Dear Friends,

Greetings from the LSU Law Center, where we are concluding a fall semester like none other and looking forward to a much-deserved Thanksgiving break!  

As you know, we had to make significant changes to our delivery of course instruction this year. I am very proud of our incredible students, faculty, and staff, who have soldiered on and remained as positive as we could have hoped in light of the circumstances. Everyone has done a great job of adapting to both the masked, spread-out, and simultaneously streamed courses in the Law Center as well as to the courses that our faculty revamped to take place wholly online—as our collective needs demanded. 

While this semester has presented challenges and disruptions that none of us signed up for, I am enormously grateful for the gracious and collaborative spirit with which our LSU Law community has stepped up to meet this historic moment. We have much to be grateful for at LSU Law and our future remains bright. As we prepare for Thanksgiving, I want to share a few of the recent happenings at the Law Center for which I’m particularly thankful:
  • In partnership with the Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), the Law Center received a nearly $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to establish a Wrongful Conviction Clinic—the first clinic of its kind at a Louisiana law school. LSU Law students will gain practical experience working on complex evidentiary matters related to claims of actual innocence. IPNO attorneys will work with LSU Law students to examine cases of incarcerated people who say they have been wrongfully convicted, with a goal of identifying cases that would benefit from DNA testing, where DNA test evidence could lead to exoneration and post-conviction relief.  
  • We continue to pursue improvements in our campus climate when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and I’m very proud of the way our students, faculty, and staff have embraced our commitment. This year, students of color represent approximately 21% of our entering class and 19% of our overall student body. Our faculty also recently approved a proposal for the LSU Law Journal for Social Justice & Policy, a new student-edited law journal focused on issues that are often of particular interest to audiences and authors, including our own students, from groups who have been traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession and on topics that might otherwise remain unaddressed on the pages of our existing law journals.
  • Because of the pandemic, all internal and external trial advocacy and moot court competitions are being conducted virtually this year, but that will not stop nearly 100 students from competing in more than 30 contests this academic year. Yes, students really can argue their cases in suit jackets and pajama bottoms, as one group recently demonstrated—camera ready on top! Welcome to moot court and mock trial competitions in the era of COVID-19—just as many of you have already welcomed yourselves to your own new camera-ready practices for 2020. I’m grateful for the positive attitude and good humor displayed by our students, and I'm proud of their many accomplishments. 
  • We hosted seven engaging Class Reunion socials in late October, even though they were conducted via Zoom. I am very appreciative to the many class leaders and law faculty and staff who pulled off a fun evening despite the “social distancing” required. The next day, we even hosted a remote Hats ’n Canes toast via Zoom. 
On a more somber note, we also pause this season to remember those we’ve lost, including Professor Emeritus and great legal scholar George Pugh and, more recently, our own Board of Trustees President Gene Fendler. I know you join me in extending our sympathy to all who have lost loved ones this year. 

This Thanksgiving will be challenging as we work to keep ourselves, our families, and our friends safe and healthy. With masks, physical distancing, and smaller gatherings, this season of giving thanks may find us with more time and reason to reflect on the people and opportunities that are most important in our lives. We should also take care to allow ourselves some grace in having moved ourselves forward during such difficult times. 

Thank you for continuing to support your alma mater in what has been a historic year for the school, our community, our country, and the world. I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.  
Lee Ann Wheelis Lockridge
Interim Dean, LSU Law Center
David Weston Robinson Professor of Law
McGlinchey Stafford Professor of Law