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Alumni E-News
September 2011

News  -  Alumni Success Stories  -  CLEs & Other Events  -  CPD Resources  -  Lawyer Search  - Faculty Scholarship and Research  -  Update Contact Information


Dear ,


In this issue of the Alumni E-News you can learn about upcoming CLEs and events hosted by the School of Law and members of its community.  I am pleased to report that the Alumni Twins Outing was a success again this year.  We had 90 alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends in attendance.  We picked the perfect night to gather at the law school for a picnic before heading over to Target Field.  The next alumni social event is the Third Annual Golf Outing on September 19th.  Registration closes on Friday, September 9. Family and friends are welcome. We'd love to see you there!  Register today! 

We have an upcoming opportunity for those of you looking to connect with fellow alumni over a service project.  On Sunday, October 2, 2011, from 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m., we will host the Alumni Service Project at Kids Against Hunger in South Minneapolis.  Bring your family and join us.  Space is limited to 40 people, so register soon.


Each issue of the Alumni E-News also contains a section regarding the resources available to alumni from the Career and Professional Development (CPD) Office.  This summer, the School of Law welcomed our new CPD Director, Kendra Brodin.  Working alongside her is Assistant CPD Director, Cathy Powell Finnegan.  I encourage all of you to check out the resources and to also contact Kendra or Cathy as you navigate your career path. 
Finally, new to the Alumni E-News is the Faculty Research and Scholarship section.  The faculty at the School of Law continues to contribute important scholarship to the legal community. Please visit this new section to read our faculty scholarship.

All my best,

Nicole Fredricks Jackson

Director of Alumni Relations


School of Law News

Judges Needed for September 17 UST Law Intramural Moot Court Competition

Student members of the Board of Advocates are looking for volunteers to judge the UST Law Intramural Moot Court Competition. The competition will be held on Saturday, September 17, starting around 8:00 a.m. and ending early afternoon.  If you are willing to serve as a judge, please contact Courtney Sekevitch ('12) at lawboa@stthomas.edu as soon as possible.  They have approximately 30 spots to fill. 


Fall 2011 Entering Class Profile Announced

The Class of 2014 started class on Monday, August 22, 2011.  The entering classes profile is now available online.  More...


Mary Wells Teaching a Session at MALL Legal Research Institute

The Minnesota Association of Law Librarians (MALL) is presenting a nine-part institute to provide continuing education in legal research.  They are applying for 18 CLE credits.  School of Law Librarian Mary Wells will be teaching one of the sessions.  More...

School of Law adds Federal Commutation Clinic

The University of St. Thomas School of Law will begin the 2011 school year by launching a new Federal Commutation Clinic.  Under the direction of Professor Mark Osler, the clinic is the first of its kind in the nation. More... 


Alumni Success Stories

Alumni of the University are doing great things in the communities that they serve.  Visit Alumni Success Stories to read more and to see other amazing things that UST Law alumni are doing in the communities that they serve. Recently we learned of the following success story:

  • In June 2010, Susan Shogren Smith ('04), along with other family members, started a non-profit organization known as "Picture a Hero."  They offer, at no cost, individual and family portraits to members of the United States Military who are preparing to deploy.  Thank you for providing such a meaningful gift to service men and women and their families!
  • Andrea Specht ('06), Bloomington Theatre and Art Center (BTAC) Executive Director, was recognized as the "New Rotarian of the Year" by the Bloomington Noon Rotary Club in June. Congratulations, Andrea!

If you know of a law graduate that recently received an award, published an article or was featured in a story, let us know.  Additionally, we are working on a story for the next issue of St. Thomas Lawyer Magazine.  We'd like to include a story about the fun and unusual hobbies that our alumni are doing in their spare time outside of the workplace.  If you have something to share, please contact the Director of Alumni Relations, Nicole Fredricks Jackson, at lawalumni@stthomas.edu.

Faculty Scholarship and Research

Our faculty, ranked #38 in the country in terms of scholarly impact, continues to produce books and articles that engage the legal profession and contribute to a deeper understanding of the law in a variety of fields.  The following are some of the recent articles published by our faculty.  By clicking on the title, you will be taken to the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) web page where you can download the entire article for free.  (SSRN ranks law schools based on the number of downloads, and St. Thomas has consistently finished among the top 75 schools despite our relatively small size.)


"Muslims and Religious Liberty in the Era of 9/11: Empirical Evidence from the Federal Courts"  by Greg Sisk and Michael Heise

Abstract: In our continuing empirical study of religious liberty decisions, we find that Muslims asserting free exercise or accommodation claims were at a distinct and substantial disadvantage in the lower federal courts for the period of 1996-2005. Holding other variables constant, the predicted likelihood for success for non-Muslim claimants in religious free exercise or accommodation claims was approximately 38 percent, while the predicted probability for success for Muslim claimants fell to approximately 22 percent (with the disparity being slightly higher among court of appeals judges). In sum, Muslim claimants had only about half the chance to achieve accommodation that was enjoyed by claimants from other religious communities.

Drawing on insights from legal studies, political science, and cognitive psychology, we discuss alternative explanations for this result, including (1) a cultural antipathy to Muslims as a minority religion outside the modern American religious triumvirate of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews; (2) growing secularism in certain sectors of society and opposition to groups with traditional religious values; (3) the possibility that claims made by Muslims are weaker and deserve to be rejected on the merits; and (4) the perception that followers of Islam pose a security danger to the United States, especially in an era of terrorist anxiety. Presenting a new threat to religious liberty, the persistent uneasiness of many Americans about our Muslim neighbors appears to have filtered into the attitudes of even such well-educated and independent elites as federal judges.


   "Analyzing Common Themes in Legal Scholarship on Professionalism"  by Neil Hamilton

Abstract: The ABA is going to change the accreditation standards to require more emphasis on fostering each student’s ethical professional formation. This requires a paradigm shift in legal education from a focus on educational inputs like a course on professional responsibility to a focus on clearly articulated learning outcomes relating to each student’s ethical development.

Law schools need help to define assessable learning outcomes for professional formation. This paper provides an analysis of existing scholarship on professionalism that will guide faculties in defining specific learning outcomes for professional formation in the context of existing scholarship in the field. There is substantial consensus among scholars that professionalism’s foundation in an internalized moral core or personal conscience. Several scholars emphasize the critically important point that a student’s understanding of professionalism is developmental meaning a student grows over time toward a fully-internalized understanding of professionalism. This means that legal educators must tailor educational engagements to each student’s stage of development.

   "Effectiveness Requires Listening: How to Assess and Improve Listening Skills" by Neil Hamilton

Abstract: This article first explores the strong empirical evidence that listening is an important skill to be effective and successful in the study and practice of law, but legal education gives little attention to helping students develop listening skills. There is a great need for the required curriculum to include educational engagements to help students develop this critical skill, but no scholarship on what engagements might be effective.

The article outlines some criteria to assess which listening exercises might be most effective. It then proposes six exercises that meet the criteria.

This article builds on my series of articles on the virtues, capacities and skills of lawyers who demonstrate high professionalism. The virtue of empathy and the closely related skill of listening are important elements of professionalism and contribute strongly to both client and senior lawyer perceptions of effectiveness in the practice of law.


"How to Count to Thirty-Four: The Constitutional Case for a Constitutional Convention"  by Michael Stokes Paulsen

Abstract: In this article, Professor Paulsen sets forth the proper method for counting to thirty-four -- the number of states needed to apply for an Article V constitutional convention, in order to trigger Congress's constitutional obligation to call one -- and applies it to the more than 400 extant submissions of the states over the past two hundred years, through the end of 2010. The rules: Article V contemplates only "unlimited" conventions for proposing amendments. State applications explicitly conditioned on the convention being limited to a certain topic or amendment language are not valid applications for a general, unrestricted constitutional convention. However, state applications reciting a subject matter purpose or agenda but not conditioned on the convention being limited to that topic, constitute valid applications for a general constitutional convention. "Limited-only" applications do not logically and necessarily repeal earlier, valid applications. And valid applications for a general convention may be cumulated over time and across subject; they do not die of their own force, but live on until repealed. Article V imposes no time deadline for cumulating convention applications.

Applying these rules -- the correct counting rules -- how close are we to the magic number of thirty-four? Professor Paulsen saves the dazzling, dizzying conclusion for the end of the article, followed by an appendix updating every state's status (lights "on" or "off" for a general constitutional convention for proposing amendments) on a state-by-state basis.


   "The Power of Rigor: James Madison as a Persuasive Writer"  by Tom Berg, Julie Oseid, and Joseph Orrino

Abstract: This article is the third in a planned series of articles about the writing qualities and habits of our most eloquent American Presidents. The focus of all the articles is on the lessons modern legal writers can learn from the Presidents. James Madison’s rigor, in both his approach to problems and in his resulting written work, was famous; it was this rigor that contributed to the persuasiveness of his writing. Even though he was not a lawyer, Madison had all the best writing habits that lawyers should emulate – attention to audience, careful preparation, and attention to consequences.

Madison’s rigor, in both his approach to problems and in his resulting written work, was famous; it was this rigor that contributed to the persuasiveness of his writing. “The great little Madison” may have lacked physical presence and personal charisma, but he overcame those limitations to become one of the most influential public figures in American history by cultivating his particular strengths. He had an analytical mind that he developed to see and clearly express arguments, counterarguments, and distinctions. He had, despite poor health, an appetite for work that he used to out-prepare others. And he had a sensitivity to surrounding circumstances that he cultivated to address his audience’s concerns and to envision the practical consequences of various actions.

The article considers why rigor is an essential writing quality, reviews Madison’s life and writing habits, and analyzes three examples of Madison’s writings (The Memorial and Remonstrance, Federalist No. 10, and a letter from Madison to Thomas Jefferson).


   "War Powers Irresolution: The Obama Administration and the Libyan Intervention" by Robert Delahunty

Abstract: The US military intervention in Libya, now in its third month, has brought two fundamental and recurrent constitutional questions to the fore. The first is whether the President can initiate a war, admittedly not in national self-defense or for the protection of US persons or property abroad, with prior approval from Congress. The second is whether the provisions of the War Powers Resolution that require disengagement if the President has not obtained congressional sanction within two months of beginning such a war are constitutional.


   "The Story of the School Prayer Decisions: Civil Religion under Assault" by Tom Berg

Abstract: This chapter, from Foundation Press's forthcoming "First Amendment Stories" volume, traces the background, resolution, and impact of the Supreme Court's first school prayer decisions, Engel v. Vitale and Abington School Dist. v. Schempp. Among other things, the chapter traces the relation of the Regents' Prayer, struck down in Engel, to the nondenominational theistic civil religion of the 1950s, and the relation of constitutional attacks on the prayer to various criticisms of that civil religion from both religious and nonreligious quarters.


Upcoming Low/No Cost CLE Opportunities and Other Events

September 14

September 16

 September 19

 September 20

September 21

September 23

September 27

September 28

October 2

October 27 

October 28 

November 10 

November 12 

November 16 

December 8


Career & Professional Development Resources

Click here to learn more about employment statistics, an update on OCI, the upcoming Washington, DC Happy Hour, and office hours available for alumni and students.  Job postings for alumni are also available in this section.


Looking to Connect with Law Alumni in Your Practice Area or State? Visit Lawyer Search

In 2009 the Office of Alumni Relations launched the School of Law Lawyer Search, a business development and networking tool for UST Law graduates. Lawyer Search is free and a great way for law alumni to connect with others working in the same practice area or state.  It is also a useful resource for the public to use to seek out and hire our wonderful alumni.  Register your profile here today! Or visit Lawyer Search to find a fellow UST Law graduate working in a specific state or business/practice area.


Update Your Contact Information

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Nicole Fredricks Jackson, Director of Law Alumni Relations
University of St. Thomas School of Law, Alumni Relations Office

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