Susan Duncan Named UM Law School Dean

Experienced leader and administrator brings entrepreneurial approach

Susan Duncan

OXFORD, Miss. – After a national search, Susan Duncan has been chosen as the new dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law. She is scheduled to join the university Aug. 1, pending approval by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Education.

“I am thrilled and deeply honored to be joining a law school with such a rich tradition and positive momentum,” Duncan said. “I look forward to being part of the Ole Miss family and am excited to help take the law school to new heights.”

Duncan joins UM from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, where she served as interim dean from 2012 to 2017 and on the faculty since 1997. The Louisville, Kentucky, native is widely recognized in the field for her entrepreneurial approach, ability to connect to various aspects of the practice of law, deep understanding of national trends and opportunities, energetic fundraising and commitment to working across campus.

“We are extremely pleased to have such an accomplished scholar and practitioner to lead the law school,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Ms. Duncan is well-respected by students and faculty alike and has a proven track record of successful leadership, particularly in the area of fundraising. She will be instrumental in guiding our law school to higher rankings and a greater role in Mississippi.”

Duncan has received numerous honors and recognitions. The Kentucky Bar Association presented her with the 2016 President’s Special Service Award, and in 2014, the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law Alumni Council presented her with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Also in 2014, Duncan was named one of the top 20 people to know in the field of education by Business First. In 2010, the Louisville Bar Association presented her its Distinguished Service Award.

Debbie Bell, who has served as interim dean at UM for two years, will continue in that role until July 31.

“We are grateful to Debbie Bell for her outstanding leadership of the law school for the past two years,” said Noel Wilkin, interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “She was able to galvanize our commitment to law education and guide our school through a challenging period of transition. She did this with determination, professionalism, confidence and an unwavering commitment to law education.”

Duncan holds a J.D. from the Brandeis School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She has lectured internationally, including at the University of Montpellier, France, University KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Johannes Gutenberg University, in Mainz, Germany, at the University of Leeds, England, and the University of Turku, Finland.

Besides numerous scholarly presentations, she has authored or co-authored dozens of publications on a variety of legal topics.

At the University of Louisville, Duncan was well-respected as a caring, committed leader as well as an accomplished fundraiser, dramatically increasing donations from Brandeis alumni and overcoming budgetary challenges that preceded her. In 2016, her fundraising efforts were recognized with the William J. Rothwell Faculty Award from the Office of Advancement.

“In addition to her accomplishments as an academic, she has a proven ability to work with law faculty, staff, students and alumni to accomplish shared goals,” Wilkin said. “This ability is more important than ever, given the current issues faced by law schools, and we expect Ms. Duncan will help our school achieve new and unprecedented success.”

UM Law Students Win Southeastern Tax Competition

Team tops field of SEC law and accountancy programs for inaugural championship

UM second-year law students Kyle Carpenter (left), Devin Mills and Patrick Huston won first place in the inaugural Southeastern Regional Tax Challenge presented by the University of Missouri schools of Law and Accountancy. Photo courtesy University of Missouri

OXFORD, Miss. – A team of students from the University of Mississippi School of Law won first place in the inaugural Southeastern Regional Tax Challenge presented by the University of Missouri schools of Law and Accountancy.

All Southeastern Conference universities were invited to send teams of law and accountancy students to participate in the Feb. 11 competition.

The Ole Miss law school team of Kyle Carpenter, from Jackson; Patrick Huston, of Milton, Florida; and Devin Mills, of New Albany, brought home first place after two days of competition. They also won Best Presentation, and Devin Mills won second place in the Best Presenter category.

“It was an amazing opportunity that would not have been possible if not for professor Green and all the other professionals involved,” Mills said.

Each team was given a set of facts that dealt with the potential acquisition of an up-and-coming pharmaceutical company by a venture capital company. The team had two weeks to prepare its oral and written presentations for the judges – attorneys, accountants and professors from throughout the Southeast – who acted as clients.

The presentations broke down each possible acquisition method, along with the pros and cons, and also focused on the tax consequences of each acquisition method.

“It was a nice opportunity for students to think about a real-life transaction that happens quite regularly,” said Karen Green, UM professor of law who coached the team. “The students were given only about 10 days to prepare, so they were under the pressure of researching the acquiring company’s options and preparing their oral and written presentations.

“They weighed all the different options from both the tax law and the corporate law sides, and they had to prepare projections of the tax benefits depending on which way the transaction was structured. They really did a great job.”

Teams were allowed only two practice sessions. To help her team prepare, Green enlisted the help of Oxford tax attorneys Jack Nichols, Gray Edmondson, Josh Sage and Brandon Dixon, along with law school faculty members Donna Davis, Richard Gershon, K.B. Melear and Jason Derek, to quiz the students and challenge their arguments.

On the first day of competition, the team competed twice before different panels of judges. After the scores were compiled, they were notified that they were one of the top four teams and would advance to the final round.

This was the first time the UM School of Law has competed in a tax law competition.

UM Law Tax Clinic Assists Oxford Community

Students help residents navigate legal issues and maximize their refunds

Students from the UM School of Law’s Tax Clinic are available to help local residents complete their income tax forms twice weekly at the Oxford-Lafayette Public Library. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Students enrolled in the tax practicum at the University of Mississippi School of Law are getting real-world experience by assisting Oxford residents with their taxes this season.

Fourteen students in the law school’s Tax Clinic manage and staff an IRS-funded Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program twice a week at the Oxford-Lafayette Public Library. Each student is IRS-certified, and Donna Davis, associate professor of law, oversees the clinic.

Sessions run 3:30-6:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, except March 14 and 16, which fall during spring break.

“Personally, my favorite part of the clinic is how Professor Davis encourages the project to be student-led,” said John George Archer, a site coordinator and third-year law student. “It is very much a team effort each clinic day to complete tax returns and resolve the gamut of issues that we can encounter any given day. It’s pretty fast-paced and engaging.

“At the end of the day, it feels good to help people understand their taxes and maximize any refunds they may have.”

The clinic is geared to assist low-income clients. Participants need to bring a photo ID, Social Security card and any tax documents they have. The students take it from there.

“I really appreciate how the clinic has given us the opportunity to interact with the taxpayers who rely on us to do our jobs well,” said Peter Liddell, a site coordinator and third-year student. “The nature of our work requires us to handle sensitive information and ask personal questions.

“It has been an excellent opportunity to learn how to engage people in a professional manner, which will be an invaluable skill for our careers as attorneys.”

The clinic continues through April 6. The students also plan to conduct a special Friday clinic March 31 at the law school.

UM Law School Hosts Boyce Holleman Debate

Topic to address globalization and inequality concerns

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law is hosting the 2017 Boyce Holleman Debate Series, which focuses on concerns about globalization, Wednesday (March 1) in the school’s Weems Auditorium.

This year’s debate will feature Robert Howse, law professor at New York University School of Law, and Antonia Eliason of the Ole Miss law faculty. The debate, which begins at 12:45 p.m., is titled “Globalization and its Institutions: Reset, Reform or Reject.”

“Globalization has become something of an epithet in recent years, both in the Global North and in the Global South,” Eliason said. “Recently, calls for disruption of institutions linked with globalization, like the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, have increased.

“This debate engages with questions of how the legal frameworks of global institutions can be used to address concerns with globalization, and to what extent disruption is necessary to address inequality and to save globalization from itself.”

Howse is the Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law at NYU School of Law and the 2017 Boyce Holleman Lecturer.

Eliason is an assistant professor of law at UM, where she teaches International Trade Law, International Business Transactions, European Union Law, Law of Armed Conflict and Contracts. Her research focuses on international trade law, international finance, EU law and Roma rights.

The Boyce Holleman Debate Series was established in 2003 by Tim and Dean Holleman in memory of their father. Boyce Holleman earned both undergraduate and juris doctor degrees from Ole Miss and enjoyed a long law career as a district attorney and criminal defense attorney on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Boyce Holleman Debate Series is open to contributions from individuals and organizations. Donors wanting to provide support may do so at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or by mailing checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677. Checks should be made payable to the foundation, and donors should note “Boyce Holleman Debate Series.”

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.