Roanoke College’s pre-law program honors Turk brothers

SALEM, Va - Roanoke College's pre-law program has been named in honor of Judge James C. Turk, a senior judge on the U.S. District Court, and his brother, S. Maynard Turk, retired vice president and general counsel of Hercules, Inc. Both Turk brothers attended Roanoke College and are members of the class of 1949. The Turk Pre-Law Program offers a host of law-related courses and pre-law advising in addition to the courses in the academic major.

According to Turk Pre-Law Program Coordinator Dr. Todd C. Peppers, the Program has been re-designed with multiple goals in mind. "First of all, we want to give our students a taste of the law and legal practice so they can make an informed decision as to whether law school is the right choice for them," Peppers said. "Second of all, we want to maximize their chances of getting into a first-rate law school. Third, we want to give them the skills and real-world experiences to thrive in law school."

Courses in the program include business law, constitutional law, civil liberties, criminal law and judicial process. These courses teach students to "think like lawyers" and expose them to the substantive study of law. The Turk Pre-Law Program also supports students as they prepare for the entrance exam and application process for law school. "We are fortunate to have the resources to help students offset the costs of taking LSAT prep courses, which often cost over five hundred dollars," commented Peppers. "Moreover, every year the Turk Pre-Law Program will offer a workshop where an admissions officer from a top law school will work with our students and explain how to select the right law school and properly prepare their law school applications."

One of the most unique aspects of the Turk Pre-Law Program is its experiential learning component. In the past several years, Roanoke College students have interned for federal district court and state court judges as well as local prosecutors and defense attorneys. A new mock trial program offers students the opportunity to hone their litigation skills by competing in a mock lawsuit against teams from other colleges and universities, and several of the pre-law courses also contain simulation exercises. Finally, students have the opportunity to go into federal and state courtrooms and watch attorneys in action. In November, Peppers will take a group of students to hear oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Turk Pre-Law Program will have a speaker series, with the goal of bringing prominent attorneys, scholars and legal educators to campus to speak on important issues related to the law. The speaker series will sponsor its first program in February of 2011, when Furman University President Rodney A. Smolla will speak about the rule of law. Summer research programs, including the Judge James C. Turk Summer Scholar Program, allow students to spend time conducting intensive, independent research on topics involving law and politics. Each Turk summer scholar works with a faculty mentor who guides the project. The end result is an original piece of scholarly research that the student can submit for publication to an academic journal or for presentation at a law or political science conference.

The Turk Pre-Law Program is fortunate to have an extraordinary group of lawyers, judges and academics who compose its advisory committee. Members include: The Honorable Glen E. Conrad, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Virginia; John P. Fishwick, Jr., Esq., Lichtenstein, Fishwick & Johnson; G. Michael Pace, Esq., Gentry, Locke, Rakes and Moore; William B. Poff, Esq., Woods Rogers; James. C. Turk, Jr., Esq., Harrison & Turk; William A. Turk, Esq., Omniplex World Services Corporation; The Honorable Robert M.D. Turk, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge; Christine Frentz Underwood, Esq., Woods Rogers; and the Honorable Michael F. Urbanski, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Virginia.

In naming the program after Judge James C. Turk and S. Maynard Turk, Roanoke College honors two of its most distinguished graduates. Both Judge James and Maynard Turk served in the U.S. Army before attending Roanoke College. They majored in economics and went on to attend Washington and Lee School of Law, where both were editors on the law review.

James Turk practiced law with the Radford firm of Dalton, Poff &Turk and was appointed to the federal bench by President Richard Nixon in 1972. He also was a state senator and Senate minority leader. As a judge, he has presided over a number of high profile cases, including the 1981 libel case involving Reverend Jerry Falwell and adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt.

Maynard Turk practiced with the Roanoke law firm of Dodson, Pence & Coulter before becoming in-house counsel for the Radford Army Arsenal and then its parent company, Hercules, in Wilmington, Del. He served as rector for the board of visitors at Radford University, on the board of visitors at George Mason University and on the Washington and Lee alumni board. Maynard Turk is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful undergraduate setting. Roanoke is one of just 280 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast" and U.S. News & World Report includes Roanoke on its "Up-and-coming National Liberal Arts Colleges" list.

For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

Released: October 1, 2010
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