Teaching Students to Be Lawyers Unto Others, Not Themselves

EH5A3802Alex Perry_Photog

Teaching has always been on the horizon for Regent University School of Law professor Caleb Griffin.

He joined LAW faculty Fall Semester 2016, after receiving a phone call from professor and associate dean, Natt Gantt, who was seeking interested candidates for the position.

“I was at work one evening and he called and asked if I was interested in being a law professor, and I really was,” said Griffin. “I was literally called to work here.”

Griffin came to Regent after graduating from Harvard Law School in 2014, and a stint of practicing corporate law at the firm of Vinson & Elkins, representing organizations such as banks and oil companies.

“Practicing law is great, and I learned a lot, but I find it so rewarding to be able to work with students and examine deeper questions about the law," he said.

His true passion lies in helping students conduct research and think about the “bigger issues” of law. He explained that those who practice law for a living don’t always have the privilege to study the history of a law or how it came to be.

“Is it the best law? Should it be this way? Is it moral?” asked Griffin. “That’s not your job when you’re representing a client.”

For Griffin, returning to the classroom has been, in part, a return to theorizing the law. At Regent, he encourages his students to conduct research and to think about the “bigger issues.” And to his delight, they respond with “wonderful and unique insights.”

“It’s both incredibly fun, and incredibly rewarding. It's something that I feel is a really good and exciting opportunity,” said Griffin. “It’s great to be in the classroom to learn and to get to interact with the students – I’ve been surprised by how energizing it is to be in a classroom and get questions from students.”

Apart from teaching, Griffin said he enjoys being among his Christian colleagues. To him, they represent a body of people who believe in something outside of themselves. Together they work toward a common mission and purpose: to guide confident Christian lawyers.

“It’s really meaningful and humbling to see the leaders of this school and know that there’s something more important than each of us individually. That there’s something we all believe in and are working toward,” said Griffin.

That, in turn, is what he believes sets apart Christian lawyers who work in a secular market.

“You can definitely tell who’s being honest and forthright when they’re practicing law and who is treating others better than themselves,” said Griffin. “That includes the client and the people who are working across the table from you.”

He sees his work as fulfilling a unique calling on his life, and explained that his goal as a professor is to help his students find the right motivations and perspectives when it comes to navigating legal issues from a Christian perspective.

“God endows us with a variety of gifts. Some of us are preachers and ministers and some of us are business men and women. But we’re all called to do work so that we have something to share with those in need,” said Griffin. “And I think [practicing law] is an important way to do that.”

by Brett Wilson Tubbs

Moot Court Board: Hassell Competition Recap

Named after the late former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Leroy R. Hassell, Sr., the Moot Court Board hosted its 16th annual constitutional law competition on October 14-15, 2016. Directed by Samuel Walsh, the competition hosted 24 teams from across the nation—only one team short from becoming a tier two competition for the very first time. Not only is this an unprecedented amount, but it's also the furthest reaching with new and returning schools coming from as far as Florida, Texas, and California. Moreover, the final panel of judges was graced by the presence of 4 State Supreme Court Justices from Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Lucille Wall, this year's Chairwoman, said, "Regent Law's Moot Court Board was honored to host such a talented group of oral advocates at this year's Hassell National Moot Court Competition. Not only was the group of students participating diverse and well prepared, they were also excellent advocates who argued with passion and poise. Special thanks to everyone on the Moot Court Board who helped make this event a record-breaking success; to all the faculty who volunteered their time to serve as judges; to the Moot Court Board faculty advisor, Dean Hernandez, for helping craft the problem and providing the Board with consistent support; and for all the teams who raised the bar and made this year's competition as competitive as ever. Lastly, a huge and hearty congratulations to the finalists—Liberty University and the University of South Dakota—on a hard fought final round, and to Liberty for taking home first place. As always, we give all the glory to God for helping us create such a fantastic and memorable competition."

Regent Law Places Second in National Pretrial Competition


The competition involved an indictment of a sitting member of Congress on charges of conspiracy to defraud the IRS through the use of stolen personal information to file fraudulent claims for income tax refunds, 18 USC 371, and ten counts of identity fraud, 18 USC 1028(a)(7).

The indictment also charged 11 members of a violent gang with the conspiracy and theft of public money charges and various members of the gang with allegedly related Hobbs Act, Use of Interstate Facilities in Commission of Murder for Hire, and felon in possession of firearms charges.

The pretrial motions were to suppress evidence obtained from a private "cloud" account, to prevent two expert witnesses from testifying, and for a change in venue or in the alternative, severance of the member of Congress's charges for a separate trial. Each side called two witnesses at the hearing.


  • Team: Daniel Waters, Julianna Battenfield, Justin Burch & Elizabeth Berry 
  • Coach: Professor James Metcalfe


  • Regent's Trial Advocacy team placed second out of sixteen teams.

Regent University School of Law Celebrates Ronald L. Fick Book Awards

As an employer, when Ronald L. Fick, shareholder and attorney at Dunwody White & Landon, P.A., leafs through a stack of résumés for potential new hires, candidates who’ve won several book awards go straight to the top.

He shared this insight with Regent University School of Law (LAW) students, faculty and staff at the Ronald L. Fick Book Award Ceremony on Thursday, September 1, sponsored in part by Virginia Beach law firm, Pender & Coward, P.C.

Each semester, the Ronald L. Fick Book Award Ceremony honors LAW students who’ve received the highest marks in their classes. This tradition began shortly after Fick learned his daughter, Allison Fick '14, had received the highest mark in one of her classes – but learned Regent didn’t hold book award ceremonies.

“This is something that all top law schools need to do,” said Fick, as he explained how his sponsorship of the ceremony began. “I know that all of you work very hard over the course of a semester, and I hope each of you will take justified pride and satisfaction in your academic accomplishments.”

The book award tradition dates back years ago when the publisher of legal encyclopedia, American Jurisprudence, honored law students who’d received the highest marks in their courses with a book volume of the set. Regent students received plaques to commemorate their accomplishment.

“Today, we recognize the fact that our students have been faithful to use the talent God has given them,” said Michael Hernandez, LAW dean. “And we also recognize Mr. Fick. He’s been a supporter of the school for a number of years, and most important he’s the proud father of Ally Fick. It’s the greatest blessing you can bestow to entrust your child to us.”

Leah Oswald ’18, winner of the Civil Procedure II and Contracts II book awards, can sum up her experience in law school in just one phrase: “Law school is hard, but God is good. And that’s the end.”

“These awards affirm that I can put my trust in what God has called me to do. I can do things way beyond what I can do on my own,” said Oswald. "I can trust if I have a hard time, he will provide. I’ve learned to trust God with everything. Know we can trust him and that he has great things for our lives."

Moriah Schmidt ‘18, winner of the East African Legal Environment: A Comparative Introduction, Introduction to Human Rights in Africa and Civil Procedure II book awards, lives by the credo that, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”

“That’s very true in my life, and that’s what he’s doing for all of us. We’re here for a reason, and sometimes that reason is not going to be revealed to us for a while,” said Schmidt. “And I want to thank Regent and the professors for telling us we can do anything God calls us to, because that’s the only reason I’m still here to this day. It’s not that I’m some genius – I worked hard, and God blessed the rest.”

by Brett Wilson Tubbs

Regent Law Moot Court 2015-2016 Competition Season

At the close of the 2015-2016 Moot Court competition season, Regent University School of Law ranked fifth in the nation for Best Moot Court Program by the annual report of the University of Houston Law.

Law schools that rank within the top 16 are invited to Houston in January 2017 to participate in the national championship. Regent ranked above schools such as the University of Virginia, Baylor University Law School, Colombia University Law School, and Duke University Law School to qualify for the competition.

Here is a look back on Regent Law Moot Court's 2015-2016 season:

Center for Advocacy Director Honored for Excellence

Prof. Kathleen McKee
Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, executive vice president for academic affairs, presented the Spring 2016 Faculty Excellence Awards at a recent Regent University all-staff meeting.

Associate Law Professor Kathleen McKee, director of the Center for Advocacy, received the Faculty Excellence Award in the area of teaching. Moreno-Riaño noted that McKee holds her students accountable to master their material and the skills they need when they enter the field of law.

“She is a vital contributor to the curriculum due to the time-intensive, clinical courses she teaches,” said Moreno-Riaño. “Professor McKee's teaching produces students who posses strong analytical and writing skills, and she works tirelessly to accommodate students…including providing intensive one-on-one sessions with students in an already demanding skills context.” 

by Brett Wilson Tubbs

Regent University School of Law’s Moot Court Program Ranked 5th in the Nation

At the close of the 2015-2016 Moot Court competition season, Regent University School of Law ranked fifth in the nation for Best Moot Court Program by the annual report of the University of Houston Law.

Law schools that rank within the top 16 are invited to Houston in January 2017 to participate in the national championship. Regent ranked above schools such as the University of Virginia, Baylor University Law School, Colombia University Law School, and Duke University Law School to qualify for the competition.

This year’s ranking follows the eighth-place Regent teams earned during the 2014-2015 competition season. The data is pulled from more than 200 law schools in the United States accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The rankings are listed annually, and according to Regent Law Dean Michael Hernandez this ranking ties the university’s highest-ever – having achieved the same ranking in 2008.

“This ranking, yet again, confirms what our track-record of over 20 years reflects,” said Hernandez. “Our top-notch skills program is consistently one of the best in the nation and around the world.” 

Professor Tessa Dysart, who served as the Moot Court faculty advisor for the 2015-2016 academic year, attributes the success of the program to several factors:

“First, it’s the hard work of the students. They put countless hours into preparing for these competitions, and it really showed this year!” said Dysart. “Second, the contribution of the faculty. We won several brief awards this year, which speaks well of our excellent legal writing program.” 

Additionally, Dysart said the success of the teams was guided by the work of several faculty members who volunteered to coach teams, as well as support from the central university. This is especially important, as Regent students interact with members of teams and faculty from competing schools as well as local attorneys and judges.

“By being so well-prepared and demonstrating excellence at the competition, we show what a great legal education program Regent offers,” said Dysart.

 Learn more about Regent University’s School of Law.

by Brett Wilson Tubbs