A Lifetime of Leadership: 2012 Distinguished Alumnus, Jackson W. Moore '73

Jack Moore built Union Planters into one of the country's major banks, led the volunteer effort for a new law school facility, and works with the Vanderbilt Board of Trust to enhance Vanderbilt's stature as one of the nation's great universities.

by Grace Renshaw Jack Moore

Jack Moore started Vanderbilt Law School in 1970 because the U.S. Army had too many second lieutenants.

Like many men who attended college during the Vietnam War era, Moore had expected to enter military service as soon as he graduated. A native of Clanton, Alabama, Moore was studying banking and finance at the University of Alabama in the late 1960s when the Selective Service moved from inducting "the oldest man first" into service to a lottery system. Each man eligible for the draft was assigned a number based on the order in which his birth date was drawn in an annual lottery drawing. "Ones" would be called to service first; men with number 365 were unlikely to be inducted. "It's a number you never forget," Moore said. "Mine was 34, and that meant...

Seeking Parity

Two Vanderbilt alumni reflect on their 40-year quest to eliminate the vestiges of segregation from Tennessee's higher education system.

by John Spragens '12
George Barrett '57 and Rita Sanders Geier '70

George Barrett '57 and
Rita Sanders Geier '70

At the time, Rita Sanders Geier '70 was only 23, an idealistic first-year law student, but she knew a good education when she saw one. It was 1968, and Geier, already bearing an undergraduate degree from Fisk, had recently returned to her native south with a master's in history from the University of Chicago, where she had studied under the legendary historian John Hope Franklin. Teaching part-time at Tennessee State University, a historically black school in Nashville, Geier could immediately see the devastating effects of officially abolished segregation all around her: far fewer resources, a paltry offering of academic programs, crumbling infrastructure—all while the University of Tennessee was making plans to open a prominent new campus in downtown Nashville. "The duality was clear," she recalled. "We really had two different...

"The Best Legal Job You'll Ever Have"

Clerkships offer benefits throughout a legal career.

by Grace Renshaw Misty Johnson

When Misty Johnson '09 and her partner, Weslynn Reed '09, won Vanderbilt's 2008 Moot Court Competition, Johnson did not realize their victory would help her land a clerkship two years later with a pioneering African American federal judge she had long admired, Chief Judge Curtis Collier of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Johnson knew she wanted to clerk, but she had planned to spend at least two years working at a law firm in Atlanta first. However, when the firm deferred entering associates and sponsored pro bono fellowships, Johnson seized the opportunity to apply for clerkships, limiting her applications mostly to judges in the Southeast, where she planned to practice. "It was risky," she acknowledged. "The clerkship process is extremely competitive."

Thanks to her Moot Court victory, Johnson's risk paid off. Chief Judge Collier, whom she had met when he judged the final round of her Moot Court competition, invited her to interview after...

Robert Belton, 1935-2012

Robert Belton

The Vanderbilt Law community mourned the loss of Robert Belton after his death February 9. Professor Belton retired from a 34-year career on Vanderbilt's law faculty in 2009.

A nationally recognized scholar of labor and employment and civil rights law, Professor Belton became the first African American to be granted tenure at Vanderbilt Law School after joining the faculty in 1975. He was a popular and beloved teacher and mentor who particularly enjoyed working with students interested in social justice, and he played an important role in mentoring minority law students, serving as faculty advisor to the Black Law Students Association.

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