jenny Carroll is quoted in The Montgomery Advertiser about Alabama courts of civil and criminal appeals.

For more, read “Primary Primer: Alabama Courts of Civil and Criminal Appeals.”

Two Alabama Law Review Articles Attract National Media Attention

The lead article for the next edition of The Alabama Law Review (Volume 70) has garnered national media attention due to the article’s connection to current events involving renewed tensions between the White House and the Department of Justice.

The article, authored by Rebecca Roiphe, a law professor at New York Law School, and Bruce A. Green, a law professor at Fordham University School of Law, has been featured in The Washington Post and The New York Times. In addition, Alison Frankel, writing for Reuters, described Green’s and Roiphe’s piece as “the best overview I have found . . . on the Department[] [of Justice’s] historical relationship with the president.”

Even though Volume 70 will not go to press until this fall, this marks the second time one of its forthcoming articles has been in the news this spring. In April, The Wall Street Journal ran a story on an article by Professor Uri Benoliel and Professor Xu Zheng that is also set to be published in the upcoming Volume.

In selecting articles for publication this year, Alabama Law students on the Law Review‘s acquisitions board reviewed more than 1,600 submissions from legal scholars around the world.

“There are several things we looked at,” explained David Zeitlin, a Volume 70 acquisitions editor. “We definitely looked for articles that were well-written and relevant, but it was also important that they made strong normative claims and novel contributions to the scholarship.”

The Alabama Law Review is the flagship legal journal of The Alabama School of Law and the state of Alabama, and it is a nationally recognized journal built on a rich tradition of scholarship aimed at exploring issues of national, as well as local, significance to scholars, legislators, jurists, and practitioners. It publishes four Issues per year with contributions from leading scholars as well as selected works from its own members.

Alabama Law, ABA Journal Announce Finalists for Harper Lee Prize

The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal have named the finalists for the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The three books chosen to compete for the prize are: “Exposed” by Lisa Scottoline, “Proof” by C.E. Tobisman and “Testimony” by Scott Turow.

“The winnowing committee has chosen three great novels that you can add to your summer reading list, all written by lawyers and with timely topics,” said Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “This year’s grouping includes drama and intrigue surrounding international justice, elder law, legal ethics and protections for people with disabilities. As legal journalists we see the essential role of lawyers in the real world and think now, more than ever, it’s important to have genuine and inspiring depictions of their work in pop culture.”

The prize, authorized by the late 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.

Eight years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and to honor former Alabama 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.

There were 27 entries for the Prize, and a team of reviewers chose three books for the Selection Committee’s consideration. The public is invited to cast votes on the ABA Journal website,, to help determine who the winning author will be.

The public will act as the fifth judge, contributing a vote equal in weight to the selection committee members. To vote, visit:

Voting is open until June 30 at 11:59 p.m. Central.

The 2018 prize will be awarded at the Library of Congress in conjunction with National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced prior to the ceremony and will receive a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” signed by Harper Lee.

A distinguished panel of judges will select the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

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 Sena Jeter Naslund, Author, Co-founder and former Program Director of the Spalding University MFA in Writing.

Alabama Law Confers 135 Juris Doctor Degrees; Frank S. James (’78) Delivers Commencement Address

Frank S. James (’78) congratulated The University of Alabama School of Law’s Class of 2018 for having a median a LSAT score of 163 and an overall grade-point average of 3.76.

“I can say that I, and many of my classmates, should be happy that we did not have to compete for a place in this class,” said James, a retired attorney.

The Law School conferred 135 Juris Doctor degrees at Coleman Coliseum on May 6. Three J.D. students received joint Master’s degrees in Business Administration, and one J.D. student received a joint Master’s degree in Civil Engineering. Three J.D. students and four others received the LL.M. degree in Taxation or Business Transactions, while two students — one from Nigeria and the other from Cameroon — received the LL.M. degree from the Law School’s International Program.

James, who was a shareholder for more than 25 years at the law firm that is now known as Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz, P.C., cited Nina Miglionico (‘36), John D. Saxon (‘77), Governor Albert P. Brewer (‘52), and Bryan Stephenson as four lawyers who accepted President John F. Kennedy’s challenge: “What can I do for my country?” and “How can I use my time, talent, and treasure to enhance the lives of my fellow human beings who do not have my advantages?”

Miglionico, James said, encouraged other women to become lawyers, and she paid the law school tuition of a number of women, while Saxon led the three-year capital campaign that resulted in what he called the west wing of the Law School. James noted that Governor Brewer established Alabama’s first code of ethics for state employees and a constitutional reform commission, while Stevenson used his MacArthur Fellowship to continue funding what is now known as the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama after the Alabama legislature declined to fund the program.

“It is my belief that everyone who gives is blessed by the gift,” James said. “May God bless you with lives of service.”

In his welcoming remarks, Dean Mark E. Brandon honored the academic success of the Class of 2018.

Two-thirds of the class worked on one of the Law School’s four legal journals, while more than half enrolled in at least one of six clinics, training and serving as student lawyers. Twenty-eight graduates won individual or team awards for performance in regional or national moot court competitions or were members of a team that advanced to elimination rounds.

“In your studies, you have competed, but you have shown that competition can be conducted with civility, collegiality, and compassion,” Brandon said. “You’ve come together to affirm that, despite our differences, we can honestly engage with one another and, in doing so, strengthen the bonds that connect us.”

After introducing the platform party, Dean Brandon recognized Judge Joseph A. Colquitt, who retired with 44 years of teaching at the Law School at the end of the academic year. In honor of his service, Dean Brandon and the Law School gave him one of the wooden benches students sat on while attending law school at Farrah Hall.

“In those years, he has left an indelible mark on the Law School,” Brandon said. Words aren’t adequate to express what he has meant to us as a teacher, mentor, and colleague.”

Caroline Stephens, delivering the valedictory address, said she learned three lessons from her classmates.

Stephens, a proud Auburn tiger, said her classmates taught her it is possible to agree to disagree, that there is more to life than law, and that “you can’t do everything alone.” She said she and all of her classmates are grateful to their families and friends for their support. She praised professor for humbling the class, and she thanked her classmates for their friendship and encouragement.

“Through it all, you have pushed each other to keep going, and taught me not only that you can’t do it alone but also that you shouldn’t do it alone – it’s a lot more fun to have each other to lean on.”

Degree candidates were hooded by Heather Elliott, Alumni, Class of ’36 Professor of Law; Bryan Fair, Thomas E. Skinner Professor of Law; and Anita Kay Head, Associate Professor of Legal Writing.

The seven recipients of the Dean M. Leigh Harrison Academic Achievement Award were hooded first. Eighteen students received the Public Interest Certificate for completing the program’s academic, clinical, and externship requirements, while 28 students received the Order of the Samaritan honor for performing 50 hours of pro bono legal service ad 40 hours of community service while attending law school.

A reception honoring graduates was held immediately following the ceremony on the Camille Wright Cook Plaza in front of the Law School.

Professor Vars: Gun Waiting Periods Can Prevent Suicides

Professor Fred Vars (along with Griffin Edwards, Erik Nesson, and Joshua Robinson) writes an op-ed for USA Today about how gun purchase waiting periods don’t stop mass shootings but can prevent suicides.

For more, read “Gun Purchase Waiting Periods Are a Powerful Way to Prevent Suicides and Save Lives.”

Civil Law Clinic Wins Visitation Rights for Grandmother

After almost three years of litigation in Alabama trial and appellate courts, The University of Alabama School of Law Civil Law Clinic secured and defended a grandmother’s right to visitation with her grandchild. Under Alabama law, when a child is adopted by a close relative, a grandparent is entitled to visitation when maintaining the familial relationship is in the child’s best interest. The Civil Law Clinic’s client is the paternal grandmother whose granddaughter was adopted by the child’s maternal grandmother. After the adoption, the maternal grandmother cutoff the paternal grandmother’s longstanding relationship with the child, not allowing her to see her granddaughter for two years.

The Clinic successfully petitioned the Tuscaloosa Probate Court to award the paternal grandmother visitation rights. The adopting maternal grandmother challenged the validity of the law before the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court. 

Over the course of three years, nine Civil Law Clinic students, supervised by Clinic Director Yuri Linetsky and Staff Attorney Caryn Roseman, worked tirelessly advocating for the client at hearings and drafting legal motions and briefs. After the Law Clinic’s victories in Alabama state courts, the maternal grandmother sought review before the U.S. Supreme Court with the help of Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Clinic. The Alabama Law Civil Law Clinic, in partnership with Yale Law School’s Supreme Court Practice Clinic, drafted and filed an opposition brief, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court should not review the case.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the maternal grandmother’s petition for review, letting stand the visitation order set in place by the probate court. The Civil Law Clinic was privileged to support its client’s courageous and tireless fight to see her granddaughter.

Professor Hamill Comments on Limited Liability Companies in the Housing Market

Professor Susan Pace Hamill is quoted in The New York Times about the secrecy of limited liability companies.

For more, read “Anonymous Owner, L.L.C.: Why It Has Become So Easy to Hide in the Housing Market.”

Alabama Law Clinic, Alumni Win Case That Expands Access to Justice for Tenants in Alabama

The University of Alabama School of Law’s Civil Law Clinic, along with Alabama Law alumni at Winston & Strawn, LLP, scored a critical win for a Tuscaloosa single mother. In the process, they changed the law to better protect vulnerable tenants statewide.

Bridgette Morrow leased a home for her family in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. But the home, including its electrical system, was in constant disrepair. Because the landlord refused to make any repairs, Ms. Morrow requested an inspection from the city housing authority. In response to the city inspector’s deficiency notice, the landlord retaliated against Ms. Morrow by hand-delivering an eviction notice to her children. The landlord then sued for possession, and Ms. Morrow and her children moved. The landlord sought voluntary dismissal of his action for possession, which the court granted—with prejudice.

Subsequently, with help from the Civil Law Clinic, Ms. Morrow brought claims against her former landlord under the Alabama Residential Uniform Landlord and Tenant Act for, among other things, retaliation. But the trial court dismissed Ms. Morrow’s suit, finding that her claims should have been raised in the landlord’s prior action.

The trial court’s decision fit with years of local practice in Alabama courts, where tenants—many of whom were pro se, indigent, and facing imminent homelessness—were required to identify and raise counterclaims during an extremely short and stressful window before the hearings in their landlords’ actions for possession, or risk having those claims forever barred.

Civil Law Clinic students, supervised by Clinic Director Yuri Linetsky and Staff Attorney Caryn Roseman, along with Winston & Strawn Partner Paula Hinton (‘79) and Associate and Law Clinic alumnus William Logan (‘17), represented Bridgette Morrow on appeal. Legal Services Alabama and Alabama Appleseed filed an invaluable amici brief in support of Ms. Morrow’s position. The team argued that a tenant’s monetary counterclaims are not mandatory when a landlord sues for possession, and that a dismissal just because a tenant has moved is not sufficient to support a res judicata bar, even where the dismissal was with prejudice. A unanimous Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed, allowing Ms. Morrow’s suit against her former landlord to proceed, in the process ensuring that courthouse doors across Alabama are no longer barred to similarly situated tenants. This decision is binding precedent for trial courts statewide.

Frank S. James to Deliver Commencement Address

Frank S. James (’78) , who was a shareholder for more than 25 years at what is now the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz, P.C., will deliver The University of Alabama School of Law commencement address at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 6 at Coleman Coliseum.

James is a 1978 graduate of Alabama Law.  He began his legal career as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Virgil Pittman. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and Assistant Dean and Professor of Law at the School of Law. His service to the profession included being elected as Secretary-Treasurer of the Birmingham Bar Association in 1996.  He is a member of the Panel of Neutrals of the American Arbitration Association, has a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® rating and is listed in the Best Lawyers in America and Alabama Super Lawyers.