Back to Back Competitions Put Oral Skills to the Test

Regent Law 2Ls Melissa Bergman, Danielle Temple, Elizabeth Toner, and Katie Burns won first place at the Intramural Trial Advocacy competition held January 23-24, 2009. This is the school’s 10th Annual opportunity for students to experience being trial attorneys.
“Many competitors use [this competition] to decide if they want to become trial lawyers,” said Tammy Sossei, Intra-scholastic Coordinator for the Trial Ad Board. Competitors put what they’ve learned about the Rules of Evidence into practice, develop a case theory, and prepare witnesses. Still, with all the preparation, they still are forced to think on their feet.

“[T]he evidence can be read so that both parties have equally strong cases,” said Sossei. She added a description of what the teams had to research, noting, “This year the Defendant has been charged with premeditated murder and second degree auto theft. The victim was found in a dumpster with a gunshot wound to his head the day after he had an argument with the Defendant.”

Just the weekend before, January 15-17, 2009, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board hosted its annual Intramural Negotiations Competition. 2Ls Kyle Fuller and Seth Doherty ranked first in that competition where the problem was in Elder Law and involved negotiating trust disbursements and living arrangements of a widower.

Both competitions test the oral advocacy skills of students in a public forum, which gives students access to the larger legal community. Practitioners from the area volunteer to judge the competitions and give feedback to each participant.

Former U.S. Attorney Shares Passion for Justice

For former U.S. attorney John Brownlee, being in a courtroom holds great significance. "The big controversies in this country...started in a courtroom," he reminded an audience of students and faculty at Regent University on Jan. 12, where he spoke at the invitation of Regents Hamilton-Jefferson Society.

Brownlee described how he progressed from an "Army brat" to one of the top lawyers in Virginia and the challenges he faced along the way. After graduating from law school, Brownlee served as a judicial law clerk for U.S. District Judge Sam Wilson. He then served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, a position he describes as "lawyering in its rawest form."

In 2001, President Bush appointed Brownlee to the position of U.S. Attorney. His jurisdiction spanned from Louisa County in central Virginia all the way to "coal country" at the southwest tip of the state. In this position, he developed a successful record prosecuting some of the nation's most corrupt corporations and dangerous criminals.

During his time as U.S. Attorney, Brownlee was confronted with challenges and cases that he said had a profound impact on his life and his understanding of his profession. "Justice isn't easy," Brownlee told the audience. "It's not something that comes every day. It has to be worked at."

One of the most memorable cases he's worked on was the reopening of a case in which two college students at James Madison University were murdered. The defendant was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Brownlee shared that the sister of one of the victims was so grateful for his efforts that she named her baby after Brownlee and one of his colleagues. Even though he doesn't want to brag about his fees, that was the "best fee ever," he told the audience.

A graduate of Washington and Lee University and a 1994 graduate of William & Mary's Law School, Brownlee has taught trial advocacy at the University of Virginia School of Law since 2005.

Regent Law Professors in the News

Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law Bruce Cameron, through his work at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, has been working on an important labor law case in the State of Ohio. Taking on the largest teachers union in that state, Cameron and other attorneys are fighting against compulsory union dues that are used to fund activities that violate teachers’ religious faith.

Professor Cameron is quoted here, in an article detailing the suit.

Law professor John Tuskey was interviewed by WAVY-TV (Hampton Roads’ NBC affiliate) a few days before Christmas about whether a group from a Norfolk church who were "street preaching" outside of businesses in downtown Norfolk were within their First Amendment rights.

Regent Law Students Participate in John Costello National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition

Three Regent Law students recently participated in the John Costello National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition sponsored by Antonin S...