Alumni

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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Alandis Brassel ’15 named assistant professor of music business at the University of Memphis

May. 27, 2020—Brassel has practiced entertainment law in Memphis since his graduation from VLS and previously taught at the University of Memphis as an adjunct professor. He will join the university's permanent music business faculty this fall.

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Alumni


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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David H. Simmons ’77 profiled in Florida Politics following 18 years of service in the Florida State Legislature

Apr. 27, 2020—Simmons served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008, was elected to the state senate in 2010, and will retire this year due to term limits. He co-founded the Central Florida law firm of Beaubien Simmons Knight Mantzaris and Neal, where he continues to practice, in 1980.

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Alumni


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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Maria Lopez Evangelista ’00 elected to seat on San Francisco Superior Court

Apr. 20, 2020—Judge Evangelista had worked as a trial lawyer in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office since 2003, most recently as a deputy public defender.

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Alumni


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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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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Read John Hasnas’s review of Brian Fitzpatrick’s book, The Conservative Case for Class Actions

Mar. 27, 2020—John Hasnas, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics, touts The Conservative Case for Class Actions as "a well-constructed, informative, and clearly expressed argument for the value of class action lawsuits." In his review, published in Regulation, Hasnas says Fitzpatrick's book "should appeal to thoughtful readers regardless of prior ideological commitments."

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Judge Thomas A. Wiseman Jr. ’54 (BA’52) of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee dead at 89 

Mar. 21, 2020—Wiseman was nominated to his seat on the Middle District of Tennessee in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. He assumed senior status in 1995. Before taking the bench, he served as state treasurer from 1971-71 and in the Tennessee State House of Representatives from 1964-68. 

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