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THE DEAN'S ROUNDUP
Howdy!
 
Last fall, I had the pleasure of teaching a class on eminent domain law with Adjunct Professor Jim Bradbury (TAMU ‘88) and Associate Professor Cynthia Burress from our law library. The class grew out of a conversation we had in the spring about the upcoming Texas legislative session and the likelihood that eminent domain issues would be a major topic.

We wanted our students to have the chance to dig into an important public policy issue and contribute to the legislative process, so we set up a course designed around the students putting together a 50 state survey of the law of eminent domain. When the fall semester started, we had 19 somewhat nervous 2L and 3L students in class wondering just what we had cooked up.

We explained that we would also arrange for 11 guest speakers representing all the interests involved - from the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Assn. to attorneys representing condemning authorities, who would provide an overview of how Texas law currently worked and research training, but that the rest of the course was up to them. They would do the research and organize a report to the legislature comparing Texas law to other states’ laws.
 
They did an incredible job. Most importantly, our students became deeply enmeshed in the complexities of the law and policy of eminent domain.  We printed the resulting product, “Law and Policy Resource Guide: A Survey of Eminent Domain Law in Texas and the Nation,” and some of the students visited Austin to deliver copies to the members of the 85th Legislature, including the Chairmen of the Committees with authority over eminent domain.
 
 

The report doesn’t advocate for any particular position, but analyzes the issues and puts Texas’ law into context. Further, the students identified key trends and innovative trends in the law of other states that may be useful to Texas policymakers. We are confident that our students now know more than almost all attorneys in the country about the range of eminent domain laws across the United States as a result of their deep immersion in the topic and extensive research.

We’re so proud of their work and we are confident that all the members of the legislature will find this to be a useful resource as they consider various proposals to revise Texas’ laws on eminent domain, no matter what the members’ position on any issue might be. This is just what a land grant university is supposed to do, and the quality of their work shows what a group of determined Aggie law students can accomplish.

Gig ‘em!
Andy
AROUND CAMPUS



Barnett Named President's Meritorious Service Award Recipient


 

Texas A&M University School of Law Senior Administrative Coordinator of Events Deborah Barnett is one of 25 individual staff recipients of the Texas A&M University’s 2016-2017 President’s Meritorious Service Award (PMSA).

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Law Clinic Receives Community Partner Award

Texas A&M University School of Law Family Law and Benefits Clinic received the Community Partner award from the Tarrant County branch of the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans (TLTV) on Jan. 26, 2017. During the 2017 Tarrant County Bar Foundation Annual Meeting, clinic attorneys Lynn Rodriguez and Karon Rowden accepted the award on behalf of the clinic.

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FACULTY



Prof. Trujilo's Book on Trade, Sustainable Development to be Published by Cambridge University Press


Prof. Elizabeth Trujillo’s book, “Reframing the Trade and Environment Linkage for Sustainable Development in a Fragmented World,” revisits the trade and environment linkage, one that historically has been in tension, but which, due to increased energy demand and concerns for climate change, is shifting and finding common ground.

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STUDENTS






Aggie Law Students Engage in National Advocacy Training Through Charles Koch Grant Awarded to Prof. Lisa Rich

With support from the Charles Koch Foundation, Aggie Law’s criminal justice and advocacy scholars are turning classroom study into experiential learning. Grant funds support student research, including the drafting of policy papers, and also the expansion of their advocacy networks throughout the nation, subsidizing conference and related travel costs.

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P.A.W.S. Promotes Classroom and Career Search Success

Texas A&M University School of Law’s Professional and Academic Workshop Series (P.A.W.S.) provides students with the ability to self-assess their strengths and weaknesses to be successful in law school and in landing a legal job. “P.A.W.S. is a program that combine​s various presentations from Academic Support, the Professionalism and Leadership Program (PLP) and Career Services (CS) to give upper level students valuable skills, insights and competencies to supplement their education in the classroom,” said Vice Dean and PLP Director Aric Short

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FORMER STUDENTS




   

     

      Andrew Decker '14 

 

This month, we are proud to recognize the achievements of Andrew Decker ’14, founder and attorney of Andrew Decker Law firm in Willow Park, TX. His practice is primarily criminal defense; he is also certified to do guardianship work.

Before opening his firm, Decker served as a clerk with Evans, Daniel, Moore, Evans & Biggs in Fort Worth.  

“They are five of the finest men and criminal defense attorneys one could hope to know,” Decker said of the experience. “I learned so much about how to prep and work a case, and how to get in front of the case.”

A non-traditional law student, Decker began his law school career at the age of 39, pivoting from his prior vocation as a pastor.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Divinity, and pursuing a Doctor of Ministry, Decker said intensive reading and study were nothing new.

“Writing like a lawyer was a completely different animal, however,” he said.

He said law school was also a paradigm shift for him. When he attended seminary school at age 22, the average age of a seminarian was 35-40. In law school, he was nearly 40 in a setting where the average age is 25.

“Many of my friends in law school were closer in age to my son than to me,” he said. “So I came to law school with a bit more experience, but also the need for balance.”

While it was unusual, Decker said his transition from seminary to law school was worthwhile. Today, he said he uses his legal degree as a ministry.

“Jesus teaches, especially in the Gospel according to Luke, that God loves the least and the lost,” he said.  “From what I have seen, a sure way to become the least in our society is to find yourself on the wrong side of a criminal charge.”

He added that many of his clients were lost, in one way or another, long before their paths led them to his office.

“I do not lead with a preachy tone, but I often find myself wearing a pastor’s hat as I listen to and offer counsel to clients in my office, in jail, or in a court room,” he said.

Decker said he’s very grateful for his time at Texas A&M Law, in particular for the skills he learned from adjunct professor James Hambleton.

“His voice will still ring in my ear as I write a client a letter or while drafting an appeal,” Decker said. “Professor Hambleton helped me learn to think and write like a lawyer.”


 


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