Deans

James J. Bushnell

James J. Bushnell

Dean

B.S., University of Alabama
M.P.P.M., Birmingham Southern College
J.D., Cumberland School of Law

James Bushnell was named Dean of Birmingham School of Law in 2007. A native of Birmingham, Dean Bushnell received his undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, his master’s degree in business from Birmingham Southern College, and a law degree from Cumberland School of Law. Dean Bushnell has been admitted to the state bars in Alabama (1981), Georgia (1982, the U.S. Federal District Courts of Alabama, and the Federal Court of Claims.

Following law school, Dean Bushnell was engaged in the private practice of law handling criminal, civil, domestic relations and bankruptcy cases. He was an associate in the law firms of London, Yancey, Clark & Allen; Rives & Peterson; and McDaniel, Hall, Conerly & Lusk. He defended mainly products liability cases, personal injury and medical malpractice cases. In 1992, Dean Bushnell joined USF&G/St. Paul’s Fire & Marine Insurance Company’s staff attorney office in Birmingham where he was subsequently named Managing Attorney. He has also been trained and certified as a Civil Mediator.

Dean Bushnell began teaching classes at the Birmingham School of Law in 1983. He has taught Torts, Mediation, Legal Ethics, Contracts, Remedies and bar preparation courses. He has been a member of the American Bar Association, Georgia Bar Association, Birmingham Bar Association, Alabama Trial Lawyers Association, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association, and the Defense Resource Institute. Dean Bushnell has served on Alabama Supreme Court Justice Cobb’s committee on professionalism, the Alabama state bar’s committee on Finance, the Birmingham bar’s committees on Unauthorized Practice of law, Public Speakers, and Entertainment committees.

Dean Bushnell is a member of the St. Andrews Society of Middle South, the Society of Colonial Wars in Alabama, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham.


Gordon Warren

Gordon H. Warren

Associate Dean and Professor of Law

B.S., University Of Montevallo
M.S., Troy University
J.D., Birmingham School of Law

A Birmingham native, Gordon Warren attended local schools and state universities earning an undergraduate degree in Accounting. After college, he spent a 20-year career as a U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, financial asset manager, aircraft accident investigator, and senior personnel manager. After the Navy, he chose the field of law for a second career and enrolled in Birmingham School of Law in 1994. Following his graduation, Dean Warren established a solo practitioner/small partnership law firm that focused on bankruptcy, criminal defense, and family law.

In 2002, Dean Warren returned to his alma mater to teach and assist in administering the law school. He currently teaches Agency & Partnership, Conflict of Laws, Legal Ethics, and Trial Advocacy. Dean Warren holds degrees in accounting (B.S.), personnel management (M.S.), and law (J.D.).

Dean Warren has been married for 41 years to Barbara Ferguson Warren, also a Birmingham native. They have one daughter and one beautiful granddaughter, Lily Hannah Johnson, born January 2015. In full disclosure, he acknowledges his bias towards his granddaughter.


Past Deans

Ginger Tomlin

Ginger Tomlin

B.S., University of Southern Mississippi
M.S., Mississippi State University
J.D., Birmingham School of Law
L.L.M., University of Nottingham, England

Ginger Tomlin became dean of Birmingham School of Law in 2002. The position was a culmination of her professional experience as a teacher, lawyer and administrator. A graduate of Birmingham School of Law, she loved her alma mater and worked hard to raise the standards of the school. During her tenure as dean, the school began requiring the LSAT for application to the program. She also taught Contracts and Constitutional Law. Tomlin obtained her Master of Law degree ( L.L.M.) in International Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham, England, after she obtained her J.D. from Birmingham School of Law, magna cum laude. She earned her Master’s degree in Education from Mississippi State University, and a B.S. degree from University of Southern Mississippi.  After having taught children with learning disabilities and emotional conflicts for 18 years, Tomlin became a private practice lawyer who championed the rights of disabled persons through the Americans with Disabilities Act and ensured disabled children received appropriate education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She was the Associate Director of the University of Alabama Clinical Law Program Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Protection Agency before becoming Dean of Birmingham School of Law.


Thomas B. Leonard, III_2142

Thomas Butlin Leonard III

Thomas Butlin Leonard III became Dean of Birmingham School of Law in 1994. Education and universal access to educational opportunities were among Dr. Leonard’s highest values. He felt privileged to lead an institution that served a broad spectrum of individuals in a format that allowed pursuit of a legal education while maintaining other employment and raising families.

A graduate of Birmingham School of Law, Leonard taught contracts at the school for several years before becoming Dean, and he continued teaching constitutional law until his retirement in 2002. A demanding but popular teacher, Leonard was chosen by students to receive numerous teaching awards. During his tenure, the school’s first honor code was established.

Leonard maintained a general law practice in Birmingham for 25 years. Early on he became a volunteer advocate for mentally ill and intellectually disabled persons, serving at the local, state, and national levels of several advocacy and service organizations. This work, along with his graduate education, led him to specialize in providing legal services for individuals with these challenges.

The law was a second career for Leonard. After graduating, magna cum laude from Birmingham-Southern College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Vanderbilt University and completed a post-doctoral year at Duke University with a fellowship awarded by the National Institutes of Health. He was a member of the faculties of Birmingham-Southern College, the University of North Dakota, and the University of Mississippi.


Hugh Locke, Jr_2116

Hugh Allen Locke, Jr.

Hugh Allen Locke, Jr. served as dean of Birmingham School of Law from 1971-1994. He was a member of the school’s faculty for 42 years and taught constitutional law, court speaking and other legal courses.

Locke attended Birmingham-Southern College for two years before he entered the Army during World War II. He was wounded in combat south of Metz, France. He received the Purple Heart and was returned to an Army hospital in Augusta, Georgia for treatment. His wounds were serious, but he did not let that prevent him from returning to Birmingham-Southern College to complete his undergraduate degree. Next he entered law school at the University of Alabama where he earned his L.L.B. degree. He was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 1950. He remained a member of that organization for over fifty years. Locke served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 1960 to 1967.

Dean Locke devoted his tenure at BSL to working to preserve the opportunity to obtain a law degree for those who can not devote full time to the study of law because of their responsibility to support themselves or their family while completing their legal education. He believed the opportunity for a legal education should never be denied to those who were willing to put forth the effort to work full time and study the law at night.

In 1974, a resolution was being considered by the Committee on Admission to the Bar and Legal Education to amend Rule 4(c) which would have denied a person the right to take the bar examination unless such person attended law school during the day and graduated from a law school that was approved by the American Bar Association or the Association of American Law Schools. Dean Locke worked tirelessly so that the opportunity that Birmingham School of Law provides would not be lost. He lobbied members of the Bar Commission and the Supreme Court and when the Supreme Court ruling was finally handed down in 1985, the amendment was defeated with only one dissenting vote, but Locke did not stop there. He was instrumental in the 1983 drafting of a legislative bill that was enacted in the Code of Alabama to preserve the right to a legal education for all the people of Alabama.


Judge Locke

Hugh Allen Locke

The Birmingham School of Law was founded by Judge Hugh Allen Locke in 1915 when he began tutoring young men for the Alabama bar exam. The school’s practical teaching philosophy was based on Christian beliefs and taught by practicing attorneys and judges. The night school provided legal education for more than 600 judges, lawyers and business leaders and was intended to serve the needs of those students who could not devote full time to the study of law.

Students appreciated the spiritual perspective of the school. Locke, as well as many national legal scholars of that time, believed that the Constitution was based on the Bible, and he taught constitutional law in that context.

A prominent attorney, Locke was born in Fayette County in west Tennessee. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Birmingham-Southern College, where he later served as a trustee for 55 years. Locke received his law degree from Vanderbilt University and began practicing law in Birmingham in 1907. Locke was assistant Jefferson County solicitor from 1909 until 1912 and was judge of the Chancery Division of the Jefferson County Circuit Court from 1916 to 1922.

Locke was a well-known Methodist lay leader and a member of the First Methodist Church. He served his church in a number of capacities, including serving as a member of the board of trustees for 57 years. He also taught the George R. Stuart Men’s Bible Class for more than 50 years. In addition to his students, hundreds of Birmingham men were influenced by Locke’s sound Christian teaching and leadership.

Once a candidate for governor of Alabama, Locke was a former president of the Birmingham Bar Association, a member of the Alabama Bar Association and a member of the American Bar Association. He was past President of the Exchange Club and past President of the State Association of Exchange Clubs. He also served as first Vice President of the Mercantile Finance Company.

Locke and his wife, the former Mabel Plosser, had four children: Hugh Jr., Louis, Mabel, and Margaret.