TBA Members Mentor Law Students During LMU's Crim Law Day
Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Law Melanie Reid, as the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) Criminal Justice Section vice chair, invited local judges, LMU Law alumni practicing criminal law and attorneys from the TBA Criminal Justice Section to mentor students during the Second Annual Crim Law Day on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the second installment of Crim Law Day was presented in a virtual format with nearly 50 attorneys and judges volunteering a portion of their day to mentor students from both LMU Law and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Reid paired TBA members with small groups of five to seven students. Each breakout group discussed the Case of William James Rummel vs. W.J. Estelle, Jr., which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980. The students also had the opportunity to ask the section leaders about their day-to-day activities and the challenges associated with criminal law.
“The rigors of law school can be overwhelming in normal times. This year has been especially challenging for students to connect with the material they are studying and the faculty teaching it, let alone participate in externship or mentorship opportunities,” Reid said. “Even though it was in a virtual format, it was great to see students, from both LMU and the University of Tennessee, get to connect with these great legal minds. Mentorship is so important to preparing practice-ready lawyers and events like this really help law students learn more about what it’s really like to practice criminal law in Tennessee.”
Among the members of the bench who joined the discussions were Judge Mark Fishburn, Judge Chuck Cerny, Judge Robert Holloway, Jr., Judge Jennifer Smith and Judge Camile McMullen. LMU Law alumni including Raven Austin, David Bledsoe, Oscar Butler, Noah Patton and Lauren Williams Other attorney leaders included TBA Criminal Justice Section Executive Council members Kristen Shields, Lynne Ingram, Leslie Price, Samantha Simpson, and Jarod Word. Other breakout room leaders consisted of representatives from public defender and attorney general’s offices across the state and private defense attorneys, including Mark Fulks, C. Mark Donahoe, Josh Hedrick, Barry Staubus, Christy Murray, Nate Ogle, Patrick Frogge, Scott Sutherland, Marsha Mitchell, Zach Hinkle, Steven Moore, John Morris, Wesley Taylor, Joey Fuson, Jessica Van Dyke, John Gill, John Bledsoe, Stephanie Rogers, Mitch Eisenberg, Christy Smith, Matt Brock, Sarah Keith, Heather Good, and John Colley. The attorneys used the case study to discuss their own case strategies and how they would approach the case. Students were also given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss best practices.
“This was a great way to hear from someone who is actually practicing in criminal law. It was amazing to hear from Ms. Christy Murray and to know her stories,” said Amanda Bennet, a student at LMU Law. “She did a great job at getting us to think outside our bubbles and see the someone’s point of view. I think we should have more panels like this one to talk about things, so we can get someone else’s point of view on life events.”
“I was in breakout group lead by Kristen Shields and John Morris, and it was a great experience. It was interesting to have both the prosecuting and defense sides represented. They were both extremely intelligent and engaged in the conversation,” said Taylor Way, a student at LMU Law. “I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this experience.”
The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law is located in Knoxville’s Historic Old City Hall Building. LMU Law is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of lawyers to provide sound legal service in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU Law, call 865.545.5303 or visit us online at Law.LMUnet.edu.