Legal Writing Faculty
Members of the legal writing faculty have been recognized both for their contributions to the profession and for their outstanding teaching. In 2012, Professor Laurel Currie Oates received the Thomas M. Holdych Award for Meritorious and Transformational Service; in 2009, she received the Marjorie Rombauer Award for Contributions to the Teaching of Legal Writing; and in 2007 she received the Burton Award for Outstanding Contribution to Legal Writing Education. In addition, she received Seattle University Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997, and the Association of American Law Schools' Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis Section Award in 2003. In 2012, Professor J. Christopher Rideout was named Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year, as he was in 1998 and 1995. In 2009, he received the Mary Lawrence Award from the Legal Writing Institute for outstanding contributions to legal writing scholarship. In 2010, Professor Deirdre Bowen received an award for Best Paper for the National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference Junior Faculty Writing Competition Award Winner for her article American Skin: Dispensing with Colorblindness and Critical Mass 73 U. Pittsburgh L. Rev. 109 (2012). In 2007, Professor Anne Enquist won the Service Award from the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research. In 1998, the Legal Writing Institute gave special awards to Professors Anne Enquist, Christopher Rideout, and Laurel Currie Oates for their contributions to the profession.
Legal Writing Faculty
Director of Legal Writing Program, Professor of Lawyering Skills, Writing Advisor
Professor Enquist has been a member of the legal writing faculty and the Writing Advisor at Seattle University School of Law since 1980. She serves as the Director of Seattle University's nationally ranked legal writing program. As the Writing Advisor, she works one-on-one with law students on their legal writing. She has a B.A. and B.S. (both magna cum laude) from New Mexico State University and a M.A.T. from University of Washington. She is the co-author of five books and the author of numerous articles about legal writing. She has served on the national Board of Directors for the Legal Writing Institute, and in 2007, she received the American Association of Law School's Legal Writing Section Award. Her research and scholarly interests concern all areas of legal writing, particularly diagnosing student writing ability, critiquing law students' writing, and writing issues that affect ESL law students
J. Christopher Rideout
Professor of Lawyering Skills and Associate Director, Legal Writing Program
Chris Rideout is a Professor of Lawyering Skills at the Seattle University School of Law, where he teaches and also serves as Associate Director of the Legal Writing Program. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 1982.
Early in his career, he taught writing at the university level. In the 1980's, he moved his appointment to the law school, now at Seattle University, where he helped to develop the current program there. He teaches courses in legal drafting, advanced legal writing, contract drafting, and law and literature.
From 1981-1984, he co-directed a regional writing project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. As an outgrowth of that project, he co-founded the Legal Writing Institute in 1984 and chaired its board of directors for many years. He also served as editor-in-chief of the journal Legal Writing in the 1990's.
He has served on panels and presented papers at numerous academic conferences and written numerous articles on legal writing. Most recently, his scholarship has focused on three areas: narrative theory and legal persuasion; discoursal identities in legal writing; and the discipline of legal writing. He has also mentored the scholarly writing of others through his work with the Writer's Workshop, sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute, for which he has been a mentor and facilitator since 2007. In 2009, he was presented with the Mary S. Lawrence Award, a national recognition of his contributions to legal writing scholarship. In 2012, he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
He has also consulted with other law schools, in both the U.S. and Canada; consulted with private law firms, governmental agencies, and academic testing agencies; offered ongoing workshops for the corporate law departments of Microsoft and Amazon.com; given plain language expert testimony; served on government committees devoted to writing and law reform; and presented numerous CLE's for the Washington State Bar Association on legal writing, persuasive legal writing, legal drafting, and law and ethics.
Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills and Associate Director of the Legal Writing Program
Professor Bowman received her B.A. summa cum laude from Seattle University in 1995 and her J.D. in 1998 from Stanford Law School in 1998, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Thomas S. Zilly, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington. Professor Bowman is the co-faculty advisor to the Seattle University Law Review. Professor Bowman also co-facilitates Seattle University's Arrupe Seminar on the Foundations and Visions of Jesuit Education, a biweekly, year-long seminar for university faculty and staff. Before joining the law faculty in 2001, Professor Bowman practiced environmental law and employment law at Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, in Seattle. Within the law school, Professor Bowman has served as a faculty advisor for students interested in pursuing clerkship opportunities. Nationally, Professor Bowman serves on the final committee selecting the winner of the Scribes Law Review Award for best student note or comment, and she screens entries for the Scribes' National Best Brief Award.
Professor of Lawyering Skills and Director, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality
After earning her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Professor Bannai was a partner with the San Francisco firm of Minami, Lew & Tamaki. While in practice, she was part of the legal team in Korematsu v. United States, an action that successfully challenged Fred Korematsu's conviction for violating military orders removing Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II. Before joining the Seattle University faculty in 1996, Professor Bannai directed the academic support program at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law; taught at the University of San Francisco School of Law, the John F. Kennedy School of Law, and the New College of California School of Law; and co-directed the Law and Diversity Program at Western Washington University. She has written and presented on issues related to the Japanese American internment, fostering diversity in the legal profession, and legal writing presenting last year on designing effective legal writing assignments at the AALS Workshop for New Legal Writing Teachers. She currently serves as co-faculty advisor to the Seattle Journal for Social Justice and currently serves as Associate Director of the law school's Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality.
Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills
Professor Bowen has an undergraduate degree from Boston University, cum laude, and a J.D., cum laude from the University of Buffalo School of Law, where she was the recipient of the Adolf Homberger Award for excellence in Civil Procedure. After practicing complex litigation in Washington, D.C., at Shaw, Pittman, Potts, & Trowbridge, she headed the consumer mediation department at Call For Action, a national non-profit consumer advocacy group. As a graduate student in Sociology at the University of Washington, Professor Bowen received the Norman S. Hayner award for excellence in her field in 1995. After completing her Ph.D. in 2002, Professor Bowen taught at the University of Washington Bothell, and Seattle University, where she was honored with the 2007 Faculty Appreciation award from the Criminal Justice department. Since 2001, Professor Bowen has taught Family Law and Consumer Law as an adjunct faculty member of the law school. She has presented her work on families, plea bargaining, and race issues both nationally and internationally at sociology as well as law conferences. Dr. Bowen was appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire to serve on the Washington State Child Support Guidelines Commission. Deirdre Bowen, the National People of Color Legal Scholarship Junior Faculty Competition's Best Paper Award, September 2010.
Janet K. G. Dickson
Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills
Professor Janet Dickson joined the faculty on a full-time basis in 2001. Since that time, Professor Dickson has presented at Legal Writing conferences regionally, nationally, and internationally. Her topics have consistently been student-focused, including topics such as teaching to students with ADD, effective student conferencing, teaching to millennials, and professionalism in the practice of law. Professor Dickson has also presented to international audiences in Kenya, South Africa, Turkey, and Morocco.
Having been the faculty advisor to the student organization, Global Brigades, Professor Dickson accompanied groups of students to Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras for week-long service trips. Additionally, Professor Dickson has served on the initial board of directors for APPEAL, an international organization developed to support the teaching of legal writing and the exchange of information among U.S. and African academics.
Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Dickson practiced in the areas of estate planning and probate law at a boutique tax law firm, where she worked with estates involving complicated tax issues.
Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills
Professor Krontz has been a member of the legal writing faculty at Seattle University School of Law since 1994. She received her B.S. from University of Washington and was named Outstanding School of Social Work Undergraduate. She received her J.D. magna cum laude from Seattle University School of Law, where she was a Law Review note and comment editor and the Andrew Walkover Faculty Scholar. Before joining the legal writing faculty, Professor Krontz clerked for the Honorable Barbara Durham, Justice of the Washington Supreme Court and was a staff attorney at the Washington Appellate Defender Association. She has presented workshops for the Moot Court Board, the Seattle University Law Review, and the Seattle Journal of Social Justice and CLEs for the King County Bar Association and the Washington Office of Public Defense.
Laurel Currie Oates
Professor of Law
Professor Laurel Currie Oates is one of the founding members of Seattle University's Legal Writing program, which is ranked by U.S. and World Report as the top legal writing program in the United States.
In 1984, Professor Oates helped co-found the Legal Writing Institute, which has more than 2000 members from more than 150 law schools and which works to improve the teaching of legal writing. As a member of the Legal Writing Institute, Professor Oates helped establish The Second Draft, which is the Institute's bulletin, and helped organize and host seven national conferences. Professor Oates is currently a member of the Institute's Board of Director
Professor Oates is the co-author of five books, including The Legal Writing Handbook, which is now in its fifth edition, and Just Research, Just Memos, Just Briefs, Just Writing, and a Practice Book. She has also authored a number of articles, including articles on legal reading, writing to learn, and the transfer of learning. Her most recent article, Greetings and Grievances: A Letter from Afghan Professors, sets out and critiques the views of conservative Afghan professors.
Professor Oates has received a number of awards. In 2012, Professor Laurel Currie Oates received the Tom Holdych Award for Meritorious and Transformational Service; in 2009, she received the Marjorie Rombauer Award for Contributions to the Teaching of Legal Writing, and in 2007 she received the Burton Award for Outstanding Contribution to Legal Writing Education. In addition, she received Seattle University Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997, and the Association of American Law Schools' Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis Section Award in 2003.
During the last 10 years, Professor Oates has spent much of her time teaching internationally. With Professor Mimi Samuel, she has taught courses for judges, attorneys, and students in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, India, and China. Most recently, she has taught short courses for law and Sharia professors and students in Afghanistan. She is also one of the co-directors of the Law School's South Africa program in which she teaches a course in cross-cultural communication.
Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills
Professor Rankin currently teaches lawyering skills, including applied legal analysis, legal research and writing, and general principles of trial and appellate procedure and advocacy. She has nearly a decade of experience in private practice at major law firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, LLP and Sidley Austin, LLP, where she specialized in complex litigation. Professor Rankin also gained an in-house perspective, serving as assistant general counsel for a national accounting firm.
Prior to her legal career, Professor Rankin received her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she studied under the internationally-known education expert, Howard Gardner. Currently, Professor Rankin continues to support innovation in legal education as a member of various boards and committees for entities such as the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), and ALICE (American Legislative Issue Campaign Exchange). Professor Rankin's teaching and scholarship interests include the social and political aspects of legal education reform, lawyering skills, legal issues affecting the homeless, policy making, and legislative drafting and advocacy.
Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills
Professor Samuel earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where she received both the International Academy of Trial Lawyers' Award for Advocacy and the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in Evidence. After law school, she practiced business litigation in Washington, D.C. at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, and in San Francisco, at Thelen, Marrrin Johnson and Bridges. In 2003, Professor Samuel taught the foundations of the U.S. legal system to Russian law students at Far Eastern National University in Vladivostok. In spring 2007, Professor Samuel conducted a series of trainings and workshops in India, Uganda, and South Africa. In addition, she co-organized the Conference on the Pedagogy of Legal Writing for Academics in Nairobi, Kenya, which brought academics from the U.S. together with academics from East Africa. Professor Samuel is a founding member and the first U.S. Co-President of APPEAL, an organization formed to promote exchanges between U.S. and African academics committed to improving the teaching of legal writing.
William "Bill" Sherman
Visiting Assistant Professor of Law
Professor Sherman is a Visiting Assistant Professor, teaching Administrative Law and Legal Writing II. In 2011, he taught Open Government Law at Seattle University as an adjunct professor. He serves as Chair of the City of Seattle's Ethics and Elections Commission, which administers the City's campaign finance, elections, ethics, lobbying, and whistleblower codes.
Professor Sherman practiced political and election law, commerical litigation, consumer protection, and local government law at the Sherman Law Firm, PLLC from 2008-2012. A 1999 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Law Review, he served as a law clerk in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington and then for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before establishing the Sherman Law Firm, he worked as a litigator at Davis Wright Tremaine and as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County. Before attending law school, he served as Special Assistant to Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt. His article, Your Mayor, Your "Friend": Public Officials, Social Networking, and the Unmapped New Public Square, was published in the Pace Law Review in 2011.
Professor from Practice
Denis Stearns practiced law for twenty-years before deciding to devote his energies to teaching and mentorship. Currently Professor from Practice, he teaches Legal Writing I and II, as well as torts. He was voted the Outstanding Faculty award by students who graduated December, 2012.
Professor Stearns was a founding partner of the Seattle-based law firm, Marler Clark, LLP, PS, the first law firm in the country to devote itself to the representation of persons injured by unsafe food and drink. He was also a principal in Outbreak, Inc, a non-profit company that promoted food safety through education, political advocacy, and pro bono consulting with industry. As a food safety advocate and policy expert, Professor Stearns has presented at dozens of industry, scientific, and academic conference and was a highly sought-after speaker.
Professor Stearns began his involvement in food-related litigation in 1993 as one of the lead defense attorneys handling the cases arising from the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. He was primarily responsible for designing and implementing a discovery plan that allowed Foodmaker to present a consistent and successful defense in over one hundred lawsuits spread among several states, including multiple class-actions and a shareholder-suit. In this role, he obtained extensive knowledge and experience in complex litigation and pretrial practice. The legal battles arising from the Jack in the Box outbreak were recently the subject of a bestselling book by Jeff Benedict, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat. Since helping to found Marler Clark, he has worked on hundreds of outbreak cases linked to contaminated food and drink, including a two-month long trial involving an outbreak at an Eastern Washington elementary school, and host of other cases that were subject to extensive news coverage. Professor Stearns has also handled a number of appeals, including one that made its way all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A graduate of Seattle University, with a degree in philosophy, Professor Stearns obtained his law degree (with honors) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a frequent author and commentator on a wide variety of topics related to food, law, economics, and policy, and is the author of three peer-reviewed book-chapters, and dozens of essays and opinion pieces. His most recent law journal article, which is entitled "ON (CR)EDIBILITY: Why Food in the U.S. May Never Be Safe," was published in Stanford Law & Policy Review. He also has published an article in the Journal of Food Law & Policy, titled "Preempting Food Safety: An Examination of USDA Rulemaking and its E. coli O157:H7 Policy in Light of Estate of Kriefall ex rel. Kriefall v. Excel Corporation." Although his scholarly interests are mostly focused in the area of food law and policy, he also does considerable work in the area of products liability law.
Professor Stearns has for over twenty-years devoted time to pro bono work, beginning in 1992 representing clients through the King County Bar Association program, Volunteer Attorneys for People with AIDS. Mr. Stearns was also for nine years on the Board of Directors (including two years as Board President) for Bailey-Boushay House, America's first skilled nursing facility that was planned, founded, built and staffed to meet the needs of people living with AIDS.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Lawyering Skills
Tara Urs joined Seattle University School of Law in 2013 as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Lawyering Skills. She spent the previous two years as an Instructor of Legal Writing at Brooklyn Law School.
Before entering the legal academy, Professor Urs served as a law clerk to Judge Deborah A. Batts of the Southern District of New York and worked as a staff attorney at the Brooklyn Family Defense Project. At the Brooklyn Family Defense Project, she was assigned counsel to indigent parents accused of child abuse and/or neglect. She also spent two years in Cambodia as a Resident Fellow with the Open Society Justice Initiative, where she provided support to criminal trials of senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.
Professor Urs has a B.A. from Wesleyan University. She graduated cum laude from New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Fellow and winner of the John Perry Prize for civil liberties and civil rights.
Professor Urs's scholarship focuses on the child welfare system and international human rights law. Her most recent article, "Can the Child Welfare System Protect Children Without Believing What They Say?" will be published in a forthcoming edition of the NYU Review of Law and Social Change.