Regent School of Law Students Serve in 8th Annual Community Service Day

Saturday, August 20 marked Regent University School of Law’s (LAW) eighth-annual Community Service Day. More than 150 law students, ranging from incoming first-years to students embarking on their third year of studies, spent time in the community serving non-profit organizations.

Photo courtesy of Victoria Rice.
The initiative is particularly important to LAW dean, Michael Hernandez, who explained a new expectation for every JD student to complete 50 hours of public service during their academic careers.

“Our community service days are an important part of this commitment to public service. We look forward to increasing public service and pro bono work by our students,” said Hernandez. “I am very proud of the time and effort our students, faculty and staff put into the Community Service Day. Regent Law trains servant leaders who, following the example of our Lord, are committed to serving, rather than being served.”

Students completed nearly 450 hours of collective service at various locations in the Hampton Roads area, including Union Mission, Bridge Christian Fellowship, and St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.

Students worked together to sort clothes, do yard work, and be a support to the varying locations.

This was Alexandra McPhee’s ’17 third time participating in the Community Service Day. She spent her time at Union Mission landscaping in front of the men and women’s shelters.

“I like volunteering because it helps me actively recognize that there’s a world outside of law school and that other things besides my schedule are important,” said McPhee. “It brings all of us closer together, and I get to spend time with my classmates in a new setting and see a different side of them.”

Noah DiPasquale ’17 also spent the day at Union Mission, and enjoyed the camaraderie with his fellow classmates.

“It can get really busy once the semester starts,” said Dipasquale. “A lot of the time we get into the flow of studying and going to class and we don’t get as much time to do things together that aren’t academic.”

Victoria Rice ’18 volunteered at St. Mary’s Home for the Disabled Children. Her favorite part of the day was seeing the progress she and her team were able to make in just one day.

“It’s important to keep a perspective on what really matters in life,” said Rice. “God calls us to serve others and it’s something we should start now and continue to practice.”

DiPasquale, like Rice, acknowledges the importance of serving others – especially, he says, in a world that views lawyers as “self-serving.”

“As Christian attorneys, we want to be a witness for Christ in everything we do. These service days helps put the emphasis on that mission,” said DiPasquale. “To become lawyers who are going to be a witness for Christ, and not just out for their own gain and wealth.”

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.

Associate Dean Gantt Featured as August Harvey Fellow

The Harvey Fellows Program provides scholarships to Christian students who are pursuing graduate studies at premier universities in fields considered to be underrepresented by Christians and who possess a unique vision to impact society through their vocations.
Initiated by the Mustard Seed Foundation (MSF) in 1992, the Harvey Fellows Program seeks to mark, equip and encourage individuals to actively integrate their faith and vocation as leaders in strategic occupations.  Through the program, the Foundation seeks to identify, prepare, and celebrate this generation's Daniels, Esthers, Josephs and Lydias - people of God willing and able to assume positions of leadership and influence for the cause of Christ in fields such as media, government, scientific research, industry, the arts, and higher education.
Harvey Fellows come from around the globe and work in diverse fields. Currently there are over 300 Harvey Fellows worldwide, representing twenty-four countries and over forty academic and vocational fields. Click here for a listing of all current and senior Harvey Fellows by field of study.
The following is from the Harvey Fellows Quarterly August 2016 newsletter, which features Professor and Associate Dean Natt Gantt.  Dean Gantt received a Harvey Fellowship in 1993 to help fund his studies at Harvard Law School:
L.O. Natt Gantt, II '93
Professor and Associate Dean, Regent University School of Law

Sara VanderHaagen, HFAB Communications Chair: How would you described your vocation, and how are you pursuing that in your current position?
Natt Gantt: I always have had a heart to see people's lives transformed by the power of God.  Lawyers often face significant ethical dilemmas in the profession, so it is enormously enriching to teach at a Christian law school where I can inspire my students to develop a biblical framework for ethical decision-making.  In teaching legal ethics and my other courses, I also challenge my students to be "salt and light" in the legal profession.  Furthermore, it is incredibly rewarding to write, speak, and engage the legal academy and profession in ways that motivate us to develop lawyers of character and integrity. 
SV: How has being a Harvey Fellow affected your vocation and life? 
NG: Receiving the Harvey Fellowship was a blessing that furthered my desire to integrate my faith into my professional calling.  Since receiving the fellowship many years ago, I have been inspired and encouraged in my own work as I see all the amazingly gifted applicants who have received fellowships over the years and are making a kingdom impact in their respective fields. 
SV: What about your work most excites or inspires you right now?
NG: Legal education right now is in the midst of tremendous change, and one of the current pressures on legal educators is that we have to do a better job helping our students develop their professional identity.  This pressure creates an exciting opportunity for Christian law professors, as we can discuss with the broader academy and profession the importance of cultivating values and encouraging moral formation in law students and young lawyers. 
SV: What about God's work most excites or inspires you right now?
NG: In interacting with my students and Regent colleagues and with lawyers and professors from other institutions, I am continually inspired to see how God impacts the lives of others--many times in environments where I don't expect it.  We indeed put Him in a box when we overlook how He can touch the lives of others in "secular" professions.


Dean Hernandez Featured in Legal Blog

Regent Law Dean Michael Hernandez has been featured in the Oklahoma Legal Group Blog's series highlighting law school deans across the country. The full text of his interview with Adam Banner is reprinted below with permission.

Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was established in 1986, and in just 30 short years, has grown to be recognized as having a faculty ranked among the top 10 American law school faculties. Regent Law is unique in providing a legal education with a Christian perspective, and its Honors Program boasts a 92.3 percent first-time bar passage rate. Its moot court program ranks 5th in the nation, and in 2015, Regent Law ranked in the top 25 percent of all law schools for graduates obtaining judicial clerkships.

In 1992, Michael V. Hernandez joined the faculty at Regent Law, where he has taught courses including Appellate Advocacy, Advanced Appellate Advocacy, Christian Foundations of Law, International Human Rights, Property, and Race & the Law. He served as the director of the LL.M. in American Legal Studies degree program, the director of the Honors Program, faculty advisor to the Moot Court Board and to the Hispanic Law Students Association, and as the head coach of Regent's award-winning Moot Court teams prior to becoming Dean of Regent University School of Law in 2015.

As Dean, he works with a distinguished and nationally-recognized law faculty that includes includes former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, Dr. Jay Sekulow.

As part of our continuing Law Deans series, we asked Dean Hernandez for his perspective and insight into legal education and the changing face of the legal profession.

What is the biggest challenge facing new law students?
I understand this question in two ways. Regarding the adjustment to law school, the first year traditionally has been, and remains, the most difficult academic experience for the majority of students. At all law schools, the challenge involves learning how to engage and master the law analytically and strategically—to "think like a lawyer." At Regent, we challenge our students to develop these analytical skills without losing, and indeed while strengthening, their moral compass. Regarding the unique challenges law students face today, the legal education and job markets are in flux, facing typical modern economic disruptions. The challenge for all new law students will be to develop the substantive knowledge and analytical and practical skills necessary to be excellent attorneys while also being equipped to thrive in the modern economy.

What is the single biggest challenge that you face as Dean?
Maintaining and building Regent Law's distinctive Christian mission and commitment to academic excellence while adapting to the disrupted legal education and job markets.

Which areas of the law do you think will experience the biggest growth over the next few years?
In terms of practice growth, the intersection of technology and the law—computer law, cybersecurity, and related fields. In terms of substantive prominence, religious liberty issues. Fundamental challenges to the principles of freedom upon which this nation was founded and the theological and jurisprudential presuppositions upon which those principles were established are on the immediate horizon and will be at the forefront of upcoming legal disputes.

Is teaching law now different compared to when you were a law student?
Yes and no. Aspects of excellent law teaching—inspiring students to dig deep, develop analytical skills, and master material with guidance from, rather than complete dependence on, the instructor—are timeless, and the essential art of learning the law has not changed. However, technology has profoundly impacted education. The current generation of students is much more visually oriented and spatially aware—but also potentially distracted—than earlier generations were. Like most attributes, these are both strengths and weaknesses. In living out the Golden Rule, we must balance challenging students to grow while we enter their world; in other words, we must develop their skills and play to their strengths but not cater to their weaknesses.

How do you think technology will impact criminal defense?
Technology already has profoundly impacted criminal law in both good and bad ways. Improved technology has increased the certainty of guilt and exonerated the innocent. Technological advances will continue to have this positive impact. On the negative side, jurors often have unrealistic expectations of the availability of definitive scientific evidence and thus the ability of the prosecution to pinpoint guilt. This "CSI effect" arguably has created a de facto "beyond any doubt" standard in many criminal cases. Although that heightened standard will lead to fewer improper convictions, it is unworkable in an imperfect world and will also lead to the exoneration of many culprits who should be convicted.

What do you think are the biggest legal challenges facing the Supreme Court?
The most important legal challenge will be, as I noted above, determining whether to maintain an unshakable commitment to the principles of freedom, most notably religious liberty, upon which this nation was founded. The Court's biggest general challenge will be to maintain its legitimacy while properly and fairly adjudicating disputes in a non-political way. The Court usually meets this standard but often fails to do so in highly publicized cases. The Constitution does not establish a federal judiciary of general jurisdiction, and thus the Supreme Court is not the highest court in the land on all legal issues. Instead, the federal government, including the federal judiciary, has limited, specified supreme powers, with most matters left to state and local authorities and tribunals. Many justices, on both the right and left, adjudicate disputes as if they had comprehensive common law authority, leaving our nation governed by the dictates of five unelected and largely unaccountable individuals. This approach is antithetical to the representative and balanced form of government our Constitution establishes and the principle of subsidiarity essential to liberty and good governance.

Are there any aspects of practicing law you miss due to being in education?
I litigated for five years before I joined the faculty at Regent Law. I miss the challenge and thrill of strategizing and crafting legal arguments on behalf of real clients. I have, however, been able to put those skills to good use, both as Dean and also previously through my work with our moot court program, which I am pleased to note ranked fifth among all U.S. law schools in 2015-16.

If you could invite any three legal or governmental identities (living or dead, real or fictitious) to a meal, whom would you invite?
Moses, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. Moses because he was the first "law giver" and judge, his personal story is fascinating, and I would enjoy discussing the substance and modern significance of principles embedded in the Decalogue and the Torah. James Madison, because he was the primary drafter of our Constitution, a brilliant legal mind, and the preeminent defender of religious liberty in our nation, if not in all human history. Thomas Jefferson, because I am a "double 'Hoo" (B.A. and J.A., University of Virginia), and I would like to discuss his views of federalism and the metaphorical "wall" he employed in his letter to the Danbury Baptists. (Dr. Dan Dreisbach has demonstrated from detailed and scholarly historical analysis that Mr. Jefferson meant the wall to protect the church from the state, not the public square from religious influences.)

What is your favorite legal movie?
For me, this is the most difficult question you have asked, because I am not a movie aficionado, and I tend to be distracted by unrealistic movie court scenes, which are unfortunately quite common. The most iconic movie courtroom scene is Tom Cruise confronting Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. The most fun movie that includes an important courtroom scene is Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version, of course). The most important legal movie is To Kill A Mockingbird.


Judge Steven G. Rogers ’95 Selected as Judge of the Year

The first time Regent University School of Law alumnus Judge Steven Rogers ’95 ever logged onto the internet – screeching dialup tone and all – was to view his bar exam results on campus.

More than two decades later, he’s bringing law to life for young students who don’t remember a world without the wide web.

Judge Steven Rogers ’95 (School of Law).
Photo courtesy Judge Steven Rogers.
“They think, ‘It was before the internet, why would I pay attention to the Bill of Rights?” said Rogers. “It’s hard to relate these old principles to the Snapchat generation. But they affect their everyday lives.”

In June 2016, Rogers was named Judge of the Year for 2016 in Florida for his work with Justice Teaching, a statewide program that matches elementary, middle and high schools with professionals in the legal field. The initiative began in 2006, by Florida Supreme Court Justice Fred Lewis.

“It was a really good honor for me,” said Rogers. “To be picked out of all the judges in the state of Florida, from Pensacola to Key West, that’s pretty special.”

Rogers brings his expertise as a Circuit Judge to students in Ocala, Florida, with a series of exercises that give context, relevance and a bit of fun to the subject of law.

“We’ll go through the Bill of Rights by imagining that aliens are invading,” said Rogers. “They tell us that we have too many rights and that we have to choose five of them that we want to keep.”

Throughout the exercise, Rogers will explain why rights like the freedom of religion and the right to peaceably assemble, and the right for a jury trial but a right to an attorney go hand-in-hand when it comes to the law.

“It’s a fun activity, and we have a really good time,” said Rogers. “And I get a new audience every year because they haven’t stopped making fifth-graders yet.”

In his day-to-day life, Rogers’ goal is to bring the same level of understanding to his constituents as he carries out his duties.

“People are in court because something bad is going on in their lives,” said Rogers. “My job is to help them navigate through that time. My goal is to help them know they’ve been listened to and to give them a decision that they hopefully can understand, even though I know not everyone is going to agree with it.”

To his fellow alumni, his advice – along with “remembering values” – is clear:

“Finish law school and be a member of the bar,” said Rogers. “A lot of times I’ll see lawyers who’ve compromised their character and ethics. But they need to know that their reputation goes beyond a particular case. Law and the principles of law are founded on a lot more than greed, money, power and influence.”

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.

By Brett Wilson Tubbs


Regent Law Faculty Achievements - Week of June 7, 2016

Regent University's School of Law Faculty members willingly share their knowledge and expertise beyond the classroom to spark scholarly debate and advance the practice of law. Their latest endeavors include the following.

Associate Professor Jim Davids gave several lectures in Ukraine from April 19-26 including:

  • Christian View of Government, Class Lecture to law students at University Shevchenko, Kyiv, Ukraine, April 19, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Class Lecture to law students at University Shevchenko, Kyiv, Ukraine, April 20, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Class Lecture to law students at National Academy for Public Administration,  Kyiv, Ukraine, April 20, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Lecture to law faculty and students at Conference held at University Shevchenko, Kyiv, Ukraine, April 20, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Lecture to law students at University Dragomanova, Kyiv, Ukraine, April 20, 2016
  • Christian View of Law, Lecture to law students and law professors at Student Summit, Dnepropetrovsk State University of Internal Affairs, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, April 21, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Class Lecture to law students at East European  University, Cherkassy, Ukraine, April 23, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Presentation at Morality and Power in the Context of Constitutional Reform Conference at East European  University, Cherkassy, Ukraine, April 23, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Lecture to law faculty and students at National Aviation University, Kyiv, Ukraine, April 20, 2016
  • Christian View of Law, Lecture to law faculty and students at Spirit and Letter of Law Conference held at Linguistic University, Kyiv, Ukraine, April 25, 2016
  • Christian View of Government, Lecture to law students and faculty at Conference on Legal-Social Problems at the National State Tax Service University of Ukraine, April 26, 2016
  • Two Worldviews and Two Revolutions: Comparing the American and French Revolutions, Lecture to law students and faculty at National State Tax Service University of Ukraine, April 26, 2016
Associate Professor Davids was also quoted in an article in the Ukraine on Christian Worldview. Read the article. He has sent out 2 articles for publication as well.

Associate Dean Lynn Marie Kohm and LAW alumna Kathleen Knudsen presented “Would Jane Austen be on eHarmony” at the International Society for Family Law North American Conference last week in Moran, Wyoming. You may download it at Would Jane Austen Be on eHarmony? How Changes in Women's Legal Status Have Influenced the Choice of a Spouse

Associate Dean Lynn Marie Kohm's papers on SSRN have just gone over 3400 downloads. Follow her work here.

Associate Professor Kathleen McKee’s SSRN downloads are approaching 300.  In addition to her article, "A Primer on International Parental Abduction," she also has some newly posted scholarship on SSRN including:

Download these and look for her article, "The United States' Response to Human Trafficking: Sword of Justice or Paper Tiger," also soon to be posted on SSRN for download.

Assistant Professor Tessa Dysart’s article, "The Protected Innocence Initiative: Building Protective State Law Regimes for America’s Sex-Trafficked Children," just went over 200 downloads. 

The University of Denver just released the Annual Report of 10 years of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), where Associate Dean Ben Madison is listed as a Fellow in Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers (and you can see it at page 20 in this report  and Regent’s membership is also listed at page 17).  His SSRN downloads include a great deal of his work as a Fellow and recently went over 500 for the year, and are approaching 2000 all time. Follow his work here. And you can see Professor Natt Gantt on the ETL website as well as here.

Professor Tom Folsom’s reach on SSRN is about to extend to 1400 downloads. Follow his work here. His reach on bepress is even greater, follow him here

Professor Craig Stern is approaching 1300 downloads. Follow his work here.

Many of the Regent Law faculty are presenting on panels at the Southeast Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference in early August, including Associate Dean Ben Madison, Professor Tom Folsom, Assistant Professor Tessa Dysart and Associate Dean Lynn Marie Kohm.

Regent University School of Law will host the 2016 Conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools (RALS) on September 29-30 here on campus. The focus of the conference will be the challenges and opportunities facing faith based or religiously affiliated law schools in the 21st century. 


Regent University Honors Excellent Faculty Members

Several Regent University faculty members were honored earlier in May for their service to their students and the excellence they exhibit in their classrooms.

Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, executive vice president for academic affairs, presented the Spring 2016 Faculty Excellence Awards at the quarterly all-staff meeting. Twice each year, Regent faculty are recognized for their outstanding contributions in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service.

Associate professor Kathleen McKee from the School of Law received the Faculty Excellence Award in the area of teaching. Moreno-Riaño noted that McKee holds her students accountable to master their material and the skills they need when they enter the field of law.

“She is a vital contributor to the curriculum due to the time-intensive, clinical courses she teaches,” said Moreno-Riaño. “Professor McKee's teaching produces students who posses strong analytical and writing skills, and she works tirelessly to accommodate students…including providing intensive one-on-one sessions with students in an already demanding skills context.”

Dr. Young Choi, associate professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, received the Faculty Excellence Award in the area of scholarship. Moreno-Riaño said that since Choi came to Regent in 2010, he’s published more than 20 academic articles on the topics of information systems and networking. He’s also presented at numerous conferences around the world.

“Dr. Choi is a scholar himself,” said Moreno-Riaño. “And, he is a mentor of scholars, choosing to spend significant time researching and publishing with students.”

School of Psychology & Counseling lecturer Dr. Merrill Reese received the Faculty Excellence Award in the area of service. As co-director for Regent’s Center for Trauma Studies, Reese has had the opportunity to provide training and counsel to students at an international capacity.

“Dr. Reese has been essential to the training and development of students to work in a variety of locations and situations where people have been traumatized due to natural or humanly cause disasters,” said Moreno-Riaño.

Moreno-Riaño also announced professors awarded initial tenure, continued tenure; or who have been promoted to positions such as senior lecturer, principal lecturer and professor emeritus. Learn more about faculty promotions.

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law, School of Divinity, and School of Psychology & Counseling.

By Brett Wilson Tubbs


Regent University School of Law’s Moot Court Program Ranked 5th in the Nation

At the close of the 2015-2016 Moot Court competition season, Regent University School of Law ranked fifth in the nation for Best Moot Court Program by the annual report of the University of Houston Law.

Law schools that rank within the top 16 are invited to Houston in January 2017 to participate in the national championship. Regent ranked above schools such as the University of Virginia, Baylor University Law School, Colombia University Law School, and Duke University Law School to qualify for the competition.

This year’s ranking follows the eighth-place Regent teams earned during the 2014-2015 competition season. The data is pulled from more than 200 law schools in the United States accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The rankings are listed annually, and according to LAW Dean Michael Hernandez this ranking ties the university’s highest-ever – having achieved the same ranking in 2008.

“This ranking, yet again, confirms what our track-record of over 20 years reflects,” said Hernandez. “Our top-notch skills program is consistently one of the best in the nation and around the world.”

Professor Tessa Dysart, who served as the Moot Court faculty advisor for the 2015-2016 academic year, attributes the success of the program to several factors:

“First, it’s the hard work of the students. They put countless hours into preparing for these competitions, and it really showed this year!” said Dysart. “Second, the contribution of the faculty. We won several brief awards this year, which speaks well of our excellent legal writing program.”

Additionally, Dysart said the success of the teams was guided by the work of several faculty members who volunteered to coach teams, as well as support from the central university. This is especially important, as Regent students interact with members of teams and faculty from competing schools as well as local attorneys and judges.

“By being so well-prepared and demonstrating excellence at the competition, we show what a great legal education program Regent offers,” said Dysart.

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.

By Brett Wilson Tubbs


LAW Alumna Kristen Waggoner Selected for Regent University's Alumnus of the Year Award

As Regent University School of Law alumna Kristen Waggoner ’97 steps through campus, several competing thoughts run through her mind:

Kristen Waggoner '97 (LAW)
Photo courtesy of Alex Perry.
“There are a ton of memories,” she says with a laugh. “What stands out is remembering the presence of the Holy Spirit and how strong it is on this campus, and how free we are to express that; the spirit of that is very unique.”

This facet of Regent’s mission is particularly important to Waggoner as the senior vice president of United States legal advocacy at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an organization protecting religious freedom.

ADF has held seven cases in the last seven terms of the U.S. Supreme Court in areas of litigation, public advocacy and legislative support – a calling that Waggoner knew she would follow when she was 13 at a summer camp.

She returned to campus to accept Regent’s Alumnus of the Year award presented by the Office of Alumni Relations at the University Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 7. And as a self-prescribed introvert, receiving the distinction was both an honor and a stretch.

“Here’s why: it’s deeply humbling,” she says. “Every day I work with Regent grads of the law school [at ADF], and I know the caliber that’s there. I know what they’ve done, and I know they deserve it. I feel very fortunate.”

Apart from the study sessions with her husband, Benjamin Waggoner ’97 (LAW), and the intellectual rigor she equates to mental “boot camp,” moot court and trial advocacies, when she looks back, she remembers working hard not to stand out.

“I could give you highlight – what I remember most, though, was that I wasn’t anything special while I was here,” she says. “But God still created works for me to do. And he used my time here to prepare me for them.”

Now, her role requires the supervision of 60 in-house attorneys who partner with the organization’s nearly 3,000 allied attorneys in the world’s largest organization that works to ensure people may live consistently with their faith.

“It’s requiring me to step out of my comfortable shell,” she says. After 16 years working her way to partner at a law firm, Waggoner’s transition into working for ADF has felt like “returning home and joining [her] people.” She relishes defending the right that she believes gives every person the ability to explore the meaning of life.

“It affects every person regardless of what their faith is or if they have no faith at all,” says Waggoner. “It’s the right to explore who you are, who created you, why you were created and then to live consistent with that. It’s a fundamental right.”

Waggoner’s return to campus reminded her that in the midst of a changing culture with challenges to these fundamental rights at every corner, future lawyers are being prepared to follow their calling, rather than a lofty position title or a paycheck.

“It’s inspiring,” she says. “It cultivates hope. God can use anyone, but there are people here who clearly want to make themselves available to Him and His plan. And those are the people that I want to work with.”

Learn more about Regent University’s Office of Alumni Relations and Regent University's School of Law.

By Brett Wilson Tubbs