U.S. Supreme Court Justices Give Advice to UM Law Students

Audience gets glimpse of jurists' real character, perspectives on constitutional law

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – United States Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan offered advice Monday (Dec. 15) to law students at the University of Mississippi during a law school event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The justices told the audience of nearly 1,000 about their days at Harvard Law School, their journey to the nation’s highest legal position and their decisions on some of their most interesting cases.

“The moment I arrived (at Harvard), I thought, ‘This was where I want to be,'” Kagan said.

Scalia added that though his time at Harvard wasn’t “warm and fuzzy,” he had a great experience.
“I probably learned as much from my classmates as I did from my professors,” he said.

Although the justices may have differences of opinion, there is no animosity on the court, Scalia said, adding that he and Kagan are good friends.

“If you can’t disagree on the law without taking it personally, find another day job,” he said.

This is the first time two Supreme Court justices have visited the Ole Miss campus together, said Matthew Hall, the law school’s senior associate dean.

“This is one of the branches of the federal government and it’s led by nine people,” Hall said. “Two of them are here at the University of Mississippi. That’s an extraordinary occasion for the university, particularly for the law students who want to hear constitutional law straight from the source.”

Learning about the justices’ personal experiences really resonated for Marie Wicks, an Ocean Springs native and former Miss Mississippi who is in her second year of law school.

“It’s just such an incredible opportunity,” Wicks said. “It was an illuminating experience to have two Supreme Court justices come and visit my school at the point when I’m halfway through law school. It’s one of those experiences that I will never forget.”

Third-year law student Davis Gates, of Byram, enjoyed learning the views the two justices have of the Constitution, as well as experiencing a little bit of their individual characters.

“I’m really happy that I got to see a different side of the justices,” he said. “It really humanized them.”

Gates added that when he arrived at Ole Miss in 2008, he had no idea that he would witness some of the events that have happened on campus.

“I’ve been all across the nation and to D.C. and never once even caught a glimpse of a justice,” he said. “I’ve been here since 2008, since the presidential debate, so in order to continue to be able to have these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities is definitely amazing.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan to Visit UM

Session is free and open to the public, but tickets are required

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law will host two U.S. Supreme Court justices in December for a session open to the general public.

The meeting, titled “A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Elena Kagan,” will take place at 10 a.m. Dec. 15 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The session will be moderated by Jack Nowlin, associate dean for faculty development and professor of law at the UM School of Law. Nowlin is a constitutional law expert.

“It would be a great day for the law school and university community if we had just one U.S. Supreme Court justice coming,” said Richard Gershon, UM law dean. “It is truly special to have both Justice Kagan and Justice Scalia at Ole Miss. It is an honor for us to have these outstanding jurists here.”

Everyone must have a ticket to attend. There will be no entry after 10 a.m. Parking will be available at the Ford Center.

The event is being made possible by the James McClure Memorial Lectures Endowment. The endowment was established in 1979 by the Hon. James McClure and Mrs. Tupper McClure Lampton to honor their father, James McClure.

Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan. Photo by, The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Photo by the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Elena Kagan, Associate Justice, was born in New York, New York, on April 28, 1960. She received an A.B. from Princeton in 1981, an M. Phil. from Oxford in 1983, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1986. She clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1986-1987 and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 1987 Term. After briefly practicing law at a Washington, D.C. law firm, she became a law professor, first at the University of Chicago Law School and later at Harvard Law School. She also served for four years in the Clinton administration, as associate counsel to the president and then as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy. Between 2003 and 2009, she served as the dean of Harvard Law School. In 2009, President Obama nominated her as the Solicitor General of the United States. After serving in that role for a year, the president nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 10, 2010. She took her seat on August 7, 2010.

Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, March 11, 1936. He married Maureen McCarthy and has nine children: Ann Forrest, Eugene, John Francis, Catherine Elisabeth, Mary Clare, Paul David, Matthew, Christopher James and Margaret Jane. He received his A.B. from Georgetown University and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School, and was a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University from 1960–1961. He was in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1961 to 1967, a professor of law at the University of Virginia from 1967 to 1971, and a professor of law at the University of Chicago from 1977 to 1982 and a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University and Stanford University. He was chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law, 1981-1982, and its Conference of Section Chairmen, 1982-1983. He served the federal government as general counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy from 1971 to 1972, chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States from 1972 to 1974, and assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1974 to 1977. He was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. President Reagan nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat September 26, 1986.

For more information about the event, please visit http://law.olemiss.edu/event/u-s-supreme-court-justices-antonin-scalia-and-elena-kagan/

For more information about Justice Scalia or Justice Kagan, please visit http://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx

For additional inquiries, contact Jenny Kate Luster at 662-915-3424 or jkluster@olemiss.edu.

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.

Khayat Named UM Law Alumnus of the Year

Former chancellor started Law Alumni Chapter while a student

Photo by Robert Jordan

Photo by Robert Jordan

OXFORD, Miss. – At the annual Mississippi Bar Convention in Sandestin, Florida, Robert C. Khayat received the 2014 Law Alumnus of the Year Award from the University of Mississippi Law Alumni Chapter. Since 1974, the chapter has selected one person annually to receive this distinction. The recipient must have made positive contributions to the legal profession, the law school and the university.

“Former Chancellor Khayat is an outstanding law professor, a respected associate dean and is a dedicated alumnus of the law school,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “He is also a great Mississippian, who has done much to help the people of our state. I am honored to work in a building named for him.”

Khayat is one of the law school’s most illustrious graduates. This is noted visibly by the name of the law school building, the Robert C. Khayat Law Center, which was dedicated in April 2011.

Khayat joined the law faculty in 1969, after a successful venture as a lawyer in Pascagoula. He served as a professor and associate dean, teaching local government law, family law, agency and partnership, federal trial practice, torts, civil procedure, and wills and estates. He helped shape generations of legal minds, including noteworthy graduates such as John Grisham.

Gov. William Winter reflected on Khayat’s influence in his address at the law school’s building dedication ceremony.

“Robert Khayat, with a vision of a more open and less insular society, played a major role in the enlightenment of an entire generation of young law students,” Winter said. “He helped develop in them an enhanced appreciation for the majesty of the law and their duty as lawyers to defend our legal and political system against the mindless critics who would profane and diminish it.”

Khayat received a Sterling Fellowship and obtained a master of laws from Yale University and returned to Oxford in 1981.

“The law school experience pulled together everything I had learned prior to 1963, helped me become able to read more retentively, to read more and to understand some of the complex characteristics of individuals and groups of people,” Khayat said. “I learned even more as a member of the faculty; the law school helped me receive a Sterling Fellowship from Yale which culminated in a graduate degree from one of the most respected universities in the world. I doubt that I would have been offered the chancellorship without that degree.”

As an Ole Miss law student, Khayat was articles editor of the Mississippi Law Journal and finished third in his class in 1966.

“From my first class in June of 1963, I felt that the opening of ‘my brain’ happened – I was intrigued, challenged and quickly adjusted to the extensive reading requirements,” Khayat said. “I liked the format of the classes and the interaction between the faculty and among the students. I realized that I was learning that the world is not black and white – that there were usually at least two sides to any issue.”

Khayat also started the Law Alumni Chapter, a group that continues to contribute to the school and alumni base in numerous ways. Coincidentally, his receiving the award at the convention in Sandestin marked exactly 50 years from the formation of the Law Alumni Chapter.

“We typed them on 3×5 index cards,” Khayat said of his gathering information on law graduates for the chapter. “I still remember the first, middle and last names of just about everyone who graduated from the Ole Miss law school.”

Khayat’s leadership extended beyond the walls of the law school. He was an academic All-American football player and was chosen as an All-SEC catcher for the 1959 and 1960 SEC champion baseball teams. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NFL and the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation.

Serving as chancellor of the university from 1995 until 2009, Khayat improved the university in many tangible ways. He increased enrollment by 43 percent and brought in research and development grants of more than $100 million. He also brought the prestigious honor society Phi Beta Kappa chapter to Ole Miss, as well as the 2008 presidential debate.

Most recently, Khayat won a Silver IPPY for best memoir in the nation awarded for his 2013 book “The Education of a Lifetime.”

With this record, it’s easy to see why Khayat was selected, said Mike Randolph, presiding justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.

“I can think of no alumnus more deserving of the award,” Randolph said at the ceremony in Destin. “For those of us who were privileged to study under his tutelage, it’s difficult to think of Ole Miss without reflecting on Dr. Khayat’s positive impact on the university, its law school and the alumni of both.”

“If love is the appropriate word for an institution, I love the law school and its people,” Khayat said.

Other notable alumni who have received this recognition previously include Winter, Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Lenore Prather, Professor Bill Champion and Justice Reuben Anderson.

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

Tax

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.”

Civil Rights Leader Tells Graduates to Use Degree for Change

Rep. Lewis tell class that using law to bring justice and fairness is their 'moral obligation'

U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-Ga.) spoke to UM School of Law graduates during the school's commencement ceremony Saturday in the Grove.

U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-Ga.) spoke to UM School of Law graduates during the school’s commencement ceremony Saturday in the Grove.

OXFORD, Miss. – Famed civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) urged 2014 graduates of the University of Mississippi School of Law to use their law degrees to make a difference in the world.

“I am so pleased and happy to be here,” he said. “As graduates of Ole Miss law, you can play a powerful role in building a better nation and a better world.”

Read the story …

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.”