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National Jurist

TU Law professor published in world’s top medical journal

Matt Lamkin is an associate professor of law at TU Law.

Should doctors be asked to report to health insurers when patients aren’t following their treatment plans?  Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine – the top medical journal in the world – TU College of Law Associate Professor Matt Lamkin addresses workplace “wellness” programs that tie the cost of employees’ insurance to their health behaviors. Under these insurance plans, employees with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can see their insurance costs rise by thousands of dollars if they fail to follow their doctors’ instructions. Lamkin writes that although these programs seek to reduce health care costs by improving employees’ health – both of which are worthy goals – they can also come with hidden costs.

“Requiring physicians to report their patients’ noncompliance to insurers can threaten the trust that a productive doctor-patient relationship depends on,” Lamkin said.  “If a patient knows that a negative report from her physician will cause her insurance costs to skyrocket, she may be less honest with her doctor about her health behaviors.”

Professor Lamkin joined The University of Tulsa College of Law in 2013.  Prior to entering academia, he served as a policy advisor to the mayor of Indianapolis, an attorney at one of the world’s largest law firms and a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.

You can read the article, “Physician as Double Agent: Conflicting Duties Arising from Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs,” at the New England Journal of Medicine.

TU Law ranked as #37 by Above the Law

The University of Tulsa College of Law (TU Law) has recently been recognized by Above the Law as #37 in its 2018 Top Law School rankings. Above the Law’s rankings focus on student outcomes from the graduating class of 2017 including employment, costs and debt, and alumni satisfaction.

Above the Law limits their list to the top 50 law schools including those with quality employment prospects outside of their particular region as well as for students who do not graduate at the top of the class.

For the same year, TU Law is also ranked as #15 nationally and #1 in Oklahoma for 2017 graduate employment in full-time, long-term Bar License required and JD Advantage positions ten months after graduation.

TU Law was founded in 1923 and offers fall, spring and summer starts. For more information, contact us or read about us online.

Law valedictorian Hope Forsyth wins W. Lee Johnson Award

Hope Forsyth was recently honored by The University of Tulsa College of Law for graduating with the highest cumulative grade point average. The W. Lee Johnson Award was presented to Forsyth at the TU Law Hooding Ceremony, Friday, May 4, 2018, where she also served as class valedictorian.

As a law student, Forsyth received the highest grade in 11 classes including Basic Corporate Law, Agency & Partnership, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law II, Professional Responsibility, Evidence, Selling & Leasing, Criminal Law, Legal Writing, Civil Procedure I and Torts. She also received the George and Jean Price Award for Excellence in Legal Writing and the OBA Award for Outstanding Student.

Forsyth served as the executive editor of the Tulsa Law Review, is a  student member of the Johnson-Sontag/Council Oak Chapter of the American Inns of Court and is a member of Phi Delta Phi Legal Honor Society.

During her time at TU, Forsyth gained experience at multiple levels of the federal court system as a judicial extern for Senior Judge Stephanie Seymour on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and as an intern for Chief Judge Gregory K. Frizzell, former Magistrate Judge T. Lane Wilson and Magistrate Judge Paul J. Cleary, all of the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Before law school, Forsyth’s essay “Forum” was published in “Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society and Culture” by Princeton University Press. Her law review comment, “Mutually Assured Protection: Dmitri Shostakovich and Russian Influence on American Copyright Law,” is forthcoming in the Tulsa Law Review. In her free time, Forsyth is an America’s Test Kitchen home recipe tester and a volunteer sacramental catechist for her Catholic parish. Forsyth will join the law firm of GableGotwals as an associate attorney in September.

Hamidi receives Crowe & Dunlevy Diversity Scholars Program scholarship

Fareshteh Hamidi, first-year law student at The University of Tulsa University College of Law, was recently honored with Crowe & Dunlevy’s Diversity Scholars Program scholarship, an honor awarded to one outstanding TU Law candidate each year who qualifies based on academic achievement, financial need and commitment to the law. The scholarship totals $10,000, with $2,000 installments granted each semester based on the student’s excellent progress and performance.

Hamidi graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Oklahoma City University. Since that time, she has held a legal internship and worked in the health care and hospitality industries. Today, she is seeking a health law certificate from the University of Tulsa College of Law, where she is a member of the Immigration Law Society and won first place in the Board of Advocates Redbud Invitational Competition. In her spare time, Hamidi is an active community member, volunteering with the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Emergency Infant Services, NewView Oklahoma, OK Kids Korral at the Toby Keith Foundation and more.

Crowe & Dunlevy offers comprehensive transactional and litigation services from early mediation to alternative dispute resolution through 30 practice groups and can be found at crowedunlevy.com.

Cybersecurity law scholar Ido Kilovaty joins TU Law

Cybersecurity scholar Ido Kilovaty joins TU as the Frederic Dorwart Endowed Assistant Professor of Law.

Ido Kilovaty has been appointed to hold the Frederic Dorwart Endowed Assistant Professor of Law position at The University of Tulsa College of Law. He will teach cybersecurity law, internet law and international law.

Kilovaty comes to TU from Yale Law School where he was a Cyber Fellow for the Center for Global Legal Challenges, a Resident Fellow for the Information Society Project, and involved in co-teaching a course titled, “The Law & Technology of Cyber Conflict” offered both to law students and computer science majors.

“I am delighted to be joining The University of Tulsa College of Law,” said Kilovaty. “I am very much looking forward to be working with the outstanding faculty and students at Tulsa.”

Focuses on domestic and global cybersecurity.

Kilovaty studies the connection between technology, law and policy, with a focus on domestic and global cybersecurity. His recently authored “Freedom to Hack” which proposes a solution of ethical hacking for the improvement of smart-device security is forthcoming in the Ohio State Law Journal. He has also written on election interference through cyberspace, “Doxfare: – Politically Motivated Leaks and the Future of the Norm on Non-Intervention in the Era of Weaponized Information” appearing in the Harvard National Security Journal (2018).

Kilovaty’s recent scholarship includes – “NATO, ICRC, and the U.S. –Direct Participation in Hacktivities under International Humanitarian Law” (Duke Law & Technology Review); “World Wide Web of Exploitations—Peacetime Cyber Espionage under International Law” (Columbia Science & Technology Law Review); “Virtual Violence: Disruptive Cyber Operations as ‘Attacks’ under International Humanitarian Law” (Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review). Kilovaty has also published op-eds and essays in the Harvard Law Review Blog, Lawfare, Just Security, WIRED, and TechCrunch.

At Yale Law, Kilovaty developed a project to connect the legal and technical aspects of cybersecurity.

At Yale Law School, Kilovaty developed a cross-disciplinary project on cybersecurity bringing together lawyers, policymakers and technology experts to engage in constructive discourse on the current state of affairs on cybersecurity law and policy. The project was a collaboration between Yale Law School and Yale University’s Department of Computer Science designed to bridge the gaps between the legal and technical aspects of cybersecurity.

Kilovaty earned his Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree from Georgetown University Law Center, his Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of California Berkeley School Of Law, and his Bachelor of Laws LL.B.) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 

Famed attorney Jan Schlichtmann to speak at TU Law’s Richard B. Risk CLE Practicum Series

Jan Schlichtmann is a nationally known environmental and civil justice lawyer whose work has inspired a book and movie. Schlichtmann, named one of “The Best Lawyers in America” via peer review process, is coming to The University of Tulsa as part of the Richard B. Risk Continuing Legal Education Practicum Series.

Schlichtmann graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1973 followed by a law degree from Cornell University in 1977. He began private practice in 1978 in Massachusetts and it did not take long for his work to be recognized.

Hear Schlichtmann speak Wednesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. in the Lorton Performance Center, free and open to the public.

Schlichtmann is most known for his work on the federal lawsuit Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc. where he represented eight families from Woburn, Massachusetts, in 1986. There were multiple instances of leukemia that affected each of the families and, after taking the case, Schlichtmann alleged from the evidence he found that the water was being contaminated by Cryovac, a subsidiary of W. R. Grace and Company; Beatrice Foods, the operator of a tannery; and UniFirst, a laundry service. UniFirst settled first and the money received from that company was put to the case against the other two. The jury found Beatrice not liable, but Schlichtmann received a settlement from Cryovac. This case and the events surrounding it were documented in the book A Civil Action written by Johnathan Harr in 1995. The book became a best seller, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and was made into a 1998 movie starring John Travolta as Jan Schlichtmann.

Since the case in Woburn, Schlichtmann has won many other cases and is known for his work in civil justice, science and the environment. In the late 1990s, he represented 69 Toms River, New Jersey families, who claimed that their children had developed cancer from pollution by three companies. They reached a settlement in 2001. Schlichtmann was also a co-founder of the Legal Broadcast Network (LBN) in 2004. LBN helps bring attention to important issues of law through blogs and podcasts

Schlichtmann has also lectured at many law schools and conferences offering his insights from his experiences. Schlichtmann’s Tulsa lecture is titled, “Justice & The Lawyer – Lessons from the Environmental Wars.”

TU Law alumnus Dick Risk makes the TU Law CLE Practicum Series possible.

Prior to the lecture, there was a private reception and showing of A Civil Action at the Circle Cinema with lecture sponsor and TU law alumnus, Richard “Dick” Risk, in attendance. TU law students, alumni and lecture registrants were invited.

Risk graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1963 and decided to attend law school in 1998. After graduating in 2001 at age 60, he decided to start his own solo practice. He settled a large class action suit early in his law career and wanted to do something for TU so he used part of the settlement to create an endowment for the law school in 2011. “At then-Dean Janet Levit’s suggestion, we created a practicum series to help new graduates of the law school learn things about practicing law that the law school doesn’t teach,” said Risk.

These regular lectures are available to students, the Tulsa legal community and anyone with interest in law. Risk wanted to add special lecture to the series. He said, “I suggested to Dean Lyn Entzeroth that we should consider in addition to the regular noon series having a speaker who would be recognized by the general public to talk about the virtues of the legal profession and its positive impact on our society. I immediately thought of Jan Schlichtmann, and I’m thrilled he accepted my invitation for this event.” Risk had heard Schlichtmann speak at two different seminars and thought he was a powerful speaker and a delightful person. “Jan and I are both advocates for truth and justice, and I am honored that he will be the first evening lecture sponsored by the Risk Practicum Series,” said Risk.

There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Lorton Performance Center preceding Jan Schlichtmann’s lecture at 6 p.m. and the event is free and open to the public.

Warigia Bowman joins TU Law

Warigia Bowman joins TU Law

The University of Tulsa College of Law welcomes Warigia Bowman as a new assistant professor of law. She will teach administrative, energy and water law.

“We are honored and excited to add such an accomplished professor to our faculty,” said Lyn Entzeroth, dean of the college. “Her experiences and knowledge are unmatched, and our students will truly benefit.

Bowman’s interests include the effects of agriculture and climate change on water resources, as well as wind and solar energy. She has published several articles in the telecommunications area and has developed significant expertise with regard to censorship and hate speech.

Will teach administrative, energy and water law.

“I am incredibly pleased to be returning to the Southwest. I am proud to be a Westerner and thrilled to be joining the faculty at The University of Tulsa School of Law,” said Bowman. “This is a fascinating and dynamic period in water, energy and natural resources. The coming decades are likely to witness a revolution in the production, use, regulation, and legal regimes with regard to all kinds of energy and water and Oklahoma will be the epicenter of these changes.”

Earned a doctorate from Harvard and a J.D. from UT-Austin.

Bowman earned her doctorate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where she was the Hauser Fellow for Nonprofit Management and the Oppenheimer Scholar for African Studies. Bowman holds two degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and her Juris Doctor from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. She holds an undergraduate degree in history from Columbia College of Columbia University in New York, where she was the Harry S. Truman Scholar for Public Service.

Bowman joins TU Law from her position as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service where she taught Field Research Methods and Theory, and Practice of Global Development. Previously, she served as assistant professor of Public Policy at the University of Mississippi and visiting assistant professor at American University in Cairo, Egypt.

Before academia, Bowman was a trial attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Before becoming an academic, Bowman served as an honors trial attorney in the environmental division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Clinton Administration and as a briefing attorney for the Texas Supreme Court.

She has recently published articles in The Journal of Modern African StudiesThe Innovation Journal and The William and Mary Policy Review. Additionally, she has been an invited lecturer at the University of Washington, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Intelligence University.

TU Law given an “A” for facilities

The University of Tulsa College of Law has been selected as one of the “Best Law School Buildings” by preLaw Magazine, March 2018. TU Law received an “A” for its campus facility, aesthetics, technology, library and amenities.

Tyler Roberts, editor of preLaw magazine noted in the article, “When applying to law school, it is important to consider the academic rigor of each school, its employment statistics and its bar-passage rate. But don’t forget that once law school starts, you could be spending 40-60 hours a week there. You may spend more time – at least awake time – there than you do at home. This is why preLaw magazine started its evaluations of law school buildings in 2014.”

TU Law building’s points-of-interest include:

MABEE LEGAL INFORMATION CENTER (LAW LIBRARY

The Mabee Legal Information Center (MLIC) is a resource-rich and technologically advanced facility giving students and the Tulsa legal community access to the highest standard in legal study and research. The MLIC has a 400,000-volume collection and is staffed with three professional librarians. The building also provides space for three law journals, certificate programs and the school’s alumni office. Features include an electronic classroom, compact shelving, and digital access to electronic and alternative research sources. During regular business hours, students, faculty and staff may reach a reference librarian at 918- 631-2404 or mlic@utulsa.edu.

TU LAW DIGITAL COMMONS

The University of Tulsa College of Law preserves and allows users to access the intellectual output of our community in the TU Law Digital Commons. This repository is a joint project of the Mabee Legal Information Center (MLIC) and the college’s Department of External Relations.

CLASSROOMS

Classrooms are equipped with the latest technology including HD projection systems, touchscreen controls, computer and laptop connections (VGA and HOM1), integrated audio systems with wireless capabilities, Sympodiums, Blu-ray players, document cameras and built­-in classroomcapture/recording systems. See the classrooms in our TU Law virtual tour. All classrooms are linked together with a full HD mesh that allows audio and video to be transmitted between rooms. The Pit, a student lounge, is equipped with a fully integrated audio system and a quad screen video wall used for digital signage applications and event broadcasts.

WM STUART PRICE AND MICHAEL C. TURPEN COURTROOM

The Price and Turpen Courtroom at TU Law is designed for the future of legal instruction. The courtroom boasts a state-of-the art sound system, broadcast and HD recording capabilities, HD video conferencing equipment and a wireless network. The courtroom is used for moot court competitions, classroom instruction and a number of symposia and lectures throughout the year.

BOESCHE LEGAL CLINIC

The Boesche Legal Clinic houses the Immigrant Rights Project, the Tulsa Immigrant Resource Network and the Lobeck Taylor Community Advocacy Clinic. The facility allows law students the opportunity to meet real clients and face challenges in a workplace setting. Students are able to put legal skills and classroom education to the test while under the close supervision of a staff attorney.

ACCESSIBILITY

Elevators

  • An elevator is located in the Mabee Legal Information Center (MLIC) to provide easy multi­level access to the various research facilities.
  • An elevator is also located in the College of Law lobby for access to the Pit and lower level of the MLIC.

Classrooms

  • All classrooms at the College of Law are accessible without having to use stairs.

Restrooms

  • All of the restrooms at the College of Law and in the MLIC are ADA compliant.
  • The restrooms in the MLIC and on the east side of College of Law are larger and more accommodating for persons with disabilities.

SUSTAINABLE FEATURES OF THE LAW SCHOOL BUILDING

The University of Tulsa Law building contains a number of modern sustainable features including:

  • Building automation for temperature and humidity controls
  • Occupancy sensors for lighting
  • Efficiency optimization of existing light fixtures in remodeled areas
  • Variable frequency drives on key air handlers and heating water pumps
  • Recycling stations for students, faculty and administrators

 

 

Book reviews featured in this issue of Tulsa Law Review

The annual book review issue of the Tulsa Law Review is now available for reading. Editor-in-Chief and TU Law student M. Dalton Downing prefaces the issue with the following comments about the tradition of publishing book reviews relevant to law.

“In an essay published by the Texas Law Review nearly a decade ago, Sanford Levinson lamented the degree to which law journals were abandoning book reviews. He felt that law journals—the legal profession’s chief scholarly fora—had a duty “to serve as a venue for serious discussions of important books relevant . . . to thinking about law.” The following year, in collaboration with Levinson and Mark Graber, the Tulsa Law Review published its inaugural book review issue.

So began our rich tradition of publishing book reviews that not only offer careful, evaluative criticism of prominent books, but that also bridge disciplinary divides. As you will see in the nearly two dozen essays that follow, both the books under review and the reviewers come from an array of disciplinary backgrounds—from law, of course, but also from sociology, philosophy, political science, and history. Skillfully pairing thought provoking books with astute reviewers, our co-editors, Professors Julie Novkov and Stuart Chinn, assembled a collection of reviews that capture the depth and complexity of each book, stimulate interdisciplinary conversation, and offer original insights. ‘

The Tulsa Law Review owes a debt of gratitude to all who made this issue possible: to Sanford Levinson (whose book is reviewed herein) and Mark Graber for inspiring and establishing this tradition; to Professors Novkov and Chinn for their thoughtful, diligent editorship; and to the reviewers for crafting insightful, fascinating essays that educate and inspire our readers.”

To read this issue of the Tulsa Law Review click here.

Pallarez and Young win Native American moot court competition

Manuel Pallarez and Randall Young, third-year law students at The University of Tulsa, won first place in the National Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Competition, March 2-4, 2018.

The 26th annual competition included 200 law students from 45 schools and was hosted by the Arizona State University (ASU) Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law NALSA Chapter in Phoenix and the ASU Indian Legal Program.

200 students from 45 law schools competed

Each year, the moot court competition gives students from across the U.S. an opportunity to argue the most compelling issues in federal Indian law and tribal governance. Throughout the year, team conduct intensive legal research to write an appellate brief and prepare oral arguments.

“The College of Law is very proud of Manuel and Randall for achieving this honor in the national NALSA moot court competition,” said Lyn Entzeroth, dean of the TU College of Law. “Students in our Native American Law education program have the opportunity to study with our outstanding Indian Law faculty.  Manuel and Randall are impressive students who represent our law school well.”

“I was shocked when our team was announced as the victors.”

Pallarez said, “As a two-year member of the National NALSA Moot Court Team, it was an honor and a privilege to represent TU Law in Phoenix. I am most thankful to our coaches, June Stanley and Brenda Christie (Tulsa-area attorneys). It was their belief in our abilities that made the victory possible. I will be the first to admit that I was shocked when our team was announced as the victors. The entire weekend felt like a dream as we kept advancing. The most satisfying part of the victory was being able to win with a great friend, two great coaches, and for the entire TU community. This will absolutely be a memory that I cherish for a long time.”

Young added, “Throughout the competition, every team we played would have made their law schools proud. Particularly in from the elite eight moving forward, we encountered insightful legal analysis and stellar advocacy. Competing with our colleagues from among 45 sister schools helped us hone our arguments going into the final round. That being said, as an alumnus of The University of Tulsa’s History and English programs, and now a 3L at the TU College of Law, I felt especially prepared to learn quickly, think of my feet and argue persuasively. In my mind, our accomplishment represents not only our personal dedication, but also the University’s mission to foster critical thinking and excellence.”

For more information on TU Law’s Native American Law Center, visit our website.

 

Forsyth externs with Federal Court of Appeals

TU Law student and Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) Student of the Year Hope Forsyth is serving as an extern for Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Senior Judge Stephanie K. Seymour. Forsyth’s skill set along with support from TU Law professors and the professional development office helped her secure this coveted legal externship.

“After hearing a judge speak in my first year of law school, I knew I wanted to learn at the federal court level,” said Forsyth. “Internships and externships in chambers involve learning from judges and their staff, observing the court in action, analyzing both frequent and unusual legal issues, and drafting written work for the judge to consider including in orders and opinions. Working for judges in law school gives an incomparable lesson in how to be an effective advocate.”

Forsyth is externing at the appellate level in her final year of law school.

Forsyth is an outstanding student all around. She earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in communication and media studies with minors in English and philosophy from The University of Tulsa, where she was also an Oklahoma Center for the Humanities research fellow, Honors Scholar, Presidential Scholar and National Merit Scholar.

Now, Forsyth is a third-year student at The University of Tulsa College of Law. She is the executive editor of the Tulsa Law Review, a student member of the Council Oak/Johnson-Sontag Inn of Court and a member of Phi Delta Phi. She has earned 11 CALI Excellence for the Future Awards for the highest grade in various classes and the George and Jean Price Award for legal reasoning, research and writing.

In addition to her appellate externship with Senior Judge Stephanie K. Seymour, Forsyth has gained experience at multiple levels of the court system through internships with Chief Judge Gregory K. Frizzell, former Magistrate Judge T. Lane Wilson and Magistrate Judge Paul J. Cleary, all of the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Forsyth credits her professors at TU Law for providing a solid education, mentorship and individual attention to all students. “TU Law is a close-knit and mentoring community with world-class legal professors,” said Forsyth. “They’ve had a formative influence on my education.”

“TU Law is a close- knit and mentoring community.”

Forsyth grew up in Cushing, Oklahoma, where her father practices law. Outside of law school, Forsyth is an America’s Test Kitchen home recipe tester and a volunteer sacramental catechist at her Catholic parish.

After graduation, Forsyth will join GableGotwals in Tulsa as an associate attorney.

 

 

 

Legal community helps build future lawyers through externships

This article, written by Lauren Donald, assistant dean for experiential learning at TU, was first published in the Tulsa Business & Legal News.

The externship program at The University of Tulsa College of Law is one of the most robust programs of its kind, offering students an effective and comprehensive bridge to go from law student to lawyer.

TU Law’s proximity to the thriving, urban setting of the city and its engaged legal community ensure that externs have opportunities in a variety of exciting and relevant placements. In addition to local resources, students also take advantage of externships across the U.S. and abroad in government agencies, public interest organizations, courts, law firms and corporations.

Through externships, students build confidence in their ability to practice, feel the pleasure and challenge of work that matters, and find a path from lawyering experiences to a rewarding career.

Said Keaton Taylor, a second-year law student and extern with the Tulsa County Public Defender: “During (the law student-to-lawyer) transition, new skills become necessary for success; skills that can only be learned by doing. Externships are crucial to future lawyers. The externship program gives me the opportunity while still in school to begin navigating the new terrain of an attorney.”

Supervisors also find reward in helping lay a foundation for a student’s career. April Merrill, Legal Aid attorney for Medical-Legal Partnerships, says that through her practice students are exposed to real-world issues and sometimes of the darker side of life.

“This is often the first real-life experience the student has interacting with actual clients who are entrusting their problems to us,” she said.

Through these experiences, she hopes to instill in students a desire to serve low-income persons as these future lawyers move on in their careers.

Merrill has invested time as a supervisor in building the student experience.

“I strive to take the students from the legal theoretical framework to the practical, everyday practice of law,” she said. “As the students are allowed more client interaction and responsibility for drafting and research, I can see their confidence grow.

“Those ah-ha moments, as Oprah calls them, are the most rewarding. As a supervisor teaching a concept and to see it suddenly click, it’s really meaningful.”

Under the direction of engaged supervisors such as Merrill, students begin to identify their path and develop marketable skills.

“Law school is like an oyster producing pearls,” Taylor said. “For a pearl to hold value, it must be polished. Experiential learning increases my value as a pearl. I aspire to be the shiniest pearl on the market so I need to polish my skills as soon as possible. The externship program at TU allows me to do that.”

TU Law alumnus Bill Carmody featured in Forbes regarding his career

This story was first seen in Forbes, November 6, 2017. Bill Carmody is an alumnus of The University of Tulsa College of Law. He is a nationally recognized trial lawyer who tries bet-the-company cases for plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts throughout the country. He is a permanent member of Susman Godfrey’s executive committee and heads its New York office. Carmody is perennially listed in the Lawdragon 500, the guide to America’s leading 500 lawyers. He’s ranked in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers and included in Benchmark’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

Bill Carmody Of Susman Godfrey: ‘You Can’t Persuade A Jury If You Can’t Communicate With Them’
David J. Parnell , Opinions expressed by Forbes contributors are their own.)

Over the past 38 years, Susman Godfrey LLP has built itself into one of the most recognizable litigation boutiques on the market. Steve Susman founded the firm in 1980 – joined two years later by Lee Godfrey – with the vision of taking high-profile commercial cases on a contingency basis; a relatively unheard of strategy at the time, but one that paid off for the firm. Today, between running Susman Godfrey’s New York office, serving on its executive committee and trying cases for high-profile clients like GE and Uber, Bill Carmody has found himself in an enviable position – both in the market and within the firm. Below we hear from Carmody as he discusses some of the things he’s learned along the road to trial attorney success, including the attributes necessary to achieve trial stardom, how he keeps himself sharp, building trust in clients, his firm’s stance on fees, and more. Please see a revised version of our exchange below:

 

On Attributes Necessary to Climb in The Profession

Parnell: Talk to me about climbing to the top of your profession. At a 10K ft. view, what do you think got you to where you are today? Or maybe otherwise asked, if a young attorney wanted to be you someday, what are the fundamentals they’d have to achieve in order to get there?

Carmody: Some traits are fundamental to being a great trial lawyer: superior analytical skills, creative thinking, writing and speaking persuasively—and always being ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard, really hard. Those are all essential to out-thinking and out-working the other side.

But the singular trait that has served me the best is resilience. Mike Tyson has a great quote: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Every day in law and life, we suffer real setbacks. But great trial lawyers—like great fighters—are those who are able to take a big hit and get back up into the fight again. Almost two decades ago, I lost a trial the National Law Journal called the case of the year, which was devastating, both emotionally and financially. That loss was a wake-up call to me as to how tough running my small trial firm had become. Yet, persevering through that low period ultimately led me to join Susman Godfrey, which is the best thing that could have ever happened.

On Defining His Skill Set as a Litigator

Parnell: There is a good mix of art and science necessary to be a good trial attorney, which can make it difficult to define what the skill set comprises. How would you define your legal skill set? What would you say are the major components, or mechanics, of it?

Carmody: Because I try complex business and IP cases, I often think of myself as a translator. For example, there are many lawyers who are brighter than me, and who understand the technical aspects of our IP cases at a far deeper level than I do. What I bring to the table is an ability to translate the technical areas to a jury.

You can’t persuade a jury if you can’t communicate with them. That’s the heart of my skill set, and it begins, for me, with presenting the stories of our cases in a conversational style. Even more important is a lawyer’s authenticity. That’s because a lawyer’s credibility with the jury turns on the ability to be his or her most authentic self, which the jury will innately sense and respond to. After 30 years of trying cases, I’m getting comfortable enough in my own skin to open up and be a real person before the jury. And that’s made all the difference.

On Keeping Himself Sharp

Parnell: If you’re working constantly, it can be very difficult to keep your sharp – as Steven Covey calls it, “sharpening the saw.” With that in mind, how do you keep yourself sharp? Do you have mental or physical routines that you follow?

Bill Carmody: “You can’t persuade a jury if you can’t communicate with them. That’s the heart of my skill set, and it begins, for me, with presenting the stories of our cases in a conversational style.”

Carmody: One of my constant mental exercises is thinking and rethinking how to refine a complex set of facts into a simple and compelling story. But as much as I love trying lawsuits, I also love to escape the craziness of NYC and recharge at my respite on the eastern end of Long Island, where I’ve been known to indulge in all things delicious just a tad too much. But, because balance is important, I suffer through a rigorous physical regime of constant massages and, every once in a while, an honest-to-goodness workout.

On Building Trust in Clients

Parnell: In bet-the-company cases, in particular, clients often trust you with the lives of their businesses. And trust is a very valuable, and difficult to come by commodity. Can you talk to me about building that kind of trust? What is imperative to building this?

Carmody: Clients likely give me big cases because they trust my judgment. For one thing, they know I am going to be straight with them. Sometimes lawyers tell clients what they want to hear because it’s the easier way to keep them happy in the short term. My credo is to act in a client’s long-term interest, and if you keep that perspective it’s a lot easier to be brutally candid with them. Clients trust us for that straight talk.

Good judgment comes out in other ways, too—like taking the time to get to know what’s important to them, and acting on it. I’m always looking for the quickest and best business solutions to our legal disputes, even if it means cutting myself out of work. It’s that kind of understanding and action that lets your client know that you’re putting them first. It cements the trust.

On Becoming a Rainmaker

Parnell: As a rainmaker yourself, what advice do you give to young partners looking to build their books of business?

Carmody: Getting business really comes down to two things: getting great results and letting the world know about them. But to get the word out you’ve got to hustle, period. I tell all lawyers who ask me that they should be hustling business the same way that they’re working their cases. It’s not something to treat like a luxury and do in your spare time. It’s the lifeblood that keeps us going.

Now, every lawyer has to hustle business in the way they’re most comfortable. For those inclined to get involved in bar activities, that’s a great way to meet sources of potential business. Others, like me, choose different paths. My secret has always been to focus on the human connection. So, I’ve frequently flown across the country just to have dinner with a potential referral source, because I know the bonding that happens over a dinner trumps 10,000 emails. And even if it doesn’t work out, I’ve never regretted going to great lengths for a great dinner.

On Susman Godfrey’s Fees

Parnell: You discuss fees on your website – at least to a degree – and you offer contingent, fixed and hybrid arrangements. Can you talk to me about that a bit? What is the firm’s overarching thoughts on fee arrangements?

Carmody: The idea is for us lawyers to move away from playing the role of a vendor to our clients, albeit one providing important services, to becoming a true partner with them. At Susman Godfrey, we do that by crafting results-based fee deals, regardless of what side of the docket we’re on. Our results-based deals tie our fees directly to the outcome of the case. If we get a big win for our client, we get paid a lot more than our hourly rate, and if we lose we get much less or nothing at all. These deals align our interests directly with our clients’—and they love it.

On His Greatest Challenge

Parnell: What is the greatest challenge you’ve overcome in your career? What were the tools necessary to overcome it?

Carmody: A little over ten years ago, I returned to New York City to help build our Susman Godfrey office here. We had a national reputation but were still just getting off the ground in the country’s biggest legal market. There are so many great law firms in New York City, but there was room in the market for a unique trial firm like ours that bets on the results we get. We’re not built to handle some of the huge corporate investigations that some of the big firms handle, but we excel at stepping in to try one-off, bet-the-company cases. Those special missions best suit our battle-tested team. Some missions call for the Navy, but other times you need to bring in the Seals.

On Attorneys He Admires the Most

Parnell: What attorneys outside of your firm do you admire the most? When you think about them, what are the qualities that come to mind when you consider them?

Carmody: A handful come to mind, the first and foremost being Gerry Spence. He taught me about the power of authenticity for a stand-up trial lawyer, which has been invaluable.

Other trial legends I admire are David Beck, Paul Bekman, Evan Chesler, and Bob Van Nest. They’re all fabulous trial lawyers, but more importantly, they’re all first-rate people. While lesser lawyers sometimes stray into unnecessary and contentious discovery disputes, these old-school pros never make things personal and only spend time on what ultimately matters. They’re the most formidable adversaries you can face. Yet at the same time, it’s a joy to see them in a case because you know they will fight for their clients the right way and step up everybody’s game.

TU Law 3L Dalton Downing featured in national “Why Law” video

 

As law schools across the country continue to manage rapid change, 12 deans have come together with the help of their students to highlight how the next generation of lawyers will make a difference in their communities and in the profession. The result? A viral video that features students talking about their legal aspirations. One of the students featured is TU Law’s Dalton Downing.

Downing is a 3L at The University of Tulsa College of Law who also serves as editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Law Review (see Dalton featured at 1:56 on the video). He also served as a 2L diversity scholar and summer associate at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. In creating the video, students representing each law school were asked, “Why Law?” Their answers serve as an important reminder for practicing attorneys and current law students, and as an informative message for those considering the value of a degree in law.

In addition to being shared online by each participating school, the video and accompanying letter explaining the project is being sent to The National Law Journal, the National Jurist, Above the Law, ABA Journal, Business Insider, JD Journal, Association of American Law Schools and to each law dean across the U.S.

Participating schools with featured students include Albany Law School, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, UCLA School of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law, University of Georgia School of Law, Suffolk University Law School, University of Maine School of Law, USC Gould School of Law, The University of Tulsa College of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law and West Virginia University College of Law.

Those considering a degree in law can learn more about legal career options and the JD program at The University of Tulsa College of Law, rated a Top 100 Law School by the U.S. News & World Report 2018 and the #1 Best Value Private Law School by PreLaw Magazine 2016.