Law Students Take Charge

Students are becoming more involved in activities at the University of Tulsa College of Law and Dean Robert A. Butkin couldn’t be happier.
Actually, Butkin changes his happiness about various programs to a personal excitement because it is the students that are making a difference, raising the standards for everyone in the college.
That reflects in the 90 percent pass rate on the state bar exam for the TU Law Class of 2006 for those taking the test for the first time. There was an 86 percent pass rate among TU law students when those taking the test a second time were included in the number.
It is the student involvement in law school conferences, competitions and pro bono work that makes this school a wonderful place to work, Butkin said.
High on the dean’s list is a Supreme Court Review conference conference sponsored by the Law Review class set Dec. 1.
Professor Mark Tushnet, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University Law Center, will be attending as the guest editor.
Tushnet served as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1972-73 is co-author of four casebooks. He also was president of the Association of American Law Schools for 2004.
Other professors also will present papers and speak during the seminar which is a Continuing Legal Education program for lawyers, Butkin added. Visiting professors scheduled to attend include Seth Weinberger, University of Puget Sound assistant professor; Tung Yin, University of Iowa College of Law associate professor, and Stephen I. Vladeck, University of Miami School of Law associate professor.
Gregory K. Frizzell, currently presiding judge of the Tulsa County District Court, also is scheduled to speak.
Frizzell has been nominated by President George W. Bush and is endorsed by Sen. Jim Inhofe to serve on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. The nomination is pending.
The Tulsa Law Review Sixth Annual Legal Symposium: The Scholarship of Laurence H. Tribe, is set April 9 – 10, 2007.
Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb Professor at the Harvard Law School, is considered one of the constitutional experts and Supreme Court practitioners in the nation. He is noted for his extensive support of liberal legal cases and has argued high-profile cases including one for Al Gore during the 2000 U.S. presidential election.
Speakers at these seminars are significant and they have agreed to participate at the request of law students, Butkin said. These are 10 to 12 of the leading constitutional law professors in the nation.
There is an extremely active board of advocates that help develop teams that help students develop interviewing and trial and other skills needed in the legal profession.
These seminars enhance the reputation of the law school, Butkin said. They also help attract high quality students at a time when law school enrollments are declining nationwide.
Last year the University of Tulsa Health Law teams placed first and second in national competition, he said. The trial lawyer team also did well.
Competitions and participants were designated by students, not from the top down dictating participants and events, Butkin continued. Students are taking life to the school and building professionalism.
This year’s class of about 180 students is more qualified than those during the past seven to 10 years, Butkin said. Part of that reason is the student ambassadors who conduct facility tours and tell about their own experiences. These students are not participating as clerks and volunteering as they can. They have assigned duties and hours answering inquiries and emails.
Similarly, students involved in community activities doing pro bono work are making an impact helping the poor and needy as well as non profit groups.
They are under the direction of Jennifer Flexinger, pro bono coordinator.
Some people might complain that lawyers are unethical and lack professionalism, but those attitudes are not part of this school’s atmosphere, he said.
Immigration law is under the direction of Betsy McCormick and students get hands-on experience in these cases, Butkin said. Irma Russell, the new NELPI director also is providing her knowledge and experience in this energy field.
Greg Duehl is another new law school faculty member, Butkin said. He is working in commercial law and is doing research on the pay day lending industry.
These are very exciting times at the law school, Butkin said. University of Tulsa officials are very supportive. The momentum is driven by law student activities.

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