2011 UofL Law Alumni Awards

The 2011 Brandeis School of Law Alumni Awards were given out on Wednesday, October 26, 2011, during a reception dinner at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. Read about this years winners, below.

Download a copy of the program from this years awards.

To view photos of the evening be sure to visit our Flickr page.

About our award winners

Creighton Mershon, Sr.

Lawrence Grauman Award


Creighton E. Mershon, Sr., is a 1963 graduate of Bellarmine University and received his J.D. from the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law in 1968. He has been a member of the Kentucky bar since 1968 and remains a member of the Louisville Bar Association.
Mr. Mershon is the retired general counsel for Kentucky Operations/BellSouth Corporation. While in law school, he was the notes and associate editor for the Journal of Family Law. He is a former member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and he sits on the Law Alumni Council.
Mr. Mershon has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela; special assistant to Louisville mayor Frank W Burke; a two-term member and three-term president of the Louisville Board of Aldermen; a member of the Kentucky Workers Compensation Board; a member and vice chair of the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation; a member and two-term vice chair of the Transit Authority of River City Board; and a current member and vice chair of the Louisville Water Company Board.
Mr. Mershon is a founding member and past president of the Louisville Bar Foundation and a member of the Kentucky Bar Foundation. He is a current member and past president of the Bellarmine University Board of Overseers. He also belongs to the Trinity High School Foundation, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and the Louisville Committee on Foreign Relations.

Donald Vish

Distinguished Alumnus Award


Donald Vish is a member of the Kentucky and Florida bars, a life member of the American Law Institute, a life fellow of the District of Columbia chapter of the American Bar Foundation, and the Louisville and Kentucky Bar Foundations. He graduated in 1970 with honors from the Brandeis School of Law and in 1968 from Bellarmine University, where he is included among an honor roll of distinguished graduates. His published legal writing credits include The American Law of Mining (second edition), Coal Law and Regulation (a five-volume treatise), and Kentucky Election Law. His essays calling for elimination of the death penalty have appeared in several regional publications, and he is the 2010 recipient of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Bill of Rights Enforcer Award.
He was associate solicitor, United States Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., from 1989-1991. His mining treatise was cited by the Kentucky Supreme Court in the landmark case of Akers v. Baldwin (1987), which reconsidered Kentucky’s notorious broad form deed. He is a director emeritus of the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation, which he helped found in 1979.
He is currently executive director and board member of the J & L Foundation, a philanthropy focused on peace, racial harmony, and child welfare issues; director of advocacy, education and outreach for the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and of counsel to the firm of Middleton Reutlinger. He is president of the Donors Forum of Metro Louisville, an association of grant making philanthropies, and a board member of the Center for Non-Profit Excellence and the Kentucky School of Art. 


John Tate

Distinguished Alumnus Award


Mr. Tate is a member of Stites and Harbison PLLC, a large law firm with deep roots in Kentucky and major branches in Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University in 1969, Mr. Tate earned an M.A. from the University of Louisville. He taught writing and literature courses in the old University College, and spent seven years working for an environmental protection agency. While working full time, he attended the Brandeis School of Law’s evening division, serving as articles editor for the Journal of Family Law and graduating magna cum laude in 1981.
Mr. Tate is a trial lawyer specializing in bet-the-company litigation and defending complex product liability claims. He has tried cases to jury verdicts in eight states and is a frequent author and speaker on trial practice topics. Elected in 1999 to be a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Mr. Tate credits the talented mentors and inspirational leaders at Stites and Harbison for his legal successes. His community involvement includes the boards of Actors Theatre, Louisville Bar Foundation, American Lung Association, St. Francis Goshen, and Louisville Audubon Society.
Together with Phyllis McMurry, his wife of 43 years, Mr. Tate lives on a working farm in Shelby County and does his best as the hired hand. His son Adam is an architect in Phoenix, and daughter Emily is an actress in Chicago.

Nancy Niederman

Distinguished Alumna Award


Nancy S. Niederman is a senior executive at Twentieth Century Fox Film Studios specializing in theatrical motion picture production. At Fox, she has served as the production attorney on numerous films including the international blockbuster Avatar, and the family favorites Alvin and the Chipmunks I and II, Garfield I and II, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Ms. Niederman received her B.A. from the University of Kentucky in 1975 and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1980, where she was a member of the Brandeis Honor Society and Notes Editor on the Journal of Family Law. She began her career in the Beverly Hills entertainment firm of Kaplan, Livingston, Goodwin, Berkowitz, and Selvin. She then moved to Columbia Pictures, where she served as Senior Counsel in the motion picture division. In 1986, Ms. Niederman moved to MGM/UA where, as the Senior Vice President of Studio Legal Affairs, she oversaw the studio’s legal department and was in charge of all theatrical, television and video production legal matters. Motion pictures produced by MGM/UA during her tenure include Rain Man, A Fish Called Wanda, Rocky IV and V, and Moonstruck.
Ms. Niederman joined Twentieth Century Fox in 1993. For 18 years she has overseen some of the studio’s biggest franchises. She is currently the legal executive in charge of Avatar II and III, Alvin and the Chipmunks III, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, and the upcoming Ridley Scott thriller Prometheus.

Mary Jo Gleason

Distinguished Alumna Award


Mary Jo Gleason is a 1996 graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. Currently, she serves as a staff attorney for the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Ms. Gleason was a mediator for Just Solutions in Louisville and Oldham County District Court. She now serves on the Board of Just Solutions and works as a facilitator.
Ms. Gleason participates in many volunteer activities, including the Board of Family and Children’s Place. She is currently involved in a project with the law school and Central High School’s law magnet program. Ms. Gleason, law students, and volunteer lawyers work with the juniors in the program on legal advocacy both oral and written.
Formerly, Ms. Gleason was the Director of the Samuel L. Greenebaum Public Service Program at the Brandeis School of Law. She coordinated and administered the public service program. During that time, she also served as the Vice President of Membership for the Women Lawyers Association of Jefferson County. Ms. Gleason was honored to receive the Women Lawyers Association Outstanding Member of the Year Award in 2005.
From 2002 to 2003, Ms. Gleason served as Legal Counsel to the Governor’s Office of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Services, where she provided legal services and staffed committees of the Governor’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She prepared a civil remedies manual for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault that is used to train attorneys about additional options and greater access for victims.
Ms. Gleason believes strongly in the power of public service and its importance in the legal profession. She is committed to the value that all people have worth and seeks to live a life that demonstrates this belief.

Tori Murden McClure

Distinguished Alumna Award


Tori Murden McClure is the president of Spalding University, in Louisville, Kentucky. Spalding University offers twenty-seven degree programs at the bachelor, master, and doctoral level, to more than 2,000 students. From 2004 through 2009 she served as the vice president of external relations, enrollment management, and student affairs at Spalding University.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College, a Master of Divinity from Harvard University, and her juris doctor from the University of Louisville’s Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. In 2005, she earned her master of fine arts in writing from Spalding University. Her non-fiction book, A Pearl in the Storm, was published by Harper-Collins in 2009.
A passionate world adventurer and humanitarian, Ms. McClure is best known as the first woman and first American to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was also the first woman and first American to travel over land to the geographic South Pole. An avid mountaineer, Ms. McClure has climbed on several continents. She is a fully certified emergency medical technician in both urban and wilderness areas, and is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), where she currently serves as the chair of the board of trustees.

Karen Paulin

Recent Alumna Award


Karen M. Paulin is an attorney at Stites and Harbison, PLLC, where she has been a member of the firm’s labor and employment law services group since 2007. She also actively participates with the health care and business litigation service groups. Ms. Paulin represents employers and focuses her practice on all areas of employment law, including discrimination, harassment, wage and hour, FMLA, ADA, affirmative action, employment contracts, the prevention of workplace violence, employee handbooks, and training and development.
In law school, Ms. Paulin was an officer on the Moot Court and Professional Skills Board, a member of the Brandeis Law Journal (now the University of Louisville Law Review), and a member of the Brandeis American Inns of Court. She also served as the student representative on the Law School dean search committee. A strong believer in the value of the moot court program, Ms. Paulin and her husband continue to provide support for the law school’s ACTA National Trial Competition.
Prior to returning to graduate school to obtain her J.D. and M.B.A., Ms. Paulin had a career in human resources and earned her Senior Professional in Human Resources certification (SPHR) from the Human Resources Certification Institute. Most recently, she was the Vice President of Human Resources at Metro United Way.
Ms. Paulin is an active community volunteer. Currently, she is President of the UofL Law Alumni Council, a member of the UofL Alumni Association Board of Directors, President of the GuardiaCare Services, Inc. Board of Directors, and a member of the Metro United Way Human Resources Committee.
Ms. Paulin and her husband stay busy with five grown children, two granddaughters, several race horses, and a side business.

Lowry Watkins, Jr.

Dean’s Service Award


Lowry Watkins, Jr. is a 1968 graduate of the College of Business at the University of Louisville. He is the grandson of William Marshall Bullitt, one of the most prominent alumni of the University of Louisville ‘s Brandeis School of Law. Mr. Watkins continues to be one of the Law School’s biggest supporters. Last year, Mr. Watkins pledged his largest gift to the Law School to date, an endowed Faculty Chair in Business Law in the name of his grandfather, William Marshall Bullitt, insurance attorney and solicitor general of the United States. Having been appointed solicitor general by President Howard Taft on June 28, 1912, Mr. Bullitt argued over 50 cases in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. During his service as solicitor general, Mr. Bullitt argued cases involving the maintenance of the Prohibition law during the First World War, enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act on cotton corners, and publicity laws and mail rates regarding newspapers and their circulation.
Mr. Watkins, continues to be a generous supporter of the University of Louisville’s many academic programs, but maintains his deepest connection with the Law School. For that, and for the tremendous commitment that he has made in support of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, we forever will consider him one of our own.

Linda Sorenson Ewald

Excellence in Teaching Award


Professor Linda Sorenson Ewald graduated from the Brandeis School of Law and New York University. She served as a member of the law school faculty for thirty-five years and also served as associate dean for seventeen of those years. For many years, she taught civil procedure to first-year students. More recently her teaching and research interests have focused on domestic relations and professional responsibility. Professor Ewald served on Jefferson County Public Defender Board, the Judicial Nominating Commission for Jefferson County and on the KBA Ethics 2000 Committee. She has been chair of the KBA Ethics Committee for the past ten years and currently serves as co-chair of the ABA Death Penalty Assessment Team for Kentucky.
Professor Ewald has received a number of awards recognizing her service to the community and the profession, including the Kentucky Bar Association’s Justice Thomas Spain Continuing Legal Education Award, the University of Louisville Lifetime Faculty Service Award, the Jefferson County Women Lawyers’ Association Member of the Year Award, the Judge Benjamin F. Shobe Civility and Professionalism Award, and the KBA President’s Special Service Award.

Howard Fineman

2010 University of Louisville Alumni Fellow


Howard Fineman is Editorial Director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, the leadership team bringing the HuffPost’s unique blend of news, commentary and reader engagement to all AOL content sites and 250 million users worldwide. He continues to report and write on politics for the Huffington Post main site.
A long time political reporter and commentator, Fineman serves as an analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He is a regular on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.” He also appears on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” “Morning Joe,” NBC’s “Today Show” and the weekend NBC-syndicated “Chris Matthews Show.”
Fineman joined The Huffington Post in October 2010 after many years as a reporter, columnist, editor, and deputy Washington bureau chief at Newsweek Magazine. When HuffPost was acquired by AOL in March 2011, Fineman was named Editorial Director of the new media group by Huffington Post founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington.
The author of scores of Newsweek cover stories and a Newsweek column called “Living Politics,” Fineman’s work also has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. He has interviewed every major presidential candidate since 1985 as well as business and entertainment leaders and has appeared on most major news and commentary shows.
His book, The Thirteen American Arguments, was published by Random House in 2008 and was a national best-seller. The paperback edition of the book, published in 2009, went to new printings in 2010 and is available in major bookstores or on Amazon.com. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Alumni Award from his professional alma mater, the Columbia Journalism School; an American Bar Association “Silver Gavel” Award; and a New York Press Association “Headliner’s Award.” In addition, Fineman’s work helped Newsweek win three National Magazine Awards. In May 2011 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters by Colgate University, his college alma mater.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Colgate, Fineman earned an M.S. from Columbia and a J.D. degree from the University of Louisville during his years as a reporter with The Courier-Journal in Kentucky. He won a Watson Traveling Fellowship while at Colgate and a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship at Columbia.
Fineman is married to Washington attorney Amy L. Nathan. They are the parents of two children, Meredith and Nicholas.