UM Law School Hosts Mississippi Supreme Court Candidates

Nov. 2 election forum to include question-and-answer session

Judge Jim Kitchens

Judge Jim Kitchens

OXFORD, Miss. – The student body of the University of Mississippi School of Law is hosting a forum Wednesday (Nov. 2) for candidates in the Mississippi Supreme Court District 3, Place 1 election.

The event, set for 6-7:30 p.m. in the law school’s Weems Auditorium, is free and open to the public. Candidates scheduled to attend are John Brady of McComb, Steve Crampton of Tupelo, Judge Jim Kitchens of Caledonia and Judge Bobby Chamberlin of Hernando.

Judge Bobby Chamberlin

Judge Bobby Chamberlin

Each candidate will have an opportunity to introduce himself and present his candidacy and platform. Members of the Law School Student Body and the audience will have opportunities to ask questions of each candidate.

“We are very excited to host the candidates for the Mississippi Supreme Court District 3, Place 1 election,” said Gregory Alston, president of the Law School Student Body. “This is such an important election for the state of Mississippi, and I am very pleased that we are hosting an event to allow the law school and Oxford community to hear from the candidates before Election Day.”

A reception will follow the forum in the atrium. For more information, call 601-543-2592 or visit http://law.olemiss.edu/event/mississippi-supreme-court-district-3-place-1-election-forum-hosted-by-the-law-school-student-body/.

 

Steve Crampton

Steve Crampton

John Brady

John Brady

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Visits UM Law School

Students get opportunities to view proceedings, visit with judges

Judge Rhesa Barksdale, Judge Grady Jolly, and Judge Lesley Southwick made up the panel of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges that heard cases at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Judge Rhesa Barksdale, Judge Grady Jolly, and Judge Lesley Southwick made up the panel of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges that heard cases at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

OXFORD, Miss. – The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently conducted a session at the University of Mississippi School of Law, hearing cases and spending time with students in more informal settings.

Judges Grady Jolly, Rhesa Barksdale and Leslie Southwick made up the panel that heard cases at the school. UM is the only law school that the Fifth Circuit, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, visits on a regular basis.

“A big component of us visiting Ole Miss is to Judge Jolly’s credit,” Barksdale said. “He’s been on our court for 34 years, and he is the senior judge on our court. He wants to make sure that we sit here if we can at least once every three years so that while you’re here in law school, at least one time, you’ll see our court.”

Students got to sit in on cases throughout the day to experience how a federal appellate court works.

“So much of what the students get in law school is through classwork, through instruction, and actually seeing what they’re being taught, seeing how an appellate court actually operates at least in a courtroom environment, is a practical side to what they’re hearing in their classrooms that I think adds a fair amount to the experience and a benefit of law school,” Southwick said.

Besides seeing the judges, “they see people they more readily can identify with, and that’s the advocates, very good lawyers in most of these cases,” he said. “I think they can place themselves in that role and maybe get more comfortable with what it will be like in a few years trying to do what these lawyers are doing.”

While this is an experience that not all law students get, Ole Miss law students were able not only to view the process, but also to visit with the judges.

“I am thrilled that our students had the opportunity to visit with the judges in addition to observing the oral arguments,” said Deborah Bell, dean of the law school. “I appreciate how generous the judges were with their time, meeting with our students for lunches and question-and-answer sessions and in informal receptions.”

The court has been visiting UM since 1983 and is a popular destination among the judges, Jolly said.

“When it comes to Oxford, everybody wants to come,” Jolly said. “It’s a pleasant little respite from the ordinary routine of our court, and it’s a lovely little town to come to. We all feel very welcome here, and this law school runs the Fifth Circuit’s operational requirements with great efficiency.”

Both Jolly (LL.B. 1962) and Barksdale (JD 1972) graduated from the school and continue to have a close relationship with it. Barksdale, who graduated first in his class, attributes his successes to both his time at the school and his professors.

“I received a clerkship with Justice Byron White on the Supreme Court of the United States, in large part due to it being suggested to me by three of my law school professors and their encouragement and assistance, so I owe a great deal to the law school,” he said. “I loved law school from the moment I started, and those three people changed my life.

“Professors here have an interest in their students. I’m not saying they don’t in other law schools, but they particularly do here. That’s always been a trait of the Ole Miss law school, so I’m extremely indebted to them, one of them being Robert Khayat.”

Barksdale also praised Bell’s leadership of the school.

“You’ve got a wonderful facility, a very dedicated faculty and very interested students I’ve observed in these past few years,” Barksdale added. “I think there’s a happy feel about the Ole Miss law school, one of interest, and one of faculty and students that really mesh well. I think it’s got a lot of really good things going for it.”

The school was recently ranked 24th nationally in securing federal judicial clerkships. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has several UM graduates as law clerks, Barksdale said.

“We have a close relationship with the law school who furnishes us the applications of the top students,” Jolly added. “We usually hire someone from Ole Miss because they encourage their students to clerk on a court of appeals and because they are fully capable of performing the work.”

Both Jolly and Barksdale noted that several of their former clerks have become Ole Miss faculty members.

Aside from hearing cases, the panel of judges met with several student groups.

“The Q&A session was a wonderful educational opportunity for our students,” said moderator Jack Wade Nowlin, senior associate dean at the school. “The judges shared their insights on a variety of topics, including the clerkship application process, what makes for good legal writing, common mistakes lawyers make in appellate advocacy and the role of the courts in the separation of powers.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, often referred to as the Fifth Circuit, is one of 13 federal appellate courts. The court’s home is the John Minor Wisdom United States Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans. The Fifth Circuit is authorized 17 active judges, but has 15 active judges and nine senior judges.

For more information about the UM School of Law, go to http://law.olemiss.edu/.

Law School Conducts Professionalism Program

Incoming students participate in first-ever professionalism oath and pinning ceremony

Associate Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar, of the Mississippi Supreme Court, delivers the keynote address to incoming UM law students during the annual James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

Associate Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar, of the Mississippi Supreme Court, delivers the keynote address to incoming UM law students during the annual James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law recently hosted a number of judges and lawyers from across Mississippi during the annual James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program, a half-day program conducted by the Mississippi Bar Association as part of fall orientation.

After the program concluded, incoming law students participated in a ceremony that included an oath of professionalism. They also received a School of Law lapel pin as a symbol of their pledge to maintain the highest standards throughout their careers. This is the first year for the ceremony, which law school administrators plan to make an annual tradition.

The Dukes Professionalism Program, which began in 1999, is named for former bar president James O. “Jimmy” Dukes, who had a vision for mentoring law students on professionalism.

“Jimmy was instrumental in helping the bar and our profession focus on the importance of high standards and civility in our practice,” said W. Briggs Hopson, III, president of the Mississippi Bar Association, addressing the first-year students.

“It’s never too early to start talking about the importance of professionalism. The challenges that we face as attorneys are the same challenges that you will face as a law student.”

Associate Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar, of the Mississippi Supreme Court, delivered the keynote address of the Aug. 18 program.

“I hope you all recognize that this is a calling,” she said. “Those of us who have the privilege to be a part of this profession know that it is an honorable profession with the highest tradition of service to our communities and to our fellow man. Lawyers are confidants, and they are counselors who represent clients during the most difficult times of their lives.”

Incoming students in the UM School of Law take a professionalism oath at this year's orientation session for first-year students. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

Incoming students in the UM School of Law take a professionalism oath at this year’s orientation session for first-year students. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

As part of the Dukes Professionalism Program, students participated in breakout sessions, facilitated by lawyers and judges from across the state. The students were given real-world scenarios and asked how they would handle the situation.

“Take a good look at these distinguished judges and lawyers who have taken the day out of their very busy practice to come to Oxford and to take part in this professionalism program,” Lamar said. “They are here to help you understand that ethics and civility and professionalism are not just buzzwords that we use. They are what we strive for in our profession.”

Following the sessions, students and facilitators enjoyed a luncheon sponsored by the Ole Miss Law Alumni Chapter.

Afterward, first-year students participated in the inaugural pinning ceremony. Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs, incorporated the oath and pinning with orientation for several reasons.

“It’s important to stress why being professional, courteous, and trustworthy is so important to the legal community,” Edmondson explained. “Attorneys represent clients’ interests; an attorney’s own reputation should not hinder the ability to represent the client effectively.

“Furthermore, we are a self-regulating profession. Attorneys must conduct themselves and hold other attorneys to high standards. Finally, professionalism begins from day one of law school. A student’s legal reputation begins at orientation, and we felt that the professionalism oath put them on notice of what is expected in the legal profession.”

New Parental Rights Legislation Designed by UM Law School Team

Law addresses concerns highlighted in landmark case, helps provide better results for children

Members of the TPR Study Group with Gov. Phil Bryant. (L-R): Randy Pierce, Mississippi Judicial College (MJC) director; Patti Marshall, Miss. Attorney General’s Office; Bill Charlton, MJC staff attorney; Gov. Phil Bryant; Carole Murphey, MJC staff attorney; David Calder, associate clinical professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law; Judge John Hudson, Jurist in Residence; and Judge Tom Broome, Rankin County Court judge. Photo by Beverly Kraft, PIO of the Mississippi Administrative Offices of the Court.

Members of the TPR Study Group with Gov. Phil Bryant (from left): Randy Pierce, Mississippi Judicial College director; Patti Marshall, Miss. attorney general’s office; Bill Charlton, MJC staff attorney; Bryant; Carole Murphey, MJC staff attorney; David Calder, associate clinical professor at the UM School of Law; Judge John Hudson, jurist in residence; and Judge Tom Broome, Rankin county court judge. Photo by Beverly Kraft/Mississippi Administrative Offices of the Court

OXFORD, Miss. – On April 18, Gov. Phil Bryant signed the Termination of Parental Rights Act, a piece of legislation proposed by the Termination of Parental Rights Study Group and designed by a team assembled by the University of Mississippi School of Law.

The Parental Rights Study Group was convened at the suggestion of Chief Justice William Waller Jr. and chaired by former Associate Justice Randy Pierce, who is director of the Mississippi Judicial College, a division of the UM School of Law tasked with educating and training Mississippi judges and court personnel.

“After the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in the Chism v. Bright case, it became necessary for the Legislature to modify the then-existing statutes to provide a workable framework in termination cases,” Pierce said. “I was on the court when Chism was handed down and agreed with that decision, as did a unanimous court.

“However, the case magnified a need to study the TPR statutes. Chief Justice Waller asked me to chair a study group and to invite various stakeholders to participate.”

Chism v. Bright essentially reversed a judgment by the Union County Chancery Court that took away parental rights from a father, saying all the prerequisites had not been met to do so. It also upheld the idea that there should be strict standards to apply when terminating the rights of parents.

The study group members included David Calder, UM law professor and director of the school’s Child Advocacy Clinic, and MJC staff attorneys Bill Charlton and Carole Murphey. In addition to resolving the concern raised in Chism, the study group sought to clarify other aspects of TPR cases and improve the fairness and efficiency of those proceedings.

Based on the study group’s recommendations, Charlton worked closely with Calder and Murphey to draft the proposed legislation. Calder provided a practitioner’s viewpoint in shaping the procedures and definitions included in the bill. Murphey assisted in organizing the overall structure of the legislation.

“David Calder, our child advocacy clinical professor, has been a tireless advocate for children for over 20 years,” Said Deborah Bell, dean of the School of Law. “His expertise, research and advice played an important role in the passage of this important legislation.”

The passage of the legislation helps Mississippi take a step toward becoming a model child welfare state, Charlton said.

“It was a special honor serving with the distinguished members of the study group who likewise share that goal, and Justice Pierce’s leadership as chair made it happen,” he said. “All the members of the study group played a significant role in the drafting process. I’m proud that House Bill 1240 passed in both the House and Senate by clear majority votes and with bipartisan support.”

Other study group members were:

  • Eugene Fair, judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals
  • Cynthia Brewer, chancery court judge
  • Patricia Wise, chancery court judge
  • Tom Broome, county court judge
  • John Hudson, jurist in residence
  • Patti Marshall, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Earl Scales, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Joyce Hill Williams, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Jeffrey Rimes, Taggart, Rimes & Graham PLLC
  • Caryn Quilter, staff attorney at the Mississippi Senate
  • Gwennetta Tatum, staff attorney at the Mississippi House of Representatives

“Playing a role in this endeavor was rewarding and meaningful,” Pierce said. “The Termination of Parental Rights Act work product required an enormous amount of time and effort.

“However, our goal in every case affecting a child is to have the best outcome possible. The new law will help provide better outcomes for children. And for that, I’m grateful to all who came together to get this done.”

Business Law Network to Host Spring Conference

Event to feature CLE credit, reception

bus law conferenceOXFORD, Miss. – The Business Law Network at the University of Mississippi School of Law will host a conference April 22 at Regions Private Wealth Management in Memphis, Tennessee, offering three hours of CLE credit to attendees.

The conference and CLE begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception sponsored by Regions Private Wealth Management, at 6200 Poplar Ave.

The CLE cost is $60 and has been approved both for Mississippi and Tennessee credit.

“We are very excited to finish the school year with our Business Law Network Conference and CLE,” said Gregory Alston, the network’s CEO. “This is the first time in the history of the Business Law Network that the network has expanded out of state for our annual conferences and CLEs, and we are very appreciative of Regions for sponsoring this event.”

Registration will begin at 1 p.m. Participants should RSVP to Alston at umbusinesslaw@olemiss.edu.

The Business Law Network’s mission is to connect students who have an interest in business law with practicing business law attorneys. The Business Law Network is composed of more than 50 student members of the Ole Miss law school.

For more information, visit http://law.olemiss.edu/event/business-law-network-spring-conference-cle-and-reception/.

Czarnetzky Named UM’s Teacher of the Year

'Kind, considerate and engaging' law professor receives 2016 Elsie M. Hood Award

UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter (right) congratulates John Czarnetzky at the university's annual Honors Day Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter (right) congratulates John Czarnetzky at the university’s annual Honors Day Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – John Czarnetzky does more than teach the law; he infects his students with his enthusiasm for it.

The Mitchell, McNutt and Sams Lecturer at the University of Mississippi School of Law, Czarnetzky is known as a great communicator who earns praises for his ability to engage students in complicated subject matter and nuances of the law, UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter said Thursday evening (April 7).

For this, his passion and dedication to teaching, Czarnetzky has been awarded the 2016 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award, presented by Vitter during the 73rd annual Honors Day Convocation. Czarnetzky, who has taught undergraduate students as well as law students, was honored and humbled.

“I was in the car with my dear wife, and became emotional when the chancellor called and told me I was to receive the Elsie Hood award,” he said. “I am privileged to know a number of previous winners, from longtime colleagues at the law school through Bob Brown, last year’s winner. I was humbled deeply, and still have trouble believing, that with this award I am being grouped with those outstanding professors and colleagues.”

Colleagues affirmed that Czarnetzky is a perfect choice for the honor.

“John Czarnetzky is widely regarded as one of the law school’s best teachers,” said Debbie Bell, the school’s interim dean. “He is a spellbinding speaker and gifted teacher, with the added benefit of being one of the most entertaining lecturers I have ever heard. His students sing his praises. Being named as the Elsie M. Hood Award recipient is a well-deserved recognition.”

Czarnetzky joined the law faculty in 1994, after practicing bankruptcy and commercial law in Chicago and in Richmond, Virginia. He has been honored as outstanding professor four times by the law student body and serves as an adviser to several student organizations and to the Business Law Institute, an innovative collaboration between students and faculty that provides opportunities for students to develop skills in corporate, commercial, tax and business law.

The professor says this is the highest honor he could hope to receive.

“It always seemed out of reach for me,” he said. “Receiving it is the capstone of my 22 years here at the University of Mississippi, an institution I love. Going forward, my task will be to live up to this high honor.”

Students cited Czarnetzky’s enthusiasm and ability to stimulate a classroom amongst his traits that make him a great teacher.

“Few individuals have the ability to not just teach the law, but to animate the law,” one student wrote in a nomination letter. “His passion for the law and for the subject he is teaching is evident from the first moment of each class session, when he comes bounding into the classroom with a textbook – or nowadays, Kindle – tucked under his arm and a grin on his face.”

Another student called him “by far the most kind, considerate, engaging professor I have had throughout my undergraduate and law school tenure at Ole Miss.”

“The courses he teaches, including bankruptcy, civil procedure and secured transactions, are some of the most complicated ones at the law school, but that they are always in demand because he is such an engaging and effective teacher,” the student continued.

These students’ words are reflective of Czarnetzky’s teaching philosophy, which he says he’s developed over his tenure.

“My approach is to treat students as adults unless they are determined to prove me wrong, and to model civility and professionalism in the service of intellectual rigor,” he said. “I try to impart to students my enthusiasm for the subjects I teach and, perhaps more importantly, my dedication to them as persons.

“I also think a bit of humor in the classroom helps avoid the trap of taking ourselves too seriously all the time, whether in the classroom or in life. I am deeply gratified that students believe they benefit from my approach.”

Czarnetzky holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from M.I.T., where he was an offensive tackle on the football team. He served in the U.S. Army as a chemical officer and intelligence analyst before obtaining his law degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as executive editor of the Virginia Law Review and editor of the Virginia Journal of Environmental Law.

He was the first law professor invited to teach in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and helped establish a partnership between the two schools.

“He inspired a love of debating and defending my ideas, and empowered me to continue challenging my and others’ ideas throughout my life,” wrote a student in his Honors 102 class.

“He’s always available, and always has a smile on his face,” said Jess Waltman, law school student body president who also took several courses from Czarnetzky as an undergraduate honors student. “He genuinely cares about our students and our school and wants it to be the best it can be.”

In addition, Czarnetzky serves as a legal adviser to the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations. He has represented the Holy See in negotiations including the establishment of the International Criminal Court and several international treaties, including one on the rights of persons with disabilities.

His scholarly interests are bankruptcy, commercial and international law. Czarnetzky has published in the Notre Dame Law Review, Fordham Law Review and Arizona State Law Journal, and his scholarship also has explored the intersection of Catholic social theory and American corporate and commercial law.

Czarnetzky is married to Sylvia Robertshaw Czarnetzky, an Episcopal priest in the Delta town of Cleveland, where they reside.

Each year since 1966, the university has recognized excellence in teaching by presenting the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. Based on nominations from both students and faculty, the award includes a personal plaque and a check from the chancellor. Recipients’ names are also engraved on a plaque listing previous winners, which is displayed in the university’s J.D. Williams Library.

UM Named Among Top 25 Law Schools for Practical Training

Rankings based on clinical experience, externships and other 'learn by doing' methods

The spring 2016 issue of the National Jurist magazine named the University of Mississippi School of Law among the top 25 nationally for practical training available to students.

The spring 2016 issue of the National Jurist magazine named the School of Law among the top 25 nationally for practical training available to students.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law has been named among the top 25 nationally for practical training available to students by The National Jurist magazine.

The publication crunched the numbers for all the schools’ statistics and issued a report card in its spring 2016 issue, awarding the Ole Miss law school an A- rating, placing 19th in the nation.

“Our multifaceted skills training program is one of the great strengths of the UM School of Law,” said Debbie Bell, the school’s interim dean. “We offer students opportunities to ‘learn by doing’ through in-house clinics, externships, practicums, simulation courses, the Skill Session and advocacy programs. I am so glad that the scope of our program has been recognized nationally.”

The School of Law has nine in-house clinics, including Child Advocacy, Criminal Appeals, Elder Law, Housing Clinic, MacArthur Justice Clinic, the George C. Cochran Innocence Project, the “Street Law” Clinic, Transactional Law Clinic, the Clinical Externship Program and the Pro Bono Initiative. The Pro Bono Initiative was recently honored by the Mississippi Volunteer Project’s Beacon of Justice Award for public service.

Additionally, two practicums, Tax and Conflict Management, offer law students opportunities to learn through experience, providing income tax assistance for low-income families and learning to resolve disputes between undergraduate students. The Tax Practicum won the 2015 Beacon of Justice Award.

The magazine used data provided by the American Bar Association and individual schools to compile the rankings, which are based on five categories: clinical experience, externships, simulation courses, interschool competitions and other course offerings.

“We look at a number of factors, including which schools have the greatest percentage of students in clinics, externships and simulation courses,” the report said. “We also look at the most robust moot court options.

“However, this year, we also wanted to showcase how these programs do more than just get students out of sterile classrooms and away from their favorite Starbucks.”

Clinical experience was weighted the highest because it provides “particularly practical training,” the report said. Externships and simulations courses were also lauded for helping students develop professional skills.

“The (clinics) provide a great opportunity to experience the real-world practice of law with an actual client in need of representation,” said third-year student Derek Goff. “No traditional case book course allows a student to take on the role of a zealous advocate and hone essential (law practice) skills. The clinical programs are a great resume builder, but more importantly, they offer the unique chance for students to help clients in need.”

The Ole Miss law school also has enjoyed notable success in moot court competitions, collecting eight national competition championships in two years, including back-to-back championships in the Pace Environmental Law competition and, most recently, the Tulane Professional Football Negotiation Competition.

The School of Law is a world leader in air and space law training, offering an LL.M. program in the field. One of the school’s moot court teams won the international championship in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition, held in Jerusalem in October 2015.

UM Law Student Featured in National Jurist Magazine

Olivia Hoff is among 25 students selected for inaugural Law Student of the Year feature

Olivia Hoff

Olivia Hoff

A University of Mississippi law student is among 25 featured in the National Jurist magazine’s inaugural Law Student of the Year feature, showcasing the many talents and accomplishments of law students across the country.

Olivia Hoff’s name was submitted by the School of Law to be considered for one of the coveted 25 spots.

Hoff, a December graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in physics with a minor in mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi. She chose to attend the UM law school because of her interest in air and space law, and the opportunities offered by the Ole Miss program, including a chance to participate in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court.

“I am extremely honored the law school nominated me for this recognition and am grateful National Jurist magazine chose to accept their nomination,” Hoff said. “The news of my selection came as a bright spot amidst prepping for the bar exam.”

Hoff and fellow students C.J. Robinson and Ian Perry, along with their coach, Michael Dodge, competed in Washington, D.C., in the North American round of the Manfred Lachs International Space Law Moot Court competition, where they took first place in March 2015. The team advanced to the international round in October in Jerusalem, where Hoff and her teammates clenched first place in the final round, beating out Greece.

Dodge said he could see Hoff’s work ethic shine during the preparation for the moot court championships.

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson, and Olivia Hoff

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson, and Olivia Hoff

“There were several students who impressed me during my time teaching, but I can say that Olivia, and all the hard work and go-to gumption she exuded in her courses and extracurricular work, will leave distinct memories for me,” Dodge said.

Hoff moved to Washington, D.C., in summer 2015 to complete an externship with the Air Force JAG Corps at Joint Base Andrews. During the fall, she completed another externship, also in D.C., with the Department of Homeland Security’s Administrative Law Branch. She considers both these assignments among her greatest achievements

“She represents the best of what we try to cultivate in law school, and I have every confidence she’ll continue to do herself, and Ole Miss, a great deal of honor,” Dodge said.

A Gulfport native, Hoff is also a member of the Trial Advocacy Board, Phi Delta Phi, the Society for Law of Outer Space and Aviation, Public Interest Law Foundation and the Dean’s Leadership Council, where she helps mentor first-year law students, serves as an ambassador for the law school and gives tours to potential students.

National Jurist magazine, published quarterly, is one of the leading news sources in legal education. Besides delivering top-quality news, the publication shares information and tools useful to law students on its website.

UM Law Students Win Second Straight Pace Competition

Triumph is school's 12th national or world title since 2011

John Juricich, Professor David Case, and Mary Margaret Roark

John Juricich (left) and Mary Margaret Roark (right) with their coach, David Case

OXFORD, Miss. –Mary Margaret Roark and John Juricich, both third-year students in the University of Mississippi School of Law, have won this year’s Jeffrey G. Miller Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, held Feb. 18-20 at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York.

The win marks the second consecutive national title for the pair and the third straight for the law school.

In addition, the win means the Ole Miss law school has claimed five of the last six Pace competitions. It’s also the school’s 12th national or world advocacy title since 2011.

“Having two second-year students win a competition like Pace and then return to win the competition again as third-year students is absolutely amazing,” said David Case, UM professor of law and team coach. “I’m pretty sure that has never happened in the 28-year history of the Pace competition.”

Roark, of Cleveland, and Juricich, of Anniston, Alabama, competed against more than 50 law schools from around the country, beating the University of Alabama and University of Houston in the final round. The team won the Best Brief – Petitioner (Save Our Climate) award and Juricich was awarded runner-up Best Oralist for the competition.

The Pace competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. It provides a rigorous academic experience, testing skills in appellate brief writing and oral advocacy, involving issues drawn from real cases, and providing first-hand experience in environmental litigation.

“This year, there were six issues to argue for three different parties, and more teams were going noteless,” Roark said. “The teams were definitely better in terms of performance.”

Overall, the competition requires intense preparation, including researching and analyzing challenging legal environmental issues, writing persuasive arguments about how the issues should be resolved, arguing the issues orally and having their performances evaluated and critiqued by practicing attorneys at the competition.

The Ole Miss team began writing its brief in October. After filing it in November, they began practicing oral arguments intensely with their coaches.

“We prepared the same, but we were more relaxed because we knew what it took to achieve the end result,” Juricich explained. “We were able to more efficiently use our time.”

Judging this year’s championship round were Steven M. Colloton, a judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; Lynn Adelman, judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; Malachy E. Mannion, judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; and Beth Ward, judge on the Environmental Appeals Board for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Stephanie Showalter Otts, UM professor of law and also an expert in environmental law, helped Case coach the team.

A benefit to participating in a competition of this nature is the payoff it provides students after graduation. Both students said it helped them find their niche.

“It helped me find a joy and thrill in litigation,” Juricich said.

“I started off not having any interest in environmental law, but I grew to love it,” Roark said. “It’s made me want to pursue a career in environmental law, in regulatory administrative work.

“I’ve learned how to tackle issues I might know nothing about, meet deadlines and have picked up certain writing skills I would not have had.”

For more information on the Pace competition, visit the school’s website.

UM Alumna, Bush Staffer to Speak at Law Graduation

Address by Tobi Young to emphasize importance of community service

Tobi Young

Tobi Young

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law welcomes alumna Tobi Young, general counsel and staff secretary for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, as the featured speaker at the school’s graduation, set for 11 a.m. May 14 in the Grove.

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

“The law school is pleased to have as our speaker one of our outstanding women graduates, particularly since this year marks a century since the first woman was admitted to the Mississippi bar,” said Debbie Bell, the law school’s interim dean. “Tobi has a remarkable career in public service.”

Young also serves as President Bush’s designated Presidential Records Act representative. She previously served as special assistant to the president and associate counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel.

“I am looking forward to returning to Oxford, and I’m honored to join the law school graduates and their families during this time of celebration and accomplishment,” Young said. “I remember well the anxiety and excitement that comes with this time, so I hope to share lessons learned on my journey from Ole Miss to the White House and to encourage them to use their skill set to build better communities and a stronger country.”

Before joining the White House staff, Young was a trial attorney and counsel to the assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She also served as a law clerk to Judge Jerome A. Holmes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Young graduated magna cum laude in 2003 from the UM School of Law, where she was selected by the faculty as the Outstanding Senior Law Student for the Phi Delta Phi award. She also attended Dartmouth College and graduated magna cum laude from George Washington University.

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