Ron Villanueva Visits Regent University School of Law

On Tuesday, October 4, Regent University School of Law students had the opportunity to connect with Delegate Ron Villanueva, who represents the 21st District in Virginia's House of Delegates. The event was sponsored by Regent's Asian Pacific Law Student Association (APLSA).

Ron Villanueva.
Villanueva has held an elected office for 15 years, and currently represents portions of the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, all-the-while balancing the demands of a family and his small business ownership.

“As an elected official, you want to make a difference,” said Villanueva. “You want to enjoy what you’re doing.”

Villanueva was a graduate student in the mid-1990s at Regent’s Robertson School of Government (RSG) and also worked on campus in the development office. His time learning on campus was “transformational,” helping him grow out of a season of doubting God and questioning his faith, and sustaining him after a season of loss.

“It’s tremendous to see how the student body and programs have grown,” said Villanueva. “It’s a testament to the mission of this school. And it’s wonderful to be back here.”

Villanueva was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2009 – the first Filipino-American elected to Virginia’s state government. Since then, he’s held four consecutive terms, serving as the new Chairman of Transportation, and sits on the Science and Technology and the Commerce and Labor Committee. Prior to serving in the Virginia House, Villanueva was a member of Virginia Beach City Council.

And though, admittedly, he’s earned respect despite his youthfulness, his message to students was to “do your homework.”

“You have to come with your A-game,” he said. “You need to be well-versed and when you speak, map out where your opinions are going.”

He also suggested students pursue careers in the fields where the workers are few but imperative, such as cyber-security, telecommunications, finance, healthcare, criminal justice, LGBT legislation, appeals, business law and immigration to name a few.

But for Villanueva, his life is more than developing policy, earning another term or chairing another committee.

For him, it’s about seeking the support of others, managing his schedule and acknowledging that he can’t “do it all.” He’s learned the issues that come up in his day-to-day life will always be there; but his priorities are clear:

“I’m not perfect, so I lean on God, friends and family support – that’s what I’ve been teaching my family,” said Villanueva. “There will always be another meeting you need to go to, always a deal you need to close, but you can’t take your eyes off your family and faith.”

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.

By Brett Wilson Tubbs | October 14, 2016


Regent University School of Law Celebrates 25 Years of Law Review

Regent University School of Law (LAW) holds fast to its traditions and values stemming from the biblical mandate in Isaiah 1:17: seeking justice and encouraging the oppressed.

Justice Daniel Kelly.
This October, however, LAW paid tribute to another tradition: the Regent University Law Review. In partnership with the Regent Law Federalist Society, on October 1 LAW hosted the 2016 Regent University Law Review Symposium, titled “First Amendment post-Obergefell: the Clash of Enumerated & Unenumerated Rights.”

The symposium's first panel was on education and the effect of the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges opinion on religious universities and law schools.

Participation in the panel included LAW dean, Michael Hernandez; Canadian Counsel of Christian Charities’ Barry Bussey; professor at Duquesne Law, Bruce Ledewitz; and professor at St. Mary’s Law, Bill Piatt.

A second panel focused on Obergefell’s effect on the First Amendment rights of religious objectors in for-profit companies, non-profit entities and churches. Speakers on this topic included Family Research Council’s Travis Weber; First Liberty Institute’s Chelsey Youman; and Alliance Defending Freedom’s Caleb Dalton.

This year marks the Law Review’s celebration of its 25th anniversary. Its first issue was published in 1991, and since then, the Law Review has completed 28 volumes encompassing 390 articles.

Attending the celebration was Regent LAW alumnus, Daniel Kelly '91, who was appointed justice for the Supreme Court Justice for the State of Wisconsin in summer 2016. Kelly was the Regent University Law Review’s first-ever editor-in-chief.

“When I first accepted this invitation, I thought, ‘25 years is quite a long time for the Law Review to have been in existence,” said Kelly. “This thought was immediately interrupted with a second, which was the fact that as much as this birth coincided with my graduation from my beloved alma mater, 25 years isn’t really long at all.”

Whether he perceives the passing of those 25 years since he was last on campus as long or short, Kelly was quick to admit that he hardly recognized the school once he returned. “I have the fondest memories of this place and my time here,” said Kelly. “And I don’t mean to sound like a stereotypical uncle upon seeing his nieces and nephews after an extended period of absence, but my, how you’ve grown!”

And though the buildings have changed, and the student body is at its largest-ever, Kelly explained that the important things, such as the purpose, spirit and fellowship that made Regent unique was still apparent to this day.

He thanked those in the Regent Law Review’s past – including associate vice president for Academic Affairs, Doug Cook – who championed the importance of the Law Review in its early days. Kelly also charged the current and future leaders of the Law Review to continue the “noble cause” with excellence.

“May the Regent University Law Review always be blessed with editors who care about it as much as the ones it has today,” said Kelly. “May its contribution and the influence it’s had over the last 25 years grow as quickly and surely as it has grown it its first. And now, may God bless you, this university and the work of your hands.”

Learn more about Regent University School of Law.

By Brett W. Tubbs | October 10, 2016


Regent School of Law Hosts 2016 Conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools

This fall, Regent University’s School of Law hosted the 2016 Conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools (RALS). The biennial symposium provides law professors with an opportunity to address issues of particular relevance to faith-based law institutions.

Photo courtesy of the School of Law.
This year’s conference – titled “Changes and Challenges for Faith Based Legal Education” – attracted panelists from institutions such as, St. Mary’s School of Law, University of Illinois College of Law, University of Houston Law Center and Florida Coastal School of Law.

“We were honored to host the 2016 Religiously Affiliated Law Schools (RALS) Conference,” said LAW Dean Michael Hernandez. “The conference provides an excellent opportunity for our faculty to host and engage professors from other law schools and to showcase Regent Law’s Christian mission and commitment to academic excellence.”

Throughout the conference, panelists zeroed in on topics such as “Implementing Ethical Formation & Professional Identity in Law School,” “Potential Accreditation and Tax Exempt Status Issues for Religiously Affiliated Law Schools After Obergefell,” “New Scholarship,” and “Pursuing Global Justice.”

Professor Edna Udobong from Liberty University School of Law presented on The Challenge of Global Justice: Advocating for Equal Rights in an Unequal World.

“Global justice is a broad topic, but we have to start somewhere,” said Udobong. “God is the source of justice.”

She explained that law schools should influence local law; provide legal and spiritual assistance; give continuous advocacy; train law enforcement; and counsel children and their parents in refugee camps to serve those seeking justice.

“That’s our mission,” said Udobong. “To train students and ourselves to fulfill the Great Commission.”

Dean of St. Thomas University School of Law, Robert Vischer spoke on Institutional Engagement & Institutional Misison – Why Religiously Affiliated Law Schools Should be Deeply and Proactively Engaged with the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. He called for a need of compassion for those involved in religiously affiliated law schools in a world that is losing its capacity for showing empathy for others.

“What are we doing in this area? And what is a law school for? How do we move forward on these important issues?” asked Vischer. “These topics have required me to get out of my comfort zone. It’s a lot easier for me to attend an alumni party than it is for me to go to a protest – but if the students are there, I’m there.”

Finally, Jim Gash, professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, shared his views on Engaging Students in Global Justice on the Ground in Real Time.

“The students that you attract are going to law school not just to be equipped with the law, but they will learn how to be ministers to the broken,” said Gash. “That’s what we do: We create ministers to the broken and we prepare them to serve.”

Learn more about Regent University School of Law.

By Brett W. Tubbs


Former U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft Speaks to Regent School of Law Students

History has its eyes on former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft at
Regent University School of Law.
Photo courtesy of Alex Perry.
Thanks to his longstanding role as a Distinguished Professor for Regent University’s School of Law (LAW) and the Robertson School of Government (RSG), his students get a first-hand look at the laws and policies Ashcroft was instrumental in developing and, at times, challenging.

For example, on Friday, September 30, during his and Law Professor Craig Stern’s Case Studies in the Development and Implementation of National Legal Policy class, the General spoke about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and its impact on the war against terrorist groups and security of United States citizens.

In fact, Ashcroft dealt extensively with FISA while he was serving as the 79th U.S. Attorney General during President George W. Bush’s administration. At that time, a lack of communication between enforcement officials and intelligence personnel threatened the nation’s ability to defend effectively against terrorist threats. In response Ashcroft oversaw development of the Patriot Act, which provided for improved cooperation among various agencies while respecting constitutional safeguards for individual liberties and citizen privacy.

The class studied In re Sealed Case, the decision of the FISA Court of Review, which affirmed the new approach of enhanced communication between intelligence and enforcement officials. The former attorney general pointed out that the case includes a valuable tutorial on the search and seizure requirements set forth in the Fourth Amendment.

Ashcroft and Stern teach this class together, a privilege Stern does not take for granted.

“General Ashcroft is a treasure. Learning from a man of such experience, brilliance, wisdom and humility — not to mention working alongside him — is rich, eye-opening and delightful. His single-minded dedication to the Lord and His truth is especially challenging and inspiring,” said Stern. “General Ashcroft draws his approach to civil government and law from his deep understanding of fundamental biblical truth. How wonderful for Regent (and for me) to have a man like him to model faithfulness in a life of public service in the law!”

Thomas Edwards (2L) ’18 also enjoys learning from Ashcroft due to his extensive real-world experience.

“This is probably the second or third time we’ve had someone who was one step away from the president come talk to our class,” said Edwards. “It’s informative, and it’s amazing.”

Learn more about Regent University School of Law.

By Brett W. Tubbs


Student Wins Honorable Mention in 2016 Religious Liberty Student Writing Contest

Regent University School of Law student Nevin Beiler ’17 earned an honorable mention in the 2016 Religious Liberty Student Writing Competition, sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University.

Photo courtesy of Nevin Beiler.
Beiler’s paper, “Deciphering Title VII & Executive Order 13672: To What Extent Are Religious Organizations Free to Discriminate in Their Hiring Practices,” was recognized among winners from schools such as Harvard Law School, George Mason School of Law and University of Virginia School of Law.

According to the 2016 J. Reuben Clark Law Society Writing Competition Committee, this year marked the largest number of participants in the competition’s seven years. Each paper was reviewed by a panel of nine judges – “legal practitioners and academics.”

Beiler was inspired to write on the topic following an internship at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) in the summer between his 1L and 2L year. He traveled with one of the organization’s representatives to a conference in D.C. and attended a conference on a similar issue for federal contractors.

“Turns out, it’s a big Title VII issue, not just a federal contractor issue,” said Beiler. “So I merged the two issues and wrote about them simultaneously.”

Beiler explained that Title VII is a long-standing, widely accepted non-discrimination law that has been in effect since the 1970s saying that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, religion or gender.

“The issue that’s come up now is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), under the current administration, is interpreting sex as it applies to gender as well as sexual orientation,” said Beiler. “Now they’re saying Title VII may not discriminate on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The latest EEOC ruling states that federal contractors can’t discriminate, but the untested question lies in whether it now applies to religious organizations – a question that Beiler’s paper explored.

After graduation, Beiler plans to open his own practice, mostly focusing on the transactional side of the law, but also, perhaps representing churches and non-profit organizations. What he’s learned in his research will help him future advise these organizations on their hiring processes.

“It’s been fantastic, the Christian mission of the school is really attractive and I feel like I’m getting a great legal education,” said Beiler. “Regent has a great writing program, it really does. I need to give it some credit for my writing success.”

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.

By Brett Wilson Tubbs


Regent University Students Celebrate Constitution Day

September 17 marks the nationwide observance of Constitution Day – a day that celebrates the signing of the all-American document at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

Dr. Jim Davids.
Regent University School of Law (LAW) students, faculty and staff commemorated the historic event on Friday, September 16, by gathering to hear lectures moderated by Associate Dean Natt Gantt. Regent LAW’s Federalist Society, a student group that focuses on the founding principles of the United States, sponsored the event.

The celebration included two lectures from LAW associate professor, Dr. Jim Davids, and assistant professor Tessa Dysart.

“The Constitution is an incredible document. In under 5,000 words it established three branches of government, separation of powers, and an ingenious system of checks and balances that has survived over 200 years,” said Dysart. “While it certainly had it flaws, our country has been able to rectify many of those through amendment. On Constitution Day we can celebrate the document, and we can criticize its shortcomings. We are blessed to live in a country with a Constitution that permits in both word and application a robust debate about our governing document.”

Dysart explained that Constitutional Law is a difficult course, and that it can be difficult for students to fully understand how the Constitution was and should be interpreted.

“And it’s a privilege to help my students work through these complicated issues,” said Dysart.

Learn more about Regent University School of Law.

By Brett W. Tubbs 


Teaching Students to Be Lawyers Unto Others, Not Themselves

Teaching has always been on the horizon for Regent University School of Law professor Caleb Griffin.

Caleb Griffin.
He joined LAW faculty Fall Semester 2016, after receiving a phone call from professor and associate dean, Natt Gantt, who was seeking interested candidates for the position.
“I was at work one evening and he called and asked if I was interested in being a law professor, and I really was,” said Griffin. “I was literally called to work here.”

Griffin came to Regent after graduating from Harvard Law School in 2014, and a stint of practicing corporate law at the firm of Vinson & Elkins, representing organizations such as banks and oil companies.

“Practicing law is great, and I learned a lot, but I find it so rewarding to be able to work with students and examine deeper questions about the law," he said.

His true passion lies in helping students conduct research and think about the “bigger issues” of law. He explained that those who practice law for a living don’t always have the privilege to study the history of a law or how it came to be.

“Is it the best law? Should it be this way? Is it moral?” asked Griffin. “That’s not your job when you’re representing a client.”

For Griffin, returning to the classroom has been, in part, a return to theorizing the law. At Regent, he encourages his students to conduct research and to think about the “bigger issues.” And to his delight, they respond with “wonderful and unique insights.”

“It’s both incredibly fun, and incredibly rewarding. It's something that I feel is a really good and exciting opportunity,” said Griffin. “It’s great to be in the classroom to learn and to get to interact with the students – I’ve been surprised by how energizing it is to be in a classroom and get questions from students.”

Apart from teaching, Griffin said he enjoys being among his Christian colleagues. To him, they represent a body of people who believe in something outside of themselves. Together they work toward a common mission and purpose: to guide confident Christian lawyers.

“It’s really meaningful and humbling to see the leaders of this school and know that there’s something more important than each of us individually. That there’s something we all believe in and are working toward,” said Griffin.

That, in turn, is what he believes sets apart Christian lawyers who work in a secular market.

“You can definitely tell who’s being honest and forthright when they’re practicing law and who is treating others better than themselves,” said Griffin. “That includes the client and the people who are working across the table from you.”

He sees his work as fulfilling a unique calling on his life, and explained that his goal as a professor is to help his students find the right motivations and perspectives when it comes to navigating legal issues from a Christian perspective.

“God endows us with a variety of gifts. Some of us are preachers and ministers and some of us are business men and women. But we’re all called to do work so that we have something to share with those in need,” said Griffin. “And I think [practicing law] is an important way to do that.”

Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.

By Brett W. Tubbs


Regent Law Faculty Achievements - Week of September 12, 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’ article "Religious Colleges' Employment Rights Under the 'Ministerial Exception' and When Disciplining an Employee for Sexually Related Conduct" was solicited, offered, and accepted by the Texas Journal of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights for publication. 

Associate Professor Jim Davids and Assistant Professor Tessa Dysart, moderated by Associate Dean Natt Gantt, spoke at Constitution Day today, sponsored by the Regent Law Chapter of the Federalist Society.

Associate Professor Brad Jacob’s Federalist Society talks coming up this fall include:

  • Oct. 26 – University of Chicago Law School – The Unintended Consequences of the 17th Amendment
  • Oct. 27 – Chicago-Kent Law School – Religious Liberty in the “Lobbying Nineties” and Today
  • Nov. 10 – University of Baltimore School of Law – The Unintended Consequences of the 17th Amendment

Professor Eric DeGroff co-chairs the Law School Committee of the 2016-2017 ABA DR Section Leadership on Dispute Resolution.

Dean Michael Hernandez’s paper, "The Rule of Law, Historical Equity, and Mexican Contra Prohibition Immigrants” was recently listed on SSRN's Top Ten download list for: SIRN: Federal-State Relationship (Sub-Topic). As of 11 September 2016, it had been downloaded 33 times.

Professor James Duane has had several recent invitations to speak, which include:
  • Cornell Law School, Ithaca, NY, Fifth Amendment, October 2016
  • Indigent Defense Training Commission, keynote speaker, Richmond, VA on Wednesday, May 3, 2017
  • Norfolk Portsmouth Bar Association Speaker Series, Norfolk, VA, Winter 2017

Professor Duane was also recently interviewed and quoted about his latest book, You Have the Right to Remain Innocent, in a Sinclair News Group syndicated article that is now available on multiple news sites.