Charles I. Nelson joined the faculty at Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law 10 years ago, taking the helm as the school’s Dean. Dean Nelson announced last month that he will retire on June 1. He has left an indelible mark both on the school and on its many students who have graduated and entered the field of law. Dean Nelson has prepared a path for those who will pursue their studies at Jones in the years to come.
Jones Law School has enjoyed significant growth and excellence under Dean Nelson’s direction. Perhaps among the most significant accomplishments was securing American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation. It was announced in December 2009 that Jones had been granted full approval by the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions as an accredited institution of legal education. Full accreditation means Jones graduates are eligible to sit for the bar exam in any state. The majority of the highest courts of the states rely upon ABA approval of a law school to determine whether the jurisdiction’s legal education requirement for admission to the bar is satisﬁed.
Dean Nelson’s administration also saw significant expansion on the campus, including the addition of the Allen Law Center in December 2011. The center was named in honor of our own Greg Allen, a Jones alumnus, who has been a strong supporter of the school. Greg served as chairman of the steering committee in Jones’ efforts to obtain its ABA accreditation. The Allen Law Center added approximately 17,000 square feet of space to the existing law school building and included additional study space in the library, a classroom, faculty office space, a courtroom, and space for the school’s three law clinics.
In addition to facilities, Jones School of Law added several new programs. The Advocacy Program, which has received national accolades, provides practice-oriented advocacy training focused on the skills necessary for every phase of litigation. Additionally, Jones hosts three intra-school advocacy competitions every year: the J. Greg Allen Intra-School Mock Trial Competition, the Closing Argument Competition and the First-Year Moot Court Competition. Jones students also participate nationally in a variety of mediation, moot court and trial advocacy competitions.
Students also gain valuable hands-on experience through the school’s service-oriented Clinical Programs, which provide a service to the oppressed and vulnerable in the community. They include the Elder Law Clinic, Family Violence Clinic, and Mediation Clinic. Through these programs, students move from the study of law to the practice of law, working with real people with real problems, not just ideas.
In 2012, the National Jurist named Jones School of Law as one of the 15 best law schools in the United States when it comes to preparing students for public service in government. The law school trains students for careers in public service, preparing them to both engage critically with difficult legal and policy questions and to deal practically with the challenges of public service. Nearly 30 percent of the 2010 graduating class went on to choose public service careers. A remarkable 98.6 percent of Jones graduates passed the Alabama bar last July. Needless to say, Dean Nelson has done a tremendous job at Jones and he will be missed. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.
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