Phill Kline after being elected Johnson County District Attorney in Dec 2006

Professor Phill Kline was the 2012 recipient of the Roger C. Bern award at Liberty University School of Law (LUSOL).

The award was presented to him at the annual Barristers’ Banquet by two of his third year students, Ann Higgins and Kristal Dahlager.

Before teaching at Liberty University Kline served as Johnson County District Attorney for two years, losing a re-election bid in 2008.  Kline served as Kansas Attorney General from 2003 to 2007 and was a member of the Kansas House from 1993 to 2000.

According to Higgins, Professor Kline was chosen for the award because he clearly emulates both the professional and personal character traits exhibited by Professor Bern.  Higgis said that despite facing innumerable trials, public and personal, Professor Kline has humbly served the student body at LUSOL and dedicated himself to the furtherance of excellent Christian legal education.

The Award is named in honor of Professor Roger Bern, who served on the faculty from the law school’s founding in 2003 until his death in November 2007.

Law students Higgins and Dahlager explain why they supported Kline for the award and how Kline helped them in their studies:

Anna Higgins:

“Before attending LUSOL, I worked at a conservative public policy group in D.C. I heard about then Attorney General Kline while working in D.C. Kline’s courage and integrity made a strong impression on me, so I kept up with his story and consistently prayed for him while I was in D.C. I had no idea he would be teaching at Liberty when I arrived as a student in the Fall of 2009. When I spoke with him at orientation I was floored and thankful that I would get to be the student of this man that I already greatly admired. I cannot possibly express in words what a blessing Professor Kline has been in my life personally and academically.

Evidence class with Kline was quite a challenge and it quickly became clear what a brilliant man and attorney he is. His intelligence and experience are intimidating at first, but he presents himself with such humility and grace that he becomes very approachable.  He has a way of challenging his students to reach beyond what they think they are capable of without making them feel inadequate or fearful. He is always open to speak with us after class about anything we need or do not understand. It is rare to meet someone who is incredibly intelligent yet remains so humble, accessible, and kind.

 In Bioethics Law class, I learned what a deep, concrete knowledge he has in the areas of ethics, life, and liberty. He explains complex subjects in such a profoundly clear manner that at the end of every class I came away with knowledge I will be able to use throughout my lifetime. Most importantly, though, Professor Kline always exhibited an unshakable faith in the midst of very difficult circumstances.

 Many of the things he has faced seem unimaginable to me. I am not sure that any of us could respond so courageously through the experiences and persecution he has had to endure. Through it all, he has remained faithful, forgiving, gentle, encouraging, and upright. Sometimes thinking about what people have put him and his family through upsets me deeply because I know what a wonderful man he is and what a good heart he has. I cannot understand why he has had to face these things. However, Prof Kline never feels sorry for himself. He does not give way to hate or bitterness. He teaches us to forgive, to love and to always trust that God has a purpose for everything. In fact, throughout all of his trials, he has poured time and effort into us, his students, even helping us organize events highlighting the plight of the innocent and the history and purpose of the law. His wife and daughter are just as giving and kind as he is.

 Even though man may have meant to shake his faith and possibly ruin his career, God has used those purposes for good in the lives of everyone at LUSOL. We all feel incredibly blessed to have had Professor  Kline as an instructor and a friend. His testimony has created in me and many other students a fire to go out into the world, do good, love mercy and walk humbly with God.”

Kristal Dahlager:

“Professor Kline is an inspiration to me in several ways. As his student in Basic Trial Advocacy class, I saw his passion and genuine care to impart to his students his wisdom and understanding of the law and trial. Trial is not one of my strengths; nevertheless, Professor Kline encouraged me and critiqued me in a manner that made me want to succeed to the best of my ability.

It is my privilege to have worked with Professor Kline in the planning and executing of several events. Throughout that time Professor Kline selflessly gave of his time and incessantly demonstrated his love for the Lord and his dedication to fighting for the lives of the unborn. He is a man of grace and eloquently chooses his words and actions so that his character resembles that of Christ.”

Professor Bern brought with him more than 30 years of law school teaching experience and an unassailable commitment to Christian legal education.  He played an indispensable role in laying the law school’s foundation.

Professor Bern finished first in his class in law school, clerked for a federal judge, was hired to teach law school at a very young age, and served as an assistant state attorney general for John Ashcroft who described Professor Bern to a group of Liberty law students as one of the best men he ever knew.  He was an expert in Contracts, Remedies, and Antitrust law.  Seldom did he mention these accomplishments.  His boast was always in the Lord.

Professor Bern was truly a pioneer in Christian legal education.  He taught at four different Christian law school start-ups.  Twice he left tenured positions at established law schools to join the faculty at fledgling Christian law schools—at Oral Roberts University and Regent University.  He also taught at Thomas Goode Jones School of Law before coming to Liberty.

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