Regent Law Students Gain Experience, Mentorship through Judicial Internships

In the months before summer break, law students compete for the coveted judicial internships which provide them with the opportunity to fine-tune their writing and research skills, observe court cases, and make the connections that often lead to full-time employment.

This summer, more than 40 Regent Law students enjoyed judicial internships nationwide, from Courts of Appeal in Arizona and Texas to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Regardless of where they served, Regent’s judicial interns agree that their experiences provided them with exceptional skills, training, and an opportunity to observe the judicial process first-hand.

Kevin Hoffman, lead articles editor for the Regent University Law Review and vice chairman for the Trial Advocacy Board, interned for Federal District Judge Mark Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia. Hoffman valued Judge Davis’ mentorship in particular.

“Judge Davis took a special interest in ensuring that my summer was a positive experience and in sharing many lessons he had learned in his years of practicing law and serving as a judge,” Hoffman says.

Chelsea Schlittenhart, Moot Court Board chairperson and a Regent University Law Review staffer, met Judge John C. Gemmill of the Arizona Court of Appeals at Regent Law’s annual Hassell Competition, a connection that led to a judicial externship with the judge. Schlittenhart drafted opinions for criminal and family law, unemployment board, and Anders cases before presenting them to the judge. She also attended judicial conferences.

Joshua Smith, managing editor of the Regent University Law Review and treasurer for the Federalist Society, interned for Justice Jeff Brown of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals. He says this internship, combined with previous internships with Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeff Bohm of the Southern District of Texas and Texas District Judge Edwin Denman, were excellent opportunities for him to learn to work more efficiently and clearly communicate complex ideas.

“I have observed the importance of being attentive to details, how clear and concise writing will capture a reader’s attention, and that only a thorough and thoughtful approach to one’s case will sufficiently prepare an attorney for court,” Smith explains. “These ‘behind-the-scenes’ experiences have prepared me to better understand what judges expect from attorneys, and I believe these internships have also prepared me to better meet those expectations.”

That’s a statement echoed by Law Review Managing Editor Sharon Kerk, judicial extern for Judge Lawrence Leonard of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“I learned first-hand how to practice law on a daily basis and learned what to do and not to do from observing attorneys,” Kerk says.

Schlittenhart, Smith, Kerk, and Hoffman graduate next year, and their internships have already helped some of them secure employment. Schlittenhart will clerk for Judge Gemmill starting in August 2014, and Kerk will clerk for Judge Leonard from 2014 to 2015.

Learn about the Officer of Career and Alumni Services’ employment programming.

Law Student Abigail Skeans Serving in Uganda

When Abigail Skeans started law school, she resolved not to pursue criminal or juvenile law. God, however, had other plans. In 2012, God brought her to Uganda to work with Children Justice Initiative (Sixty Feet) to help strengthen juvenile justice programs through legal advocacy and collaboration with government officials and international NGOs to implement case management programs and other reforms on behalf of children in East Africa.

In her latest blog post about her experiences, Abigail reflects on her first days in Uganda and the unimaginable adventure she’s had over the past year. Abigail says that on July 8, 2012, her first day in Uganda, her heart changed.

“To this day, I cannot accurately articulate the evolution that occurred in my heart during my first few hours with the nearly 200 children awaiting trial in such desperate circumstances,” she writes. “After that first experience, I have been adamantly devoted to working on their behalf.”

Abigail has witnessed transformation in many lives as she partners with Sixty Feet and other organizations that help Ugandan children whom the justice system has forgotten. She has worked to help educate children held in detention centers about their rights and duties as Ugandan citizens and inform them about the legal process. She has also helped create a database that allows government stakeholders to track a youth’s progress through the justice system.

Reflecting on the past year, Abigail says that she is on an adventure that she never could have imagined. She explains that it is an adventure that has allowed her to see how the legal progress transforms a child’s life, has required her to let go of the comfort of friends, family, and first-world luxuries, and has forced her to endure derogatory remarks, theft, and dishonesty that limits the change she wants to create.

While her journey in Africa has a unique set of challenges, Abigail works and lives by Ephesians 4:1, which says, “I then urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

She writes, “We learn that our lives are not our own, and we have a role as agents of renewal to use our talents, experiences, and training to bring about the restoration of His creation through shalom.”

Read more about Abigail’s experiences in Uganda at the Center for Global Justice blog.

Law Alumnus M. Jos Capkovic Headlines Autumn Edition of ABA Publication

Alumnus M. Jos Capkovic '11 (Law) authored an article about privacy and big data that is headlining the autumn issue of the American Bar Association's quarterly INFORMATION SECURITY & PRIVACY NEWS.

School of Law Serves Hampton Roads

"As lawyers and as people of faith, it's our job to serve," said Darius Davenport, director of Career & Alumni Services for Regent University School of Law. "There's no better way for students to begin their law school career than with some very basic service experiences."

On Friday, August 16, 170 law students launched their legal careers by collectively completing 500 hours of community service throughout the Hampton Roads, Va., area. What originally began as a way for first-year students to connect with the community now involves participation from students in every stage of their scholastic careers. This year marked the largest participation from second and third-year law students.

Students gathered early Friday morning to receive their various project locations. The service day took place at eight different community outreach programs, including the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, Habitat for Humanity, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children (pictured above).

Davenport, in charge of leading the day's events, spent the morning sorting shoes at Good Mojo thrift store in Norfolk, Va., benefiting the families of ForKids.

"I feel like I vicariously touched 500 feet today—but for a good cause," said Davenport.

The community service day, launched five years ago by Davenport, was born out of one Christmas morning he and a few friends spent at Union Mission Ministries, a homeless shelter in Norfolk, Va. Davenport recalls his desire to expand his reach into the community.

"When I got to Regent, I realized that we could do a whole lot more for many more people," said Davenport. "God really provided the venue to multiply the work."

Students turned into harvesters, quite literally, with the Society of St. Andrew. Tim Pettman, a 2L and graduate assistant for Career & Alumni Services, spent the morning gleaning in a cornfield in Pungo, a rural community in Virginia Beach, Va. Pettman explained how the time he spent gathering food that would be on consumers' tables that same evening was a fulfilling way to begin the school year.

"It was a great opportunity to bond with my fellow classmates outside of the classroom, and it's a way to see the caring side of people," said Pettman."It felt good to get our hands dirty and really help."

Elizabeth Oklevitch, 3L, also spent the morning gleaning corn. Like Pettman, she explained that her favorite part of the day was learning about the ministry unfolding at St. Andrews.

"We do it because life's not just about law school," said Oklevitch. "And that can be really difficult to remember when you're busy with classes."

Matthew Dunckley, 1L, spent the morning of service with Habitat for Humanity. Dunckley noted that reaching out to the community not only allowed him to connect with his fellow classmates; it helped him connect with his beliefs.

"We weren't just there to organize old doors or arrange donated shutters, we were there to be Jesus to the people we were serving; to demonstrate Christ's leadership through servanthood," said Dunckley. "As a lawyer, it's vital to recognize each person's intrinsic value, instead of simply seeing a paying customer."

By Brett Wilson

Center for Global Justice Intern Heather Pate Partners with Kyampisi Child Care Ministries

This summer, Center for Global Justice Intern Heather Pate is in Uganda, studying at Uganda Christian University and serving Kyampisi Child Care Ministries (KCM), whose mission is to end child sacrifice in the country. At Uganda Christian University, she partnered with her colleague Faith, who will soon graduate from the university with her law degree.

Currently, Heather is preparing for a symposium on child sacrifice that will be held next year and has gained a lot of experience through her field work. Recently, she learned that a case she worked on for a boy who was a victim of child sacrifice was dismissed. She and her colleagues are working to find out why and are seeking justice for him and his family.

Heather says that one of the most impactful aspects of her experience in Uganda is that she knows the families and children who are victims of child sacrifice personally. “The people that I am helping are hurting so much, and standing beside them, I feel a minute piece of their hurt,” she writes in the Center for Global Justice Blog.

Read more about Heather’s experiences at the KCM.

Law Alumni Nicole Belote Enters Private Practice

Alumna Nicole Belote '04 has entered private practice after eight years with the City of Suffolk (Va.) Commonwealth's Attorney office, according to this article in the Suffolk News-Herald.

Law Alumnus Andrew Richmond Promoted to Shareholder

Alumnus Andrew Richmond '07 of Poole Mahoney PC has been promoted to shareholder with the law firm, according to this report in the Monday, Aug. 5, edition of Inside Business

Global Justice 2013 Interns Serving Around the World

This year, the Center for Global Justice’s 20 interns serve 19 organizations around the world. The organizations they support are as nearby as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Norfolk, Va., and as far away as the Women’s Hope Center in Seoul, South Korea. Their causes range from human trafficking to religious freedom. Regardless where the 2013 Center for Global Justice Interns serve, their work is united by a common goal: to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Read more about the Center for Global Justice Internships here, and read more about the interns’ experiences at the Center for Global Justice blog.

  • Emily Arthur (1L) supports El Pozo de Vida, an organization in Mexico City
  • Cortland Bobczynski (1L) serves the legal branch of CitizenLink, a Focus on the Family affiliate in Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Kyle Carter (2L) interns with Freedom Firm, an organization directed by Regent Law alumnus Evan Henck.
  • Paul Davis (1L) interns with Justice Ventures International, a Christian nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C.
  • Danielle Gallaher (2L) and Elissa Polley (1L) intern with the National District Attorneys Association located in Arlington, Va.
  • Benjamin Goodrich (2L) interns with Orphan Secure, a nonprofit organization comprised of former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officers who assess orphanages in war-torn countries.
  • Kellisia Hazelwood () interns with Dream Ghana, supporting the legal efforts of the Human Rights Advocacy Centre in Ghana.
  • Ra Hee Jeon (1L) interns in Seoul, South Korea with the Women's Hope Center.
  • Rebecca Knight (2L) interns with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C.
  • Jessica Krentz (1L) enrolled in Regent Law’s summer abroad program in Uganda.
  • Alyssa Martinez (1L) supports the Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities Uganda through Uganda Christian University.
  • Elizabeth Miller (1L) serves the European Center for Law and Justice, an international, nongovernment organization in Strasbourg, France.
  • Kristy Mutchler (2L) assists in research and training coordination for a new anti-human trafficking initiative of the Strategic Development, Faith-Based and Community division of the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
  • Elizabeth Oklevitch (2L) serves the United States Attorney’s Office in Rochester, N.Y.
  • Heather Pate (2L) enrolled in Regent Law’s study abroad program at Uganda Christian University.
  • Abigail Skeans (2L) returns to Uganda to continue her groundbreaking work with Sixty Feet, strengthening juvenile justice programs through legal advocacy.
  • Nicole Tutrani (2L) interns with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Norfolk, Va.
  • Jaclyn Walliser (1L) works with the Jubilee Campaign in Fairfax, Va.
  • Erica Weston (1L) interns in the Office of the General Counsel of Campus Crusade for Christ in Orlando, Fla.

Alumna Update: Farnaz Farkish '07 Argues Before Supreme Court of Virginia

Farnaz Farkish ‘07, an attorney in the Civil Litigation Division Trial Section at the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, recently argued her first case before the Supreme Court of Virginia. Farkish represented the Virginia State Bar (VSB) on an appeal concerning the VSB’s disciplinary proceedings against a Prince George County prosecutor.

An attorney disciplined by the VSB has the right to challenge the VSB Disciplinary Board’s decision, resulting in an appeal as of right before the Supreme Court of Virginia, which is where Farkish picked up the case.

“It was eye opening to have to review the record because I did not litigate the case in the proceedings below—another attorney represented the Virginia State Bar before the District Committee and Disciplinary Board,” says Farkish. “I reviewed the appendix, which was over 500 pages and committed the proceedings below to memory.”

Her opportunity to argue before the Supreme Court of Virginia is rare. In 2012, the Court granted 123 petitions for appeal out of the 1,721 it received.

As an attorney in the Civil Litigation Division Trial Section, Farkish handles civil litigation for the state of Virginia, representing public officials, colleges and universities and agencies, including the Virginia State Bar. Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, Farkish was a judicial clerk for two judges: Senior Judge Eric G. Bruggink of the United States Court of Federal Claims, and the late Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr., of the Supreme Court of Virginia. She was also a judicial clerk for the Office of the Chief Staff Attorney of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Regent Law Alumni Successfully Oppose Amendment Making Sexual-Orientation-Based Discrimination a Disciplinary Offense

Scott Bergthold (‘97), Kristin Fecteau (‘98), Rebecca Hope (‘02), Norman Sabin (‘94) and Lanis Karnes (‘96) signed and filed a 20-page Joint Comment in opposition to the Supreme Court of Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility’s petition to amend Rule 8.4 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct. If passed, the amendment would have made discrimination based on sexual orientation a disciplinary offense and could have exposed Christian attorneys to professional discipline for practicing law in accordance with their religious beliefs. Based in part upon the Joint Comment, which was signed by 58 Tenn. attorneys, the Supreme Court of Tennessee rejected the amendment. 

Regent Law Grad Successfully Defends Operation Save America Executive Director

Toussaint C. Romain (’07) successfully defended an anti-abortion pastor, missionary, and executive director of Operation Save America against charges that he stalked and intended to cause emotional distress to a Charlotte, N.C., abortionist. After a three-year legal battle, all charges were dismissed, and the abortionist’s insurer dropped him from coverage, leading to the end of the abortionist’s practice.

Regent Law Professor to Serve as Harvard Faculty Associate

Regent University School of Law Professor James Duane has accepted an invitation to serve as a faculty associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society for the 2013-14 academic year. Read the press release here.

Duane will co-teach a course at Harvard Law School in the fall semester called “The American Jury,” and will assist in the creation of a website intended to communicate information to the American public about the theory and operation of the jury trial process.

“I am excited to work with others who share my passion for using the Internet and other forms of mass media to reach beyond the severe limitations of traditional legal scholarship,” Professor Duane says. “I am looking forward to collaborating with some of the finest minds in legal education.”

Founded in 1996, the Berkman Center is dedicated to better understanding and developing cyberspace. Its staff includes students, fellows, faculty, virtual architects, entrepreneurs and lawyers. Professor Duane is one of eight faculty associates that will join the Berkman Center for the 2013-2014 academic year. The staff also includes a number of fellows, returning faculty associates and affiliates.

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Professor Duane has taught at Regent Law since 1991, teaching Evidence, Civil Procedure, Trial Practice and Appellate Advocacy classes. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform cited Professor James Duane’s public statements on whether IRS official Lois Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she appeared before that Committee. He also appeared MSNBC to discuss that issue.

Click here to learn more about Professor Duane.

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...