Archives for the month of: April, 2014


Three times a year the ABA Labor and Employment Law (LEL) Section Council meets to do the business of the Section. I’ve mentioned this before, but for the newcomers, the Section operates on consensus which means that there is balance in perspective in all its administration and programming. There are management, union/employee, and neutral members who work together to get the work of the Section done, and to provide a much richer view of the topics presented at our Continuing Legal Education programs. I serve on the Council as an At-Large member until August, but serve in a continuing role as a Section representative in the ABA House of Delegates, its policy making body.Our LEL Section has three delegates, me (neutral), Keith Frazier (management) and Don Slesnick (labor/employee). What I didn’t know before arriving at the Council meeting is that Section was extremely fortunate to have in attendance the Chair of the House of Delegates, Robert Carlson.

The flight was uneventful, but upon arriving at the Drake Hotel, I realized that I hadn’t eaten all day, so I wandered over to the nearby Cheesecake Factory. My lunch, tamale cakes was actually quite tasty. Image

The Council events began later that evening with a lovely reception at the hotel, followed by dinner at Ditka’s. The Section social events are a great time to catch up with what it going on, personally and professionally in the lives of long time friends and that evening was no exception. It’s always terrific to see Chris & Shellie Hexter, Michael Green, Gail Holtzman, Denise Clark, Samantha Grant, Steve  and Cindy Gordon, Ruben Chapa, and Kelly Dermody among others. I truly value the relationships that have come out of my involvement with the Section.

At the dinner, our current Chair Joel D’Alba recognized the outgoing member of the Council. As my term as an at-large, voting member of the Council ends in August, he presented me with a beautiful bowl in recognition of that service.


Torts2014 Last night for some reason, I was reflecting upon my time here at the law school and it dawned on me that my Torts class today would be the last class of my 20th year of teaching law. I never could have imagined teaching law, much less a successful run of 20 years. It has been an extraordinarily #blessed journey; one I’ve taken with the love and support of family and so very many wonderful students, colleagues and friends. Many thanks to all who sent their warm wishes and kind greetings today.  It is an amazing milestone indeed, and a very happy one. Much love to all of you who supported, encourage, nurtured, mentored, coached, prayed for, loved and walked with me on this journey. I am eternally grateful to each of you.20years

This year I was able to attend Maundy Thursday and Good Friday service. The Maundy Thursday service was very moving for me. The text for the evening is take from John 13. In that text, Jesus washes the feet of the disciple. It is a sign of love and service. Once he has done so, he tells them to do the same for others. What I didn’t know is that among the Christian faith traditions that observe this ritual, it has been thought that because Jesus did this with his disciples, it should be performed amongst men, and typically a (male) bishop will wash the feet of male pastors or seminarians. Fortunately (from my perspective) Pope Francis had broken from this tradition. Not only did he “stray” from washing the feet of priests, but he washed the feet of women as well. In defense of his break from tradition, the Vatican stated simply, “Washing feet was important to present the Lord’s spirit of service and love.”


I hadn’t really thought of all this until Pastor Clint put out a request on Facebook for a few people to participate in a foot washing ritual during service. I had never done so, and have been trying to step out of my faith-based comfort zone, so I volunteered. It was a lovely service that was a faith-filled antidote to a stressful day. It included the option for worshipers to experience the laying on of hands, which for me is always is always moving, personal & spiritual. What I didn’t anticipate was the power of the foot washing ritual-both both as washer & washed. It was Humbling, connecting and very real.–a quiet public witness of love & servitude. It was intense & profound in ways I am still processing.

Good Friday service is always a somber and commemorates Jesus’ cruxifixion. It is often a Tenebrae service. As the ELCA website explains “Tenebrae is usually held the evening of Good Friday and includes the gradual dimming of the lights and extinguishing of candles. The Christ candle is removed from the sanctuary and a concluding “Strepitus” or loud noise (slamming shut the Bible) symbolizes the earthquake and agony of creation at the death of Christ.” After service all exit quietly, without speaking in the dimmed lighting of the church. It too, is an incredibly powerful and moving worship experience.

Saturday, I got out on Bea the Blessed Harley and had a lovely contemplative ride down scenic Hwy 71. No one else was able to ride with me, and that made it a great time for personal reflection and gave me the chance to stop to appreciate the Spring beauty of the Ozarks. I stopped long the way to snap a few photos of the redbuds in bloom, unfortunately the photos don’t do the view justice.redbud2

Sunday was Easter and the service was a spirit-filled, joyous celebration of the resurrection. The sanctuary was beautifully decorated for this holy holiday and the choirs and musicians were in glorious form, “making joyful noise.” Pastor’s sermon was encouraging and thoughtful. He talked about Jesus as an interrupter. Now mind you, what you are getting is my take on the message. If you’d like you can hear it for yourself here. He talked about the fact that in the Gospel, wherever Jesus goes he encounters people in dire straits and he “interrupts” their situations with healing and a message of hope.–he completely involved himself. Then, on Easter as the women arrived to put oils on his dead body, they met the angel, and then Jesus himself who gave them a greeting. Pastor: “Every time the Christian community thinks this is a day like any other Jesus gets ahead of us and says, ‘Hello. I’m here. I go before you. Don’t be afraid.'” I love the image from the sermon, of Jesus going ahead, already living in the day as we arrive. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” So when we think this is a day like any other, we are reminded that no, Christ is alive in it and so are we. Good word.  Alleluia. He has risen indeed!  baptismal fontEaster

On a lighter note, our young people created Peep dioramas for Easter. I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of them. They are very creative.

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Tenebrae is usually held the evening of Good Friday and includes the gradual dimming of the lights and extinguishing of candles. The Christ candle is removed from the sanctuary and a concluding “Strepitus” or loud noise (slamming shut the Bible) symbolizes the earthquake and agony of creation at the death of Christ. – See more at:
Tenebrae is usually held the evening of Good Friday and includes the gradual dimming of the lights and extinguishing of candles. The Christ candle is removed from the sanctuary and a concluding “Strepitus” or loud noise (slamming shut the Bible) symbolizes the earthquake and agony of creation at the death of Christ. – See more at:
Tenebrae is usually held the evening of Good Friday and includes the gradual dimming of the lights and extinguishing of candles. The Christ candle is removed from the sanctuary and a concluding “Strepitus” or loud noise (slamming shut the Bible) symbolizes the earthquake and agony of creation at the death of Christ. – See more at:

Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust Seeks Applicants for 2014  

The Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Advisory Committee is currently seeking nominations for the 2014 Beckman Award. The award is given to professors who inspired their former students to achieve greatness. Each recipient will receive a one-time cash award of $25,000. Preference will be given to educators who teach or who taught in the fields of psychology, medicine, or law. In 2013, a quarter of a million dollars was awarded to 10 professors throughout the United States.

Gail McKnight Beckman created the Beckman award to benefit teachers who have inspired their former students to make a difference in their communities. The award is given to current or former academic faculty members who have inspired their former students to “create an organization which has demonstrably conferred a benefit on the community at large.” Alternatively, academic faculty members must have inspired their former students to “establish on a lasting basis a concept, procedure, or movement of comparable benefit to the community at large.”

The nomination deadline is Tuesday, July 15, 2014. An award ceremony will be held in the fall in Atlanta, GA. For more information or to nominate or apply for the award, please visit:



 The American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility Diversity Committee, as part of the wider ABA initiative, is engaged in a renewed effort to increase diversity in all of its aspects in the Center’s programming, membership, publication and service activities. To this end, it wants to connect with those who may be newer to the professional responsibility arena, and/or have diverse perspectives on professional responsibility issues. Does your writing, teaching, and/or service work intersect with issues of professional ethics? Do you know colleagues whose work fits this description?

Please let them know if you or any of your colleagues are interested in speaking, writing or otherwise getting involved in the Center. The Center is looking not only for ways to involve you in its work, but also for ways it can help you in your work, including making your students aware of the Center’s resources. Please don’t hesitate to contact them with your questions about what the Center might do for you.

For more information visit the website at or contact them at


The National Conference of Bar Examiners recently announced that, effective with the February 2015 bar exam, Negotiable Instruments will no longer be tested on the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). As you know, the Arkansas Bar Exam uses the MEE.

Students planning to take a bar exam other than for Arkansas should determine whether Negotiable Instruments may be included on the exam they expect to take. The Negotiable Instruments course is, of course, important not only for bar exam purposes but also in various business and commercial practice fields.


Today, driving into work, I was moved to tears by a song I’d never heard, Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman. Not sure why it had such a powerful impact. Perhaps it was missing my own Dad, who passed away, and thinking of the many events I wish he’d been able to share. Or maybe it was thinking of Mom, her fragility and how she is my “Cinderella.” All my moments with her a truly precious and I do think about the fact that one day she’ll be gone. Or perhaps it was the recent losses of so many friends and colleagues. Whatever it was, I was touched by the images it conveyed and it motivated me to share it with you.



Somehow less than comforting, don’t you think? Seen in a hotel in the state capital.

The Supreme Court has issued a Per Curiam opinion, In Re Arkansas Bar Association Petition Proposing Amendments to the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct here:

The Supreme Court has solicited comments from the bench and bar. Comments should be made in writing before June 1, 2014, and they should be addressed to: Leslie W. Steen, Clerk, Supreme Court of Arkansas, Attn.: Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct, Justice Building, 625 Marshall Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201.


April is here, and it’s hard to believe that three months of the year have already gone by, but so it is. Today, Sunday, is a bit quieter than the first few days of the month have been. I visited the Williams family’s fine establishment, William’s Soul Food Express located in Rogers. It features terrific home style cooking, with daily specials. I ordered the 3 piece chicken dinner with sides, and thoroughly enjoyed it, managing to save a bit for a later meal. Mom’s place was the next stop and I ordered a piece of chocolate cake to go, knowing she would treasure a chocolate treat. I’d also packed my Bluetooth travel speaker, and we spent a lovely couple of hours listening to Gospel music, and singing along (Mom, after she finished her cake, of course).  10171255_10203636278647028_1519621317522346055_n

Saturday had been a doozy. It started at 4:30 with a ride back to Fayetteville, to arrive in time for a makeup Torts class. This spring semester, we missed a number of days due to the unusually rough winter. After a 3 hour class, with a lunch break catered by Jason’s Deli (and much appreciated by the class), I enjoyed wonderful conversation and the great humor of my two colleagues, Lisa Avalos and Will Foster. We talked about recent legal news, and every manner of thing. It was the kind of pleasant conversation between colleagues that rarely takes place in the busyness of a typical day, and I feel grateful for the time with them. Afterwards, I headed for an hour of pampering at Lavida, in large part to overcome the symptoms associated with being hunched over a desk for long periods of time. From there I visited Mom, and we caught the last rays of sun on a warm spring day.

The reason for the early morning drive back was that on Friday, the Arkansas Fellows of the American Bar Association (ABA) gathered together at a black tie  dinner at the Little Rock Country Club. Of note is that fact that one of our members, H.T. Moore was elected to the American Bar Association Board of Governors, a major distinction indeed, especially since he was unopposed for his seat. One of the interesting traditions of the ABA House of Delegates is that when a member of the House wins an election for a leadership position, she or he is escorted to the Well of the House by supporters. I know it may sound strange, but I’ve come appreciate that custom, as a visual affirmation of those elected and their supporters.

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The Arkansas Delegates With our new ABA Board of Governor’s member, Harry Truman Moore L-R: Me, H.T.Moore, Carolyn Witherspoon and Rick Ramsay.

Forgive me, but I am going to digress from a discussion about April events to talk about an amazing experience during the House of Delegates meeting in February. For the first time in the history of the American Bar Association, Paulette Brown, a Black lawyer from New Jersey, was elected as President-Elect Nominee of the ABA. THE FIRST TIME EVER! Not for a Black woman, for a woman of color. Period. I was incredible proud to be present that day to witness her walk through the floor of the House and to hear her remarks. It was a powerful moment for me, personally and professionally and I could not be more proud. I have to give a shout out to the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, for the trailblazing achievements of their sorority sister. #NPHC Love!   2014-02-10 14.05.57

With American Bar Association President-Elect Nominee Paulette Brown

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Back to April (after that most important digression). The first weekend of the month I attended the Midwest People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference at Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Founding Dean Peter Alexander is a good friend, and was a most gracious host to all of us, as was his faculty and staff. In addition to several plenary sessions on current topics of interest (I gave the closing plenary on the structure of theABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and recent Legal Ed. Council actions), there were fabulous keynote speakers, including President-Elect Nominee Paulette Brown, The Honorable Tanya Walton Pratt, the First African-American Article III Federal Judge in Indiana (also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.), and Professor Bryan Stevenson. In addition, scholars presented a number of fascinating work-in-progress sessions presentations as well. A special treat was that I got to spend (a very brief) time with my cousins and aunt who live in Fort Wayne on Sunday morning before flying out.

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Other early April events in addition to the People of Color Conference, include the University of Arkansas Women Law Students’ reception honoring Justice Courtney Goodson with the Pontz-Pettus Award, our W.B. Putman Inn of Court’s last meeting of the academic year, and a fascinating program entitled Women Lead Arkansas host by our law school. Dr. Janine Parry, Former State Representative Lindsley Smith and Representative Stephanie Malone encouraged women to seek public office. Nature’s been busy too, and the spring bloom is well underway!