Ole Miss Law Wins World Championship in Space Law

Team of three students triumphs over groups from India and Greece en route to victory

UM School of Law wins world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem

A team from the UM School of Law wins the world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem.

OXFORD, Miss – The University of Mississippi School of Law has won the world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem. The team beat India’s Nalsar University of Law in the semifinals and triumphed over National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, today (Oct. 15) in the final round.

UM is one of three law schools in the world to offer a Master of Laws in Air and Space Law, but the only school to offer a certificate in remote sensing, air and space law at the Juris Doctor level, a distinction that contributed to the team’s success.

“The law school congratulates our team on their truly outstanding accomplishment – the University of Mississippi School of Law’s first international moot court championship,” said Debbie Bell, UM law dean.

“Success like this only further highlights the strength of our advocacy programs and space law program in general.”

The championship team includes Olivia Hoff of Gulfport and C.J. Robison from Lubbock, Texas, both third-year law students in the space law certificate program. Joining them is Ian Perry of Ellis County, Texas, a 2013 J.D. recipient who is working on his space law LL.M., and Michael Dodge, an adjunct assistant UM professor who graduated from the school’s space law program in 2008.

Competing at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the teams each argued a hypothetical case involving an asteroid mining dispute and liability for a failed attempt to divert an asteroid from colliding with the Earth. Three members of the International Court of Justice served as judges for the competition.

In its 24th year, the competition takes place under the guidance of the International Institute of Space Law, headquartered in Paris, and attracts more than 60 law schools from around the globe. Three members of the International Court of Justice served as judges for the competition.

The team won the national championship March 21 at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition at Georgetown University Law Center, which qualified them to compete in the world finals.

“I am so proud of our students,” said Jacquie Serrao, director of the university’s LL.M. program in air and space law. “Their hard work, determination, substantive knowledge and oral and written advocacy skills really set them apart from others in the competition. That, combined with the amazing professors at the law school who contributed so much of their time in mooting our students, really made the difference.”

This victory builds on a string of successes for the Ole Miss law school’s advocacy programs, which include winning the nation’s pre-eminent environmental law moot court competition in February for the fourth time in five years, winning four national championships in 2014 alone, earning a top 18 national ranking for the school’s moot court board in 2014, receiving second place at the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition last fall, and achieving a top-eight finish at the moot court National Championship hosted by the University of Houston Law Center in January.

Waltman Elected LSSB President

Five others assume new leadership roles

Jess Waltman, the new LSSB president.

Jess Waltman

OXFORD,Miss. – Jess Waltman, a native of Quitman, has been elected the 2015-2016 president of the Law School Student Body Association. Five other officers will also assume responsibility for the upcoming school year.

The LSSB president oversees the functions of the other members of the LSSB executive board and represents the law school student body to the school and university’s administrations.

Waltman is the son of Walt and Cheryl Waltman and a 2009 graduate of Quitman High School. He earned a Bachelor of Accountancy degree from the university’s E. H. Patterson School of Accountancy in 2013 and graduated from the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. While at Ole Miss, Waltman served as an Ole Miss Ambassador and was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi and the UM Hall of Fame.

Besides his responsibilities as president, Waltman serves as the executive online editor and alumni coordinator for the Mississippi Law Journal and as editor-in-chief of the University of Mississippi Business Law Newsletter. He is also a member of the School of Law Trial Advocacy Board, the Dean’s Leadership Council, the Gorove Society for International Law and the Business Law Network. Before his election in 2015, Waltman served as the 2014-2015 LSSB treasurer and as a 2013-2014 1L senator.

Waltman will be completing summer associateships with the firms of Davis & Crump in Gulfport, and Martin Tate Morrow & Marston in Memphis. He expects to graduate in May of 2016 and plans to pursue a career in commercial and civil litigation.

Rodgrick Glen Hickman, a native of Shuqualak, has been elected to serve as the 2015-2016 LSSB vice-president. The vice-president is responsible for presiding over the meetings of the LSSB Senate. He is the son of Glen and Lucille Hickman and is a 2007 graduate of Noxubee County High School. Hickman received a Bachelor of General Studies degree in history, sociology and legal studies in 2014 from the university’s regional campus in Grenada, where he was a Lyceum Scholar. Hickman is a member of the American Constitution Society and Phi Delta Phi, and he serves as treasurer for the Black Law Student Association, special events coordinator for the Public Interest Law Foundations, and as a staff member for the law school yearbook. Before being elected to serve as vice-president, he served as an LSSB senator for his class.

Hickman will be a summer associate with Glover, Young, Hammack, Walton and Simmons PLLC in Meridian and expects to graduate in May 2017. He plans to pursue a career in corporate litigation.

Gregory James Alston Jr., a native of Hattiesburg, was elected to serve as the 2015-2016 LSSB treasurer. The LSSB treasurer is responsible for conducting the financial business of the LSSB and maintaining its financial records. He is the son of Betsy and Greg Alston and is a 2010 graduate of Presbyterian Christian School. Alston earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy leadership from UM in 2014. While at Ole Miss, Alston served as the 2013-2014 president of the Associated Student Body and was inducted into the UM Hall of Fame.

Alston serves as the CEO of the law school’s Business Law Network and is a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council. Before being elected to serve as LSSB treasurer, Alston served as an LSSB senator for his class. This summer, he will be working for state Treasurer Lynn Fitch’s re-election campaign. He expects to graduate in May 2017 and pursue a career in politics and government relations.

Fredricka Jatarya Brown, a native of Greenville, was elected to serve as the 2015-2016 LSSB secretary. The LSSB secretary takes the minutes at each LSSB Senate meeting and maintains the LSSB roster. She is the daughter of Minnie Stone and Fredricka Brown and graduated from Riverside High School in 2010. Brown received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mississippi State University in 2014. At MSU, she received the President’s Service Award in 2013 and the Spirit of Service Award in 2014.

Brown expects to graduate in May 2017, and she is a member of the law school yearbook staff, Public Interest Law Foundation, Black Law Students Association, Law Association for Women and the Dean’s Leadership Council. This summer, she will be serving as a teaching assistant for the Center for Legal Education Opportunity at the UM School of Law. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in criminal litigation.

Margaret Wright, a native of Jackson, was elected to serve as the 2015-2016 LSSB social chair. As social chair, Wright will be responsible for planning social functions for law students, including the annual Barristers’ Ball. She is the daughter of Timothy and Suzanne Wright and graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in 2009. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish in 2013 from UM. While at Ole Miss, Wright was a member of the Chancellor’s Honor Roll and Order of Omega.

Wright expects to graduate in May 2016, and she serves as an executive articles editor for the Mississippi Law Journal and is a member of the law school’s Moot Court Board, Dean’s Leadership Council, Space Law Society, Law Association for Women and the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association.

She will work as a summer associate with the firms of Blair & Bondurant and Wise, Carter, Child & Carraway in Jackson. After graduation, Wright plans to pursue a career in civil defense litigation.

Jessica LeAnn Rice was elected to serve as the 2015-2016 LSSB attorney general. The LSSB attorney general participates in student Honor Council proceedings and maintains the LSSB Code and Constitution. From Flowood, she is the daughter of Marvin and Ann Rice. Rice graduated from Northwest Rankin High School in 2010 and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2014 from the University of Alabama, where she was a member of the Mortar Board national senior honor society.

Rice expects to graduate in May 2017, and she is a member of Law Association for Women and served as a 1L honor council representative. This summer, she will participate in the law school’s summer study abroad program at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. After graduation, Rice plans to practice health law.


Law School Launches Effort to Encourage Collaboration, Innovation

Affiliated faculty program designed to boost scholarship and teaching across disciplines

John Green

John Green

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law has approved its first four affiliated faculty as part of the school’s new affiliated faculty program, which is designed to spur interaction between the school and other university’s other academic units.

The inaugural affiliated faculty members are John Green from the Department of Sociology, Robert Mongue from the Department of Legal Studies, Steven Skultety from the Department of Philosophy and Religion, and John Winkle from the Department of Political Science.

“The law school’s new affiliated faculty program is meant to promote creative collaborations in teaching, research and service between law faculty and other UM faculty,” said Jack Nowlin, associate dean for faculty development and a professor at the school. “There is so much scholars from different fields can learn from working with each other. Our work only gets better when we collaborate across disciplines.”

Law school officials hope this program will increase interdisciplinary participation in the school’s academic workshop program, joint sponsorship of speaking events, joint research projects and team-teaching.

UM faculty recognized as law school affiliates appear on the school’s faculty page with that title and also receive invitations to attend law school speaking events and participate in workshop programs.

Robert Mongue

Robert Mongue

Each of the school’s four new affiliated faculty members is an outstanding scholar with a solid history of interdisciplinary collaborations with the law school.

Green is an associate professor of sociology and director of the UM Center for Population Studies. His interests include community development, health and health care, limited resource and minority farmers, and the social dimensions of disaster. He has worked with the law school’s transactional clinic and engaged in joint research projects with Desiree Hensley, assistant professor of law.

“I am elated to be an affiliated faculty member with the School of Law,” Green said. “As a research center director and faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, I am working on a wide range of applied programs in community development, agrifood systems and health. This association with the School of Law has expanded the reach of my work and my professional connections.”

Mongue, associate professor of legal studies, has had more than 30 years experience practicing law in addition to his academic accomplishments. He specializes in paralegal education and is the author of the “Empowered Paralegal” book series. His collaborations with the law school include giving guest lectures, organizing interdisciplinary speaking events and working on projects to better integrate graduate and undergraduate legal education.

Steven Skultety

Steven Skultety

“I look forward to the opportunity to strengthen the bond between the law school and the legal studies department, especially the Paralegal Studies program,” Mongue said. “While my previous communications have focused on those of our students who intend to apply for admission to law school, I think that it would be just as helpful to both paralegal students preparing for careers as paralegals and law students preparing for careers as attorneys to engage each other during their education for purposes of improving their working relationships when that education is complete.”

Skultety is an associate professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. His interests lie in ancient philosophy, especially the work of Aristotle, and in republican and democratic theory. Skultety’s collaborations with the law school include co-sponsoring speaking events and regularly participating in the law school’s faculty writing groups.

“Philosophy and law both rest on an ability to make clear and persuasive arguments,” Skultety said. “Whenever I work with my colleagues in the law school, I’m struck by how much we have in common. Anyone who attends one of our co-sponsored events – like our annual Constitution Day talk or the Jack Dunbar lecture in philosophy and law – will also see the similarities. As an affiliated faculty member, I’m looking forward to continuing my own collaboration with law professors, and I’m also excited to search for new ways the law school and the Department of Philosophy and Religion can work together.”

John Winkle

John Winkle

Winkle is professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science. Over his 40-year career, he has taught courses on constitutional law, judicial politics the American legal process and many other topics. He has published numerous articles on wide range of subjects, including lobbying by federal judges before Congress, state-federal judicial councils and the political role played by the administrative office of U.S. courts. Winkle’s long history of collaborations with law faculty includes team-teaching, participating in joint speaking events and circulating drafts to law faculty for comment.

“I am delighted to be a law school faculty affiliate and look forward to continued work with my colleagues in the law school,” Winkle said. “Some of my fondest associations over the years have been with active and retired law school faculty whom I am pleased to call my friends.”

UM faculty interested in collaborative opportunities with the law school should contact Nowlin. Faculty members can apply for affiliated faculty status by sending Dean Richard Gershon a curriculum vitae along with materials highlighting recent collaborative activities with law faculty. A copy of the law school policy is available at Affiliated Faculty Policy.

Learn more about these affiliated faculty members on the faculty directory page.


Students Place Second in National Sports Law Competition

Showing continues string of impressive finishes for law school teams

Matt Peters (left) and John Michael Allen (right) garnered  second place at the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego.

Matt Peters (left) and John Michael Allen (right) garnered second place at the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego.

OXFORD,Miss. – Two University of Mississippi School of Law students finished second in the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego.

Matt Peters of Birmingham, Alabama, and John Michael Allen of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, both third-year students, competed Sept. 19-21 against 36 teams from across the nation.

“I am very proud of the performance by Matthew Peters and John Michael Allen at the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego, California,” said Brad Ryan, chair of the law school’s negotiation board. “The continued successes of the Negotiation Board and all of Ole Miss Law’s advocacy boards is a testament to the students’ hard work, faculty members’ coaching and the comprehensive education we receive here in Oxford which allows us to compete with law schools nationwide.”

The competition’s purpose is to give law students a great experience, competition and place to meet like minds in the sports law world, the event’s website notes. It focuses on current issues in the sports world each year and facilitates students, coaches and judges to negotiate and make decisions on sports topics in an academic setting.

“This achievement is especially exciting when combined with the championship success of Drew Taggart and Brad Cook at last year’s Law Meets Transactional Negotiation Competition in New York,” said Brad Daigneault, a third-year law student and secretary of the law school’s negotiation board.

“When the board was created just a few years ago, the members believed that through hard work and proper preparation our members could be competitive with students from all across the country. Our recent successes show how far we have come in a short period of time and we look forward to continuing to compete in various external competitions while representing our law school proudly.”

Peters and Allen competed against two different Florida A&M University College of Law teams in rounds one and two, and against the University of Maryland School of Law in the finals. Round topics included “Preserving Torrey Pines” (City of San Diego vs. Municipal Golf Committee), “Behind the Mask” (World Umpires Union vs. Wilson Equipment) and “Serving up Supplements” (Fabiana Claudino vs. BPI Sports).

“We were judged by reputable business people across California, California state court judges and federal judges,” Peters said. “They all gave us invaluable insights into the real world that we’ll be able to carry forward as we begin to practice.”

Final round judges included Roger T. Benitez, U.S. district judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California; Joan K. Irion, associate justice, Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One, California Court of Appeal; and Browder A. Willis III, superior court judge, Superior Court of California, County of San Diego.

Law School to Host Annual Mississippi Sports Law Review Symposium

Event to focus on modern communications and sports broadcasting

The Sports Law Symposium is hosted annually by the Mississippi Sports Law Review, the only sports legal publication in the SEC.

The Sports Law Symposium is hosted annually by the Mississippi Sports Law Review, the only sports legal publication in the SEC.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Sports Law Review will host its annual Mississippi Sports Law Review Symposium from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 17 in Weems Auditorium at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

This year’s topic is “Current Telecommunications Issues and Their Impact on Sports Broadcasting.”

“We are excited again to be welcoming a fantastic panel of experts for our fifth annual sports law symposium,” said William Berry, the publication’s adviser and assistant professor of law. “It should be a wonderful discussion that those interested in the intersection between sports and media will not want to miss.”

Each year, the publication brings in speakers to discuss a hot topic in the sports law arena. This year’s panelists include Babbette Boliek, professor at Pepperdine University School of Law; Robert Frieden, professor at the Penn State law school; Kristi Dosh, author of “Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges” and a contributor to ESPN, Fox Sports and Forbes; and Terence High, attorney and NFL agent.

The Mississippi Sports Law Review is a biannual scholarly publication related to the intersection between the law and sports. This student-edited review contains articles from legal scholars, professionals and students addressing a wide range of issues affecting the sports law field.

“The MSLR is the only sports-related legal publication in the Southeastern Conference,” said Connor Bush, the review’s editor-in-chief. “The event attracts prominent members of the sports industry to the University of Mississippi School of Law, in part, because of the various resources attributed to an SEC university and to the law school’s continued support of the sports law specialization.”

The symposium is open to the public. Two hours of free CLE will be offered.

The MSLR and Sports Law Society will host a luncheon on at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the law school with Charlie Hussey, associate commissioner of SEC network relations. The event, in Weems Auditorium, is open to the public.

For more information about the event or the Mississippi Sports Law Review, contact Connor Bush at cjbush1@go.olemiss.edu or visit http://mssportslaw.olemiss.edu.

New Center and UM Law Clinic to Advocate for Human Rights and Social Justice in Mississippi

Mississippi attorney Cliff Johnson hired as director

Cliff Johnson

Cliff Johnson

OXFORD, Miss. – The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, a public interest law firm that advocates for human rights and social justice through litigation, has opened an office at the University of Mississippi School of Law, where the new MacArthur Justice Clinic will provide law students with opportunities for hands-on experience under the direction of experienced litigators.

Veteran Mississippi attorney Cliff Johnson has been named first director of the MacArthur Justice Center, and he has joined the faculty of the law school. He is an assistant professor of law and supervises law students participating in the MacArthur Justice Clinic.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Johnson prosecuted civil and criminal fraud cases in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1996 to 2001. Most recently, Johnson was a partner for 13 years at the Jackson law firm of Pigott & Johnson, where he handled a wide variety of complex civil and criminal matters.

“I am pleased to see our School of Law engage in the issues of social justice,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “It is yet another way the university is reaching beyond our campus to transform the world around us.”

“The MacArthur Justice Clinic at Ole Miss law will have a positive impact on the lives of the people of Mississippi, while providing a wonderful learning experience for our students,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “It is an honor for us to partner with the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation in this important endeavor.”

The MacArthur Justice Center at the law school will work in collaboration with the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago and the new MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans.

Since its founding in Chicago in 1985 by the family of J. Roderick MacArthur, the MacArthur Justice Center has played a prominent role in bringing Chicago police misconduct and torture to the public’s attention and has helped several wrongfully convicted men and women win multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements as compensation for the time they were imprisoned wrongfully. Among its many cases, the center has won major reforms to protect juvenile parolees previously subjected to arbitrary detention and imprisonment, has challenged the detention of terrorism suspects without trial or access to the courts, and helped lead the fight that ended capital punishment in Illinois.

The MacArthur Justice Center opened its New Orleans office last year. It is the lead counsel in Jones v. Gusman, the federal lawsuit alleging pervasive violations of prisoners’ constitutional rights in the Orleans Parish Prison. The center’s New Orleans staff is working to ensure the OPP abides by a consent decree to ensure prisoner safety and adequate staffing at the jail. In addition, the New Orleans office also has worked on capital punishment cases, including advocating for public disclosure of information about drugs Mississippi plans to use to carry out executions by lethal injection.

“There is a historic connection between Mississippi and Chicago, which traces back to the great migration. We are committed to fighting injustice in both locations,” said John R. MacArthur, lead board member of the MacArthur Justice Center. “We look forward to building on the success of our Chicago office at Northwestern law school as we establish a similar partnership with the University of Mississippi.”

“Cliff Johnson is the perfect choice to lead the MacArthur Justice Center at Ole Miss,” said Deborah H. Bell, associate dean for clinical programs and professor of law. “He has a long history of outstanding practice in Mississippi and has the state’s best interests at heart. We hope he will inspire generations of Ole Miss law students to make the state a better place.”

“I am thrilled to join the MacArthur Justice Center and this prestigious law school, and I look forward to beginning a collaborative relationship with the very talented lawyers at the center’s offices in Chicago and New Orleans,” Johnson said. “This will be a formidable alliance of experienced, savvy and successful litigators working with smart and committed law students who have been trained by the best and are enthusiastic about putting what they’ve learned into practice.

“During the past two decades, I have enjoyed a challenging and rewarding litigation practice. I have represented dozens of people in federal courts around the country who have blown the whistle on fraudulent schemes undertaken to wrongfully obtain taxpayer dollars, represented inmates facing death sentences and enduring deplorable prison conditions, and helped wage court battles against discrimination. I also gained valuable experience and insights handling criminal jury trials on behalf of the Department of Justice and, later, representing criminal defendants in federal courts.

“I’m looking forward to engaging in the same kind of fervent advocacy at this new Center and helping train the next generation of attorneys committed to the fight for human rights and social justice,” Johnson added.

Johnson received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mississippi College in 1989 and a law degree from Columbia Law School in 1992. During 2005-2006, he was a Fulbright Scholar working as a professor at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the Lund University School of Law in Lund, Sweden. Since 2006, Johnson has lectured in Sweden on numerous occasions, including speeches at the Nobel Museum and Wallenberg Institute graduation ceremonies.


Law School’s Tax Clinic Has Best Year Yet

Student preparers helped more than 250 clients obtain $212,000 in refunds


The University of Mississippi School of Law Tax Clinic records best year to date.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law VITA Tax Clinic continues to provide valuable work and service to the Oxford community, with this tax season bringing more success than ever.

Student preparers helped clients with 199 Federal e-files, 55 federal paper returns and 254 total returns this year, said Adrea Watford, student director of the clinic. These returns brought refunds totaling $212,145. Both the number of returns and the refund amount are up from last year.

“I think our number is slightly higher this year because last year was our first year operating as a full-service VITA site, and word about our service hadn’t had the opportunity to spread,” Watford said.

Watford serves as the liaison between the school and its Internal Revenue Service agent. She plans, organizes, supervises and promotes all aspects of the clinic.

The VITA program is an overall initiative of the IRS, with the law school’s clinic managing this particular site. The clinic serves Oxford-area residents with a combined household income of $52,000 or less. It files federal and state returns electronically.

“This is truly an amazing accomplishment for 12 students and one professor,” said Debbie Bell, a UM professor of law who manages all the school’s clinical programs. “It returns money to the community and provides a much-needed service.”

Student preparers also can be certified at three levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. In conjunction with their law school coursework, students are required to be certified through the advanced level. They may then receive additional certification for more complex returns, including those involving cancellation of debt, health savings accounts, military, international and foreign student certifications.

“This year, we had volunteers who received each certification, so we were equipped to prepare a multitude of returns,” Watford said.

At the clinic, clients were asked to complete an intake form. They then sat with a preparer, whose work was checked by a quality reviewer. Once that was complete, an e-file was created, the return was printed and the client authorized the e-file.

“This is incredibly beneficial for Oxford because there are several low-income residents who are intimidated by the tax filing process,” Watford said. “We were able to alleviate some of that pressure and make return filing easier for them.”

Besides the community service aspect, the clinic is one of the law school’s many programs to provide hands-on experience for students, said Donna Davis, an associate professor of law who helps supervise the clinic and teaches Tax I.

“The clinic gives these students an opportunity to build so many new skills,” she said. “They are applying and explaining what they are learning in a tangible way.”

The clinic requires dedication from its students, who engage in class time, plus certification, as well as the actual work hours spent in the clinic. This year’s group prepared returns two afternoons a week from February to April.

“This year’s group was fantastic,” Davis said. “I was impressed with their commitment, their willingness to work and their compassion. I am just so proud of them.”

Ole Miss Law Moot Court Ranked 14th in Nation

Year included three national championships, two other finalist teams

Members of the 14th-ranked Ole Miss Law Moot Court program.

Members of the 14th-ranked Ole Miss Law Moot Court program.

OXFORD, Miss. – The final moot court rankings are in, and the University of Mississippi School of Law placed 14th in the nation for 2014. With three national championship teams and two other squads finishing as national semifinalists and quarterfinalists, the law school expected a strong finish.With a top 15 ranking among approximately 175 law schools with moot court programs, the School of Law earned an invitation to the Moot Court National Championship, set for January 2015 in Houston.”Being ranked among the top programs in the country demonstrates that our students can compete with anyone,” said Matthew Hall, senior associate dean and faculty adviser to the moot court board. “Earning this ranking with five separate teams demonstrates the extraordinary depth of talent at Ole Miss.”The ranking, compiled by University of Houston Law Center, is based on scores from moot court competitions around the country. In moot court, law students submit written briefs and then perform mock supreme court arguments to panels of expert judges.This year’s nationally-ranked Ole Miss teams are:- National Champions at the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

– National Champions at the Gabrielli National Family Law Moot Court Competition

– National Champions at the National Professional Responsibility Moot Court Competition 

– National Semifinalists at the Prince Evidence Moot Court Competition

– National Quarterfinalists at the Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition

“This has been an amazing year for the moot court board and our ranking as 14th best program in the country would not have possible without the help of so many truly dedicated people,” said Irving Jones, chair of the school’s moot court board.

For each competition, two or three students spend weeks writing a brief. Then, with the help of student, professor and practitioner coaches, the team practices for oral arguments.

“Winning three national championships and placing well in several others has been incredibly rewarding, and I could not be prouder of the way we represented Ole Miss on a national level,” Jones said.

In addition to the teams that earned points in the ranking system, the moot court board fielded seven other teams and claimed a semifinalist spot at the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition and a quarterfinalist spot at the Rendigs Products Liability Moot Court Competition.

The moot court board is not the only program at the Ole Miss law school enjoying success. The school’s negotiation board also won a national championship at the 2014 National Transactional LawMeets, the country’s largest contract negotiation and drafting competition. Students on the law school’s three journals have also enjoyed success, producing some 40 student articles in journals at the school and 20 student articles in law reviews around the country in the last two years.

“There is a lot of talent here at the law school, and given the support for our advocacy programs, I am certain our success will continue,” Jones said.

Fourth National Championship Underscores Law School’s Success

Student team bests squads from 13 other finalist schools

Patrick Everman, chair of the Negotiation Board and student coach; Drew Taggart; Brad Cook; and Professor Mercer Bullard, faculty coach

Patrick Everman, chair of the Negotiation Board and student coach; Drew Taggart; Brad Cook; and Professor Mercer Bullard, faculty coach

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law continues to pile on the accolades, recently winning its fourth national championship this year.

The latest championship, coming at the hands of Brad Cook and Drew Taggart, both third-year law students, was captured at the 2014 National Transactional LawMeets Competition April 4 in New York City.

Cook and Taggart, from Stonewall and Madison, respectively, beat 13 other national finalist teams including Boston College, Cornell University, Emory University and University of Tennessee, and won one of seven regional competitions involving 84 teams to earn a spot at nationals.

“This victory powerfully reflects the strength of the student body at the School of Law, as you can see from the quality of the other teams at the national finals in New York,” said Matthew Hall, senior associate dean and adviser to the moot court board.

“It represents an enormous success for Brad and Drew, who poured hours into this competition, but it is also a product of the efforts of the entire Negotiation Board, Professor Mercer Bullard and of the team. We are so proud of all of them.”

The national rounds were hosted by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s New York office. The competition asked teams to represent one of two sides in drafting and negotiating an acquisition of a biotechnology company. Over the past several months, the students drafted agreements, interviewed their clients and marked up opposing teams’ drafts. The national rounds of the competition culminated with rounds of face-to-face negotiations April 3-4.

“The problem was released mid-December and a lot of work was put in speaking with attorneys figuring out what to put in the acquisition,” Taggart said. “It was one of the most effective practical experiences I’ve had as a law student.”

Fourteen senior practitioners served as judges at the national rounds, hailing from workplaces such as Safeguard Scientifics, Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Pfizer, Rothschild Inc. and Bloomberg Law, among others.

“Some of the most encouraging words we received were from the judges who said they were willing to put us up against some of their fifth- and sixth-year associates,” Taggart said. “That was unbelievably encouraging.”

The UM law school’s Business Law Institute provides Taggart and other students with opportunities such as this. The institute, whose mission is “to train great business lawyers,” ties together a number of initiatives including:

– A Business Law certificate

– Negotiation Board that fields several intercollegiate competition teams

– 1L Skill Session course devoted to Contract Drafting and Negotiation

– Upper-level courses on Lawyers as Entrepreneurs, Client Interviewing and Counseling, and How to Do a Film Deal

– Transactional and Taxpayer Assistance Clinics

– Externships with governmental agencies that regulate business

– The Mississippi Business Law Reporter, a brand-new journal

– Business Law Network, a student group that recently organized the inaugural Business Law Conference

This structure, in combination with victories such as this latest triumph, seems to set Ole Miss law students apart.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students to work with faculty very closely, to write and to argue,” said Richard Gershon, the school’s dean. “This fourth championship was at Sullivan & Cromwell, one of the top law firms in the world, and our students were chosen to be the best. That says a lot.”

Taggart agrees with the significance of the win.

“My favorite part about this whole experience was learning that we can compete with anyone nationally,” he said. “I definitely learned people respect us.”

Famed Civil Rights Leader to Speak at Law Commencement

U.S. Rep. John Lewis recognized as one of the nation's equal rights pioneers


U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law welcomes U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as the featured speaker at the school’s graduation, set for 11 a.m. May 10 in the Grove.

Lewis will speak at the law school’s individual ceremony, which follows the main university Commencement at 9 a.m.

“Congressman Lewis is a hero of the civil rights movement,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “He is a great speaker, and I know our graduates will benefit from him being here.”

Lewis, often called one of the most courageous people of the civil rights movement, is known for his efforts in protecting and securing human rights and civil freedoms. He is a nationally recognized leader and was one of the main players in the March on Washington in 1963.

“Lawyers can accomplish a great deal to build a more fair, more just society, and my history is living proof of their ability to help transform America for the better,” Lewis said. “I feel very honored to be asked to deliver the commencement address at the University of Mississippi law school.”

Lewis is the winner of numerous awards, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, as well as the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence and the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

He is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

“As a member of Congress, he has had an impact on the law and has worked to make sure that every citizen enjoys the rights and protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution,” Gershon said.

The law school will graduate 152 students at the ceremony, which includes the keynote speaker, an address by Gershon, and an address by Marcus Williams, the law school student body president. Mississippi Bar President Guy Mitchell will also speak to graduates.

For more information about the law school’s commencement, please visit the law school’s commencement page.