Thursday, September 26, 2013

Student Organizations: The Republican Law Society

The Appalachian School of Law Republican Law Society

The Appalachian School of Law campus hosts two student organizations reflecting party politics: The Democratic Law Society and the Republican Law Society.

The Mission Statement

The Constitution of the Republican Law Society provides:

The mission of this association is to give voice to Republican ideals on and off campus.  The goal of this organization shall be to support Republican candidates on the local and national level as well as encouraging debate and thoughtful awareness of the issues of the day on campus.  
It holds membership open to any and all ASL students and alumni.  It also expressly provides a non-discriminatory clause in the Constitution.  An "active" member must attend two meetings of the group.

Sponsored Events and Activities 

The RLS is perhaps best known for its annual fall event called the All American Ball.  Proceeds from tickets sales benefit various charities, including the Wounded Warrior Project.  It also engages in projects that support Republican candidates for political office.

Student Organizations: The Gay/Straight Legal Association

The Gay/Straight Legal Association at the Appalachian School of Law

Students organized this association in 2003 to stimulate an active discussion on issues pertinent to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.  It's unofficial motto:  "We love everyone!"

Mission Statement

The Gay/Straight Legal Association (aka Outlaws) strives to provide a social network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied students with the law school and the legal community.  It also works to provide education about legal issues which impact the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.  It also strives to help build a safe and tolerant society that respects diversity and offers gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons equal protection of the law.

Membership Requirements

Membership in the association is open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni and shall not be denied to any person based on age, race, sex, religion, handicap, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

However, in accordance with the policy on privacy defined in the Constitution, members of the Executive Committee shall not reveal the name of any member to any non-member with out the express written consent of the member. They can, however, reveal names of members to other members of the association.  

Policy on Privacy

The Constitution further provides: 
The Gay/Straight Legal Association recognizes the value of  "coming out" not only to the community but also to the individual; the Gay/Straight Legal Association also respects the right and the need for each gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person to personally decide when and to who to "come out."  The Gay/Straight Legal Association is intended to offer support to students suffering from discrimination.   
Unfortunately, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender students do not enjoy protection from discrimination everywhere in the United States or the State of Virginia.  Therefore, many schools do not advocate the "outing" of a member's sexual orientation, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, or heterosexual . . . . Disclosure of one's sexual orientation is an important personal decision.  All members of the Gay/Straight Legal Association are expected to respect their fellow student's privacy.
The Gay/Straight Legal Association encourages all students to participate in promoting the goals of the group to the best of each individual's capabilities.  Through the efforts of all affirming students, the Gay/Straight Legal Association believes that, one day, sexual orientation will not prohibit individuals from having equal opportunity.  
Sponsored Events and Activities 

In 2013, the GSLA -- in partnership with the American Constitution Society -- sponsored a debate/discussion about the Defense of Marriage Act featuring Professor Stewart Harris and Associate Professor Doug McKechnie.  Over 50 students and faculty members attended the forum.

GSLA plans a follow-up forum to discuss the issues raised by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case that challenged the law.  An analysis of the decision appears here.  Briefs filed in the case are listed here.  A copy of the decision appears here.

The group also hosts film viewings that profile well-known gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender persons -- like Milk -- or films that otherwise celebrate individuality.

Historically, GSLA has worked collaboratively with the ASL chapters of the American Constitution Society and the Sutin Public-Interest Association (SPIA) to build solidarity and work for social justice for all disenfranchised groups of people.

To that end, in 2008, it co-sponsored -- with BLSA -- an on-campus presentation by former Black Panther activist and Green Party candidate, Elaine Brown.  She spoke on Juveniles in the Adult Prison System.

The group organized a trip for six members to New York City for the annual National Gay and Lesbian Bar Association conference.

More generally, the association hosted workshops on tolerance in Appalachia, including information on transgender theory.

In 2011, the student body elected as President of the Student Bar Association a GSLA member who was the school's first openly gay African-American man -- Lance McFadden.

Associate Professor Derrick Howard serves as the faculty advisor.

Persons identified by name or depicted in all photos on this blog gave me permission to publish the information.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Student Organizations: The Democratic Law Society

The Appalachian School of Law Democratic Law Society

The Appalachian School of Law campus hosts two student organizations reflecting party politics: The Democratic Law Society and the Republican Law Society.

The Democratic Law Society, founded in 2003, dedicates its members to the principles that have historically sustained the Democratic Party.

The Mission Statement

The Preamble to the Constitution of the Democratic Law Society provides:
We wish to stimulate in people active participation in governmental affairs and promote their involvement in the political process.
We believe all people should have individual freedom in the framework of a just society, political freedom in the framework of a meaningful participation by all citizens. We are aware that a party must be responsive to be worthy of responsibility.
We pledge to promote student activity within the boundary of  the Appalachian School of Law as well as within the local community.  We wish to broaden our objectives and reach out to communities across the nation.  
We are dedicated to community service as well as student performance.
It admits as members all persons in the ASL community who embody the spirit of the preamble.  It expressly incorporates a non-discrimination policy.  Members pay annual dues, but the President can decide to offer persons in need financial aid in paying those dues.

Sponsored Activities and Events

For years, the DLS sponsored a costumed karaoke contest.  I had the pleasure of serving as a judge.  More recently, it held political debate parties and a phone bank during the last presidential and local elections.

Members participated in the Backpacks for Wounded Soldiers program sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project.  WWP backpacks are filled with essential care and comfort items such as clothing, toiletries, playing cards, and more - all designed to make a hospital stay more comfortable for wounded soldiers. Wounded service members receive backpacks as they arrive at military trauma units across the United States.  When the military evacuates injured warriors overseas from field hospitals to larger military treatment facilities stateside or abroad, these soldiers receive a smaller version of the WWP backpack, known as Transitional Care Packs (TCPs), for immediate comfort.

The DLS also sponsored a March Madness basketball brackets fundraising event and a kickball tournament. Monies raised benefited the American Cancer Society. 

Professor dale Rubin serves as faculty advisor for DLS. 

Student Organizations: American Constitution Society

The American Constitution Society at the Appalachian School of Law

The ASL American Constitutional Society is a recognized chapter of the national organization of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

The American Constitutional Society offers a view of constitutional law that sharply contrasts with the view of the Federalist Society I profiled here.   The website of the national organization explains the context for the group:

The American Constitution Society (ACS) believes that law should be a force to improve the lives of all people. ACS works for positive change by shaping debate on vitally important legal and constitutional issues through development and promotion of high-impact ideas to opinion leaders and the media; by building networks of lawyers, law students, judges and policymakers dedicated to those ideas; and by countering the activist conservative legal movement that has sought to erode our enduring constitutional values. By bringing together powerful, relevant ideas and passionate, talented people, ACS makes a difference in the constitutional, legal and public policy debates that shape our democracy. 
Shaping Debate. The American Constitution Society brings together many of the country’s best legal minds to articulate a progressive vision of our Constitution and laws. Through its public programs (over 1,100 debates, conferences and press briefings across America each year), publications, and active on-line presence, ACS generates “intellectual capital” for ready use by progressive allies and shapes debates on key legal and public policy issues. 
The American Constitution Society is also debunking conservative buzzwords such as “originalism” and “strict construction” that use neutral-sounding language but all too often lead to conservative policy outcomes. Using both traditional and new media to communicate with policymakers, judges, lawyers and the public at large, ACS presents a compelling vision of core constitutional values such as genuine equality, liberty, justice and the rule of law. 
Building Networks. One of the American Constitution Society’s principal missions is nurturing the next generation of progressive lawyers, judges, policy experts, legislators and academics.
The engine that drives the organization’s work is its rapidly growing nationwide network: 186 student chapters in law schools in 47 states, 34 lawyer chapters in large and small cities in every part of the country, and over 16,000 paying members and thousands of other supporters. ACS chapters offer platforms for debate and discussion about both enduring principles and the issues of the day, as well as provide opportunities for networking, mentoring and organizing around matters of both local and national significance. 
Making a Difference. The strength of ACS’s ideas and the scope of its nationwide network enable it to make a difference in legal and public policy debates and ensure that law is a force to improve the lives of all people. Recent examples of ACS initiatives and programs having an impact include an Issue Brief on the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the health care reform legislation, cited during the Senate floor debate and entered into the Congressional Record; Senator Al Franken’s 2010 ACS National Convention speech in which he stated that “Originalism isn’t a pillar of our constitutional history; it’s a talking point;” and a concerted effort by ACS members to promote up-or-down votes on judicial nominations by engaging key decision makers. 
In the words of Judge Abner Mikva, former Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit, former Congressman from Illinois and member of ACS’s Board of Directors:
ACS’s goals are ambitious but attainable. Those who would despair of our success need only think of the small band of legal conservatives of twenty-five years ago – their ideas then scorned by academics, ignored by judges and unknown to the public – who persevered to build a powerful movement and reshape our world according to their notions. If you seek their works, look around you. Our work is just beginning. Don’t just stand there – join us. 
Mission of the National Organization
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) promotes the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses: individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law. The abiding principles are reflected in the vision of the Constitution's framers and the wisdom of forward-looking leaders who have shaped our law throughout American history. As a result of their efforts, the Constitution has retained its authority and relevance for each new generation. 
In recent years, an activist conservative legal movement has gained influence - eroding these enduring values and presenting the law as a series of sterile abstractions. This new orthodoxy, which threatens to dominate our courts and our laws, does a grave injustice to the American vision. 
The American Constitution Society embraces the progress our nation has made toward full embodiment of the Constitution's core values. ACS believes that law can and should be a force for improving the lives of all people. We are revitalizing and transforming legal and policy debates in classrooms, courtrooms, legislature and the media, and we are building a diverse and dynamic network of progressives committed to justice. Through these efforts, ACS will ensure that the institutions of American law reflect the highest values of our nation and serve the needs of its people.
The Mission Statement of the ASL Chapter

The Constitution of the ASL ACS echoes these principles and goals.  It specifically identifies its mission as:
[T]o harness these values of compassion and respect for each individual, and to re-incorporate them into American law and politics, in order to build a stronger and more decent national community.  We seek to restore the fundamental principles of respect for human dignity, protection of individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, and access to justice to their rightful -- and traditionally central -- place in American law.  We want to strengthen the intellectual underpinnings of -- and the public case for -- a vision of the law in which these values are paramount.  Our goal is a rekindling of the hope that by reason and decency, we can create an America that is better for us all.  
It holds membership open to all ASL students, faculty, and staff.

Associate Professor Doug McKechnie serves as the faculty advisor.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Student Organizations: The Hamilton Society

The Appalachian School of Law Hamilton Society

No government could give us tranquility and happiness at home
which did not possess sufficient stability and strength
to make us respectable abroad.”

Speech at the Constitutional Convention, 
June 29, 1787

This student organization, founded in 2006, serves military veterans, current service members, families of service personnel, and veterans' organizations.  It seeks to support a link between duty to country and our legal system.

I have a great interest in this organization even though I never served in the military.  I did, however, provide pro bono legal services to Viet Nam veterans who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shortly after the Veterans Benefits Administration recognized PTSD as a compensable military injury.  The diagnosis of PTSD first appeared in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980.  Shortly after that, the VBA began paying claims based on the diagnosis, if sufficiently proved -- not an easy task in those days. 

Veterans returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from many physical, psychological, and emotional injuries, including PTSD, depression, and suicide, along with extensive physical injuries resulting in amputations, loss of sight, loss of hearing, and brain trauma. 

The National Counterpart

The ASL chapter of the Hamilton Society, while not a member chapter, appears modeled on The Alexander Hamilton Society, which has offices in Washington, D.C.  

The Statement of Purpose of the national society provides:
The Alexander Hamilton Society (AHS) is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit, membership organization dedicated to promoting constructive debate on basic principles and contemporary issues in foreign, economic, and national security policy. As we build a national network of outstanding students, faculty, and professionals, we sponsor debates at colleges and universities, as well as in major cities, and provide other opportunities for our members to flourish intellectually, professionally, and personally. 
Our members—on over 35 campuses, as well as in New York City and Washington, DC—are united by basic convictions about the United States and its role in the world:
  • A measured pride in the success of the American experiment; an understanding that America’s greatness is the result of its commitment to individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, the rule of law, human dignity, and democracy; and a belief that the fundamental aim of every aspect of our policy, foreign and domestic, must be to defend these principles at home and ultimately to encourage their spread abroad; 
  • A conviction, rooted in the history of the last century, that the world is a better, safer, and more prosperous place when the United States is willing and able to lead; and a commitment to maintaining the moral authority and material strength on which that leadership rests; 
  • An appreciation that the world remains a dangerous place in which our power must be exercised with prudence, and where the primary threats to our security come from states that deny freedom to their own people and from non-state actors who embrace hatred and violence; 
  • A clear recognition that, in such a world, our true friends and reliable partners are other democratic nations with whom we share an enduring commonality of values, and not simply a temporary convergence of interests; 
  • A firm belief that, time and again, in peace and in war, the ability of the American political system to profit from vigorous public discussion has proved its worth; and that, at this moment in our history, our public discussion of foreign, economic, and national security policy stands very much in need of renewal.

The Mission Statement 
of the ASL Chapter

The Constitution of the ASL Hamilton Society contains a similar expression of purpose.  It provides:

The organization is formed:

  • To articulate and promote the needs and goals of the veterans, service members, and families represented on campus and  in the local community; to foster and encourage an attitude of military service to America; and to focus upon the relationship between duty to country and our legal system.
  • As individuals and as an organization, to bring our legal training and motivation to assist with the problems veterans, service members, and their families face as a result of military service to the United Sates; 
  • To actively cultivate responsibility among the legal community to advocate for veterans on a pro bono basis to bring about changes in the way in which veterans and service members of all branches of the military are valued within their society;
  • To make known causes advancing the interest of veterans, service members, and their families;
  • In recognition of the sacrifices made by military service personnel, this organization seeks to promote public awareness of the difficulties of military life and to assist military families in overcoming hardships;
  • To endeavor to keep local chapters of veteran's organizations abreast of laws that might affect veteran's benefits;
  • To engender respect among civilian students who have not had the opportunity to serve in the military for those who have sacrificed through military service to the country, by promoting informational programs on military life. 
It opens membership to "those law students, administrators, teaching staff, and support personnel of the law school who profess a sincere and sympathetic interest in, as wells a proven and unique concern for the plight of veterans and Americanism in society."  It requires annual dues. 

Fellowship Ideal

The Constitution of this student group also contains a fellowship ideal that provides:
We voluntarily and continually seek out opportunity to support and/or recognize service members, veterans, and their families . . . . That support may manifest itself in a solo endeavor by a member, or possibly participation in a larger scale effort by the organization.  
Sponsored Events and Activities

Most of the society's recent events are designed to raise funds for the Grundy High School ROTC program to help students cover uniform costs; for the VFW service organization so it can provide to local veterans household and personal care supplies; for the families of the four local law enforcement officers targeted by a sniper in March 2011; and for the Wounded Warrior Project.

To raise these funds, the Hamilton Society recycled computer ink cartridges, sold commemorative pins for Memorial Day celebrations, and co-hosted, with AWIL, Casino Night.

In addition, members provided cellphones for soldiers and Thanksgiving dinners for local veterans.  

Student Organizations: American Association for Justice

The American Association for Justice at the Appalachian School of Law

This student organization falls under the umbrella of the national organization as an affiliated Student Chapter. The national organization recognizes, with awards and scholarships, those skillful students, lawyers, and consumer advocates who support the fight for justice. It also publishes the magazine, Trial, which examines complex legal questions arising in litigation practice.
The National AAJ Mission 
"The Mission of the American Association for Justice is to promote a fair and effective justice system—and to support the work of attorneys in their efforts to ensure that any person who is injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms, even when taking on the most powerful interests."

History of National Organization 

I remember when this powerful organization had a much different name:   The Association of Trial Lawyers of America.  I joined the group in the 1990's even though my practice did not focus on traditional plaintiffs' personal injury work.  I found its point of view compelling, especially on the issue of mandatory arbitration clauses and the right to a jury trial.

The website for the national organization explains: 
On August 16, 1946, a group of nine plaintiffs’ attorneys involved in workers’ compensation litigation met in a hotel room at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Their goal was to put together a plan for a national organization to combat new threats facing trial lawyers across the country. It was at this meeting where it was enthusiastically agreed upon to create a new association by the name, the National Association of Claimants' Compensation Attorneys (NACCA). Their devotion to securing strong representation for victims of industrial accidents soon attracted admiralty, railroad, and personal injury lawyers. It wasn't long before the group included attorneys engaged in almost all facets of trial advocacy. 
Reflecting its growth and expanded commitments, NACCA changed its name 3 times before 1973, when it emerged as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). In 1977, ATLA's headquarters moved from Boston to Washington, D.C. 
In 2006, ATLA members voted to adopt a new name: the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Today, AAJ is a broad-based, international coalition of attorneys, law professors, paralegals, and law students. 
As the world's largest trial bar, AAJ promotes justice and fairness for injured persons, safeguards victims' rights—particularly the right to trial by jury—and strengthens the civil justice system through education and disclosure of information critical to public health and safety. With members worldwide, and a network of U.S. and Canadian affiliates involved in diverse areas of trial advocacy, AAJ provides lawyers with the information and professional assistance needed to serve clients successfully and protect the democratic values inherent in the civil justice system.

Mission Statement of ASL Chapter 
of the AAJ

The ASL AAJ Constitution provides:

"The Student Chapter has been established to encourage law students to learn about trial advocacy skills and what it is like to be a trial lawyer. The Chapter provides a way for students to become actively involved in preserving the civil justice system and right to trial by jury."

Students in good standing who adhere to the objectives of the Student Chapter and to the mission of AAJ may become members.

Visiting Professor Tom Scott serves as the faculty advisor.

Student Organizations: Appalachian Women in Law

The Appalachian Women in the Law at the Appalachian School of Law

The Appalachian Women in Law get to the point quickly and efficiently.

The Mission Statement

The Mission Statement set out in its Constitution simply states that the organization "strives to educate, support, and empower women not just in the legal field but within our entire community, as well."

Membership is open to all students and alumni.

Students created this organization in September 2009.

Events and Activities Sponsored by AWIL

This active organization sponsors many events.  It is best known for its work on behalf of the local women's shelter.  Among other programs, it collects toiletry items for women using that facility and sells T-shirts to raise cash funds for the shelter.  One notable shirt read: "We want to be on top."

Over the last several years, AWIL has hosted lectures and presentations by distinguished women lawyers. Most recently Deputy Commissioner Deborah Blevins spoke about her experience on the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission.

In conjunction with the Career Services Office, AWIL sponsors the Dos & Don'ts of Professional Attire Fashion Show.

Several years, it sponsored the Quack for a Cure Duck Race on the Levisa River to generate charitable funds for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
More recently, AWIL created a Race for the Cure Team and participated with Associate Dean Sandy McGlothlin, a breast cancer survivor, in the annual race that raises funds for breast cancer research.   Associate Dean McGlothlin also spoke to interested students about her experience with breast cancer and the ongoing need for research.

In 2013, AWIL held a "Think Pink Bake Sale" and sold pink tutus to raise monies for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure charity.

Students greatly anticipate the annual Casino Night, which features Poker and Blackjack championships. Winners are recognized on attractive trophies donated by Visiting Professors John Murrey and Steven Parsons. AWIL members, who run the tournaments, dress as "molls" and provide table-side drink service. Student dealers ensure that even inexperienced players have an enjoyable time.  Funds raised benefit the local women's shelter.  The share of proceeds earned by co-host, The Hamilton Society, benefit local veterans.

Associate Dean Sandy McGlothlin serves as the faculty advisor for AWIL

Student Organization: The Federalist Society

The Appalachian School of Law Federalist Society
The Appalachian School of Law Federalist Society is a student chapter of the national organization -- The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies -- that has student chapters at all ABA-accredited law schools.  
The Purpose Statement of the national organization provides:
Our Purpose
  • Law schools and the legal profession are currently strongly dominated by a form of orthodox liberal ideology which advocates a centralized and uniform society. While some members of the academic community have dissented from these views, by and large they are taught simultaneously with (and indeed as if they were) the law.   
  • The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities. 
  • This [goal] entails reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law. It also requires restoring the recognition of the importance of these norms among lawyers, judges, law students and professors. In working to achieve these goals, the Society has created a conservative and libertarian intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community.
The Mission Statement of the ASL Chapter

The Constitution of the Federalist Society at ASL simply states: 

"The mission of this association is to promote a conservative/originalist interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.  This group shall encourage thoughtful debate and awareness of the current events in constitutional law." 

Membership is open to any and all ASL students and alumni, and active members are those persons who attend at least two meetings.  The chapter Constitution expressly includes a non-discrimination clause. 

Sponsored Events and Activities

The ASL Federalist Society is best known for its substantive presentations on constitutional issues of the day.  It brings prominent conservative and libertarian politicians, lawyers, and legal scholars to campus for debates on issues of constitutional interpretation and policy. 

Later this semester, the Federalist Society at ASL will host debates on the meaning of the constitution, the role of polygraph testing in federal employment, and whether affirmative action remains constitutionally possible after the Fischer decision.

Most recently, it hosted Julie Blake -- of the West Virginia Attorney General's Office -- who spoke to members over lunch about what federalism is. She also gave members information on how to seek a career in public service. 

Its prior presentations included the following topics: The Second Amendment (2013) and Cross Examination: What They Didn't Teach You in Law School (2008).

Associate Professor Alan Oxford serves as the faculty advisor for this group.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Legal Fraternities: Blackwell Inn Phi Delta Phi International

Appalachian School of Law's Blackwell Inn Phi Delta Phi International 

This posting profiles the second legal fraternity on campus.  I profiled Phi Alpha Delta here.  

The Blackwell Inn of Phi Delta Phi International, named after beloved ASL Professor Tom Blackwell,  identifies the following mission.

Mission Statement
[T]his organization promote[s] the advancement of the highest intellectual, professional, and ethical standards within the Appalachian School of Law community.  To this end, Blackwell Inn hereby establishes . . . an honor fraternity with . . . minimum academic standards.  It shall be the responsibility of this Inn and the charge of each of its members to seek excellence in scholastic and ethical standards towards the achievement of this goal.  
The ambitious goals of this fraternity are supported by an international organization. The ASL inn is one of only five fraternal inns established in Province 14 consisting of Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and southwest Virginia.

Minimum Academic Standards

To qualify for membership in this legal fraternity:
  • 2L and 3L students must be in the top 50 percent of the class.
  • 1L students may not have more than six credits of Non-Proficient or failing grades at the time of initiation. 
  • The Executive Board, based on academic transcripts and the reputation of the student's prior school, admits transfer students on a case-by-case basis. 
The fraternity offers active and honorary memberships.

Activities and Events

PDP sponsors a number of events through out the school year.

It co-sponsored -- with the Criminal Law Society (CLS) and the ASL Innocence Project -- a program offered by Darryl Hunt, of the Innocence Project, entitled, Criminal Law -- Exonerating Death Row Inmates with DNA.

Most recently, it members hosted the Low Country Boil and a Chili Cook-off.

It co-sponsored, with the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), the annual Halloween Dance.

Associate Professor Thomas F. Blackwell

This fraternal organization bears the name of a dedicated member of the ASL community.

Associate Professor Thomas Blackwell was born in Texas, graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Arlington, then earned a master's degree in philosophy from Duke University.  In 1986, he earned a law degree, with highest honors, from Duke University School of Law.

He practiced law in Dallas and taught legal writing and research at Texas Wesleyan School of Law.  He served as a visiting assistant professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.  At that school, he taught legal writing, corporate finance, copyright law, and law office technology.  

He published a book of legal forms on disc for West Publishing Company and authored many law review articles.  He served on the editorial board of the Computer-Aided Law Instruction (CALI) and on the board of the Association of Legal Writing Instructors.  

At the Appalachian School of Law, he taught contracts, intellectual property, legal process, and the law office management practicum.

He was well known for his service to the Buchanan First Presbyterian Church, Buchanan Neighbors United, and the Technology Committee of the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce. 

He was happily married to Lisa and together they had three children, all of whom have earned college degrees and excelled.  On February 9, 2002, the Virginia Senate issued a Joint Resolution in his memory as an expression of esteem.

Awards Created to Honor Thomas F. Blackwell

In 2003, the Association of Legal Writing Instructors gave its first annual Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award.  It recognizes a law professor who has made outstanding contributions to the improvement of the field of Legal Writing.  Given by Lisa Blackwell, she noted:  "Tom always considered legal writing a crucial component of a sound legal education."

The Appalachian School of Law also gives an annual award in Professor Blackwell's memory to a student who balances responsibilities to family, community, church, and other interests while continuing to excel in school.   In 2013, three students earned the Thomas F. Blackwell Heart of ASL Award:

1L: Mike Filetti
2L: Laura Conrad
3L: Penny Mullins Hunter. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Student Organizations: The Criminal Law Society

Appalachian School of Law Criminal Law Society

The Criminal Law Society is one of the oldest student organizations on campus.

Mission Statement

The Criminal Law Society furthers, within the law school and the legal community, education about criminal law issues. It also provides a forum for individuals within the law school to express views about criminal law.

Activities and Events

The CLS sponsors the annual Barrister's Ball, a black-tie event that benefits local charities.

It also hosts an annual Opening Statement Competition.  The Criminal Law Society also invites speakers and hosts panel discussions on current topics of interest in criminal law.  It collaborated with the Innocence Project to bring Daryl Hunt to campus to discuss his exoneration in 2005 after DNA evidence matched an incarcerated man with the crime scene.  That man later admitted the crime.

In 2011, it hosted a debate between Tamara Neo (Rep.) and Gerald Arrington  (Dem.), an ASL graduate, during their election race for the Buchanan County Commonwealth Attorney's office.

Arrington won the election, making him yet another accomplished alumnus of the Appalachian School of Law.