News

Time to Act: A Message from Dean Chris Guthrie

Jun. 5, 2020—The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless others form part of a long and tragic history of racial violence and injustice. It is time for us to act.

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Judge Aleta A. Trauger ’76 receives 2020 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Sixth Circuit

May. 29, 2020—Judge Trauger was appointed to the Middle District of Tennessee in 1998 after serving as a federal bankruptcy judge. Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw '81 (BA'79), who nominated her for the award together with other Sixth Circuit colleagues, said, "Judge Trauger has demonstrated extraordinary industry, character and intellect in every position she has held in her distinguished career. Even more remarkable is the fact that, throughout her career, she has been the first or one of the first women to hold each position.”

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Criminal justice research sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law & Neuroscience featured in June ABA Journal

May. 28, 2020—The story, "Millions have been invested in the emerging field of neurolaw. Where is it leading?", highlights the results of projects sponsored by the Research Network and features its director, Owen Jones, who holds the Glenn M. Weaver, M.D., and Mary Ellen Weaver Chair in Law, Brain and Behavior.

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Research by Owen Jones, Christopher Jaeger ’09 and two other scholars addresses “endowment affect”-how we overvalue items we’ve acquired

May. 27, 2020—New research by Owen Jones, Christopher Jaeger '09 and two colleagues may explain why we sometimes overvalue items we’ve acquired—to an irrational degree—irrespective of their market or sentimental value. The endowment effect can lead people to make unpredictable economic decisions and has far-reaching implications for legal policy relating to markets and business. Jones holds the Glenn M. Weaver, M.D. and Mary Ellen Weaver Chair in Law, Brain, and Behavior, and Jaeger is an acting assistant professor of lawyering at New York University who also holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Vanderbilt.

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Vanderbilt establishes Nicholas S. Zeppos scholarship with $8 million gift

May. 26, 2020—The scholarship was endowed by a gift from the Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. Foundation to recognize Zeppos’ extraordinary tenure as Vanderbilt chancellor from 2008 through 2019. Ross Perot Jr., BA’81, announced the gift Feb. 7 at a meeting of Vanderbilt’s Board of Trust, on which he has served since 2010. The chancellor emeritus is currently on a yearlong sabbatical and will return to the Vanderbilt faculty as professor of law and political science.

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106 VLS students to work pro bono for judges, government agencies and law offices, and nonprofits in summer 2020

May. 20, 2020—Rising 2Ls and 3Ls will work in federal and state judicial chambers, agencies and law offices, with prosecutors and public defenders, and with public interest and advocacy organizations.

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Funmi Akinnawonu named George Barrett Social Justice Fellow for 2020

May. 13, 2020—Akinnawonu will work as an immigration attorney at the Mississippi Center for Justice in Jackson. She connected with the MCJ while working at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Jackson during summer 2019.

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Chris Serkin, Dan Sharfstein, Kevin Stack, Yesha Yadav, Ingrid Wuerth and Debra Lee receive 2020 Hall-Hartman Outstanding Teaching Awards

May. 8, 2020—Hall-Hartman Awards are based on a poll of students in each first-year section and also honor outstanding teaching in large and small upper-level classes.

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Micah Bradley receives Class of 2020 Founder’s Medal for First Honors

May. 8, 2020—21 2020 graduates honored for scholastic accomplishments, leadership and contributions to the Vanderbilt Law community.

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Amber Banks ’20 receives 2020 Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Award

May. 6, 2020—Banks is one of eight 2020 law graduates honored for their exemplary commitment to public interest law and pro bono work. She was a Garrison Social Justice Scholar.

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Cort Thompson ’20 wins the American Society of International Law 2020 Richard Baxter Military Prize

May. 5, 2020—Thompson’s paper, “Avoiding Pyrrhic Victories in Orbit: A Need for Anti-Satellite Arms Control in the 21st Century,” is forthcoming in the SMU Journal of Air Law and Commerce. Thompson is a Captain in the U.S. Army and will enter the JAG Corps after graduation.

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2020 graduates Joe Sandford and Willoe DeFuccio named Gideon’s Promise Fellows

May. 4, 2020—Sandford will join the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office in Knoxville, Tennessee; DeFuccio will join the Mecklenberg Defenders in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Class of 2020 Student Awards announced by the Vanderbilt Bar Association

May. 1, 2020—Elizabeth Holden received the Chris Lantz Award, Wesley Gonzalez the Damali K. Booker Award, Amber Banks the Philip G. Davidson Award, and Joey Blake and Kristine Knowles the Jordan A. Quick Award.

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16 members of the Class of 2020 complete Pro Bono Pledge

May. 1, 2020—Amber Banks ’20 completed 611 pro bono hours as a VLS student. Eunice Lim ’21 and Jackson Hill ’22 were also recognized for leading their classes in pro bono hours with 299 and 99 hours, respectively.

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Hannah Miller ’20: Seeking Challenge and Service in the Law

Apr. 30, 2020—Miller attended VLS with support from the Thomas W. Beasley Endowment Fund, which supports military veterans. She plans to join the U.S. Army JAG Corps and serve as a law clerk for Judge Amul Thapar on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit starting in 2023.

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Read Lawfare column by Cort Thompson ’20 about Russia’s recent space activity

Apr. 21, 2020—Thompson is a military intelligence officer attending VLS through the U.S. Army’s Funded Legal Education Program and as a Thomas Beasley Scholar. His Lawfare blog column, “Russia’s Recent Space Activity Is a Return to Old Form,” is based on his paper “Avoiding Pyrrhic Victories in Orbit: A Need for Anti-Satellite Arms Control in the 21st Century,” forthcoming in the SMU Journal of Air Law and Commerce. Thompson’s paper is the winner of the American Society of International Law’s 2020 Richard Baxter Military Prize.

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VLS Pro Bono Spring Break team works at Just City in Memphis with Wesley Dozier ’19

Apr. 21, 2020—Dozier is working at Just City as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. He supervised a team of students who worked on expungement cases, participating a Court Watch program, and supported other criminal justice advocacy initiatives.

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JETLaw paper by Ramon Ryan ’21 prompts legislation aimed at creating NEPA review for satellite launches

Apr. 21, 2020—Ryan’s paper, “The Fault in Our Stars,” which challenges the FCC’s longstanding policy of excluding commercial satellites from NEPA review, has prompted Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to ask for a GAO review.

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Listen to W. Kip Viscusi interview about the value of reducing risks to life on Top of Mind

Apr. 20, 2020—Julie Rose interviews W. Kip Viscusi about balancing the economic toll of sheltering in place with the risk of more coronavirus cases if businesses reopen in this April 8 podcast.

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Morgan Ricks and co-author Lev Menand propose “digital money” as a fast, low-cost way to distribute emergency aid in Bloomberg Finance

Apr. 20, 2020—Their column, "Let's Pay the Stimulus in Digital Dollars," touts the advantages of a "digital dollar" in allowing for faster distribution of stimulus funds, supporting social distancing, reducing the cost of distributing funds to recipients, and eliminating check-cashing costs and other fees for recipients who don't have bank accounts.

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W. Kip Viscusi featured on Planet Money podcast addressing “Lives vs. the Economy”

Apr. 20, 2020—In a discussion with Planet Money hosts Sarah Gonzalez and Kenny Malone, Professor Viscusi applies his research on the value of reducing risks to life to two pressing questions: "Is it worth it to shut down the economy to save lives?" Or "Should we let people die to save the economy?" He talks about how he came up with a value for a human life and how that value could inform decisions about when to reopen the economy. Viscusi co-directs the Ph.D. in Law and Economics program.

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VLS Pro Bono Spring Break team works at Mississippi Center for Justice

Apr. 15, 2020—Students worked in an expungement clinic, investigated policing practices to support impact litigation, researched the criminalization of HIV and supported other legal advocacy initiatives.

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Ganesh Sitaraman proposes a “war production board” for coronavirus testing in co-authored Boston Globe opinion piece

Apr. 13, 2020—Sitaraman and co-authors Julius Krein and E. Glen Weyl propose the formation of a Pandemic Testing Board tasked with scaling up production, coordination and deployment of COVID-19 tests. The board's mission would be to increase the supply of tests and to launch a Pandemic Response Corps of civilians trained to administer them.

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Hannah Martins Miller ’20 receives Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center Leadership Award

Apr. 9, 2020—Miller was recognized for her leadership in activities that contribute to the achievements, interests and goals of women or that promote gender equity. She is editor-in-chief of the Vanderbilt Law Review. She served in the Army ROTC as an undergraduate at Princeton University, and her legal education has been supported by the Funded Legal Education Program, which sponsors 25 Army officers each year.

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Kevin Witenoff ’21 selected as American Constitution Society Next Generation Leader

Apr. 9, 2020—Witenoff has served as president of the VLS chapter of the American Constitution Society during 2019-20.

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