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TU Law student seeks to expand access to justice

As he gets ready to begin his final year at The University of Tulsa College of Law, Texas native Trevion Freeman (3L) is more convinced than ever that his contribution to the legal profession — and society at large — will be powerfully informed by a quest to expand access to justice for all.

man wearing a blue blazer and a green tie while smiling and standing indoors
Trevion Freeman

At TU Law, Freeman has prepared for practice through not only his formal coursework but also by getting involved in multiple student organizations. In addition, his commitment to understanding the cultural and political complexities of oppression and marginalization led him to develop an article that will soon appear in the Tulsa Law Review focused on righting historical wrongs for the descendants of Black slaves owned by Native Americans.

Community values and limitless possibilities

Despite his proud Lone Star roots, Freeman is anything but a lone outlaw cowboy. Instead, he credits community as a key to his personal ethics and academic success.

Freeman learned the power of proper support while growing up within a tight-knit family in East Waco, which was plagued by gun violence, drugs and poverty. “I come from a good home with two loving parents that care about my future,” he remarked. “Because of my family and mentors’ guidance, I overcame the crippling quicksand that overtakes much of the African American youth in my community.”

Freeman’s parents, both of whom are local educators and social workers, instilled the values of advocacy into him from an early age, placing him in several public speaking events and youth organizations that serve the community. Even then, Freeman envisioned himself as a voice for the unheard: “By becoming a lawyer, I intend to advocate for communities such as East Waco and show African American children that anything is possible.”

Leadership for the people

Freeman takes leadership seriously. Last year at TU Law, the student body elected him president of the Student Bar Association (SBA). A student-run organization, the SBA is the umbrella under which all 20 other law student organizations sit. Along with serving as the governing body for TU Law students, the group also coordinates student activities, organizations and their respective funding.

In any normal year, this would include events such as the Halloween Party, the Mental Health Fair and the annual Barristers’ Ball. But, of course, 2020 was a year of unpredictable change and challenge. Freeman, however, could foresee the effects that an abrupt-yet-necessary shift to virtual classes could have on students.

“Students struggled to focus and learn complex legal issues without physical interaction with professors or their peers,” commented Freeman. “As leaders within the law school community, my SBA colleagues and I spoke with faculty and administration about this issue, providing physical data given by students about their mental health.”

 

This hard work paid off. Because of the SBA’s efforts in conjunction with faculty and administration, students were granted a pass/fail option for their 2020-21 courses. “This gave many students who were severely struggling throughout this pandemic year a sense of ease,” Freeman said. “They knew that their grades would not suffer because of circumstances out of their control.”

In addition to serving on the SBA, Freeman is involved with the Black Law Student Association, Board of Advocates and the American Association of Justice Trial Team. “Being a part of these groups has truly shaped me into the legal advocate I am today,” said Freeman.

“The case that changed everything”

The idea of helping those with circumstances out of their control is a theme aligned with several of Freeman’s internships during his time at TU. During summer 2021, Freeman interned with two firms: Atkinson, Brittingham, Gladd, Fiasco, Edmonds & Annis, P.C., which is a litigation firm with practices centered around insurance defense, corporate defense and medical malpractice defense; and Johnson | Cephas Law Firm, a litigation firm with practice in areas such as civil rights law and family law. For the fall, Freeman is looking forward to his externship as a legal clerk for the Honorable Judge Jodi Jayne, U.S. magistrate judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma (NDOK).

According to Freeman, however, his most impactful experience was in the summer and fall of 2020, when he worked as a legal intern in the U.S. Attorney Office for the NDOK. It was there that Freeman came across “the case that changed everything” and that led to his upcoming TLR publication.

“I was sitting in the library in the U.S. Attorney’s office looking over the Tulsa skyline when another one of the legal interns came to me and sparked up a conversation about federal Indian law,” Freeman recalled. Buzzing throughout the office that week was the news of a recent Supreme Court decision involving the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the State of Oklahoma. The case, McGirt v. Oklahoma, revolved around Seminole Nation member Jimcy McGirt and his appeal of his state convictions resulting from three sexual offenses. Arguing that his crimes took place on Creek Reservation land and should be tried as such, McGirt’s case sparked a national conversation on Native American rights.

Back at the U.S. Attorney’s office, discussion of this case led Trevion to discover some disturbing history. His coworker asked him a question that came as a shock: “You know that the tribes owned slaves, right?”

An often-overlooked part of the tragic history of slavery in the U.S. is the ownership of Black slaves by Native Americans. As one of the Five Civilized Tribes, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation enslaved thousands of Africans, forcing them to migrate west to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears.

“I always saw the tribes as a disenfranchised people,” remarked Freeman. “I believed that, similar to African Americans, they had experienced the same plight of European colonization. The truth, however, was that the five major tribes of Oklahoma bought, sold and worked Black slaves.”

After the Civil War, African Slaves owned by the Creek Nation were, according to the Treaty of 1866, “set free and promised tribal citizenship and an equal stake in the tribe’s lands and fortunes.” These were the Creek Freedmen.

However, since that particular treaty, descendants of the Creek Freedmen have been removed, excluded, and withheld tribal rights by the Creek Nation. Today, the Creek Freedmen continue to fight for recognition as rightful tribal members.

“Here is a group of people that look like me but were enslaved by another group of people who themselves were mistreated and abused,” he explained. “Without my time interning at the NDOK, I would likely have never learned about the Creek Freedmen issue.”

Freeman’s internship kept him tightly in the loop, updating him when the Supreme Court ultimately affirmed McGirt’s plea, a decision that sent shockwaves across the State of Oklahoma. For Freeman, it raised eyebrows.

According to the court’s ruling, the Creek Freedmen possessed a newfound possibility of regaining the rights stripped of them years ago. Despite having never taken a class on federal Indian law, Freeman was inspired by the hope for change and the opportunity to help a community in need.

For the next several months, Freeman buried himself in investigating and writing. “I was so impressed with the level of research he did to familiarize himself with that area of law,” said Assistant Professor of Law Aila Hoss, an expert in federal Indian law and someone whom Freeman describes as key to his understanding of the nuances of the subject.

All this work and many sleepless nights led to his upcoming TLR article: “For Freedmen’s Sake: The Story of the Native Blacks of the Creek Nation and their Fight for Citizenship Post-McGirt.” According to Freeman, it is “a work dedicated to the fight for the underprivileged, marginalized and forgotten within Oklahoma history.”

In a similar vein, Freeman says that the “marathon” that is law school has prepared him well for life after graduation and passing the bar: a focused, relentless pursuit of justice “doing the thing I love for all my clients in the courtroom.”


A juris doctor from TU Law leads to success. Within 10 months of graduation, the Class of 2020 achieved an 83.7% rate of employment for full-time, long-term, bar license-required or JD advantage positions. Apply today to get your outstanding future started.

From law school in Tulsa to a federal clerkship in Texas

Sage Martin (BA ’16, JD ’21) has a lot to celebrate. After three years of diligent work at The University of Tulsa College of Law, from which she graduated on May 14 with highest honors, Martin is looking forward to taking up a two-year clerkship for U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald C. Griffin in the Western District of Texas. Throughout the clerkship, Sage will be doing a significant amount of research for and writing judicial documents, such as memoranda and briefs for civil and criminal cases.

young woman with long dark hair wearing a grey pin-stripe pant suit standing with arms crossed while smiling
Sage Martin (BA ’16, JD ’21)

As Associate Professor of Law Matt Lamkin explained, “a federal clerkship is a rare privilege and an invaluable experience for a law graduate. It allows lawyers to see the judicial process from the inside and to learn how to see cases through a judge’s eyes. That’s why these positions are so coveted. Clerking with Judge Griffin is a perfect way for Sage to continue her longstanding commitment to public service.”

Martin’s clerkship will station her in the city of Midland. While Martin is uncertain where she will end up after those two years in the Lone Star State, her long-term goal is to pursue a public service-oriented career. Indeed, among her many accomplishments while at law school, Martin received the Dean’s Award for Community Service, which is given to the graduating student who has contributed the most community service hours. In Martin’s case, this totaled 327 hours of pro bono work.

Among Martin’s contributions in this regard are the hours she put in while interning with Still She Rises. This organization provides legal representation and other supports to mothers in North Tulsa who are involved in the criminal justice system.

Laying the foundation for success

For Martin, TU Law was, in part, a family affair.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at TU in 2016, Martin then moved home to Texas to complete a master’s of social work at The University of Texas at Austin. While trying to decide on which law school to attend, Martin drew on a parental connection and the outstanding reception she received back in Tulsa: “As a native Texan, I wasn’t super interested in looking at Oklahoma schools, but my dad – Steve J. Martin (JD’ 81) — encouraged me to consider TU since he’s a TU Law graduate himself. I fell in love with the small, gorgeous campus and the individualized attention I received during my on-campus visit. It was the perfect fit.”

During law school, Martin got involved with several student organizations. Perhaps most notably, she served as executive editor of the Tulsa Law Review. In this prestigious position, she directed the journal’s writing program. Her responsibilities included helping guide the new members of the journal to write and, in some cases, publish scholarly articles. On top of the guidance and editing she provided, Martin took on event scheduling as well as planning and aiding the editor in chief when needed.

In addition, Martin was honored with the Robert C. Butler Award for Outstanding Tulsa Law Review article for her argument that courts should allow inmates to use the Prison Rape Elimination Act as persuasive authority when bringing Eighth Amendment claims of rape or sexual assault in prisons and jails. The Butler Award is given to the TU Law student whose contribution to the journal best perpetuates the tradition of excellence established by Robert C. Butler, Jr.

Martin also served as secretary of TU Law’s Women’s Law Caucus. Her primary responsibility for that student organization was to plan and schedule events, as well as to maintain and distribute records to members. While she helped plan many events during her time at TU Law, Martin says the most memorable one was the Tulsa Law Review’s symposium commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. She helped Adam Heavin (JD ’21), the 2020-21 editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Law Review, plan the event: “Not only were the issues very relevant to today, but it would have been a travesty for the law school not to acknowledge such a momentous anniversary and discuss how the city, its law enforcement and its legal professionals failed its citizens all those years ago.”

Martin capped off her years at TU Law in flying colors, graduating with the Order of the Curule Chair. The Order of the Curule Chair is the highest academic honor a TU Law student can receive and indicates that Martin both ranked in the top 10% of the graduating class and rendered distinguished service to the College of Law. Additionally, in Professor Russell Christopher’s Criminal Law course, Martin received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award: Criminal Law/Administration.

Along with getting involved in college life and organizations, Martin believes the relationships she nurtured with professors helped her to maximize her success during law school. In particular, she identified professors Lamkin, Christopher and Associate Dean Karen Grundy as influential mentors during her time at TU Law. One of her closest bonds was with Evelyn Hutchinson, a widely admired professor of legal writing who passed away in fall 2020. Of Hutchinson, Martin said, “I was her teaching assistant as well as her legal writing student, and she was an amazing, positive influence on me during my time at TU. She will be greatly missed.”

Martin’s professors echoed the respect she held for them. “Sage Martin is a remarkable person,” remarked Grundy. “She was one of my best writing students in Legal Writing III and simply an excellent student. For me, what was more remarkable about Sage was her maturity and empathy. She served as a teaching assistant for Legal Writing and also willingly mentored junior students who had difficulty with law school study.” Christopher, who taught Criminal Law to Martin, said, “she writes extremely well. She produced one of the best-written student articles that I have read in 20 years of teaching.”

Well prepared for the road ahead

The connections made and lessons learned at TU Law have helped Martin as she prepares for the future. Looking back on her law school years, she offered advice for those following in her footsteps.

“Focus on what works best for you,” Martin counseled. “Whether it’s studying, outlining or social activities, don’t worry about what others are doing. Also, actively seek out people that you can trust and learn from them, whether that’s someone in your own class, an upperclassman, a professor or another professional.” By doing these things — working for herself and forging beneficial connections — Martin helped to ensure she would get the most out of her TU experience.

Martin also credited TU Law with making efforts to ensure every student is in the best place to cultivate personal success: “TU Law has the resources to offer students individual attention, which enabled me to succeed. Not only do the professors genuinely care about their students, but they also demonstrate how to be successful professionals. The importance of that cannot be overstated.”

In other words, the hands-on opportunities provided at TU Law were catalysts to Martin’s success: “Having the opportunity to put my knowledge into practice — while also having the protection of being a student — has given me the confidence I need to go into the ‘real world’ and succeed.”

As Martin prepares for a clerkship in Texas, she’s already well on her way.


A juris doctor from The University of Tulsa College of Law leads to success. Within 10 months of graduation, the Class of 2020 achieved an 83.7% rate of employment for full-time, long-term, bar license-required or JD advantage positions. Get your outstanding future started by applying today.

What success looks like: TU Law student is making his mark

University of Tulsa College of Law student Matthew Cecconi (2L) recently added to his growing list of accomplishments with two prestigious accomplishments.

First off, Cecconi has been named a Holloway Scholar by the Oklahoma City chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Recipients of this scholarship are selected based on criteria that include the pursuit of a legal career involving the federal courts, actions demonstrating ethics, civility and professionalism, academic merit, written and oral communication skills, leadership qualities and community involvement.

Matthew Cecconi smiling and wearing a white shirt, crimson tie and blue blazer
Matthew Cecconi

“I am deeply honored to receive a Holloway Scholarship,” Cecconi said. “Judge William J. Holloway, Jr., was an outstanding jurist and well respected by all, and I hope to continue in that legacy.”

National Health Law Moot Court Competition

Cecconi also recently competed in the National Health Law Moot Court Competition, hosted online by Southern Illinois University College of Law (Nov. 6-7). Teams from various law schools across the country took part, addressing this year’s timely theme: Public Health Response to the Coronavirus.

Of the 32 teams competing, the duo of Hannah Frosch (3L) and Cecconi won third place in the overall competition. Fourth place went to their TU Law colleagues Carter Fox (3L), Kristin Rodriguez (2L) and Cole Way (3L). TU Law Dean Lyn Entzeroth congratulated the intrepid quintet, noting that “this prestigious competition demands tremendous aptitude and hard work, which these remarkable future advocates amply demonstrated.”

“Matthew’s ability to edit, write and work as a team is absolutely incredible,” said his teammate Frosch. “This was my second year returning to the team, but Matthew came in with such grace and confidence that we were able to succeed beyond my wildest dreams. He is truly talented and received incredibly high speaking scores throughout the competition.”

TU Law’s Health Law Team dedicated its season to Professor Evelyn Hutchison, a deeply respected and influential faculty member who recently passed away. Professor Hutchison was the Board of Advocates advisor for many years and worked closely with the Health Law competition teams.

Cecconi credits TU Law with preparing him for the success he has enjoyed this semester. “My professors and the college as a whole have done an incredible job preparing me for my career. Through my first year-and-a-half as a law student, I have been exposed to lawyers from around Tulsa and members of both the state and the federal judiciary.”

After graduating, Cecconi hopes to be selected for a judicial clerkship before working in appellate litigation. He currently serves as associate editor of the Tulsa Law Review, the college’s flagship journal, and executive director of the Public Interest Board, a student organization that serves the community and helps TU Law students develop a lasting commitment to public service.


At The University of Tulsa College of Law, expert faculty will prepare you to meet the highest standards – yours and the legal profession’s. Learn more today and start planning your exceptional future.

TU Law student on her way to federal clerkship in Texas

After she graduates from The University of Tulsa College of Law in May, Alexandra (Allie) Fleming will be embarking on a career-defining journey. That’s when she will take up a two-year clerkship with U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald C. Griffin of the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas.

“Getting a federal clerkship is a great honor and an incredibly valuable experience,” said Matt Lamkin, an associate professor at TU Law and the faculty member who helps students identify and apply for clerkship opportunities. Many judges receive hundreds of applications for just one position. That’s because working in a judge’s chambers gives clerks insight into the justice system that can’t be obtained any other way.

University of Tulsa Law student Alexandra Fleming
Alexandra Fleming

“Allie is a perfect fit for a clerkship.  She’s got strong analytical ability, excellent writing skills, and – most importantly – a commitment to excellence.  Judge Griffin is lucky to have her.”

Fleming’s responsibilities as a federal clerk will be various. Because Judge Griffin maintains both a civil and criminal docket, she will, among other tasks, help draft motion orders, opinions and evidentiary rulings. Fleming will also have ample opportunities to observe settlement conferences and daily court proceedings. “I am so looking forward to learning from Judge Griffin day in and day out,” Fleming remarked. “He has years of experience as a civil attorney and he knows the inner workings of civil litigation in ways I cannot even begin to fathom.”

From Texas to Tulsa

A federal clerkship in Texas makes additional sense for someone who was born and raised in the state and has her sights set on practicing law there.

After graduating from a small high school in Red Oak, south of Dallas, Fleming attended the University of Texas at Austin. There, she majored in journalism, originally with her eyes set on becoming a sports broadcaster – “think Erin Andrews mixed with Bob Costas,” she said. While Fleming eventually chose another path, she drew on the solid writing fundamentals learned as an undergraduate and put them to good use during the next stage of her education: “I attribute much of my success at law school to the principles of sound writing I acquired while studying journalism.”

Upon graduating from UT Austin, Fleming made her way north to Tulsa. During her first term at TU Law, Fleming studied contracts law with Professor Robert Butkin. She credits that course with “setting the tone for my entire law school career. Professor Butkin had extremely high standards regarding how we prepared for class, and I tried my best to import those principles to all the rest of my studies.” Fleming also praised Professor Evelyn Hutchison for giving her a morale boost during that first semester. “I owe a lot of my confidence to Professor Hutchison. She encouraged me when I wasn’t sure I was cut out for legal studies and assured me that I, in fact, did understand this whole law school thing.”

From 2015 to 2019, TU Law students obtained 9 federal clerkships and 1 state clerkshipIn addition to her coursework, Fleming took advantage of TU Law’s internship and externship opportunities. During her 1L summer, she worked on Project Commutation – “such a worthwhile, life-changing experience.” Even more germane to her upcoming clerkship, when she was a 2L Fleming externed for the Honorable Judge E. Dowdell: “This was an invaluable experience that cemented for me that clerking after graduation was something I would really enjoy.”

While that experience was galvanizing in terms of her future direction, the first step was actually taken in a constitutional law course taught by Dean Lyn Entzeroth. “Each day,” Fleming recalled, “Dean Entzeroth exuded a passion for constitutional law. I could not get enough. That was the first time I remember a course inspiring me to think of pursuing a career in the area of the law the course covered. After Con Law, I knew I wanted to learn more about constitutional rights litigation, and that led me to apply for an externship in Judge Dowdell’s chambers.”

Advice for others

The road to a clerkship is long, and it is paved with diligence, hard work and inevitable rejection. Fleming recalled that Professor Lamkin helped prepare her by advising that “rejection letters will at least double the number of interview offers” and that she had to do something “to get out of the big stack of applications on a judge’s desk and into the small stack that a judge would want to interview.”

One of the somethings that Fleming credits with having helped her to land interviews was serving on the editorial board of the Tulsa Law Review (TLR). “Each judge I interviewed with wanted someone who had served on their school’s flagship journal,” she noted. Beyond its utility for securing interviews, Fleming said, “working as TLR’s associate articles editor taught me about academic scholarship and pushed my work ethic to the limits. It also enhanced my detail orientation to a new level and made me a more effective leader.”

Alexandra Fleming's six tips for obtaining a clerkship interviewAnother piece of good counsel Fleming wanted to pass along to others aspiring to federal clerkships is to “find something that creates a connection to each particular judge.” Among the possibilities she cited were a mutual undergraduate institution, a hobby or even a home state.

Her final advice is to recognize “you can never be too prepared.” For Fleming, preparing to apply and be interviewed took six months. She researched the most common judicial clerkship interview questions. She wrote out and memorized answers to those questions. And then she recited those answers in front of a mirror. “That was my way of being as prepared as I could possibly be.” Clearly, for Fleming, the result was amply worth the effort.

 

A JD from The University of Tulsa College of Law leads to success. Within 10 months of graduation, the Class of 2019 achieved an 86.6% rate employment for full-time, long-term, bar license-required or JD advantage positions. Get your outstanding future started by applying today.

“Fighting Rape Culture” in latest Tulsa Law Review

From the left, M. Dalton Downing, Tulsa Law Review editor-in-chief; Hope Forsyth, executive editor; and Randall Young, articles research editor.

Hot off the presses – the first issue of volume 53 of the Tulsa Law Review has been released and is available online and in print. The publication features important legal scholarship including an article titled, Fighting Rape Culture with Noncorroboration Instructions by Tyler Buller, assistant attorney general, Iowa Department of Justice. The article catalogues the criminal justice system’s long history of discrimination against sexual assault victims and proposes an effective solution to dismantle barriers that currently prevent the successful prosecution of sex crimes.

The publication also features articles by TU Law students Dalton Downing and Randall Young. Downing’s article lays out the need for greater transparency in corporate lobbying expenditures, and Young’s article compares the Supreme Court’s opinion in Crawford v. Washington to the history of the right of confrontation.

Click here for full access to Tulsa Law Review, Vol. 53, Issue 1.

M. Dalton Downing, Tulsa Law Review editor-in-chief

“I am proud to introduce the Tulsa Law Review’s inaugural issue of Volume 53, which builds on the rich tradition of publishing innovative and thought-provoking articles from legal scholars worldwide,” said M. Dalton Downing, editor-in-chief of the publication. “The articles in this edition address a broad range of prescient issues in our society across the spectrum of legal scholarship — from criminal law to international trade law to securities law.”

“This issue is the result not only of the wonderful work of our contributors, but also the tireless efforts of the Tulsa Law Review editorial staff, which includes more than forty outstanding second and third-year law students at the University of Tulsa College of Law,” Dalton said.

See additional stories about TU Law students here.

Tulsa Law Review, founded in 1964, is the oldest and largest student-run publication at The University of Tulsa College of Law. Publishing three to four issues each year, TLR receives more than 1,500 submissions annually and publishes a wide range of legal scholarship from professors, judges, practicing lawyers and renowned legal thinkers. The publication is indexed in LexisNexis, Westlaw and HeinOnline; and each issue is distributed nationally and abroad to law school libraries, private law firms, public legal organizations and individual subscribers.

The 2017-18 editorial board includes:

Editor in Chief: M. Dalton Downing

Executive Editor: Hope Forsyth

Notes & Comments Research Editor: Kymberli Heckenkemper

Production Editor: Chase Winterberg

Articles Research Editors: Amanda Gibson, Melissa Revell, Emalie Rott, Randall Young

Managing Editor: Alexander Lemke

Executive IT Editors: John Farley, Steve Pontius

Supervising Editors: Colin Byrne, Blair Hand, Vanessa Lock, Matt Primm, Trey Purdom, Alexandra Simmons

Staff Editors: Austin Hilterbran, Casey Johnson, Morgan Johnson, Caleb Jones, Mike Shouse

Associate Editors: Demi Allen, Alec Bracken, Cordal Cephas, Alexandra Dossman, Meghan Drake, Matt George, Joshua Hansen, Dallas Jones, Scott Major, Allison Martuch, Robert McClendon, Sarah McManes, Laurie Mehrwein, Madison Mosier, Lacy Pulliam, James Rayment, Violet Rush, Brent Smith, Clint Summers, Samantha Tober, Houston Wells

Faculty Advisor: Stephen R. Galoob

The editorial board may be contacted at tlr@utulsa.edu

For more information on the TU College of Law, a Top 100 Law School as rated by the U.S. News and World Report, visit us online.