Birmingham School of Law announces Dean James J. Bushnell, Jr.’s retirement from Birmingham School of Law effective July 15, 2020.
A native of Birmingham, 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. He 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, 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, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases. In 1992, Bushnell joined USF&G/St. Paul’s Fire & Marine Insurance Company’s staff attorney office in Birmingham where he was subsequently named Managing Attorney.
Bushnell began teaching classes at the Birmingham School of Law in 1983 and became Dean of BSL in 2007. Prior to becoming Dean and during his tenure as Dean, Bushnell 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. He has served on Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell 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.
During his long and productive time as Dean of Birmingham School of Law, Bushnell assisted with the move from the Frank Nelson Building to the Judge Hugh A. Locke Building where BSL currently resides. He spearheaded the adoption and installation of advancements in technology, including administrative software and other systems, and also led the effort to adopt a Senior Seminar program to assist with students’ bar preparation. More recently, Bushnell led the effort to adopt the Lawyering Fundamentals Course to assist students in developing the skills needed to be successful in the BSL program.
Bushnell’s greatest achievement is the initiation of the Birmingham School of Law’s successful Saturday program, which he started in 2009. At its inception, BSL’s Saturday program was the exclusive Saturday-only legal program in the United States, and to this day, the Saturday program allows students who live throughout Alabama the opportunity to obtain a law degree by attending class only on Saturdays. Most importantly, however, Bushnell has impacted and positively influenced the legal careers of countless attorneys in Alabama.
John Donaldson, member of the Birmingham School of Law Board of Directors, stated: “Bushnell has been a tremendous asset throughout his career as Dean of Birmingham School of Law. His accomplishments and legacy are undeniable, and we thank him for the time he has led the students and the school. He will be missed by all.”
Please join us in thanking Dean Bushnell for his service, congratulating him on his retirement, and wishing him well in his future endeavors.