Event provides $5,000 donation to local nonprofit
Belmont University’s College of Law held its first-ever Barrister’s Ball Friday evening at the Hutton Hotel, turning the traditional law school event into a fundraiser for locally-based Both Hands Foundation. Organized by the College’s Student Bar Association, the Barrister’s Ball was a semi-formal event that celebrated the coming completion of the academic year and allowed a number of student and faculty awards to be presented. Congressman Marsha Blackburn served as the event’s keynote speaker.
Robert “Jaz” Boon (class of 2014), president of Belmont’s Student Bar Association, said, “Our hope for the Inaugural Barristers’ Ball is to establish a tradition at the College of Law of being heavily invested in the Nashville community. Barristers’ Balls are a staple event at law schools across the country, but our goal was to go beyond a social event and find a way to connect locally.”
Boon added that the student planning committee determined the Barrister’s Ball would be a fundraiser to benefit a locally-based nonprofit. “The student body chose the Both Hands Foundation because they are a local organization that works with some of the most vulnerable people in our society—orphans and widows. As our law program grows, we hope that our ability to be an asset to Nashville and the State of Tennessee grows accordingly.”
The College of Law students raised $5,000 for Both Hands and presented the organization a check on the night of the event.
U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith shared his “three-prong approach” to combating the theft of intellectual property with a full room of Belmont University students this past Monday, Feb. 11. The event, sponsored by the Center for Business Ethics, was an academic lecture convocation titled “Internet Piracy: Copyright Infringement and Compensating Creativity.” Representing Texas’ 21st congressional district since 1987, Smith recently proposed legislation with the purpose of hindering the negative impact of foreign websites that consistently engage in illegal acts of digital piracy. Smith described SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and how the legislation primarily focuses on the prosecution of foreign-based websites.
Smith’s three-prong solution includes public education to the negative effects of copyright infringement, technological advances that allow artists to be paid fairly for their work and legislation that allows federal enforcement. Smith explained, “Theft of intellectual property can affect anyone in this room in one way or another.”
Several students from Belmont’s College of Law asked questions relating to copyrights and recent cases from their class studies. Second-year law student Franklin Graves commented, “It’s important for Belmont to host this type of event. They bring focus to the artist, the creator, the people the legislation truly affects. From a law student’s perspective, it’s great to hear a pro-copyright voice.”
On Jan. 9, Belmont’s first chapel of the year featured Jay Milbrandt, author of Go + Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time. Following worship, Milbrandt shared his experiences as a law student, lawyer and advocate. He explained that, while at law school, he was desperate to find his calling. “Like many people here at Belmont, I wanted to change the world,” Milbrandt said. “You can get overwhelmed by that thought.”
One summer during law school, Milbrandt went on a trip to Thailand with a group of his peers to work with prostitutes. When first asked to go into the red light district for one-on-one work with the women, Milbrandt was reluctant. However, when he showed up, he discovered an unsettling phenomenon.
Most of the children Milbrandt encountered in the district were “stateless” and did not have any nationality. The majority of them emigrated from Burma, which refuses to recognize them as citizens, and Thailand will not grant them citizenship. Without citizenship, the children are unable to enter into the Thai schools and fall into the cycle of prostitution.
Milbrandt gathered a team of his peers to advocate on behalf of the children and help them obtain citizenship. It was not nearly as difficult as he assumed it might be. “This is what God does when we show up, when we take risks,” he explained. His first client as a lawyer was an 8-year-old girl who he helped obtain citizenship.
Following his experience in Thailand, he had a similar experience as a law student in East Africa. A number of children were being held in a small “prison” without a trial. Milbrandt described the prison as a “shack that looked like it was made to hold cows.” He and his peers set out building cases for the children and helped see the cases to court. One of the boys they helped free had been sitting in the jail for nearly a year because he had stolen a pack of gum. Another boy they helped had spent two years in the shack due to a baseless murder accusation.
“When we allow him, God works through us to do justice and stand in the gaps,” Milbrandt said. “Our need for purpose exists for someone else’s need for justice.” He also warned not to get lost in the vastness of changing the world. He instead challenged the audience to “just show up” and offered himself as a resource to anyone willing to take up the challenge.
The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville announces a partnership with Belmont University beginning January 2013. The partnership will advance the educational and charitable purposes of both organizations by leveraging and uniting their unique resources along with the arts and business communities to create a thriving, sustainable creative culture in Nashville.
“The partnership with Belmont University will be a springboard for organizational growth and innovation in our work to make Nashville a place where the creative culture thrives,” said Casey Summar, executive director of the Arts & Business Council. “We are thrilled to find alignment with Belmont’s priorities and become a nonprofit in residence on campus.”
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “Partnering with the Arts & Business Council makes perfect sense in light of Belmont’s vision for increased engagement with and service to the Nashville community. In addition, this partnership allows our students more opportunities for experiential education in a number of areas that represent popular fields of study, including music business, the performing arts, business and law.”
Award-winning journalist and First Amendment advocate John Seigenthaler began the College of Law Speaker Series by leading the discussion “First Amendment Challenges Posed by New Media Technology” on Oct. 30 in the Massey Performing Arts Center.
“We look upon technology as the enemy that has served as the end of newspapers, but it is a simple, different way of delivery,” he said. “If newspapers can make online content as attractive as in the blogosphere, then readers seeking credible information will follow … and advertisers will follow.”
Seigenthaler read “Blessed are the Cursored,” his tongue-in-cheek forecast of technology’s impact on journalism. He recalled the evolution of media from his first day as a cops reporter to serving as publisher of The Tennessean, including hiatuses that made him part of the John F. Kennedy administration and the founding editorial director of USA Today.
He also shared his personal experience with the dark side of the First Amendment, anonymity and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prohibits information service providers from being treated as publishers or broadcasters as it relates to defamation. Anonymously posted libelous statements about Seigenthaler appeared on Wikipedia in 2005. His editorial that publicly condemned the website as a non-credible source led to the website revising its policies. (more…)