From October 3-6, 2019, nearly 200 guests, including Regent Law alumni, local attorneys, and federal and state judges assembled for the first-ever Legal Learning Festival & Alumni Weekend on Regent’s Virginia Beach campus. In a red-carpet rollout of sorts, the law school fused some of its finest events with a lineup of notable legal scholars and practitioners. Their aim: to provide high-quality continuing legal education courses to the alumni who had gathered for the law alumni weekend.
Dean of the School of Law and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina Mark Martin called the festival “a historical opportunity” — one in which the law school could celebrate the impact of its alumni while also convening preeminent legal scholars for a series of continuing legal education programs. “Our goal was to provide the best quality educational programming possible — for our alumni, students, and members of the legal profession. We also want to help raise the bar whenever possible to encourage and facilitate competent, ethical, and caring attorneys to serve the public interest.”
Regent Law’s Alumni Board and Board of Visitors, comprised of judges and attorneys from across the nation, kicked off the event on Thursday with both separate and combined think-tank type meetings. Discussions included trends and opportunities on the legal horizon, as well as ideas for enriching the Regent Law student experience and outcomes.
Friday marked the opening of the 19th annual Leroy R. Hassell Sr. National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. The competition is named in honor of the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the first African American appointed to this position. Hassell was a close friend of the School of Law and served as a member of the Law Board of Visitors, as well as a Jurist-in-Residence. This event is designed to encourage law students with an interest in constitutional law to strengthen their appellate advocacy skills and to foster a continued spirit of kinship among competing teams.
Twenty-six teams from 18 law schools, including William & Mary, Baylor, Georgetown, and others, competed. The panel of distinguished judges and justices this year included Senior Judge N. Randy Smith (U.S. 9th Circuit), Judge Jeffrey Sutton (U.S. 6th Circuit), Judge Bernice Donald (U.S. 6th Circuit), Judge Kyle Duncan (U.S. 5th Circuit), Chief Judge Mark Davis (Eastern District VA), Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins (TN Supreme Court), Judge Robert Humphreys (VA Court of Appeals), Justice Robert Hunter (Ret. NC Supreme Court), and Justice Elizabeth Lang Miers (Ret. TX Court of Appeals).
Former Justice Lang Miers is serving as the Jurist in Residence this fall for the law school. She interacted with students in a myriad of classes during her time this past week at the law school. In addition to 15 years of service on the Texas Court of Appeals, Lang Miers is a partner at the Dallas, Texas law firm of Locke-Lord. She currently serves as chair of a national judges’ organization and has been involved in a host of national activities to promote the administration of justice and promote the rule of law.
“I was so impressed with the quality of the law students that I interacted with and look forward to continuing my dialogue with them on how best to improve civility and professionalism within the legal profession,” Lang Miers said.
Stetson University took home first place for the second year in a row, with South Texas coming in second. Stetson’s James Nealon, who was a member of last year’s winning team, also took home Best Final Round Oralist. Best Brief Awards were presented to Duquesne University School of Law and Liberty University School of Law for Best Petitioner’s Brief and Best Respondent’s brief, respectively. Erica Jansson from Southwestern Law School was also awarded Best Preliminary Round Oralist.
In addition to the Moot Court Competition, Regent Law faculty members teamed up with prominent attorneys and judges to present a number of CLE classes. Earning continuing legal education (CLE) during the weekend offered practical benefits to alumni and also networking opportunities. CLE topics included writing excellence, ethics, election law, human trafficking, religious liberty, and family law. The popular CLE entitled “A View from the Bench” focused on judges’ views on professionalism and excellence in lawyering. Regent Law Professor Benjamin V. Madison III served as moderator of a panel featuring Judge Bernice B. Donald, Judge N. Randy Smith, Chief Judge Mark S. Davis, Judge Robert J. Humphreys, Judge Jerry R. Tillett, and Judge Douglas B. Ottinger.
The Honorable Robert F. McDonnell, 71st governor of Virginia and member of the first graduating class of Regent Law ’89, gave the keynote address at Saturday’s alumni banquet. McDonnell challenged his legal colleagues to press forward as “change agents for good,” by understanding humility and service as key components of greatness, noting such character as the “X-Factor” of truly great leaders. McDonnell further challenged his audience to love one another and to be witnesses for the traditional Judeo-Christian values that established and strengthen our nation.
He, along with other members of the Class 1989, presented the School of Law with a generous check toward the establishment of the Logsdon-Mobley Endowed Law Scholarship in honor of two beloved classmates who served the field of law with humility and love for others: the late Chief Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge Barry Logsdon and Juvenile and the late Domestic Relations District Court Judge Earle Mobley.
“I’m mindful of the generosity and sacrifice of the alumni before me who made a way for me to answer a calling to law,” said the Honorable Greg Wilhelm ’99, owner and principal of The Law Offices of Gregory E. Wilhelm PC, former Texas Trial Court Judge, and president of the Regent Law Alumni Board. “And I couldn’t be more thankful for the great Regent leaders who have stood beside students and prayed them through to far-reaching contributions and accomplishments around the world.”
Between sessions, Regent Law guests also enjoyed family-friendly events including a movie night, class reunions, an ice-cream reception, and opportunities to worship together.
“The event proved an incredible opportunity to reconnect with past classmates and professors while reminding me of the uniqueness of Regent Law,” said Paul Boller ’12, attorney at Troutman Sanders in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “Not only are students taught to serve their clients and communities with legal excellence, they are taught to serve them with excellence of character. This holistic vision of what legal professionals should look like truly sets Regent Law apart as a leader in legal education.”
ABOUT REGENT UNIVERSITY
Regent Law’s more than 3,300 graduates practice law in 49 states and over 20 countries and include 38 currently sitting judges. The School of Law currently ranks in the top 25% of all law schools for obtaining judicial clerkships and achieved the highest overall passage rate on the Virginia bar exam (July ’17 and February ’18). The school offers the Juris Doctor (J.D.) in three-year and part-time formats; and an M.A. in Law (online), M.A. in Financial Planning & Law (online), LL.M. in Human Rights (on campus) and an LL.M. in American Legal Studies (online and on campus).
Founded in 1978, Regent University has nearly 11,000 students studying on its 70-acre campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and online around the world. The university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from a Christian perspective in 135+ program areas including business, communication and the arts, divinity, education, government, law, leadership, and psychology. Currently, Regent University is ranked among top national universities by U.S. News & World Report and is one of only 22 universities nationally to receive an “A” rating for its comprehensive liberal arts core curriculum.