How Martin J. Katz ended up as a legal academic is an amusing story and a cautionary tale for aspiring law students,. The lesson: Lots of people will tell you how to get on a certain career track. You don’t need to listen to them. Katz, dean at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, grew up thinking that he wanted to be a lawyer largely because his heroes were lawyers.
Anthony Crowell often refers to New York Law School as “New York’s law school.” The moniker derives less from location than from a history of educating some of the city’s most influential citizens. The school’s president and dean since 2012, Crowell himself has long been a quietly influential figure in New York City government.
It was the late 1960s and Aviam Soifer, an undergraduate at Yale, was a student activist protesting the war in Vietnam. “Even then, I knew I wanted to teach,” said Soifer, now dean of the University of Hawai‘i’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Precisely what and where he wanted to teach was another matter: Law was one of several alternatives.
While learning to analyze issues like a lawyer lured 3L Jana Kovich to law school, leading the Student Bar Association – the student government – at Duke University School of Law anchored her to the school’s community, starting in her first year. “As any law student will tell you, 1L is hard,” Kovich said. “Participating in the student bar association allowed me to meet upper-level students and contribute to the law school outside the classroom.”
Teaching future lawyers a strategy that they can adapt to a variety of cases is Wes Porter’s mission as director of the Golden Gate University School of Law’s litigation center. Although the San Francisco law school has emphasized litigation for decades, the center that began when Porter started six years ago brings under one umbrella a coordinated panorama of doctrinal courses, extracurricular programs and real-world training to prepare future trial lawyers for the courtroom.
There is a certain satisfying symmetry in the fact that Steven J. Kaminshine, dean of Georgia State University College of Law, entered law school to maintain his accreditation to teach, that he entered legal academia to sustain his love of law, and that the interweaving of the two strands have led to a career aimed at improving legal education.
The law has long beckoned to Beatrice Barenboim, but business has, until recently, held sway over her career. “Law is what I always wanted to do since I was a kid,” said Barenboim, who loves the critical thinking, the logic and the debate aspects of lawyering as well as the prospect of working with and for people.
Watching her parents navigate the maze of special-education and disability services to help her autistic brother inspired Pepperdine Law 3L Amanda Michelle Sanchez to become an attorney: She wanted to give a voice in the courtroom to people who didn’t have one. Sanchez now plans to become a prosecutor, a job that will let her try cases — which she loves — while helping victims of crime find justice.
Prad A. Georges, a 3L in the JD-MBA program at the University of Akron School of Law, has come full circle personally and professionally. In his former career as a therapist, he saw that he could give his clients better lives if he were able to help improve local economies. Now he says he has the law and business skills to do that.
Much of the legal career of Lucy S. McGough, dean of Appalachian School of Law, has pivoted on her being in the right place at the right time with people who believed in her talents: her own choice to pursue a legal degree, for example, as well as her acceptance at Emory University School of Law.