Innovative legal educator. Legal writing ninja. Law student study habits expert.
My priority is my students, how to best help them think and write, excel in law school, the bar exam, and law practice. I integrate scholarship on cognitive science, study skills, and teaching and learning with innovative teaching methods to modernize and revitalize legal education and law learning.
I care deeply about student learning. I have devoted years to becoming an expert on law student study habits and research-based effective study habits, skills, and strategies to better understand how law students study and to maximize law learning. I have used and continue to develop innovative and modern teaching methods (including online and distance learning, flipping the classroom, webcasting, etc.) to modernize legal education and to teach today’s students.
I joined the faculty of the University of Denver’s Top 10 Lawyering Process Program as an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Law in Fall 2018, where I teach Lawyering Process I and II to first year law students at Sturm College of Law. I also created and teach an online Legal Analysis course in Tulane University Law School’s online Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law, a 100% online master’s program.
Prior to teaching at DU, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Lawyering Skills at Seattle University School of Law, where I taught Legal Writing I and Legal Writing II in Seattle U’s Nationally Ranked Legal Writing Program. I am a member of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) as well as a founding member of the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE). I regularly present at and attend conferences focusing on legal writing, law student study habits, academic support, legal skills development, and effective teaching methods.
My article, Smarter Law Study Habits: An Empirical Analysis of Law Learning Strategies and Relationship with Law GPA establishes a positive correlation between self-testing, retrieval practice, and elaborative strategies and law GPA, as well as a negative correlation between passive strategies like rereading and cramming without self-testing with law GPA. My article summarizing empirical research on study skills, habits, and attitudes and how it can be used by legal educators to maximize law school learning, Smarter Law Learning: Using Cognitive Science to Maximize Law Learning, was published in Volume 44 of the Capital University Law Review.
In 2015, I received an LWI/ALWD/LexisNexis Grant for Scholarship for my work in progress, Making It Stick for Law Students: The Science of Successful Learning in Law School. I developed a Law Student Study Habits Survey with research partner, Dr. Regan A.R. Gurung, an expert on study behaviors and the psychology of teaching and learning, and Chair of the Human Development and Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. With Dr. Gurung’s assistance, I have administered and compiled data from an IRB approved pilot Law Student Study Habits Survey. I presented the initial findings from the “Law Student Study Habits Survey” at the 2014 Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute.
Recent articles on the intersection of cognitive science and legal education include:
- The Science of Synthesis, 95 St. Johns L. Rev Issue 2, Fall 2021 (forthcoming).
- Let Them Talk: Cognitive and Social Benefits of Elaboration, 45 Nova L. Rev. Issue 2 (2021) (forthcoming).
- Smarter Law Study Habits: An Empirical Analysis of Law Learning Strategies and Relationship with Law GPA, 62 St. Louis U. L.J. 361 (2018).
- Smarter Law Learning: Using Cognitive Science to Maximize Law Learning, 44 CAP. U. L. REV. 551 (2016).
Recent presentations on teaching and learning in legal education include:
- Let Them Talk: Cognitive & Social Benefits of Elaboration, Nova Law Review and NSU Law Legal Research and Writing Symposium, February 26, 2021.
- Let Them Talk: Cognitive Benefits of Elaboration, LWI One-Day Workshop, December 3, 2020.
- Cognitive Science of Legal Synthesis, Legal Writing Institute Virtual Biennial, July 15, 2020.
- Cognitive Science of Induction and Rule Synthesis, 19th Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Conference, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, March 15, 2019.
- The Science of Successful Learning in the Legal Writing Classroom, 17th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute, Portland OR, July 13, 2016.
- Empirical Findings from a Law Student Study Habits Survey: How Our Students Really Study and What Really Works, 2014 Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute, Philadelphia, PA, July 2, 2014.
- Analysis Tournament: Using Classroom Debate to Practice Inferential Analysis and Counter Argument with Karen Harkins, Association of Academic Support Educators, 2013 Inaugural Conference, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law, May 29, 2013.
- How to Pimp your TWEN Page: Engaging Your Students On Their Turf – Online, Computer Assisted Learning Institute (CALI) Conference for Law School Computing “Some Assembly Required,” Thomas Jefferson School of Law, June 21, 2012 & Institute for Law Teaching & Learning “Technology In and Beyond the Classroom,” North Carolina Central University School of Law, March 3, 2012 (via Polycom).
- Play It Again Sam: Reinforcing Practice to Achieve Perfection, 15th Biennial Conference of the Legal Writing Institute, Palm Desert, California, May 30, 2012.
- Developing a Law Student Study Behaviors Checklist: How Are They Really Studying and What Really Works? (Invited Presentation), Law School Admission Council Academic Support Program Training Workshop, “Beyond IRAC: The Cognitive and Emotional Aspects of Law Study and Practice,” University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, February 4, 2012.
Prior to law teaching, I defended persons accused of crimes in Washington State. As a former public defense attorney, I have years of experience defending hundreds of criminal cases. I have independently taken over 20 cases to trial in Washington State District and Superior courts and argued appeals both to the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals, Division One. I previously worked as an associate attorney with the Law Office of Zachary L. Fleet in Seattle, Washington. At the Snohomish County Public Defender Association in Everett, Washington. I also worked as a public defender for the cities of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. During law school, I worked as a Rule 9 Intern with The Defender Association in Seattle, Washington. I was a judicial extern for The Honorable Marsha J. Pechman in the Western District of Washington.
I graduated magna cum laude from the Seattle University School of Law, home to one of the United States’ best Legal Writing programs . I was a Note & Comment Editor of the Seattle University Law Review. I am a member in good standing with the Washington State Bar Association and the California State Bar Association (inactive).