"The plans you have are not the plans God has."
These insightful words from a complete stranger caused Anastasios Kamoutsas '13, who is the Assistant State Attorney at the Miami Dade Office of the State Attorney, to consider attending Regent Law. Active in the ministry and very involved in family life in Miami, he had never thought of leaving the place where he grew up. But Anastasios learned that God usually has better plans for our lives than we could dare to hope or imagine.
Kamoutsas grew up in Miami, Florida, learning to speak both Greek and Spanish thanks to his dad's Greek heritage and his mother's Cuban family. He had always set his sights on law for one reason.
Falling into hard financial times, his mom encouraged him to enter a lucrative profession. Taking him aside one day, she told Anastasios, "You can either be a doctor or a lawyer." Kamoutsas concluded that law better suited his writing and speaking skills. In choosing law, he aligned himself with God's plan for his life, but for the wrong reason entirely.
"I just wanted to make money. That was all law was about for me," Kamoutsas said. "I could read, I could write, I could analyze—I'll do law. I'm going to make money during the day and then go home," he said.
Kamoutsas thought he was dutifully following the right course up until mid-way through the application process. As he took the LSAT and calculated the expense of law school, he prayed more fervently for direction. "Lord, I'm spending all this time to go to law school, all this money—I'm going to be in debt. Why do I want to study law?" he thought. God did not answer his question until a year and a half into the law program at Regent. As he took core Regent classes such as Christian Foundations of Law, he began to see the Biblical principles that lay behind the legal issues he was studying.
Regent Law's motto—"Law is more than a profession. It's a calling"—caused him to realize God wanted him to view the legal profession as a ministry and not just a job. "If you seek me first, if you seek what I'm calling you to do, which is to practice law and to study law in a way where you're going to be able to help people, then everything else will follow... I'll give you the job, I'll give you the money, but all I want you to do is seek me first," says Anastasios, paraphrasing a few of God's many lessons to him while he was a student.
His advice to Regent students and prospective students is simple: "Be open to God's will. Law school is preparing you not just for law, but for life."
As the general counsel and corporate secretary for Baker Concrete Construction, Inc., E. Todd Wilkowski '98 oversees the legal, enterprise risk management, contracts and compliance functions for the nation’s largest concrete construction company.
Baker Concrete’s project portfolio includes many high profile projects, including several NFL stadiums, the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
“We have also built for Disney and provided most of the concrete construction on the Animal Kingdom at Disney World,” Wilkowski adds. “‘The Tree of Life’ and the architectural concrete at the entrance? That’s Baker Concrete. That was a lot of fun to experience during my family’s trip to Disney a few years back.”
Having received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Wilkowski planned to become a career Air Force officer. However, after several years as a drug counterintelligence and counterterrorism officer at the Pentagon, he began to sense that law might be his ultimate vocation. Wilkowski attended a Preview Weekend at Regent University School of Law, and after much prayerful discernment, he decided to pursue a joint degree in law and public policy at Regent.
“I was absolutely impressed with Regent and the caliber of people I met,” he says. “There’s an amazing spirit about Regent when you walk on the campus. You just feel God’s peace there. Unlike other law schools, there is no ‘zero sum’ mentality. At Regent, students encourage each other to do their best and fully prepare to fulfill their vocation rather than compete against each other.”
Before joining Baker Concrete, Wilkowski worked for Keating, Muething & Klekamp PLL, a corporate law firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. At KMK, he gained arbitration and meditation experience in the construction industry and defended companies from claims of negligent workmanship, construction defects, fraud and breach of contract. Experience working with high-quality legal professionals prepared Wilkowski to work at Baker Concrete, especially in managing outside legal counsel across the country.
Wilkowski highly recommends that Regent Law students, who are interested in working as in-house corporate counsel, seek internships with a company to better appreciate the training and experience they will need and determine a corporate counsel position that best suits their passions and strengths.
Wilkowski reiterated, “Unless you are joining your family’s business, most companies do not hire corporate counsel directly out of law school. Experience in a law firm provides an excellent foundation for a successful in-house corporate counsel career. You’re going to learn client relationship skills and how to practice law. Ideally, you need to develop a value-added skill set, such as litigation management, that you can provide the company right out of the gate.”
Wilkowski began a legal externship program at Baker Concrete in 2009. In 2012, Wilkowski welcomed his first summer intern from Regent Law, and his second intern from Regent Law started working at Baker Concrete this summer. His first intern received a coveted judicial clerkship with an Arizona appellate judge.
“One of my greatest joys in life is to mentor and develop young people so they can successfully discern God’s calling on their life and glorify Him by serving Him in the legal sector with their unique gifts and talents.”
Adeline Allen '11 never imagined that she would be a tenure-track professor at Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, Calif., less than one year after she graduated from Regent University School of Law.
Allen recalls that as a third-year law student, she was concerned about her future employment. While she networked and applied to positions at a number of law firms, they told her the same thing: “We like you a lot, but we can’t hire you right now because we’re in a recession.”
Allen prayed and submitted her situation to God. Meanwhile, she continued serving as Executive Editor of the Law Review and kept up her grades. Later that school year, she received an amazing opportunity.
A friend told her about a teaching position at Trinity Law School, a California Bar-accredited law school that teaches from a Biblical perspective. Allen applied and was invited to interview, which included teaching a Contracts II class to first-year law students.
To prepare for her interview, Allen asked her deans and professors about what they look for in hiring a Christian law professor. They gave her advice on how to teach a law school class, Socratic method and all, as well as how to integrate faith and law. They also prayed for her.
Later, the dean of Trinity Law School called Allen and told her that she was their favorite candidate. Allen couldn’t believe that a 3L could become a law professor so soon after graduating.
“I ascribe all that to the glory of God and to the grace of God,” says Allen.
Allen has taught at Trinity Law School since December 2011 and considers her job a wonderful fit. “I love teaching,” she says. “I sense I am really living out my legal calling. I love equipping my students for their calling with the gift of teaching the Lord has given me.”
Allen is deeply grateful for the excellent mentorship she received at Regent Law.
“I remember how well my professors taught me and my classmates, how they personally cared for us, and how moved I was when they prayed for me at the end of an office visit,” she recalls. “So much of my teaching style and philosophy is modeled after that of Regent Law deans and professors.”
Allen hopes that she inspires her students to use their legal professions to honor God and serve their clients in the same way Regent Law professors inspired her.
Nathaniel Pierce '08 (L) will tell you that he and his colleague Gabriel McCoy '11 (R) are just two hard-working legal professionals who are very excited about Pierce/McCoy, a corporate transactional law firm in Norfolk, Va. Their vision for Pierce/McCoy, however, is anything but ordinary.
Gabe first met Nat when Gabe was deciding which law school to attend. Gabe called the law school’s Business Transactions Law Society to learn more about Regent Law’s business law programs and spoke with Nat, then president.
“That conversation was a sign of things to come,” says Gabe. “Later, Nat was an associate at the law firm where I had my first clerkship. I was his intern, and we hit it off pretty much right away. We realized we wanted to run our own practices the same way and had the same drive and the same goals. A few years later, we decided to take a chance and strike out on our own.”
In March 2013, they launched Pierce/McCoy in the Waterside area of Downtown Norfolk. They chose to locate themselves in Hampton Roads rather than N.J., N.Y., or Washington, D.C., because those areas are saturated with lawyers.
Nat appreciates Hampton Roads’ quality of life and proximity to the beach. Hampton Roads’ lower cost of living also means Pierce/McCoy can keep prices competitive for clients.
Nat and Gabe have established Pierce/McCoy as a firm that integrates honesty and integrity into a field characterized by aggressive hard work.
For instance, Pierce/McCoy offers a retainer model that makes billing as straight-forward as possible. Payments are similar to a cell phone bill or car lease. This method gives clients peace of mind because they can pick up the phone and have a clear understanding of how and when their payments will be made.
And when advising clients, Nat and Gabe prioritize principled and ethical counsel.
“I give clients all the legal options at their disposal but encourage them to make decisions with integrity,” Gabe says. “Often, clients can do something that is legal but may not be the most upright choice. I remind my clients that their reputation is an asset that can be lost in an instant and never replaced.”
Nat says, “Our hope and our desire is that our clients and peers will see something different in the way we practice. It’s a great opportunity to witness and share our faith with others.”
Both Nat and Gabe find that when they meet their clients and talk about their lives, their clients are often surprised that they attended law school at Regent and yet don’t come to their meeting carrying a Bible. Nat says they’ve had quite a few experiences like this and realize that the Lord has used them to break stereotypes about what it means to be a Christian laywer.
Nat and Gabe want to grow their practice and become successful, just like many other attorneys who start firms. One characteristic that sets them apart is their faith, which is a guiding factor in how they advise clients and shape their firm.
LL.M. in American Legal Studies, Regent University School of Law
J.D., Handong International Law School, South Korea
LL.B., Royal University of Law and Economics, Cambodia
“Coming to America was one of my dreams and being able to study at Regent Law exceeded my expectations. I loved everything about my experience; Regent Law is a devoted community of faculty and students who genuinely care about each other.”
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.”
Alumnus, social entrepreneur, and Harvard Law School lecturer Kyle Westaway '07 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.
Paul A. Roetman '99 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.
Regent Law alumnus James M. Smith '98 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."
Justin T. Bush '05 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.
Teresa Hammons '88 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.”
B.A., University of the Punjab, Pakistan
J.D., Handong International Law School, South Korea
LL.M. in American Legal Studies, Regent University School of Law
Shaheryar Gill '09 serves as Associate Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, where he aids the persecuted church around the world. Gill was born and raised in Pakistan, where religious persecution and extremism made a strong impression on his life.
“I saw people being killed because of their faith and children abused because they were poor and weak,” he says. “I did not know how to help the oppressed because I was also poor and weak. Later, I realized that God uses the weak to show His power.”
In Pakistan, Gill says that God led him through a process of learning and perseverance. During that time, Gill developed a habit of commemorating the triumphs and trials God brought him through.
One memorial became Regent Law, where he received his LL.M. in American Legal Studies.
“Regent Law is a memorial for me because the faculty and staff are dedicated to not only to academics, but also humility, truth, and justice,” he explains. “They helped shape me into the faithful servant that God has called me to be.”
“Know Jesus, know peace; no Jesus, no peace” is Rhonda Kinard's '09 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 '01 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.”