Dean Brauch did not set out to become the dean of a law school.
"Everyone in my family wanted me to be a doctor," he said. He thought so too until he spent a day following one.
"That was the end of it right there - one day," Brauch said wryly. From then on, he looked forward to a career in law.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in Economics and went on to receive a J.D. from the University of Chicago. After clerking for a year in Madison, Wisconsin with Supreme Court Justice William G. Callow, he worked with a commercial litigation firm in Milwaukee.
Through these experiences Dean Brauch learned that he loved legal issues, research, and legal writing; however, he also began to realize that he did not necessarily enjoy the nature of the cases themselves. He began to pray that God would lead his legal career in a different direction.
He began to consider teaching and attended a hiring conference not-so-affectionately known by lawyers as the "meat market." He interviewed with five schools on the first day, and although he knew little about Regent except that it was a Christian school, he slipped a resume into the box.
He planned to spend the entire next day touring D.C. with his wife Becky. Instead, he received a providential call from the Dean of Regent Law School.
"If the call would have come fifteen minutes later," says Dean Brauch, "we would have been out of the hotel - gone." After talking with the current Dean, Brauch became excited about Regent's mission. He was hired, and in the fall of 1994 began teaching classes.
"It was my dream job," says Dean Brauch. "The thought of doing administrative work or becoming a dean never entered my mind."
Yet when the current dean unexpectedly left, Brauch was asked if he would consider serving as interim dean. Distrustful of his administrative abilities, Brauch reluctantly agreed. Over the next year, however, he was surprised by how much he grew to love having the opportunity to both teach and shape the direction of the school. He applied for the job and was hired as the official dean in the fall of 2000.
Dean Brauch says his favorite aspect of his job is spending time with students. "I like being involved in students' lives to train them to be lawyers, but also to encourage them spiritually and just have fun with them," he said.
His face lights up as he recalls a student ice cream social held at faculty member and former Attorney General John Ashcroft's house. In one particular game, students divided into competitive teams led by professors or administrators who acted as the human "buzzer." Human "buzzing" as one can guess, involved the professors being "hit" on the head as a team hastened to answer a trivia question. "In the end, all of us were just buzzing without getting hit, we were telling the answers to students, and it was just really fun," says Dean Brauch with a laugh.
Dean Brauch sees student interactions as not only the most rewarding, but the most important part of his job. In his eyes, the entire Regent faculty has the unique opportunity to encourage and shape a generation of men and women to carry out Regent's mission - not only as lawyers but as faithful Christians. For the Dean, being "even a small part of that" is all he could ask for.
Assistant Professor Gloria Whittico describes her calling to law as a ministry with a twofold mission: "To get the right people to Regent and to make sure that all of them know that law is a possibility." For Whittico, at times the idea achieving legal success felt like a longshot at best.
After graduating cum laude with a dual degree in English Literature and Philosophy from the College of William & Mary, she felt more than equal to earning a law degree at the University of Virginia. Once there, however, she found the academics considerably more difficult than she anticipated. She considered dropping out. Even with her family's encouragement her outlook was bleak.
Whittico pressed on ("I didn't know then that Christ was walking right beside me!" she says), graduating from UVA, passing the bar, and enjoying a successful legal career with IBM and Starbucks before joining Regent as a faculty member and Associate Director of Regent Law's Academic Success Program (ASP).
In light of the ups and downs of her legal journey, Whittico finds her roles as professor, counselor and mentor to be especially meaningful vocations. Whittico has a special affinity for underrepresented students from underserved backgrounds, particularly those who do not have the family support from which she benefited.
"I believe the Lord gave me my specific life experience so that when I'm sitting in my office working with students who are doubting, concerned, and frightened, I would know what it was like. I'd like to think I had it all planned, but I didn't," she said. "He did."
Bruce Cameron, Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law, brings to the classroom a lifetime of experience working at the forefront of litigation surrounding compulsory unionism and Right to Work issues.
Cameron is a distinguished attorney with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and is widely considered a pioneer in the area of religious liberty for employees whose faith prohibits them from supporting labor unions. He focuses his professional and scholarly activities on advocating for religious and political freedom for employees of faith, a topic that continues to receive media attention.
Indeed, if recent developments in the State of Michigan’s legislature are any indication, students at Regent who are interested in right-to-work issues will have the privilege of studying with Cameron at a very exciting time in the history of Right to Work legislation.
In December 2012 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Right to Work legislation that prohibits individuals from being forced to join a union or financially support a union to maintain employment and prohibits employers from firing them if they don’t join a union.
Cameron considers this a huge win for individuals who believe they should be free to choose whether to support a labor union.
“Unions are private institutions,” Cameron says. “A government should not compel you to join or financially support a private institution. If you love freedom, the passage of Michigan’s Right to Work law is a win. There is no contest for those who love freedom.”
At Regent, Cameron teaches Religion in the Workplace, Public Sector Labor Law and administers the Right to Work Practicum while adding to his list of numerous published articles on the topics of religion, Constitutional law, the rights of religious dissenters, and labor law.
Earlier this academic year he presented at both the Atlantic Union Attorney’s Conference and Pepperdine University School of Law on the topic of unreasonable religious accommodations in the workplace. He has appeared frequently on television and radio shows including appearances on Dr. Dobson’s Focus on the Family. During thirty years litigating religious freedom and constitutional law cases in the employment context, he never lost a Title VII religious accommodation case in court.
Learn more about Cameron here.
Professor Lynne Marie Kohm
John Brown McCarty Professor of Family Law
J.D., Syracuse University College of Law
Most women who want both a career and a family wrestle with feelings that they have to sacrifice one for the other. But after almost twenty years on the faculty at Regent Law, Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, a happily married mother of two, continues to prove that you can have the best of both worlds. The story that tells of how she got to where she is today can be described in one word: unexpected.
As the John Brown McCarty Professor of Family Law, Kohm has dedicated her legal calling to family restoration. It comes as quite a surprise, then, that witnessing what she described as a difficult family law case early in her career caused her to swear off any desire to enter that field.
"It was totally an accident that got me into family law--and now it's my thing," she mused. It was not until God taught her to view family law as a means of restoring families, instead of ripping them apart, that she began to realize her passion for the field.
"We approach family law very differently at Regent, as an opportunity to restore families rather than to make money as a divorce lawyer. Your clients can become reconciled and restored in their family because of Christ and what Christ can do through a Christian lawyer. It's exciting, rather than unrespectable."
Her passion for family law was not the only aspect of her legal career that was unexpected. A legal career itself came as a surprise to this would-be missionary. "I had already raised all my support as a missionary with Campus Crusade for Christ and was sitting in a John Whitehead Biblical Worldview class when I had an overwhelming sense that God said 'You need to go to law school,'" reflected Kohm. "I prayed about it and spoke with my directors who said 'Do what you're called to now and if the law is God's call it will remain.'" Three years later she knew the call was still there.
Five years after graduating from law school she and her husband, Joseph, moved to Virginia Beach where he began pursuing his J.D. at Regent. Kohm was interviewing with a number of law firms when her husband set her up with an interview to teach at Regent. "I was 6 months pregnant, and when the Dean offered me a part time position I realized that would be more suitable for me. I did not plan on teaching, but once I began it I started seeing the influence you can have and the discipleship opportunities."
So how does she balance her professional life--complete with numerous publications, television appearances, and world travel as a guest lecturer--with her family life?
"The key is priorities--Master, mate, mission. If you're called to be a spouse and parent, your legal calling shouldn't be at the expense of your marriage and children. That doesn't mean you slack off on the job, but proper priorities keep multiple mission callings in perspective. Always above all," concluded Kohm, "is a daily, moment-by-moment relationship with God. He is your restorer and your highest calling."
To learn more about how Christian lawyers are impacting the field of family law visit Professor Kohm's "Family Restoration" blog.
A personal and professional crossroads after 15 years in government work led Professor Eric DeGroff to Regent Law initially as part of the school’s first enrolling class. “I had always felt that what I did for a living was not closely tied to who I was as a person,” he said. “I was excited about the concept that there were men and women here at Regent who had been successful professionally, who were committed to teaching others how to integrate their faith and profession.”
Now, 21 years later, a lot has changed. DeGroff graduated, spent five years practicing environmental law, and became a full-time faculty member of 16 years, teaching property and school (educational) law and coaching Regent’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Board (ADR) negotiation teams. “Over the years, the things that excited me about Regent remain the same, but the opportunities available to students now are so much broader than when I was a student – it’s like night and day,” he said.
From course offerings, to extracurricular opportunities, to the school’s expanding academic reputation which is opening professional doors to students, Regent Law has matured as a law school without losing its hallmarks.
“While the school has changed and improved in many ways, I still see the same commitment in both the faculty and the students to serve people and to serve the Lord,” said DeGroff. He also noted that Regent Law maintains its unique emphasis on teaching the historical and Biblical foundations of the American legal system. “If we don’t understand why the legal system is the way it is, we will be susceptible to any kind of argument about what direction it ought to go,” he said.
One area of deep concern to DeGroff as a professor of school law is the declining freedom of parents to direct the training and education of their children, specifically, the rights of parents, children and teachers to express their faith within the public school system. “Freedom of religion requires the inter-generational transfer of values,” said DeGroff. “To the extent that our laws prevent parents from making choices for their children in the public schools, the public schools interfere with this transfer.”
In spite of his concerns, DeGroff finds cause for hope among the students of Regent Law, whom he considers to be the best part of his job. “It’s rewarding seeing who they are now, looking at some of the things they accomplish when they graduate and watching them make a real difference doing a long list of things I could never do!” he said. Yet, what he does do at Regent Law makes all the difference.
"I didn’t plan on being a law school academic," said Regent Law Associate Dean for Student Affairs L.O. Natt Gantt. "I wanted to be a car designer or an architect, and my first love has always been psychology."
Raised in a Christian home in small town South Carolina, Gantt graduated from Duke University and decided to forego graduate study in psychology based on his father’s advice: “Son, go where you feel you can do the most good.” “I felt that was a call towards public service and the law,” said Gantt. “When I got accepted to Harvard Law School, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
After clerking for one year for a federal judge and practicing law for two years in Washington, D.C., Gantt earned his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary thinking he would enter parachurch ministry; but remaining in practice part-time during seminary led him to wonder what the Lord was preparing him for professionally.
Through a series of unique circumstances he describes as “very directed,” Gantt was led to Regent Law, where he uses both his theological and legal backgrounds to fulfill his vocational calling and challenges students to do the same. “Hoping that you are impacting lives for the Lord, encouraging students to maximize the gifts God has given them, and helping them fulfill the calling that God has placed on their lives are the most rewarding parts of my job,” said Gantt.
As Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Gantt oversees curriculum issues, student organizations and student discipline and conducts 1L orientation. Gantt also teaches a course in Professional Responsibility and continues to direct the Academic Success Program he helped develop when he first came to Regent Law.
Alumna Adeline Allen knows the dean well and describes him as a person of integrity. “At orientation, I was blown away by his commitment to the Lord and to excellence in all he does. He doesn’t take his job lightly or do it shoddily,” she said. “Dean Gantt is real, available and a caring advocate which I very much appreciate.”
In addition to fulfilling his role as a model and counselor for students, Gantt is also concerned about elevating the generally low view of lawyers and the legal profession as a whole. “Producing graduates who want to see the profession changed and want to bring integrity, professionalism and a moral approach to the practice of law is what’s going to change the image,” he said.
With Dean Gantt’s influence and service, Regent Law is well on its way to doing just that.
Professor Kenneth Ching, one of Regent’s newest law professors, knows what it takes to help students maximize their legal gifts and callings.
As a law student at Duke, Ching thrived on the “lively and rigorous dialogue” he enjoyed with professors and fellow students. Now he is thrilled to walk through the same challenging process of helping his own students become the best they can be.
“I love being in the classroom. It is a dream job for me,” he says.
Professor Ching was attracted to Regent’s commitment to the integration of the Christian faith and law as evidenced in both classroom devotions and curricular explorations of how the Christian faith informs what the law is and what it could be.
For Ching, opening each class with prayer allows for a level of professor-student interaction that would be difficult to find at other law schools.
Yet much as he enjoys the role he gets to play in the lives of his students, they are but one of the things he loves about being on faculty here.
“Since I was a little kid there were only two things I wanted to do. One was to be a lawyer and the other was to be a writer,” he said.
Professor Ching has written multiple novels which subject matter range from skateboarding (one of his favorite pastimes), to historical fiction, science fiction, and life as a law student. Now, as a law professor, his scholarship allows him to integrate his love of writing with his passion for law.
“It’s really a wonderful experience to get to carve out large parts of my day to analyze and write about important issues,” he explains.
The consummate teacher, he hopes to continue to work closely with his students in developing their own scholarly work.
“I am incredibly blessed to be doing this work,” he says. “The whole experience is an unmitigated blessing.”
A true intellectual and academician, Professor Craig A. Stern attributes his career at Regent Law and its subsequent longevity, spanning more than two decades of teaching and scholarship, to Providence. After all, who but God could weave together such a unique personal story?
Raised in a Jewish home in Cleveland, Stern earned his undergraduate degree from Yale in three years. During college, his exposure to classical Christian literature, and to fellow students who were believers, eroded his intellectual prejudices against Christianity while, at the same time, he grappled with inconsistencies in his Jewish faith.
Mental and spiritual satisfaction came to Stern during his first year of law school at the University of Virginia. His friendship with a fellow Yale graduate, and Christian, sparked a 9-month theological debate that eventually led to his conversion.
Stern’s final obstacle to faith in Christ was his reservation about renouncing his Jewish heritage, a reservation relieved after reading Corrie Ten Boom’s Tramp for the Lord. In the book, Ten Boom explained to a man with similar fears that Jews who embrace Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, are not rejecting but fulfilling Judaism. The mark of Stern’s true scholarship was his ability to recognize Truth regardless of its source.
The same God who providentially drew Stern to Himself also directed him to Regent Law. Stern’s job on Capitol Hill brought him face to face with Regent’s founding dean who, years later, invited him to teach a course at the new law school. “I found the place very exciting and the students very good," Stern said. "I was quite impressed!”
Later, in 1989, Stern continued as adjunct professor while working as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He joined the Regent Law faculty full-time a year later. Currently, he teaches upper level courses, chairs the admissions committee and coordinates Regent’s emerging partnership with Emanuel University in Romania.
Stern finds the fit between his calling from God and his job as a rigorous legal scholar and educator very rewarding. The fit has kept him here and made him one of Regent’s intellectual pillars. “I’ve stayed through the bumps and twists because it really is a wonderful place where I can exercise the ministry God has called me to with wonderful colleagues and great students,” he said. Stern also stays because the mission of Regent Law has remained the same – to train legal minds from a Christian perspective. “The practice of law is a ministry to which God calls people as much as He calls people to be preachers, evangelists and elders,” says Stern. “Regent equips students really well to practice as Christian lawyers. It also changes the lives of the students while they’re here – making a difference in their spiritual life, their community life and their understanding of calling.”
A decline in civility, coupled with an overall erosion in professional standards, motivated Eleanor Brown to become a professor of law so she could help train students to reverse unsavory trends in the legal profession.
“I have a strong desire to influence the direction of the legal profession. It is not just a matter of public perception; there has been a decline in civility at the bar and a decline in ethics,” she observed. “I knew of individuals who kept the clock running longer than necessary just so they could keep billing. To me, this was appalling.”
After earning a J. D. (University of Richmond) and an LL. M. in Taxation (College of William & Mary) and practicing as a tax attorney for 15 years, she became aware of a teaching opportunity at Regent Law School. She applied and was selected.
In the classroom, Professor Brown endeavors to instill high ethical standards in her students, employing a “two-pronged approach” to teaching tax law that brings life and zest to a subject that may seem dry to an outside observer. “The study of tax law is both theoretical and policy-based,” she said. Case in point: Brown’s current scholarship explores how the tax code and other fiscal instruments can be leveraged to change behaviors that negatively impact the environment. Christians are starting to get focused on the issue of stewardship of the earth,” she said. “And as Christians, we want to give from our abundance and not be wasteful.”
In preparing students for those times when professional satisfaction is not immediately forthcoming, Brown tells students they will ultimately receive compensation commensurate with the amount of dedication they put into their professional responsibilities. “If you do good work and help your clients to solve problems, the fees will come,” Brown said. “You can’t act in your own interest when you are acting as someone else’s lawyer.”
While she acknowledges the many demands associated with law school, Brown encourages students to practice “Sabbath living” and to take time out of their schedules for prayer and worship. “We get so wrapped around the axle in our modern lives,” she said. “But with prayer and fellowship, Christ will bring order to it all.”
“Faith can mitigate against paralysis in times of crisis when it is not possible to obtain all the salient pieces of information,” said former U. S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
When terrorists struck New York City and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Ashcroft, a former Missouri governor, senator and state attorney general who served with President Bush as the nation’s Attorney General for four historical years, was charged with the daunting task of charting an effective response to the attacks.
He also implemented comprehensive policy changes that bolstered security for the American homeland. “We didn’t know whether this was an initial attack and additional assaults of one kind or another would follow,” he said. “We were concerned something else might happen, and we were working desperately to make sure that we did everything possible to prevent it. And, if something were to happen, that we would be better prepared to respond constructively.”
Under Ashcroft’s leadership, the nation’s law enforcement agencies were furnished with additional tools that greatly enhanced counter-terrorism efforts. The policy changes enshrined into law by the USA Patriot Act enabled federal officials to apply certain surveillance practices against suspected terrorists that were previously applied against organized crime and drug dealing operations with great effect. The legislation won overwhelming approval in both houses of Congress.
General Ashcroft is credited with having overseen a remarkable period of safety and security in the months and years following the attacks. Under his watch, nearly 200 individuals associated with terrorist-related investigations were convicted. Ashcroft, now a distinguished professor of law and government at Regent University, endeavors to impart important lessons of leadership to his students.
He also emphasizes the role of faith in decision making. “Making decisions with complete information is reserved to classrooms and theory,” he said. “When the nation is under attack you have to make decisions absent the kind of comfort that comes from knowing all the facts. And in that event you have to have a lot of faith in the people with whom you’re working, and you have to trust God to help you make successful decisions.”
Ashcroft is excited to be a part of the Regent Law School faculty because it gives him greater latitude to pursue the truth than is commonly available in a secular environment. “[At Regent] God is not placed off limits,” he said. “The integration of all truth is the business of philosophy and education and the reason for Regent’s existence.”