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. 

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