After early success as an entrepreneur Brad Knox’s ’94 next step was to earn an MBA. That was before a Regent alumnus challenged him to consider law school, suggesting it could open many doors.
“He was right,” Knox recalls. “I entered Regent with the expectation that the rigorous legal training, molded by the framework of Christian leadership, would more than prepare me for success in any endeavor.”
Now, as Vice-President and Counsel for Federal Affairs at Aflac, a Fortune 200 company, Knox capitalizes on his business experience and legal expertise by advising executive leadership on a range of issues on a daily basis.
Knox says he benefited from Regent Law’s commitment to training lawyers to practice with both excellence and integrity.
“Regent's unique dedication to vigorously incorporating a Biblical worldview into the standard coursework forced me to think beyond the text and toward incorporating foundational principles into everyday problem-solving,” he says.
Knox is also on the board of The Hoops for Youth Foundation, which supports at-risk children in the Washington, D.C. area by providing leadership, scholarship, mentoring, and educational opportunities through various charitable and academic entities.
“I believe we all have a duty to give back to the communities in which we live and work,” Knox says. “Hoops for Youth is an organization that provides that outlet for me.”
Knox advises future lawyers to trust in God’s ability to provide employment.
“Some of my best experiences came wrapped in circumstances I wasn’t expecting,” he says. “When making career decisions, think broadly and be open to non-traditional opportunities. Mentally prepare for lots of ‘no’s’, but remember: God has a plan for you.”
Kimberly Phillips and Corrynn Peters will tell you that while a J.D. alone will not necessarily prepare you for the challenges of running your own law firm, a legal education founded on the principles of excellence and integrity will.
As partners at Phillips & Peters, PLLC, they capitalize on their legal experience, entrepreneurial savvy, and sensitivity to the needs of their clients in cultivating a thriving practice full of its own unique challenges and rewards.
“Phillips & Peters’ goal is to help families move forward when they are faced with difficult challenges,” Phillips said. “Our clients need attorneys who will advise them in accordance with their best interests in and outside of the courtroom, to helping them move on instead of focusing on the past.”
Regent Law’s emphasis on hands-on legal practice experience and training in fundamental legal skills prepared Phillips & Peters to serve their clients with excellence and integrity. After graduation from Regent Law, Peters, a 2012 Virginia Super Lawyers “Rising Star,” benefited from several judicial clerkships, including clerking with a U.S. Magistrate Judge, a United States District Judge, and the Chesapeake Circuit Court. Similarly, Phillips enjoyed several federal and state courts externships, including Interning with The Honorable James E. Bradberry, Federal Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, with the Chesapeake Circuit Court, and the Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney.
Phillips and Peters have plenty of advice for future lawyers and legal entrepreneurs. Peters encourages recent graduates to persevere past the first intimidating moments of legal practice. “At first you might be overwhelmed and feel as though you learned nothing in law school,” she says. “Once you get your feet under you, however, you realize just how much you did learn in those three years,” notes Peters.
Peters also encourages future legal entrepreneurs to find a mentor, ask lots of questions, build a support network, and have a clear understanding of their firm’s goals.
Phillips says it is important to remember that running a business is not the same as practicing law, both of which can be full-time jobs. “Being a good attorney does not mean that attorney will be a good business owner,” she says. “Starting a business requires the ability to multi-task, plan, coordinate others, organize, be creative, recognize opportunities, adapt, and self-motivate. One of the primary skills needed is the ability to simply make decisions.”
With the recent of hire of Regent Law alumna Sarah McCoy ’11, Phillips & Peters PLLC looks forward to years of service to the local Hampton Roads community. Learn more about the firm here and read bios on Phillips, Peters, and McCoy here.
Alumnus, social entrepreneur, and Harvard Law School lecturer Kyle Westaway is a self-proclaimed “southern boy” from Knoxville, Tennessee. However, from his new home base in Manhattan, he’s carving out a global impact larger than he ever could have expected.
Kyle is a sole practitioner who primarily represents artists, entrepreneurs, and activists and believes in the power of the market to create a positive social and environmental change.
While still a student at Regent, Westaway co-founded the campus chapter of International Justice Mission (IJM), a national agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. Since graduating he has connected with a non-profit that is changing culture in a way to which he can contribute – through both his legal expertise and his personal passion.
So aside from managing his practice (Westaway Law), he serves as Director of Business Development for The Blind Project (TBP) which seeks to leverage art and fashion to empower women vulnerable to and rescued from the sex trade in Southeast Asia. As part of TBP, Westaway helped build Biographe, a sustainable style brand that employs these survivors, for which he’s been reaching out to potential partners, creating a strategic business plan, and working towards gaining 501(c)(3) IRS status.
It is his passion that makes this less of a legal project and more of a ministry.
“Basically, for me, it’s clear that God has a special interest in the poor and oppressed, and we in a rich western nation have the resources to do something about it,” said Westaway.
Not only that, but Kyle also lectures on social entrepreneurship at Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School. In March of 2010 he launched Socentlaw, a blog dedicated to the legal side of social enterprise, and he writes for Triple Pundit, Social Earth, and Law for Change. Additionally, he sits on the boards of a charter school in Brooklyn (called Explore), and a nonprofit that seeks to add venture capital to social entrepreneurs in the developing world (The Adventure Project).
Crediting the influence of Regent Law Professor Thomas Folsom, Westaway says he’s achieved a place in his professional path that he never expected. And it’s from that place, in his office in Manhattan, that he is proving that law is more than a profession - it is a calling that can empower you to change the world.
Read Kyle’s blog post “Jobs. Not Charity.” written during his recent trip to Bangkok.
On a given work day Crystal Twitty can be found advising any of 23 community colleges in her role as Associate System Counsel to the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).
She advises Virginia’s community colleges across the areas of employment law, student disciplinary matters, workforce development, and campus security.
Ms. Twitty considers her current position an opportunity to serve her clients by providing advice on a variety of issues unique to higher education, an industry that comes with a myriad of challenges just like any other. Ms. Twitty responds to client inquiries, handles litigation issues, and reviews contracts, among other responsibilities.
Ms. Twitty credits Regent Law with providing her a solid legal foundation.
“The courses at Regent were very challenging, which taught me how to maintain a disciplined work ethic,” she says. “I also received exceptional training in oral advocacy and legal writing skills.”
Before her position with the VCCS, Ms. Twitty served as Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the civil litigation division.
Paul A. Roetman was appointed Superior Court Judge for Kotzebue, Alaska in August 2010 by Governor Sean Parnell. At age 42, Roetman is the youngest Superior Court judge in the state and the first in 20 years to be appointed directly from a prosecutor position (he formerly served as Assistant District Attorney for Kotzebue, and most recently, Palmer, Alaska).
These unusual circumstances remind Roetman of the Lord’s hand in his appointment to the court. “Regent Law’s motto states that ‘Law is a calling,’” says Roetman. “There is no doubt in my mind that my appointment came about because this is where the Lord wants me.”
Alaska’s judicial system is merit-based. Any attorney who has actively practiced law in the state for the previous five years may apply for a judgeship. Applicants are reviewed by the 7-member Alaska Judicial Council which votes to recommend them to the governor. Judge Roetman was selected from a pool of 10 applicants, three of whom made it to the governor’s list.
Not only was Judge Roetman’s appointment unusual, but his place of service is also unique by most accounts. Kotzebue is the main hub of Alaska’s Northwest Arctic Region and is one of three cities (including Nome and Barrow) that make up the 2nd Judicial District. The District covers the remote, northwestern portion of the state known as Bush Alaska since it lacks connection to U.S. roadways. The District is divided among three superior court judges, one in each city.
Roetman’s entire jurisdiction covers a land mass roughly the size of Indiana. With a population of 7,500 residing in the city of Kotzebue and 10 outlying villages, his jurisdiction is considered a “single site judge location.” In other words, Roetman is the only judge; a magistrate handles matters normally overseen by a district judge. He is also directly supported by a law clerk, a judicial assistant and court staff.
Roetman says he enjoys the small town atmosphere of Kotzebue, a city of just over 3,000 just above the Arctic Circle where he lives with his wife and five growing sons. Of practicing in Kotzebue, Roetman says, “I enjoy the fact that no one is anonymous.” On any given day, Roetman might face his grocery store clerk or his bank teller before the bench. As sole judge in the region, he also enjoys the diversity of practice his post affords him, hearing cases involving everything from murder to complex civil litigation.
Judge Roetman will serve a 4 year term and face retention election in 2014. If re-elected, his term length will increase to 6 years before his next re-election.
Executive Director of Doma International Julie A. Clark shares a personal update about starting an international, non-profit, human rights organization.
“My first trip to Russian orphanages in 1993 opened my eyes to injustices around the world. There was no better preparation to be a voice for the voiceless than at Regent-- a Christian Law school dedicated to training Christian leaders to change the world!
After graduation, I launched Doma, a nonprofit headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, dedicated to breaking the orphan cycle. Doma, meaning home in several languages, exists to embrace and empower vulnerable women and children whose homes and lives have been filled with anger, abuse, hostility, pain, and injustice.
Directing a nonprofit that works with survivors of human trafficking, young mothers who grew up in the orphanage system and orphaned children, is both the most rewarding and challenging career. My husband and I divide our time between Africa, Eastern Europe, and downtown Columbus, Ohio —often with a child (or two or three) in tow! To learn more about Doma’s initiatives to fight injustice, including the special docket prostitution court we support in Columbus, visit domaconnection.org. Sign up for our newsletter. Subscribe to our blog. We believe that God actively rebuilds and renovates communities in ruins, and that God uses us to restore broken lives. Join us in our endeavors as we redefine home.”
Regent Law alumnus James M. Smith never imagined he would one day be the head of his own law firm.
After earning a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and spending a few years in the workforce, Smith began realizing that his true passion lay elsewhere. He soon sensed God’s call to study law and upon the suggestion of a trusted friend, he chose Regent.
Smith endured the rigors of law school, graduated and began a successful career practicing law as an associate at a firm and then as Assistant District Attorney at the Berks County District Attorney’s Office in Pennsylvania. Eventually, Smith decided it was time for another big change – transitioning into work as a solo practitioner.
Starting one’s own practice is not without its risks, and for Smith and his family, branching out on his own really was a leap of faith.
“On faith, we opened the office in a very modest 10' x 12' room within an old office building converted into a suite of offices, and my wife worked with me for a few hours each day,” Smith recalls.
His faith was well rewarded. At the end of the first full month he did not have to take a salary cut and the firm, located in Fleetwood, Pa., began to thrive. In fact, Smith Law Group, LLC recently hired Regent Law alum David Crossett ’11, and Smith looks forward to continuing to serve clients across a broad array of practice areas.
Smith offers a number of pieces of advice to students and lawyers aspiring to their own practice.
“Work under someone else first,” he says. “Local rules and traditions of practice are something you can learn by experience or by mentoring under an experienced attorney. Even if you start your own practice right out of law school, find a mentor with a similar worldview and experience in the field of practice you want to invest in and have the willingness to accept the risk of failure. And you can't do this if you're buried in debt.”
Smith credits Regent Law with doing much more than preparing him for a legal career.
“I found that studying the law under professors like Craig Stern, James Duane, and Michael Schutt developed in me a love for the law - and the Lawgiver that other law schools choose to ignore,” he said. “I'm not only a better lawyer for it; but I'm a better husband, father and follower of Christ for it as well.
Kerriél Bailey was determined not to practice family law after graduation. “I grew up with all that trauma and decided, ‘I’ve already lived that; I don’t want to live it again in someone else’s life!’” she says. But Bailey has learned that the Lord does not waste His children’s life experiences in placing them in their calling. “I Became a solo practitioner not out of my design, but certainly out of the Lord’s design,” she says.
After graduating from Regent Law and passing the Virginia bar exam, Bailey faced the uncertainty and tight job market of the recent economic downturn. Discouraged, and disillusioned, she cried out to the Lord for direction, and He literally said, “I gave you your law license, now get to work!”
With that, Bailey began researching the possibility of solo practice, relying heavily on resources from Regent Law including use of the law library and faculty support. “To other people thinking about going solo, your Regent professors are not just there for you at school, but they are an amazing source of encouragement, information, and referrals after law school,” she says.
In March 2009, after being named on several local court appointed lawyer lists, and becoming qualified as a Guardian Ad litem, Bailey opened her own practice, K. Bailey Law, PC, in Virginia Beach. She handles mainly family law issues and abuse and neglect cases for children. “I wanted to be an excellent advocate, and the Lord opened this area to me and gave me favor,” she says.
Bailey also represents indigent criminal defendants and appreciates the many opportunities she has to pray for inmates, an opportunity she is free to take because she works solo. Being a solo practitioner affords her other benefits also. “I have total freedom to make a legal and moral assessment of cases and pick the ones I want to take on,” she says. “That freedom does not exist when working for someone else’s firm.”
Though she is free from human constraints in choosing her cases, Bailey recognizes that as a Christian, she is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. “There have been times when I just didn’t want a case, but I felt the Lord was leading me to take it, and He has done amazing things!” she says.
Even her court appointed case work, where clients are chosen for her, Bailey views as the Lord’s call and ministry choice for her. “My law license is what gives me access to these people to meet a deeper need,” she says with tears in her eyes. “I’m a Christian who also happens to be a lawyer as opposed to a lawyer who is a Christian,” she says.
In her spare time, Bailey is also co-authoring a book on religious liberty, the issue that drew her to law school and for which she maintains a deep passion.
Truly, Bailey exemplifies Regent Law’s motto: “Law is more than a profession. It’s a calling.”
Justin T. Bush was recently made a named partner at the law firm of Stallings, Bush, and Randall, P.C. where he manages the firm's Suffolk, Va., office. He was formerly partner at Stallings & Bischoff, P.C. where he practiced in the areas of criminal defense and domestic relations since graduating and passing the Virginia Bar Exam. Bush was the youngest person in Stallings & Bischoff's 31-year history to be named partner, as well as the fastest person to progress through the ranks.
Justin has also recently been recognized by several national publications for his practice in the area of domestic relations, including being named as one of the Virginia Super Lawyers' Rising Stars.
Regent Law alumnus Robert "Bob" Byrne Jr. said he was stunned to learn that he was named the 2010 R. Edwin Burnette Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year by the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference (YLC). He is the second Regent Law alumni since 2008 to be honored with this award which was presented to Bryne at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach in June.
The award recognizes young lawyers who demonstrate dedicated service to the conference, the legal profession and the community. Byrne, who has a statewide general litigation practice with MartinWren PC in Charlottesville, Va., has been an active volunteer with YLC since 2005.
He said that YLC has about 9,000 active and associate Virginia State Bar members who are age 36 and under. To qualify for the award, members must meet a list of eligibility requirements. YLC's goal is to serve the public and meet the special interests and concerns of young and new lawyers. Conference activities include various community outreach projects.
Bryne cites Regent Law as inspiring him toward serving in other areas of community service. He is credited with developing a program that helped strengthen the YLC Professional Development Conference in 2008, which provides training to young attorneys. He was also recognized for his contributions to the YLC's Docket Call, a quarterly newsletter distributed to all members of the organization. He has seven published articles in the newsletter, where he writes the litigation column.
The Honorable Ronald Pahl serves as a circuit court judge for the Sixth Judicial District of Oregon. After his initial election to a six-year term, Judge Pahl was reelected in 2004 to serve another six-year term. Judge Pahl, a fourth generation wheat farmer, operated his family’s 2,500-acre farm for ten years before coming to Regent University School of Law.
After law school he served seven years as the prosecutor for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and as a partner in a small general practice law firm. A native of Oregon and graduate of Oregon State University, Judge Pahl has worked tirelessly in his home state to enforce the rule of law and improve the administration of justice.
Kishá Jones serves as an assistant public guardian with the Office of the Public Guardian in Cook County, Ill. As an active advocate of public interest law, Kishá spent her law school years preparing for a public service career by working first as an intern in the Norfolk Friends of the Court SAFE program, and then as a summer law clerk in the office where she now works full time.
A native Virginian and graduate of the University of Virginia, Kishá is well-respected for her work ethic and outgoing personality, both qualities which she applies to many community and church activities.
Scott Bergthold maintains a national municipal law practice focusing on defending regulations of adult businesses. Scott litigates on behalf of municipalities in state and federal courts and is a frequent lecturer for state municipal leagues and the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA).
He has coauthored two books addressing adult business regulation and has written articles for ABA State and Local Law News, Land Use Law & Zoning Digest and Municipal Lawyer. Notably, Scott served as lead brief writer for the city in the U.S. Supreme Court case of City of Littleton v. Z.J. Gifts D-4, 541 U.S. 774 (2004). He previously served as general counsel and former president of the National Family Legal Foundation. Scott is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States; the Supreme Court of Arizona; the Supreme Court of Tennessee; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits; and the following United States District Courts: District of Arizona, Northern District of Indiana, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, and Eastern District of Tennessee.
It is not uncommon for lawyers like Kelly Hawkins to hear that their chosen profession will quickly lead to “burn out.” Regent Law, however, taught Hawkins how to combat the possibility.
At the foundation of her education was the idea that law is not merely a profession full of laborious tasks wearing one down day after day, but is instead a calling. For Hawkins, this means that God will not only prepare her for her daily duties but sustain her every effort.
Hawkins is the Deputy Attorney General in the Family Protection Unit in Mobile, Alabama. In this role, she prosecutes crimes primarily involving child physical abuse, sexual abuse, and pornography. A large part of her job entails reviewing some of the most horrific child abuse images and details.
She says, however, that Regent’s Christ-centered education reinforced the message that her calling was never about her, but always about God. “I was called to do this job long before law school,” she said. “Regent prepared me to keep Christ at the center of my calling, which is the only way I will ever avoid ‘burn out.’”
This attitude has given Hawkins the ability to rise above the daily details of her job and be the best child advocate that she can be. In 2003, the Alabama legislature passed legislation that was later renamed the Kelly B. Hawkins Child Abuse Protection Act in recognition of her service to the area of child abuse prevention.
Teresa Hammons entered law school with the hope of becoming a judge. In 2004, 16 years after receiving her degree from Regent Law School, Hammons achieved her goal when she was appointed judge in the Virginia Beach General District Court.
“My life is a life of public service,” Hammons said. “For me, being a judge is the highest calling in my profession.” She began her studies in 1986 at Regent as a second-year law student. Hammons, who also graduated from Harvard University (A. B. in Psychology and Social Relations), gives Regent Law high marks for providing her an outstanding legal foundation.
“I would put Regent up against the finest law schools. Regent provided me with a top-notch legal education,” she said. “Quality academic instruction is required of any law school, but Regent went a step further by providing faculty and staff who genuinely cared for and supported the students.” Hammons also appreciated Regent’s worldview. “It was the first time that I didn’t feel like I was on the defensive about my faith,” she recalled.
After graduating from Regent, Hammons accepted a position as a staff attorney with Tidewater Legal Aid where she represented older adults in estate and consumer cases. She then served as an associate and assistant city attorney for the City of Virginia Beach for 13 years where she handled civil litigation, misdemeanor appeals, and child abuse and adult protective services cases.
Now a judge, Hammons strives to show compassion, moral clarity and justice toward all who enter her courtroom. “I must know the law and apply the law to all facts and situations irrespective of my faith,” she noted. “I hope that because of my faith I’m more conscientious. I’m responsible not only to make decisions that impose the rule of law, but also to extend mercy in situations where it’s called for.” In addition to the legal education she received at Regent, Hammons says the Regent Law School’s emphasis also prepared her for her role as a judge. “The whole concept of servant leadership is really about humility. I’m not here to lord it over anybody, but to serve.”
When the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sought to scuttle a highly popular marriage amendment in Arkansas, it crossed paths with Chris Stewart, a skillful attorney who successfully navigated the proposal through a series of legal hurdles. The amendment was approved by a substantial majority of voters in 2004 and is now a part of the Arkansas Constitution.
Stewart credits Regent Law for furnishing him with outstanding legal training and a compelling vision. “I came to Regent because I wanted to make a difference. I didn’t want to stand on the sidelines," he said.
Stewart served as the executive director for the Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee and was responsible for organizing the petition drive that set a state record for the number of petitions collected.
While crafting the amendment language, Stewart took a hard look at proposals in other states that had survived legal challenges, most notably Nebraska. "With just one strike, it is possible for a court to unravel all the hard work that was done on behalf of marriage. Fortunately, we prevailed, ” Stewart said.
In the end, five out of seven state Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of permitting the amendment to remain on the ballot. On the same day he was offered the position as executive director for the Marriage Amendment Committee, Stewart was also asked to serve as the deputy legal counsel for Governor Mike Huckabee, but Stewart knew he had been called to defend traditional marriage.
Today, Stewart manages his own law firm, lobbies for Fortune 500 companies and serves as legal counsel for the Republican party of Arkansas.
Being a law clerk for Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. means Noelle Groves gets an inside look into the operations of the judicial branch of the state government.
In addition to working through case law and statutes and coming up with answers to tough questions, she assists the Chief Justice in drafting legal opinions, conducting research, speechwriting and program administration. “Working for the last two years as a law clerk has been a challenging but rewarding experience,” she said. “In the end the small role I play is exciting and worth the strenuous work. And because of my education at Regent, I feel that I’m prepared for my legal career and that I’ve received a well-rounded education at both an academic and personal level.”
After applying to Regent, Groves (‘06) received an engaging phone call from a current law professor. Such personal attention coupled with positive experiences sitting in on classes and meeting current students solidified her decision to attend. “If a person wants a solid legal education and plenty of interaction with professors who truly care about their present and future well-being, and if they want the opportunity to see how Christian principles can interface with the legal system, one’s career and daily life, Regent is the place to be,” she said.
When she’s not busily engaged inside the halls of the Virginia State Supreme Court, Groves manages to find time to run marathons, travel and attend as many art and music festivals in Virginia as she possibly can.
Robert F. "Bob" McDonnell (Law and Government), was elected Virginia's 71st Governor in Janauary 2010.
McDonnell is the school's first graduate to begin service in the highest office of any state.
At his inauguration, McDonnell's remarks provided a window into what Regent means by "Christian Leadership to Change the World."
"As Virginians, we believe that government must help foster a society in which all our people can use their God-given talents in liberty to pursue the American dream," McDonnell said. "Where opportunity is absent, we must create it. Where opportunity is limited, we must expand it. Where opportunity is unequal, we must make it open to everyone."
In November 2005, Bob McDonnell was elected Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, a position he held until February of 2009. He ran on a strong law enforcement platform, promising to aggressively pursue policies and legislation to address the critical issues of Internet safety and child sexual predators.
It didn’t take long for his campaign promises to become a reality for the citizens of the Old Dominion.
In 2006, the Safe Kids Initiative was passed into law by the Virginia General Assembly. The Safe Kids Initiative is a comprehensive package that calls for harsher penalties for, and electronic tracking of, convicted sexual predators. It received strong bipartisan support and became law on July 1, 2006. “Combating child sexual predators and reducing Internet crime is an important focus of my term as Attorney General,” said McDonnell. “I can think of no objective more worthy of our time and commitment than safeguarding children.”
First elected to public office in 1992, McDonnell represented Virginia’s 84th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. There he served as chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, which is responsible for crime bills and reviews judicial nominees.
While serving in the House of Delegates, he helped spearhead efforts to repeal the death tax, reform welfare, reduce taxation and fight crime. A former prosecutor, McDonnell was instrumental in abolishing parole and reforming the juvenile justice system. McDonnell also championed tougher laws, targeting drunk driving and drug dealers. McDonnell believes the integration of faith and learning within the Regent curriculum makes it an important institution of higher learning. A member of the charter law school class, McDonnell says Regent gave him the legal training he needed to fight for the policies that have made America a great nation. “Regent is building on the values our Founders planned in Early American history,” he said.
God’s work was evident in a series of events that directed Courtney Laginess to Regent Law School. Courtney came to know Christ during his sophomore year at Duke University after becoming reacquainted with a family friend and Christian missionary who put him in touch with a representative from The Navigators ministry.
The Navigators helps individuals come into closer concert with the Word of God. “He simply asked me to read the Bible and pray,” Laginess said. “In the process of searching Scripture, I became a Christian.”
Courtney later accompanied the family friend on a trip to Russia, where he first heard about Regent University. His interest was piqued by the curriculum and Biblical integration. A Navigator Scholarship to Regent Law School became the confirmation. It was a remarkable unfolding of God’s plan, he stated, because he was not even aware of the school’s existence a few years back.
When he entered law school, Laginess was primarily interested in promoting religious liberty and free speech in the public square. He was highly motivated by the concept of the Regent motto, Christian Leadership to Change the World. In his second year of law school, Laginess became greatly inspired by the business curriculum and developed a keen appreciation for the role lawyers play in adding value to transactions. “I was always interested in the free market system and private enterprise,” he said.
Following graduation, Laginess joined a Cincinnati law firm where he specializes in the practice of intellectual property law with a focus in trademark prosecution, licensing, and mergers and acquisitions. He believes Christians have a special obligation to treat opposing interests with dignity and respect, while securing the best possible outcome for their client.
“I can look back and clearly see God’s hand. Not only did I go to a great school, but I also met my wife at Regent Law School, and we now have a young son,” he said. Since Regent Law School is a relatively new institution with a growing reputation, Laginess says it is incumbent upon current students and alumni to hold high standards for themselves. “We’re not just representing ourselves or Regent Law School; we’re representing Jesus Christ in the legal field.”
"Law is more than a profession. It’s a calling."
While this motto initially attracted Minka Lanier to Regent Law School, it was ultimately the faculty’s commitment to excellence in the integration of faith and legal scholarship that kept her here. Growing up in a military family, Lanier observed diverse cultures while living across the United States and Europe.
After earning a B. S. in Government from Cornell University, she began looking for a law school that combined the best of academic excellence and Christian thought without offending the integrity of either. She chose Regent. “When searching for law schools, I didn’t want to compromise the quality of my education. At Regent, I found that it wasn’t compromised at all,” Lanier said.
“I felt like everything the faculty did embodied excellence.” She recalls approaching a law professor after class with concerns that dissenting viewpoints on a certain topic had not been explored. “I told the professor that I didn’t agree with the way the topic was being presented. The very next class the professor allowed me to share my perspective,” she said. “I found the faculty open and welcoming to other perspectives.”
Now a first-year associate with Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, LLP, a corporate law firm based in South Carolina, Lanier plans on concentrating her practice on business and pharmaceutical litigation. She hopes to be a partner with the firm one day. “Whatever I’m doing ten years from now,” she said, “I know I’ll have my hand in bridging the gap between legal services and at-risk communities.
At Regent I’ve not only been able to cultivate my dream of making a difference, but I’ve gained the tools necessary to see it become a reality.”
Ask Stephen Pfeiffer how he arrived at a decision to go to law school, and he’ll tell you it wasn’t a complicated process.
“I first became interested in the law when I was 6 years old,” Pfeiffer said. “I’d watch football, and then I’d watch old episodes of Perry Mason. Law is always where I saw myself.”
Pfeiffer’s passion for the law and for political debate led him from the Midwest, where he grew up and played Division III college football, to begin looking seriously at law schools.
It was Regent’s commitment to excellence and integrity in legal education that sealed his decision. “The law’s purpose is to help people by providing for an ordered society. I wanted to come to a place where I could learn how to be a part of fulfilling that purpose,” Pfeiffer said. “This is the reason I chose Regent.”
While at Regent, Pfeiffer channeled his incredible work ethic into winning the 2007 ABA National Negotiation Competition along with teammate Dawn Young (‘07). After hundreds of hours of preparation, Pfeiffer and Young beat out teams from across the nation, including Harvard Law School, to capture the national championship. He attributes the ABA win, and his success at large, to the quality and commitment of the legal scholars and practitioners who teach at Regent.
“We have incredibly talented professors who are not only legal scholars but experienced practitioners,” he said. “I learned from men and women who are some of the best attorneys in their fields. As a former football player, my education at Regent would be comparable to learning from a team of Hall of Fame coaches.”
Pfeiffer currently practices law with Wolcott Rivers Gates, one of Hampton Roads’ oldest and largest local law firms, and specializes in business law, civil litigation and criminal litigation. Reflecting on how the education he received at Regent impacts his daily life, Pfeiffer said, “My legal education has instilled in me a commitment to excellence and integrity in everything that I do. As an attorney, that translates into putting forth the best possible work product, building relationships built on trust with my clients and treating my colleagues with respect.”
When he’s not busy helping clients navigate complex legal issues, he enjoys running half marathons, teaching the youth at Trinity Church and spending time with his wife, Shelly, who is also a Regent Law graduate. “It is a privilege and an honor to serve the Lord by serving my clients as their attorney, and it is a privilege that I do not take lightly,” Pfeiffer said. “The Bible mandates that as Christians we are called to do everything we do with excellence and integrity. I will continue to endeavor to meet that goal while serving as an attorney in Hampton Roads.”
“Know Jesus, know peace; no Jesus, no peace” is Rhonda Kinard's life theme. Since she became a devoted Christian as an undergraduate student, she has aligned all of her endeavors around God’s will, and not her own.
While at Regent Law she was a regional finalist in the 2008 ABA Moot Court Competition where she won the award for 2nd best brief in the region and ranked among the Top 16 competitors in the nation. She also graduated in the top of her class and served as a well-respected student leader.
After graduating in 2009, Kinard landed a coveted clerkship with the Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.
She recognizes, however, that it wasn't her talent or her ambition which cleared the path for her success. “There are moments that I am still uncertain of how exactly I excelled. Those are the moments when I am certain God carried me,” she says.
Kinard attributes her legal success to a combination of God’s faithful leading and timing with the academic excellence she received at Regent University School of Law. “Better professors, there are none,” she says about the Regent Law faculty. “While they taught with excellence, they’ve also demonstrated the dire need for integrity and Christian leadership in our profession. This has helped me strive to be a better person with exceptional character traits, and this directly correlates to being a better, more dependable lawyer.”
The advocacy skills she gained through Moot Court combined with classroom training prepared her to serve as an effective judicial clerk today.
God had plans for Bobby Maddox in the legal field, and the vision was palpable. But Maddox remembers starting out unfocused and torn between family and career objectives.
The Texas native was offered a full scholarship to multiple law schools, including Regent, after scoring extremely well on the LSAT. Maddox originally chose a law school closer to home, but he was never at peace with the decision.
A phone call from Regent University Chancellor Pat Robertson proved to be pivotal. “To me it was a sign from God,” he said. “Other schools would give me what I needed to get a legal job, but Regent would give me a vision. My conversation with Dr. Robertson reminded me of the commitments I made to God in prayer,” he said. “The Lord was calling me to Regent, and it was time for me to respond.”
Maddox, now a partner at Kemp Smith, LLP in El Paso, Texas, works in the firm’s business and tax department. Thinking back on law school, Maddox reflects, “One thing that really inspired me to practice business and tax law for the glory of God was the prayer time at the beginning of every class. This reminded me that I didn’t have to be a constitutional law lawyer fighting for religious freedom to exhibit Christian leadership to change the world. We are to give God glory in everything that we do, and His principles should shape our practice of law, whatever it is. I came away from Regent with a better understanding that part of serving God is serving people. Each specialty a lawyer might have involves service to the client. Jesus taught that giving a cup of cold water in His name was a form of godliness. In my mind, so is helping people with their business and tax needs.”
While opposition to abortion remains a central component of the right-to-life agenda, Christian activists must be mindful of a wide range of issues impacting human dignity, according to Dorothy Yeung, a legal counselor with the National Right to Life Committee's (NRLC) Department of Medical Ethics.
Yeung is at the forefront of key cultural battles concerning the right to life. According to Yeung, “Regent Professor James Duane’s devotions and presentations on pro-life issues inspired me to commit my gifts and legal knowledge to the prolife cause.”
She worked in close concert with Rep. Mel Martinez of Florida to help pass “Terri’s Law” in an attempt to prevent removal of the feeding tube that was used to keep Terri Schindler-Schiavo alive. Formerly titled the Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act, the legislation passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bush on March 19, 2005.
However, the disabled woman ultimately died of starvation and dehydration when federal courts precluded implementation of the law. Yeung believes the high-profile case will have long-term impact on public attitudes. “The Schiavo case was unique because it was in the public eye. It raises important questions about human dignity and the decisions driving euthanasia.”
Despite the setbacks, Yeung sees cause for hope. She points toward key legislative victories such as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which recently became law. Unborn children who are harmed during the commission of a violent crime are now considered victims. “It means a manslaughter or homicide charge would equal two counts instead of one.”
Although the bill does not specifically address abortion jurisprudence, it highlights the issue explicitly, which may influence public opinion. “The public should pick up on the inconsistency that a child is protected in one case, but not in another.”
Yeung also said parental notification laws at the state level remain a key component of the pro-life agenda. When asked to reflect on her academic experience at Regent Law School, Yeung stated, “Regent’s distinct commitment to teaching law from a Christian worldview sets it apart from all the others and fosters a truly unique learning environment. I have no doubt that the preparation I received at Regent and my participation in several moot court competitions equipped me to communicate to the media with confidence on pro-life issues.”