U DENVER KATZHow 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 is dean and professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. As he tells it, he grew up thinking that he wanted to be a lawyer largely because his heroes were lawyers. “It seemed like lawyers solved problems, and I liked that,” Katz said in a telephone interview. “I wanted to be a problem solver.”

He was told that to be a lawyer, he should major in political science. But while he liked political science, he was much more drawn to economics, which is why he chose that as his major at Harvard. Economics majors go to business school, he was advised, and on into the world of business and finance. But a visit to business school classes left him cold. His father had gone to law school with Guido Calebresi, then dean of Yale.

“Guido said that even if I wanted to become an entrepreneur, which I was considering, I should seriously consider law school because that would be the best training in – guess what – problem solving,” Katz recalled. “He suggested that I visit some law school classes. I did and loved it. And I stayed.” Continue reading


Anthony-CrowellAnthony Crowell often refers to New York Law School as “New York’s law school.” The moniker is derived 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.

From 1997 to 2002, he served as assistant corporation counsel in the city Law Department’s Tax & Condemnation and Legal Counsel Divisions handling complex litigation, advising on constitutional questions, and drafting legislation and regulations for the mayor and city agencies. He turned in 2001 to assisting the families of the 9/11 attack victims as he directed the World Trade Center Death Certificate Program and was counsel at the city’s Family Assistance Center. He later served Mayor Michael Bloomberg as special counsel from 2002 to 2006 and counselor until 2012.

After sitting steps away from Bloomberg for more than decade, Crowell traded one of the toughest public sector lawyering jobs in America for what has become one of the toughest jobs in higher education – dean at a small independent law school. Speaking in a telephone interview and emails, Crowell said he came well prepared. Continue reading


U HAWAII SoiferIt was the late 1960s and Aviam Soifer, an undergraduate at Yale, was a student activist protesting the war in Vietnam and promoting co-education at Yale.

“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, including American Studies, as Soifer, like almost all young men of that era, would lose his exemption from the draft upon college graduation. “I realized that going into legal academia – as a student and then as a teacher – would allow me to stay involved in public interest work and social activism,” Soifer said in emails and an interview. Continue reading


DUKE KovichSTUDENT: Jana Kovich

LAW SCHOOL: Duke University School of Law

STATUS: 3L (Class of 2015)

UNDERGRADUATE: B.S., Public Affairs, Public Policy Analysis; University of Indiana, Bloomington

OTHER DEGREE: LL.M. in International & Comparative Law, Duke Law

HOMETOWN: Schererville, Indiana

For Jana Kovich, a 3L at Duke University School of Law, successfully tackling public policy issues is a matter of scale. Studying public affairs and public policy analysis as an undergraduate at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, she said that she often found the issues at hand too large to fully comprehend or decisively resolve.

“You could fashion legislation or regulations to fix one aspect and the issue would break apart somewhere else,” Kovich said in a telephone interview. “I felt so overwhelmed by the complexity of each problem and the realization that there were no perfect solutions — there weren’t even reasonably comprehensive solutions.”

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GEORGIA STATE KAMINSHINEThere is a certain 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 twining of the two strands have led to a career aimed at improving legal education.

Teaching came first. “I did the whole student-teacher program in college and then taught high school history right after graduating because I loved being in a classroom, working with students, making a difference in their lives,” Kaminshine said in a telephone interview.

To continue teaching, however, he needed a graduate degree, which meant he had to get a master’s degree in education or history, which he didn’t want. When he learned that a legal education would count, he chose law school. Continue reading


STUDENT: Beatrice BarenboimNYLAw Beatrice Barenboim

LAW SCHOOL: New York Law School

STATUS: First-year student in new two-year J.D. Honors Program

UNDERGRADUATE: B.A. in Economics (Minor in Spanish), New York University — College of Arts and Sciences

OTHER GRADUATE DEGREE: M.B.A in Finance and Management, New York University – Stern School of Business

HOME: New York City

The law has long beckoned to Beatrice Barenboim, but business has, until recently, intervened. Law is what I always wanted to do since I was a kid,”  Barenboim, a  student in New York Law School’s new two-year, J.D. honors program, said in a telephone interview. She loves the critical thinking, the logic and debate aspects of lawyering as well as the prospect of working with and for people.

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Student: Amanda Michelle SanchezPEPPERDINE SANCHEZ

Law School: Pepperdine University School of Law

Status: 3L, Juris Doctor candidate, 2015; Master’s in Dispute Resolution candidate, 2015; Certificate in Criminal Legal Practice candidate, 2015

Undergraduate: Pepperdine University

Home: La Palma, California

When you ask Amanda Michelle Sanchez about the transformative experiences in her life, she talks about having an autistic brother and attending Pepperdine University School of Law.

“I grew up watching my mother and father often having to navigate the special education and disability law fields on their own, trying to obtain the legal services to which my brother was entitled,” Sanchez, a 3L, said in e-mails and a telephone interview.

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STUDENT: Prad A. GeorgesU AKRON Prad

LAW SCHOOL: The University of Akron School of Law


UNDERGRADUATE: B.A., Theology/French/Spanish Literature, Minor in Psychology, Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama

OTHER DEGREE: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy, Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale

HOME CITY/STATE: Miami and Orlando, Florida

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.

“Working as a marriage-family therapist for several nonprofits, working alongside lawyers in family court, I was counseling people at the lower middle-to-bottom end of the socioeconomic scale,” Georges said. “That’s when I realized that the poor state of local businesses and entrepreneurship was the underlying cause of so much financial distress. I knew, too, that with a law degree and an MBA, I could help these families and their communities turn their situations around.” Continue reading


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.Dean McGough 1

As McGough (pronounced McG-you) recounted in a telephone interview, she was a student at Emory University in Atlanta heading for a Ph.D. in English – until she ran into a woman who had graduated three years earlier and was in the midst of the same degree. The subject of the woman’s proposed dissertation: a minor British poet, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, he of “It was a dark and stormy night” fame.

“That’s when I decided against devoting my life to something that seemed so narrow and arcane,” McGough said. “I wandered over to the Emory law school and ended up talking with Ben Johnson, the dean, who on his own authority could and did offer me a place there. He told me, ‘Go for it. And by the way, you start on Monday.’” She was one of three women in the entire law school. Continue reading



LAW SCHOOL: Pepperdine University School of Law


UNDERGRADUATE: Illinois State University, B.S. in Finance

HOME CITY/STATE OR COUNTRY: Bloomingdale, Illinois

Scott Sasser’s service in the U.S. Marine Corps became the key to finding a school that would prepare him for a career as a California attorney. Sasser, a 3L at Pepperdine University School of Law, joined the Marines out of a sense of duty to country as well as an obligation to himself.

“I’d grown up in the Chicago suburbs and wasn’t ready to settle into a desk job in my hometown,” he said in an e-mail and telephone interview. “I wanted a challenge.”

As a junior public affairs officer, he wanted initially to stay in the U.S., preferably on the West Coast. The Corps had other ideas. After nearly a year of training in Virginia and Maryland, Sasser was assigned to Okinawa, Japan. While there, he deployed on civil-military operations missions to both the Philippines and Thailand, and one training mission to mainland Japan. He then completed an operational combat deployment to Afghanistan, where he served as a Tactical Psychological Operations Team Leader.

“I describe it as the ‘best worst’ experience of my life,” he said. “We could see the difference we were making there. It also gave me a healthier perspective on life, on what’s important, and on what situations are actually worth getting stressed about.”  Continue reading