Gift Honors Life of UM Alumnus Stephen Moore

Phil Hardin Foundation expands educational opportunities at UM law school

Members of the Moore family were honored on the Oxford campus, including, front row from left, daughter Alison Moore Abney of Madison, widow Joan Moore of Meridian, daughter Melissa Moore Blackburn of Vicksburg and Hardin Foundation board president Robert Ward; back row, foundation board member Kacey Bailey, interim dean of law Debbie Bell, and foundation executive director Lloyd Gray.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The late Stephen Moore, of Meridian, was the epitome of a lifelong learner, always with a book in his hand. That, and his deep commitment to education, are reasons the Phil Hardin Foundation is honoring its board member and treasurer with a gift in his memory to the University of Mississippi School of Law.

The Hardin Foundation’s gift of $250,000 will support the Business Law Institute at the school, where Moore earned a Juris Doctor in 1971 and was active on the Mississippi Law Journal staff. That’s after receiving an undergraduate degree from Millsaps College and earning a fellowship with Duke University Graduate School.

The businessman’s name will always be linked with education.

“The reason Steve was elected to the Hardin Foundation board was because of his care and concern for education,” said Robert Ward, board chair of the foundation, also of Meridian. “This gift was made to order for his interests – perfect for what we wanted to achieve in his memory.”

The university applauds the foundation’s decision to honor Moore through higher education, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“The University of Mississippi values our extensive philanthropic partnership with the Hardin Foundation,” Vitter said. “We deeply appreciate the foundation’s many significant investments in a number of areas on our campus.

“This new gift to honor Stephen Moore’s life is particularly moving, as this alumnus was truly a champion for education, placing great energies and service toward enriching initiatives. His legacy will be expanded through students and faculty in our Business Law Institute.”

Dedicated to improving educational opportunities for Mississippians, the Hardin Foundation’s goal for the gift is to pay tribute to Moore’s almost 30-year service. This plan was put in motion weeks before his death in August 2016, when Moore was briefed on the foundation’s intentions and asked where he would want the gift directed, said Ward, who described his longtime friend as a man of “quiet dignity” who was respected by many.

“Steve and his wife, Joan, had a very meaningful experience while on the Oxford campus for Steve’s law school years, and they came to love Ole Miss more and more through the lives of their daughters and sons-in-laws who all graduated from there,” Ward said. “The Moores became immersed in the university community and their enjoyment of the culture increased with each passing year.”

Moore, a community leader, also was a former board member for the Meridian Public Schools, where he and Ward co-chaired a bond issue campaign in the early 1980s that resulted in $4 million for repairs and renovations for the schools.

“Steve would have been very pleased,” said his widow, Joan Moore, of the foundation’s gift to the law school. “He never planned to practice law but used his legal knowledge as a trust officer in the banking field and later as a financial planner. Steve always said that law school teaches people how to be critical thinkers.”

The foundation’s support will strengthen the Business Law Institute, an innovative program that places the faculty’s top business law experts in office space shared with students. The close proximity of faculty and students facilitates continuous access, collaboration and engagement, an educational model that maximizes active learning.

The institute also houses organizations in the student-run experiential programs: the Negotiation Board, Business Law Network and Tax Clinic. These offer negotiation competitions, professional outreach and real-world practice opportunities to develop students’ business law skills through hands-on activities and practice.

“The Hardin Foundation is interested first in improving educational opportunities at every level for Mississippians,” said Lloyd Gray, executive director of the foundation. “While we are committed to helping build programs, we also like to recognize and reward established programs that are effective.

“In this case, we feel this gift will help accelerate an initiative that has already proven its capacity to equip law students with exceptional preparation and hands-on experiences.”

Gray explained that the Hardin Foundation’s seven board members make long-term commitments – such as the service of Moore – and when members retire or pass away, the foundation has historically honored them in a way that is appropriate to their life and contributions. Several endowments have been created at Ole Miss for Hardin board members.

“Steve enjoyed his work on the Hardin Foundation board and was always pleased to see how the resources impacted educational opportunities,” said Joan Moore, a former speech and language therapist. “He particularly enjoyed traveling around the state to see the Hardin Foundation’s gifts in action.”

Among those involved the Hardin Foundation’s generous support of Ole Miss’ and Millsaps College’s faculty members when they sought to shelter chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organizations.

“Steve and I attended the ceremonies when Ole Miss and Millsaps College received their Phi Beta Kappa charters,” Moore said. “He was so proud that both institutions were able to recognize their students with this academic distinction.

“Steve was an advocate for learning – a true intellectual – and he read all the time. He majored in history and was so well-versed in history. He also loved the University of Mississippi.”

 The circle of Stephen Moore’s impact on his community widened with his service on the boards of the Meridian Community College Foundation, Kings Daughter’s Nursing Home, Care Lodge and Boy Scouts of America. He was an active member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, serving in numerous roles, as well as a trustee of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.

Professionally, he was the trust officer for First National Bank of Jackson and then senior vice president and trust officer for Merchant and Farmers Bank and the Bank of Meridian. He retired as a financial planner at Revels Securities and Smith Barney.

“Steve was a very humble and quiet man,” his wife said. “When he said something, people listened. He loved our family and was my best friend.”

The Moores’ family includes two daughters and sons-in-law: Alison Moore Abney and husband, Luke, of Madison, and Melissa Moore Blackburn and husband, Jeb, of Vicksburg; and five grandchildren, Simms and Owen Abney and Caton, Ali and Emerson Blackburn.

The Hardin Foundation was created by Phil B. Hardin, an entrepreneur who built the highly successful Hardin Bakeries Corp. from a bankrupt business he purchased in the 1930s. In 1964, he founded the Phil Hardin Foundation, which is dedicated to improving education for Mississippians. It is one of the three largest foundations in the state and has provided Ole Miss with more than $3.4 million in support of the schools of Business Administration and Education, College of Liberal Arts and more.

The Stephen Moore Endowment for Business Law is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. A check with the fund’s name in the memo line can be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or made online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Suzette Matthews, development officer for the School of Law, at suzette@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1122.

UM Space Law Moot Court Team Wins North American Championship

Trio set to compete in international finals this fall in Australia

Marshall McKellar (left), Alexia Boggs, Kent Aledenderfer, Kyle Hansen and UM law instructor Andrea Harrington show off the Ole Miss team’s trophies from the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition-North American Region. The team will compete for a world title in September in Australia. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Space Law Moot Court Team won big at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition-North American Region, bringing home three awards and advancing to the world championships.

“I’d like to thank these students for their hard work and representing our school so well during their competition,” said Deborah Bell, interim dean of the law school. “I am incredibly proud of all of them.”

The competition, conducted March 31-April 1 at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., featured 16 teams and was divided into two divisions of eight teams each.

The Ole Miss team consisted of second-year students Kent Aledenderfer of Huntsville, Alabama, and Kyle Hansen of Issaquah, Washington, and third-year student Alexia Boggs, from Nashville, Tennessee. Andrea Harrington, the school’s air and space law instructor, served as faculty adviser and third-year student Marshall McKellar, of Hattiesburg, was the team’s student coach.

“I am incredibly proud of our team, who worked with extreme diligence leading up to the competition,” Harrington said. “The team members acted with impressive grace and respect – both with regard to each other and their competitors – throughout the process.”

Each team submitted written briefs for both applicant and respondent positions and had an opportunity to compete on both sides in the preliminary rounds. Scoring in the preliminary rounds consisted of 50 percent briefing scores and 50 percent oral scores, and the result determined rankings going into the tournament-style rounds.

The UM team earned the highest score overall in the preliminaries and was ranked first in Division A. As the tournament progressed, the team competed in the quarterfinals against fourth-ranked University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Ole Miss then advanced to the semifinals, competing as the respondent against McGill University in a tight round. The team then progressed to the final round, arguing as the applicant against the University of Nebraska.

UM earned three major awards: team awards for Best Brief and Best Team, and Boggs received the Best Oralist award.

“The competition was an amazing experience and a true team effort,” Boggs said. “For months, Kent, Kyle and I have been learning from each other and refining our skills in legal research, clear writing and oral argument.

“Marshall was a huge asset because he went to the competition last year and has an enormous capacity for encouraging others. And of course, we would only have gotten so far without Professor Harrington, who was an excellent coach in pushing each of us to learn every crevice of international law and to apply it to the facts in as many ways as possible.”

The Best Team title allows the team to compete in the international finals, set for Sept. 26-28 in Adelaide, Australia. Competing teams include the champions from Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa.

“I am very pleased that I get to continue working with this remarkable group of students in preparation for the international finals,” Harrington said.

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.”