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Professor Mercer Bullard was quoted in Money Magazine article about bond funds. He noted the difficulty of determining how funds invest their assets, especially in derivatives, in view of the very general nature of fund prospectus disclosure.

Ben Cooper, associate professor of law and Jessie D. Puckett, Jr., lecturer, had an article published in The Professional Lawyer, the quarterly publication of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility.  Cooper’s article, “Judges and Social Media: ‘Friends’ with Costs and Benefits” can be found in Volume 22 Number 3 online. The publication discusses current on issues, programs, developments and practices related to ethics, professionalism and regulation.



The financial press continue to seek out Professor Mercer Bullard on financial regulation issues. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal discussed his ideas on reforming the standard for permitting investors to invest in private securities and linked his paper on that topic. On Monday, Politico Pro quoted him on SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s policy positions at the agency.

By: Anna Streetman

Oxford, Miss.–This summer, 67 students from some of the country’s most prestigious schools, such as Harvard, Yale and Columbia, were handpicked for internships with the Bronx Defenders.  Daniel McHugh, a third year Ole Miss law student, was also chosen.

The Bronx Defenders is a public defense organization for the people of the Bronx. The organization prides itself on being an innovative, holistic and client-centered defense system. In 1997, eight people who had a vision to change the way low-income people were represented in the criminal justice system started the Bronx Defenders. When the organization first started, it was little more than a small group of lawyers, a social worker, an office manager, a part-time investigator and a receptionist. Today, it has a staff of over 200, represents 35,000 individuals each year and is just as committed to justice as it was 15 years ago.

McHugh was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Charlottesville, Va. He has a B.A. in Studio Art from James Madison University, and has worked as a carpenter for the last 15 years. He is also a fellow for Auburn University Rural Studio Outreach.

McHugh first became aware of the internship during his first year of law school at Ole Miss.  He decided to pursue the internship after reading an essay by the Bronx Defenders founder Robin Steinberg in the book How You Can Represent Those People. He says that in the essay he found a reflection of his own experiences, and found that “her writing, with the context of the Holistic Defense model in the back of my mind, struck me as potent blend of common sense, professional and personal experience, and compassion.”

During his time at Auburn University’s Rural Studio, McHugh worked with trusties from a local prison ranch on various community service projects. Working with these people gave him a personal look at their stories and experience dealing with police, courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys. McHugh believes that “there is a shift occurring right now in this country that increasingly places poor members of our society at a distinct disadvantage in a variety of contexts, but particularly in the criminal justice context.” These reasons, along with Steinberg’s book, drove him to want to work with the Bronx Defenders.

For his internship, McHugh works in the Criminal Defense Practice. His responsibilities are diverse but include: representing clients with misdemeanor cases in court, interviewing clients and making bail arguments in arraignments, investigating criminal cases in the Bronx, performing legal research, and drafting motions and other legal documents.

Kathleen Mullin is one of the attorneys supervising McHugh during his internship. She is a Public Defender with 22 years of experience. Mullin speaks highly of his work: “Working with Daniel has by far been one of the best intern experiences that I have had in my career.  Daniel brings a level of maturity and acumen to the job seldom found in the second-year law student.  His commitment to the work is all encompassing and there was no task too small or too complex…Daniel is willing to go to any and all lengths to contribute meaningfully to the work I am doing on each of my cases…After my summer working with Daniel, I have no doubt he will most certainly succeed.”

McHugh’s time at his internship is helping his career in many ways. He is learning a tremendous amount from his supervisors, and is gaining invaluable trial advocacy experience. McHugh believes that that Bronx Defender’s model of Holistic Defense will continue to change the face of public defense across the nation, and that there is a need in the South for Holistic Advocacy. He sees his time at the Bronx as a time for training and research, and for building a broad foundation for future practice.

McHugh says that the incredible support from the University of Mississippi Law School, specifically Desiree Hensley, Allison Korn, Tucker Carrington, Jason Derrick, and Carol Mockbee, helped him more than words can describe.


Catherine Janasie, ocean and coastal law fellow with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program, had work recently featured in ClimateWire, a Washington, D.C. based news outlet which covers climate policy and its effects on business, the environment and society. Her featured work may be viewed here.


In a story appearing in Friday’s New York Times, Professor Mercer Bullard was quoted on the issue of mandatory arbitration of investors’ claims against their brokers.  Bullard noted that arbitrators are not required to explain the basis of their decisions, which leaves the public in the dark about the legal obligations of brokers.

Debra Brown Makes History in Mississippi 

By: Alana Dandridge

Oxford, Miss.– Debra M. Brown, an alumna of the University of Mississippi School of Law, is the first African American woman to be sworn in as U.S. District Judge in Mississippi.

The investiture ceremony for Brown was held June 20, 2014 in Greenville, Miss., at the Washington County Convention Center. Guests at the ceremony included U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben V. Anderson.

Richard Gershon, dean and professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law, said that the law school is always proud of graduates who make a positive difference as lawyers.

“Judge Brown has proven herself as a dedicated professional of the highest integrity. Her appointment proves that you can do anything with a degree from our law school,” Gershon said.

After graduating law school in 1997, Brown became an attorney at Phelps Dunbar LLP. According to Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Brown was also a shareholder in the Jackson law firm Wise Carter Child & Caraway.

“Brown was appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in fall 2013,” as stated in the Clarion Ledger.

The Northern District includes 37 counties. Courthouses are located in Aberdeen, Oxford, and Greenville where District Judge Brown will preside.


Oxford, Miss.–With a new senior director of development in tow, the University of Mississippi School of Law hopes to revitalize its fundraising efforts, with its brick campaign being one component of that goal.

The campaign, which began when the school moved to its new building in 2011, raises money to assist with general funds for the school.

“This campaign is important because it not only helps support the law school financially, but it also is a visual image of alumni support to the school that will last a lifetime,” said John Festervand, senior director of development for the law school.  “It reminds those who visit the school of the special bond our alumni have with the school.”

The bricks are located near the courtyard of the building, a central location visible to passersby.  Each brick is 4×8 and  may be purchased for $250 as a tax deductible donation to the law school.

“Each graduate of the law school has helped to build it and make it better, said Richard Gershon, dean.  “They have laid the foundation for the next generation of students, and the bricks are a wonderful symbol of that foundation.”

Those who have purchased bricks to date include lawyers and judges, new graduates and others who want to display their names or a memory from school in a sentimental phrase and note on the brick.  Inscription messages are flexible and range from “Grey and Macey Edmondson, Class of 2001,” to “Living the Dream” and “A Lawful Nation Does Not Exist Without Lawyers.”  Contributors do have the option to have bricks placed near each other if they would like to purchase a family or group order.

For more information about purchasing a brick, visit the giving areas page on the alumni section of the, or contact John Festervand, senior director of development: or 662-915-6881.

The University of Mississippi School of Law held its annual Law Alumni Weekend on March 21-22 this year.  The weekend was capped off with the University of Mississippi School of Law Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  At a Saturday evening banquet held in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom in The Inn at Ole Miss, the School of Law inducted two former governors, a former lieutenant governor, a former circuit judge and one of the state’s most renown trial attorneys.  Members of the 2014 Hall of Fame class include Haley R. Barbour, Brad J. Dye, Jr., Lee Davis Thames, Sr., William L. Waller and Thomas Frederick Wicker.

The next Law Alumni Hall of Fame class will be inducted March 21, 2015 as part of next year’s Law Weekend.  The Hall of Fame selection committee is accepting nominations for those to be considered for next year’s class.  Deadline for nominations and letters of support is July 1.

To nominate someone worthy of consideration, send all letters to the following address:

Law Alumni Chapter

Triplett Alumni Center

P.O. Box 1848

University, MS  38677-1848


View photos from this year’s Law Alumni Hall of Fame event by visiting the Alumni Association’s Smug Mug photo page.


Oxford, Miss.–On May 19, a group of University of Mississippi School of Law alumni were sworn in as members of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.  After Court convened that morning, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read an opinion on Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., Et Al., a case involving entertainment/copyright law.  Following the opinion, Dean Richard Gershon moved before Chief Justice John Roberts that members of the school’s group be admitted to the Court’s bar.  Chief Justice Roberts accepted Dean Gershon’s motion and granted admission.

Following the admission’s event, several members of the group took a tour of the U. S. Capitol.  Fellow Ole Miss law alumnus, Congressman Gregg Harper (JD 81), provided a personal tour of the Capitol that included stops not normally provided on general tours.

The day concluded with a reception for law alumni in the Washington, DC area.  Hosted by the BGR Group, law alumni Lanny Griffith (JD 76) and Haley Barbour (JD 73) welcomed the school’s alumni and friends to the rooftop of the Homer Building (home to the BGR Group), for hors d’ouevres, beverages and socializing.

To view all photos, visit


Oxford, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law is pleased to announce the hiring of John Festervand as the new senior director of development. Festervand officially assumes his role beginning July 1.

Festervand comes to the law school from the University of Mississippi Foundation, where he served as assistant director of development for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and the School of Education.

Festervand was the only director to oversee fundraising efforts for two schools at the university.  For Journalism, he helped establish the Overby Center Speaker Series initiative, a $1 million endowment project to bring industry leaders to campus as speakers and guest lecturers.  Festervand also recently closed a $1.5 million dollar chair position for the Integrated Marketing Communications program for the school.

While leading the annual giving efforts for the School of Education,  Festervand helped launch the One Eleven Initiative, whose annual giving goal is $111,000 for 2014 based on it being the 111th year of teacher training for the school.

In total, Festervand’s efforts have accumulated over $1 million in cash, endowments and gift planning.

“During his time at Ole Miss, John has made great strides in building relationships with alumni and friends, promoting the work of the schools of journalism and education, building private support and using innovative ideas to steward donors,” said Richard Gershon, dean. “We are very excited to have him at the law school and we look forward to his continued success.”

Prior to Ole Miss, Festervand worked at Texas Christian University, where he was the assistant director of athletics marketing and sales. At TCU and as a graduate student at the University of Alabama, he solicited gifts and built relationships with donors, as well as developed marketing plans, implemented promotions, partnered with foundations on events and assisted with collegiate licensing.

“An important goal I have here is to raise scholarship funds for law students,” Festervand said.  ”I look forward to getting started, meeting our alumni and working towards that effort.”

Festervand holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Middle Tennessee State University, and a master’s degree in human and environmental sciences from the University of Alabama. John lives in Oxford with his wife Shevaun, who works in human resources at Ole Miss. He is an avid football fan, and also enjoys traveling in his spare time.

Oxford, Miss.—The University of Mississippi School of Law will host “Systems, Principles and Practice of Lobbying and Advocacy in the U.S.” June 2 at the law school.  The program is designed for mid-level Ukrainian public officials and will improve their understanding of government accountability and transparency.

The symposium will be co-sponsored by the Ukrainian Catholic University’s Public Administration Program in the Institute of Leadership and Management, the International Steering Committee of the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), and the International Committee of the American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law.

 The lecture will cover the following topics:
  • recent developments in the field of post-Communist Civil Societies by using the building blocks of advocacy and lobbying,
  • the Building of Civic Societies as a means of strengthening independent nongovernmental organizations,
  • the critical need to help voluntary Civic Societies and organizations develop legal, financial and regulatory frameworks,
  • the role of increased public engagement and accountability in democratic development and sustaining democracy, and
  • examples of how to establish and maintain networks of advocacy organizations that facilitate increased access to justice in the areas of healthcare, employment, property rights, economic development, and governance.

The lecture will be presented by Ole Miss Law alumni Ben Griffith, who also serves as an adjunct professor in the law school’s Skill Session.  Griffith practices in Cleveland, Miss. where he focuses on federal and state civil litigation, with emphasis on voting rights and election law, civil rights, public sector insurance coverage and environmental law.  He will be joined by the law school’s Senior Associate Dean Matthew Hall as well as Ukranian Catholic University.


Oxford, Miss.—P.J. Blount, law professor for the LL.M. program in Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, testified before congress recently about space traffic management.  Specifically, he spoke about the legal aspects of space traffic and debris.

Watch the video on C-SPAN below.

The Magnolia Bar Association recently honored the Assistant Director of Career Services, Karen T. Peairs, Esq., at its Thirty-Second Annual Convention held

Assistant Director of Career Services, Karen T. Peairs, Esq.

May 1-4, 2014 in Biloxi, Miss.  Peairs was named “District Director of the Year” for her work as Northeast District Director during the 2013-14 association year.  Each district director serves on the Executive Board of the Magnolia Bar providing input into Association initiatives.  Further, the district director is charged with implementing those programming initiatives in their individual districts.  The Northeastern District of the Magnolia Bar Association covers a 26-county area to the north and east of Jackson.

This year, Peairs hosted the first district-wide “Meet & Greet” event in September 2013.  African American attorneys from her district connected with members of the University of Mississippi Black Law Students Association.  She also coordinated  Lafayette County’s version of an Expungement Clinic in conjunction with the UM Pro Bono Initiative, UM BLSA and Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer’s Project.


The University of Mississippi School of Law seeks elite practitioners as instructors for its third annual Skill Session in January 2015.  These instructors earn the title of adjunct professor and professional skills fellow.

The Session is a two-week long professional skills training program for all law students, 1L to 3L.   Each instructor teaches a three-credit course focused not on substantive doctrine, but on the performance of lawyering tasks – drafting transactional documents, arguing motions, interviewing clients, preparing expert witnesses, etc.    The classes meet four to five hours per day for ten days:  Monday through Friday from January 5 to 16 of 2015.

“The Skill Session embodies the law school’s commitment to graduating students ready to serve clients immediately and effectively,” said Matthew Hall, senior associate dean.  “Along with our range of clinical programs, our journals and our advocacy programs such as moot court, the Skill Session ensures that our graduates leave the law school prepared to engage in the real work of lawyering.”

The law school is looking for practitioners interested in teaching courses in the Skill Session.  Requirements include being committed to train the next generation of lawyers, possessing deep experience in a particular professional skill, and possessing the ability and enthusiasm to translate that experience into a series of concrete exercises.  Those practical exercises must involve the students in a skills “performance” for each day of the Skill Session.

All first year students enroll in Contract Negotiation and Drafting, while second and third year students choose from a variety of electives.  The electives range from Discovery Boot Camp to How to Do a Film Dean and from Lawyers as Entrepreneurs to Municipal Law Practice, allowing upper level students to focus on litigation, transactional work or public service lawyering, and any number of areas including estate planning, real estate, sports law, entertainment law and intellectual property.

“The Skill Session represents a fundamental shift in the law school’s focus – law professors and elite practitioners working side by side to train the next generation of attorneys,” Hall said.

If you are interested in teaching in the January Skill Session, please contact Associate Dean Hall at

For more information and for an application form, please visit our Skill Session page.

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

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.

U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-Ga.) spoke to UM School of Law graduates during the school’s commencement ceremony Saturday, May 10 in the Grove.

“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.”

Lewis, often called one of the most courageous people of the civil rights movement, was the featured speaker for the law school’s graduation Saturday in the Grove.

Lewis told the 182 graduates to find a way to be bold and to give back.

“You must find a way to get in the way, to get into trouble, good trouble,” he said. “That is your moral obligation. That is your responsibility. You don’t have a right to be silent. You must speak up. You must bring justice and fairness to our region and to our country.

“Don’t just do well, do good. Be brave, be bold, be courageous. And never, ever give up. Never, ever give in. Never, ever give out. Keep the faith, hold on and keep your eyes on the prize. This is your day.”

Known for his efforts in protecting and securing human rights and civil freedoms, Lewis is a nationally recognized leader and was one of the main players in the 1963 March on Washington. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, as well as the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence and the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Dean Richard Gershon said the law school was honored to have Lewis.

“Congressman Lewis is a hero of the civil rights movement,” he said. “I know his words will resonate with our graduates as they prepare to enter their legal careers.”

Lewis concluded by reiterating for graduates to use their degree to bring about change.

“Use law as a tool to bring about a nonviolent revolution of values, a revolution of ideas,” he said. “You can do it.”

This year marks the 149th commencement for the School of Law. For more information on the school, visit

Professor Mercer Bullard was quoted in a recent Morning Edition on National Public Radio. He discussed current developments in the drafting of new rules for raising capital online. Professor Bullard has previously before Congressional committees on this issue.

Professor Debbie Bell was honored today by the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women as their Woman of the Year.  The Commission honors exceptional women from around the state every year at a spring luncheon.  Bell’s award recognizes women for outstanding service.

Professor Debbie Bell

In addition to teaching, Professor Bell is currently the associate dean for clinical programs, overseeing all of the law school’s clinical learning opportunities.  She is also recognized as the foremost expert in family law in Mississippi, having written “Bell on Mississippi Family Law,” which is widely used by chancellors and family law practitioners.

Learn more about Debbie Bell.


Oxford, Miss.—The final moot court rankings are in and the University of Mississippi School of Law is 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 to the year.

2014 Ole Miss Law School National Champions

With a top 16 ranking out of approximately 175 law schools with moot court programs, the School of Law earned an invitation to the Moot Court National Championship in Houston, Texas, in January 2015.

“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 advisor 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 teams:

  •  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 Prince Evidence Moot Court Competition
  • National Quarterfinalists 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 the brief.  Then, with the help of student, professor and practitioner coaches, the team practices for the 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,” added Jones.

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 School of Law enjoying success.  The school’s negotiation board also won a national championship at the Transactional LawMeet – the country’s largest contract negotiation and drafting competition.  Students on the law school’s three journals have also enjoyed success, producing approximately 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.




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.

Students at work in the VITA Clinic.

According to Adrea Watford, student director of the Clinic, there were 199 Federal e-files, 55 federal paper returns and 254 total returns for a refund amount of $212,145, figures which 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,” she said.

Watford serves as the liaison between the school and its Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 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.

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

The Clinic services those in Oxford with a combined household income of $52,000 or less.  It files Federal and state returns electronically.

In addition, student preparers can be certified at three levels:  basic, intermediate and advanced.  In conjunction with coursework, students are required to be certified through the advanced level.  They may then receive additional certification for more complex returns, including 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, the 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.”

In addition to the community service aspect, the Clinic is also one of Ole Miss Law’s many programs to provide students with hands-on experience.

Professor Donna Davis, who helps supervise the Clinic and who teaches Tax I, elaborates on this fact.

“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 every Tuesday and Thursday from February to April, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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