Law School Events

Subscribe to Law School Events feed

Haley Wright and Chase Pritchard, third-year law students.

On November 12, 2015, Court of Appeals of Mississippi once again sat in special session at Mississippi State University as a part of their “Court on the Road” program. Criminal Appeals Clinic students Chase Pritchard and Haley Wright were specially appointed as counsels of record and argued the case of Thomas v. State before the Court. The issues in this case involved hearsay statements of a confidential informant to police and narration of a “controlled buy” video not played for the jury in open court. Graduated law students Kye Handy and Brantley Pierce (JD 2015) wrote the brief of the Appellant as a part of their participation in the Criminal Appeals Clinic last spring.

“Most classes in law school teach you how to think like a lawyer. Clinics allow you to actually be a lawyer,” said student/lawyer Haley Wright. “I am more comfortable graduating in May because I have argued in front of the Court of Appeals, which lawyers who have been practicing for years can’t say. This was hands down my best experience in law school.” Chase Pritchard agrees: “The Criminal Appeals Clinic shows third-year law students that you already have been taught to be a lawyer. Unlike the vast majority of classes in law school, this Clinic is structured like a law firm and you are in charge of your case, which allows the students to gain confidence and experience needed for life after law school.”

The “Court on the Road” program of the Court of Appeals will mark its tenth year when the Court sits in special session at the UM School of Law in the spring 2016 semester.

The City of Moss Point, Mississippi, has agreed to stop the practice of jailing citizens while they wait to appear in court on misdemeanor charges, such as disorderly conduct or public intoxication. The settlement agreement was reached in a federal civil rights class action lawsuit filed by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Under the challenged cash bail system, two defendants charged with the same alleged offense were treated differently based only on their wealth: those who could afford to post bail were released, while those who were too poor to pay remained jailed at the City’s expense. Several cities in Mississippi use similar money bail systems, and could face similar class action lawsuits, according to the MacArthur Justice Center, who partnered with Equal Justice Under Law, a non-profit civil rights organization in Washington, D.C.

Chief Judge Louis Guirola Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, entered a declaratory judgment finding that the practice in Moss Point “implicates the protections of the Equal Protection Clause when such [an arbitrary bail] schedule is applied to the indigent. No person may, consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, be held in custody after an arrest because the person is too poor to post a monetary bond. If the government generally offers prompt release from custody after arrest upon posting a bond pursuant to a schedule, it cannot deny prompt release from custody to a person because the person is financially incapable of posting such a bond.”

“We commend the leaders of Moss Point for the seriousness with which they approached this problem and their prompt response,” said Cliff Johnson, Director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law. “In addition to ending a policy that mandated the harmful and unnecessary detention of poor people at the City’s expense, they saved Moss Point taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Johnson said the money bail system previously in place in Moss Point is not unusual in Mississippi and that similar litigation against other Mississippi cities is likely. “We recognize that Moss Point was not alone in the use of this unlawful practice,” Johnson said. “We hope that other Mississippi cities and counties will follow the example of Moss Point and immediately cease the incarceration of their poorest citizens simply because they do not have the money to pay bail imposed without any consideration of their financial condition.”

Professors Will Berry and Cliff Johnson were interviewed on Bloomberg radio recently.  Berry discussed the Supreme Court oral arguments over alleged racial discrimination in jury selection for a death penalty case. Johnson discusses the lawsuit filed by the MacArthur Justice Clinic against the city of Jackson.

Listen to Berry’s podcast.
Listen to Johnson’s podcast.

Ricky Clifton, Whitney Griffin and Dillon King

OXFORD, MISS. (Oct. 20, 2015)-Ricky Clifton, Whitney Griffin and Dillon King of the University of Mississippi School of Law won first place at the 2015 Securities Dispute Resolution Triathlon Oct. 16-18 at St. John’s University School of Law in New York City. The Triathlon is a dispute resolution competition amongst teams from around the country, with 22 in this year’s competition.

The championship team is part of the school’s Negotiation Board, one of three advocacy boards at the law school that competes in external, intercollegiate competitions.

“It’s hard to believe the Board is so young – in four, short years, our organization has gone from a ‘team’ with very few participants, to a national championship winning advocacy board, with dedicated members and impressive faculty support,” said Whitney Griffin, chair of the Negotiation Board and one of the three national championship team members.

“Students selected as members over the course of the past few years have not only been incredibly talented negotiators, but also massively dedicated to our organization.  This major win is directly attributable to those qualities.”

The competition challenges students to negotiate, mediate and arbitrate and offers them an opportunity to hone their skills in a realistic securities dispute setting.  According to the competition, students played the roles of attorneys and clients, with some teams in the role of investor and others in the role of broker-dealer.

“This was a special win because the competition tests participants’ limits by running them through a gauntlet of separate negotiation, mediation and arbitration rounds with actual FINRA arbitrators,” said Mercer Bullard, faculty coach and director of the Business Law Institute, which houses the Negotiation Board.

“Our team prevailed because they were willing to invest dozens of hours in detailed preparation.”

Over the course of six weeks, Ole Miss Law’s team practiced at least six times a week. With one week until the triathlon, they began to meet twice a day to fine-tune their presentations.  The team had two coaches, Professor Mercer Bullard, and Chelsea Buckholtz, a third-year UM law student.

“The key to our win was our team’s hard work and preparation,” said Ricky Clifton, team member and third year student. “We spent countless hours preparing, sometimes practicing twice a day, and throughout the competition we were continually praised by the judges for our deep understanding of the issues. But without the help and advice of our faculty and our student coach, that time practicing could never have been as focused on the right issues as it needed to be.”

“The competition was such an incredible experience because it required us to tackle an actual problem present in today’s securities industry and convince actual industry experts and FINRA arbitrators that we were the most effective advocates for our client,” said Dillon King, team member and third-year student.

 “This national championship is a testament to the exceptional quality of the University of Mississippi School of Law, including our faculty and student body.”

The Mississippi Law Journal will host a symposium on the Voting Rights Act on Thursday and Friday, April 7th and 8th, 2016, at the University of Mississippi School of Law. In conjunction with this event, Volume 85 of the Journal will include a Symposium Book that will feature scholarly articles discussing current voting rights and election law issues in Mississippi, the Southeast region, and on a national scale.

The Voting Rights Act Symposium will focus on the current status of voting rights in our nation as seen through the unique lens of the Southeast region and Mississippi in particular. The year 2016 marks the recent celebration of fifty years of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and is a year that will usher in a new President of the United States. The landscape of voting rights has undergone significant changes in the recent years. In 2013 the Supreme Court, in Shelby County v. Holder, struck down a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. Any effective future restoration of the Act lies within the discretion of Congress.

The goal of the Mississippi Law Journal Symposium Book is to highlight both the practical impact of this landmark law on individual rights and its connection with the highest of American ideals—the right to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Guidelines and Deadlines

The Mississippi Law Journal welcomes academic papers addressing recent issues in voting rights and election law. We welcome submissions from legal scholars and from practitioners. The geographical scope of the paper may center on Mississippi or the Southeast region, or it may address the topic on a national scale. While papers of any length will be considered, the ideal length of submissions should be 10,000-14,000 words including footnotes.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, January 22nd, 2016. Please email submissions to Marie Wicks, Editor-in-Chief of Volume 85 of the Mississippi Law Journal, at

For those interested in participating as a panelist during the Voting Rights Symposium on April 7th and 8th, 2016, please email by December 1st, 2015, for more information.


On October 10, 2015 the Pro Bono Initiative held a Lee County Pro Se Family Law Legal Clinic, which was co-sponsored by the Lee County Bar Association, the Young Lawyers Division of the MS Bar Association, and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project (MVLP). The Pro Se Day was held at the Lee County Chancery Court, with Judge Jacqueline Mask presiding. Four UM law students participated in the event, Colin Rosser, Will Pomeroy, Briley Elliott, Laci Moore, and former student (and now lawyer), Catherine Servati and 11 attorneys supervised the students in assisting local low-income clients. Common family law issues of the clients, such as irreconcilable differences divorces, simple name changes, and resolution of child custody/support disputes, were resolved by the student-led event, providing the law students with a valuable learning experience, a networking opportunity with practicing lawyers and judges, and, importantly, helping under-or un-represented individuals finalize family law matters in their lives. Student participation in the UM Clinical Program’s Pro Bono Initiative delivers a public service to the bench and bar, who then in turn manage the client interviews conducted by the students and direct the resolution of these family law matters by negotiating settlements between the parties, drafting pleadings to put the parties before the court, then presenting the cases in hearings before the Chancellor to complete the process of resolving the client’s difficulties.

Marie Cope, Cam Abel, and Mark Chappell

The UM Clinical Program’s Transactional Clinic serves a number of businesses, ranging from service-based non-profit organizations to for-profit LLC’s. Over the course of the 2014 fall semester, the Transactional Clinic has also been fostering new client relationships and providing service to Mississippi residents through seminars, commercial information, and outreach activities.

For several years now, the Transactional Clinic has attended a monthly Field Day event hosted by The Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production, an organization supporting small-operation rural farmers. In conjunction with The MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and the Alcorn State University Extension Program, the Transactional Legal Clinic has worked with the Alliance to produce the a series of workshops which provide farmers information to help make decisions that can increase profits. The September field day was no different.

Typically hosted in Durant, Mississippi, the most recent Field Day was held at a new location for the organization – the Cotton Warehouse Farmer’s Market in Batesville. In a newly renovated warehouse space, the Cotton Warehouse Farmers Market is a new venue for local farmers of high-quality produce to market their harvests in a central location. This space provided a perfect setting for the central topic of the meeting’s discussion: how to shift farming operations to certified organic production.

Prior to the meeting’s primary speakers, Transactional Clinic student, Mark Chappell, and Associate Professor, Cam Able, addressed the group of farmers to discuss Limited Liability Company (LLC) formation and protections the entity provides to farms, produce sellers, and other agriculture-centered businesses. Throughout their presentation, the duo fielded several questions and provided insight into the protections an LLC might provide to the individual farm owners.

While the Transactional Clinic typically sees familiar faces at the Field Day presentations, the move from Durant to Batesville this month allowed for the Clinic to interact with new farmers, generating several potential clients. The monthly Field Day presentations have proved to be integral to the Clinic’s success and, likewise, to its many farm-related clients.

Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network Annual Orientation

In support of long-time client, the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network (MSAN), advanced Transactional Clinic students, Whitney Griffin and Jacob Ladnier, attended MSAN’s annual orientation for interns and fellows and provided a brief presentation on the importance of entity formation. Focusing on the 501(c)(3) tax status and the LLC forms of business organization, the students advised the audience on the need for non-governmental organizations to incorporate, the incentives to do so, as well as the liability risks for those that choose not to incorporate.

The students briefly educated the group on the advantages of becoming an LLC and the entity’s applicability to the farmers with which MSAN regularly connects. Then, because the Clinic has worked closely with MSAN since its inception, the students used the organization’s experience in achieving 501(c)(3) status as a case study to engage the fellows and interns in a conversation about non-governmental organizations and non-profit status, from formation to board management and beyond. Following the presentation, the students fielded a round of questions from the audience and handed out pamphlets on entity formation and benefits of working with the Transactional Clinic.

Whitney Griffin

Jacob Ladnier

The team members CJ Robison (3L), Ian Perry (JD 13), LL.M. expected 2015), and Olivia Hoff (3L) in Jerusalem.

Team of three students triumphs over groups from India and Greece en route to victory

OXFORD, Miss – The University of Mississippi School of Law has won the world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem. The team beat India’s Nalsar University of Law in the semifinals and triumphed over National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, today (Oct. 15) in the final round.

UM is one of three law schools in the world to offer a Master of Laws in Air and Space Law, but the only school to offer a certificate in remote sensing, air and space law at the Juris Doctor level, a distinction that contributed to the team’s success.

“The law school congratulates our team on their truly outstanding accomplishment – the University of Mississippi School of Law’s first international moot court championship,” said Debbie Bell, UM law dean.

“Success like this only further highlights the strength of our advocacy programs and space law program in general.”

The championship team includes Olivia Hoff of Gulfport and C.J. Robison from Lubbock, Texas, both third-year law students in the space law certificate program. Joining them is Ian Perry of Ellis County, Texas, a 2013 J.D. recipient who is working on his space law LL.M., and Michael Dodge, an adjunct assistant UM professor who graduated from the school’s space law program in 2008.

Competing at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the teams each argued a hypothetical case involving an asteroid mining dispute and liability for a failed attempt to divert an asteroid from colliding with the Earth. Three members of the International Court of Justice heard the arguments and served as judges.

In its 24th year, the competition takes place under the guidance of the International Institute of Space Law, headquartered in Paris, and attracts more than 60 law schools from around the globe. Three members of the International Court of Justice served as judges for the competition.

The team won the national championship March 21 at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition at Georgetown University Law Center, which qualified them to compete in the world finals.

“I am so proud of our students,” said Jacquie Serrao, director of the university’s LL.M. program in air and space law. “Their hard work, determination, substantive knowledge and oral and written advocacy skills really set them apart from others in the competition. That, combined with the amazing professors at the law school who contributed so much of their time in mooting our students, really made the difference.”

This victory builds on a string of successes for the Ole Miss law school’s advocacy programs, which include winning the nation’s pre-eminent environmental law moot court competition in February for the fourth time in five years, winning four national championships in 2014 alone, earning a top 18 national ranking for the school’s moot court board in 2014, receiving second place at the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition last fall, and achieving a top-eight finish at the moot court National Championship hosted by the University of Houston Law Center in January.

Cliff Johnson, Director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center’s office at the University of Mississippi School of Law, addressed a recent international workshop in Sweden at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. “This seminar is another way for the institute to foster the interface between theory and practice,” says RWI’s deputy director Rolf Ring. “Private practicing lawyers form an important part of the administration of justice chain and serve as a guarantee that access to justice and fair procedures are upheld in local jurisdictions. The MacArthur Justice Center at Ole Miss Law works collaboratively with the MacArthur Justice Center offices in New Orleans and at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago to bring about meaningful and positive change in Mississippi through litigation of cases addressing systemic weaknesses in the state’s criminal justice and legal systems.

Cliff Johnson

Professor Michael Hoffheimer presented a lecture on October 5 at the Princeton Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication. His topic was “Creating Copyright for Translators in the Nineteenth Century.” Hoffheimer is the only law professor invited to participate in the distinguished series that includes internationally prominent academics and translators.

Professor Mike Hoffheimer

The University of Mississippi School of Law’s Interim Dean, Deborah Bell, received the Beacon of Justice Award on September 10, 2015, from the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer’s Project on behalf of her work with the law school’s Pro Bono Initiative (PBI). The PBI was formally launched by the UM Clinical Programs in August of 2011 to address unserved clients who cannot afford simple legal services. Using experiential legal education to give law students both interviewing and document-drafting training, along with an opportunity to serve the courts and indigent citizens at “Pro Se Day” legal clinics conducted in five north Mississippi county seats. “It has been an honor to partner with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Program, and I appreciate this recognition from an organization I admire deeply. The MVLP is helping to close the justice gap for low-income Mississippians in a meaningful way,” Dean Bell said.

MVLP staff and award recipients.

Dean Debbie Bell with Gayla Carpenter-Sanders, executive director of the MVLP.

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, the Mississippi Supreme Court entered an Order, which “re-establishes and reconstitutes the Commission on Children’s Justice and charges it with developing a statewide comprehensive approach to improving the child welfare system; coordinating the three branches of government in assessing the impact of government actions on children who are abused or neglected; and recommending changes to improve children’s safety, to strengthen and support families, and to promote public trust and confidence in the child welfare system.” The Court appointed UM Clinical Professor David Calder, Director of Children’s Advocacy Clinic, and Adjunct Clinical Professor Tiffany Graves, Executive Director of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission and the UM Pro Bono Initiative Director, to the Commission. “I am grateful to the Mississippi Supreme Court for re-establishing the Commission and bringing heightened focus and greater attention to the issues that regularly affect vulnerable children and families.  I look forward to serving and learning more about how we can work together to improve the state’s child welfare system,” said Prof. Graves.

Associate Clinical Professor David Calder

Adjunct Professor Tiffany Graves

Pictured left to right:
Kiya Jones, MJC Director Cliff Johnson, Wilson Skomal, Heather Horn, Adjunct Professor Jake Howard and Nicole Jones.

UM Clinical Programs Professor Cliff Johnson, the director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Clinic (MJC), has announced a Settlement Agreement with the Mississippi Department of Corrections affecting the conditions on Mississippi State Penitentiary’s Death Row. The MJC, the latest addition to the ten UM Clinical Programs, is a public interest teaching program focusing on human rights and social justice, with goals of bringing significant change to Mississippi in issues involving pre-trial detention, capital punishment prosecutions, prison inmate housing and discrimination within the criminal justice system. The Settlement Agreement immediately improves the conditions of confinement on the Row, including basic everyday matters such as cleaning products, pest control and window screens. Substantial improvements in the inmate’s access to health care, family visitation, and treatment for mental illness are also addressed in the MJC’s Settlement Agreement.

Johnson said, “Very few lawyers have seen death row from the ‘inside,’ so this was a significant experience for all involved. I could not have been prouder of our students. They worked hard to prepare for the interviews. They acted professionally at all times, and they treated those they interviewed with respect and kindness.”   Adjunct Professor Jake Howard and Johnson supervised the MJC students in the interviews last semester with the death row inmates at Parchman, which began the process of challenging and correcting the deplorable conditions on Death Row.

Benjamin Cooper to Serve on the Commission on the Future of Legal Services 

OXFORD, Miss.– Benjamin Cooper, Jr., professor of legal studies and professionalism at the University of Mississippi School of Law, has been appointed to serve on the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services.

“As a Reporter, I am assigned to several working groups who are working on really interesting ideas for innovating the delivery of legal services,” said Cooper. “I participate in conference calls with the working group members and will be involved in drafting policy initiatives that will be presented to the ABA House of Delegates and other written products that capture the Commission’s work.”

The Commission is made up of prominent judges, lawyers and academics from across the country. Cooper was appointed after a recommendation from the Commission Vice Chair, Andy Perlman, dean of Suffolk University Law School.

After practicing law for 10 years, Cooper decided to settle in Oxford to teach at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Cooper teaches Legal Profession, Civil Procedure and an Advanced Legal Ethics seminar. He will spend the Spring 2016 semester at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law as a visiting professor. During his time there, he will teach Professional Responsibility and Civil Procedure.

For more information on the ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services, visit  For more information on Professor Ben Cooper, visit his faculty biography page.

By: Grace Miller



Oxford, Miss. — The Law School is engaged in comprehensive strategic planning this fall and has announced plans to involve alumni in the process through a strategic planning survey in early October and a special alumni forum on Friday, October 23.

“Our law school program is the strongest it has ever been,” said Dean Debbie Bell. “And yet, we face challenges. This is a critical moment in legal education. The new realities of the job market make it essential that we right-size classes, find ways to reduce student debt load, reexamine curricular goals, and improve job placement.”

“Alumni feedback is crucial to the success of our strategic planning process,” said senior associate dean Jack Wade Nowlin, co-chair of the drafting group which will write the Law School’s new strategic plan. “We need to know what our alums think about new directions and new ideas to keep the Law School moving forward.”

The alumni survey will be conducted online and sent out to the e-Newsletter mailing list in early October. The survey will ask questions designed to generate new strategies for advancing the Law School’s mission and improving alumni engagement.

The alumni forum is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, October 23—the weekend of the Texas A&M game. Details of the event are being finalized, and formal invitations will be sent out to alumni through the e-Newsletter mailing list in early October. All Ole Miss alumni are very welcome to attend and participate in discussions.

The forum will include an opening presentation by Dean Bell, a roundtable panel discussion with distinguished alumni, and breakout sessions on major areas of strategic planning—such as admissions, placement, diversity, and curriculum. Faculty, staff, and students will also participate. A reception will follow.

“We hope our alumni will take the time to share their ideas through the survey and join us for the afternoon of October 23rd,” said Dean Bell. “Their advice and support are essential to the Law School’s success in the years ahead.”

Questions about the Law School’s strategic planning may be directed to Senior Associate Dean Jack Wade Nowlin at

Alumni Forum calendar link:


UM law students who participated in the UM Clinical Program’s Pro Bono Initiative event held in Greenville on September 16, 2015, are Monique Caples (PBI Student Coordinator), Briley Elliott (PBI Student Coordinator), Macy McCarty, Laci Moore, Paul Pritchard, Jake Reed, and Quinton Thompson. Ten local MS Bar attorneys volunteered for the Pro Se Day (not including UM Pro Bono Initiative Director Tiffany Graves and Gayla Carpenter-Sanders, the Executive Director/General Counsel of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Twenty-four clients were assisted by these students and lawyers with uncontested divorces, name changes, and other matters pending before Washington County Chancery Judge Marie Wilson.

The PBI is a unique in-house pro bono teaching program that seeks to give law students practical legal experience and networking opportunities through their participation in daylong legal clinics, work on policy initiatives, and engagement in pro bono opportunities with in- and out-of-state nonprofit legal organizations.  Annually, 100–plus student volunteers assist over 500 clients.  The Mississippi Supreme Court supports the Pro Bono Initiative through its Access to Justice Commission (see The event would not be possible without the assistance of the volunteer lawyers who generously give of their time to the clients who would otherwise go unrepresented.

Joel Henderson, Monique Caples


The clinic registration table: Yumekia Jones (seated), Nicole Jones (standing in front of Yumekia), Laci Moore, Briley Elliott, Macy McCarty, Tiffany Graves and Paul Pritchard standing).

Group shot of all volunteers and Judge Marie Wilson. From left to right: Gayla Carpenter-Sanders, Monique Caples, Laci Moore, Jake Reed, Briley Elliott, Macy McCarty, Sara Cotten, Paul Pritchard, Yumekia Jones, Judge Marie Wilson, Nicole Jones, Lorna Frazier, Joel Henderson, Emily Bradley, Quinton Thompson, Kimberly Merchant, Stephanie Macvaugh, Tiffany Graves, Doug Wade, Austin Frye and Cynthia Lee

The UM Clinical Programs and the Grisham Law Library is proud to announce the speakers and topics in the Technology in the Practice of Law Skills Series for the fall semester.  The first presentation will be on Wednesday, September 30th at 12:30 in the Law Library with Justin Cook, Staff Attorney with the Office of the State Public Defender, Indigent Appeals Division, presenting on the continued growth of the use of Microsoft Word© (over the law office standard for decades, Corel WordPerfect©) for creating pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents.  Corel WordPerfect© has been the law office standard for word processing system for most law offices, governmental agencies, and state courts over the last 30 years, but Millennials have changed this construct to the blanket use of Word.  Mr. Cook will speak on page formatting, methods of inserting authority, different fonts for legal writing, proper point style to comply with the Rules, inserting hyperlinks for references and footnotes, style in organizing sub-headers under broad pleading issues, use of the Thesaurus for creative legal writing, automatic pagination & forcing page number in the middle of a document, conversion to .pdf, scrubbing metadata from draft pleadings, basic cover sheet formatting, automatically alphabetizing tables within a document, and using the “comment” balloons on the right margin for edits.

On Wednesday, October 7th at 12:30 in the Law Library, Clint Pentecost, Counsel with the Mississippi Supreme Court, will instruct on the use of the Mississippi Electronic Courts (MEC), which is the primary method of filing pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents with the majority of Mississippi courts.  The use of this platform is now mandatory with the state appellate courts, and in the very near future, electronic filing of legal documents will also become standard operating procedure in all of Mississippi’s trial courts.  The MEC is the same as the electronic filing platform presently used by the federal courts, so this training will also make you proficient in both court systems.

Finally, on October 28th at 12:30 in the Law Library, Craig Bayer of Optiable and Tom O’Connor of Advanced Discovery will make a presentation on Computing in the Cloud, Document Search Software (DMS), and The Paperless Law Office.  With the means of productivity in law practice moving more and more into the digital world, it is essential new lawyers have the skills to seamlessly enter into the electronic workplace.  “Practice-ready” job applicants have a distinct advantage over other lawyers not only in the courtroom, but also in the law office, which makes you a more skilled prospective hire in the interview process.

By: Prof. Phil Broadhead

The Prosecutorial Externship Program, established at the law school in 2002, has former externs who have graduated and are working in district attorney’s offices throughout the state. Having come full-circle in their careers in law, these prosecutors now supervise externs from the UM School of Law’s Class of 2016. John L. Herzog Jr., Assistant District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District, was an extern with the Prosecutorial Externship Program in 2010 and now finds himself supervising law students who have been placed in the Greenville office. “Students who participate in the Externship Program have a huge advantage over other law students with the practical, hands-on aspect of working in a DA’s office,” said Herzog.  He should know. As an extern in 2010, he worked with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney in Oxford, and the local state DA’s office during his time in law school. “From going to court, writing and responding to motions in pending cases, and dealing with people daily, externs find themselves removed from the academic context and work in court on real cases.”

During the placement of Prosecutorial Externship student Weathers Virden (Class of 2016) by Clinical Professor and Director of the Prosecutorial Externship Program Hans Sinha this past summer in the Greenville branch of the District Attorney’s Office, ADA John Herzog supervised Virden in his day-to-day duties. “Every day in the office brought something new,” Virden said. “With John Herzog as my mentor, I was able to take on these new challenges by first talking about the job at hand, then doing the work. John always included the ‘why’ we did criminal law practice in a particular way.” Virden’s experience also took him out of his comfort zone. “I had no idea what a “bond hearing” was, but with two hours to prepare, and a seasoned attorney at my side, I found going to court makes you a master of courtroom procedure.” Virden also observed, “The Prosecutorial Externship Program is a dynamic learning experience in contrast to the static learning you find in the classroom. The concepts I struggled with in class became very clear simply by doing them. Learning how to speak to a judge in court was a huge thing. I probably would not have chosen to speak in court, but John pushed me into the fire, and afterwards I thought, ‘That wasn’t so bad’ and was ready to go again. Experience like this gives you confidence.”

With experiential learning becoming the norm for third-year law students, the networking opportunities for clinical students is enormous. In fact, four ADA’s in the Fourth Judicial District who were appointed by District Attorney Dewayne Richardson are former Prosecutorial Externship students. Herzog has seen the value of externships from both sides now, and encourages law students to take advantage of the opportunities clinical programs impart. “Mississippi has such an unmet need for legal services. The Prosecutorial Externship Program is an outstanding opportunity for learning how to practice while serving others.”


Victor Vieth

On September 3, 2015, Clinical Professor David Calder, Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic, hosted a presentation at the UM School of Law by Victor Vieth, Director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center in Minnesota, who explained recommended improvements in child protection.  The Mississippi Attorney General invited Mr. Vieth to make presentations at all of the colleges, universities, and law schools in the state to propose implementing the Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) curriculum into courses taken by students who desire to enter professions that involve child protection.  The goal of the CAST curriculum is to foster multi-disciplinary cooperation among child care professionals, so abuse and neglect of children can be identified more consistently, and appropriate steps can be taken to provide greater protection for children.

Mr. Vieth and other professors working with the Gunderson Training Center will present at another conference in Jackson, Mississippi, on October 7-9, 2015, to explain the CAST curriculum in detail, provide resources, and discuss how it can be incorporated into existing educational programs.  This conference is free to interested persons.  Please contact David Calder at the Child Advocacy Clinic, 662-915-7394, for more details.

OXFORD, Miss.–The University of Mississippi School of Law will commemorate Constitution Day on September 17 by celebrating the scholarly success of three of its students.  Michael Shoptaw, Jennie Silk and Marie Wicks will present their recently published or forthcoming articles on cutting edge issues in constitutional law.

“This is the University’s Constitution Day event–commemorating the original signing of the Constitution on September 17th, 1787,” said Jack Nowlin, senior associate dean and organizer, moderator and one of three faculty discussants for the event.

“This is also a Constitution Day ‘special edition’ of the Law School’s Student Legal Scholarship Exposition, an event we have each semester to celebrate our published student authors and the Law School’s strong tradition of student scholarship.”

The students will present the following work to faculty, students and other audience members:

  • Robert Michael Shoptaw (Class of 2016); associate cases editor, Mississippi Law Journal; M’Naghten Is a Fundamental Right: Why Abolishing the Traditional Insanity Defense Violates Due Process.” 84 Mississippi Law Journal 1101 (2015).
  • Jennie Vee Silk (Class of 2016); Mississippi cases editor, Mississippi Law Journal; “Calling out Maryland v. King: DNA, Cell Phones, and the Fourth Amendment,” 52(2) Criminal Law Bulletin (Thomson Reuters/West) (forthcoming in 2016).
  • Marie E. Wicks (Class of 2016); editor-in-chief, Mississippi Law Journal, “Prayer Is Prologue: The Impact of Town of Greece on the Constitutionality of Deliberative Public Body Prayer at the Start of School Board Meetings,” 31 Journal of Law & Politics 1 (2015).

The event is particularly significant due to the focus on student scholarship.  The three student presenters were selected from an academic legal writing class in which they were asked to compose and present their first major work of legal scholarship.

“All three students wrote outstanding articles on cutting-edge issues in constitutional law,” Nowlin said.

“There were many other excellent articles–in constitutional law as well as in other areas–so it was a tough choice to select only three.  Luckily, there will be another student legal scholarship exposition in the spring, and we will have the opportunity to hear more student presentations.”

Students in the class selected a topic and then met regularly with Nowlin and other faculty advisors and presented to a class of their peers.

“Dean Nowlin offered expert guidance and invaluable advice every step of the way,” said Wicks.  “He broke down the writing process into manageable deadlines, and before we knew it, we had drafted an entire comment.”

Shoptaw, a third year student, also had a positive experience  with the class.

“Often, while presenting, you would realize a shortfall or discover a new avenue for discussion within your paper,” he said.  “It was a very good experience and aided in everyone’s attaining a high level of understanding of their own papers as well as the other class members’.”

The legal writing class and Constitution Day program are just a few ways the law school supports student scholarship. According to Nowlin, faculty regularly mentor students in scholarly writing  and there are many opportunities for training in advanced legal writing, research and argument. There are also the fall and spring student scholarship expositions as well as innovative programs like the Mississippi Law Journal’s peer review forum.

All work towards combining teaching and research and scholarship development amongst students.

The law school’s focus on student scholarship has also led to the publication of 75 student-authored articles over the past three years, establishing these students as experts in particular fields.

“I’m thrilled that this year’s Constitution Day commemoration focuses on current issues in constitutional law through the lens of student legal scholarship,” Wicks said.   “I know it is an experience that will be a highlight as I look back on my law school years.”

Shoptaw echoed her sentiments.

“I am humbled, excited, and a bit nervous for the chance to present my topic. But, the way I see it, this will be the icing on an incredibly large cake that I’ve been making for over a year.”