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.

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