Why did you go into law teaching?
I really enjoy having the opportunity to wear the many hats a law professor gets to wear. The legal academic’s enterprise is really several smaller roles: writing, teaching, public service. I love being able to research and write on problems that I think are not only interesting in theory but that really matter — like addressing climate change, protecting endangered species, improving public decision-making. I also enjoy teaching and engaging others in the early stages of learning their craft; not only do I enjoy trying to pass on my passion for the law, but I also get to learn from students along the way.
But I also like that as a law professor, I still get to participate in the real world and try to make a difference — writing petitions to Congress on proposed legislation, engaging agency officials on proposed rules, collaborating with officials and academics in other disciplines to think of better strategies for addressing environmental problems.
What is your teaching style?
I think my teaching style differs depending on whether the course I am teaching is a large foundational course, a mid-size upper-level course, or a small seminar. That being said, there are a number of common elements. My fundamental objective in every course is to challenge students to not only master legal doctrine, but also (1) to understand the underlying policy conflicts the law attempts to mediate, and (2) to develop their own assessment of the strengths and limitations of legal approaches as they have evolved. I also try to treat class sessions as a way to collectively deliberate about the law. I try to convey to students not only my enthusiasm for the substantive material, but also for the process of collective learning — that the law provides few obvious answers, and we all should be open to learning from others in and out of class. I also try to share relevant aspects of my scholarly work and professional experience.
Describe your scholarship, or a favorite pro bono or service project.
My research interests principally focus on regulatory innovation and the design of environmental and land use decision-making processes, drawing on my experience in the practice of environmental and land use law. In both land use and environmental governance, I am interested in evaluating and improving on the range of existing alternatives to traditional “command-and-control” regulation. I am particularly intrigued with the role of both public participation and scientific expertise in regulatory decision-making, as well as the opportunities for cultivating agency learning — adapting regulatory approaches to account for new information as the regulatory program evolves during implementation.
What inspired you to go to law school?
While pursuing my undergraduate degrees at UCI, I (at least tentatively) decided that I wanted to focus my career on addressing environmental issues. I went to law school because I thought it was the best way to consider how - and affect the way - we address environmental problems. The law really is where theory meets practice. Though of course many other disciplines are vital to investigating, understanding and confronting environmental problems, the law really is the bridge between thinking about social problems and doing something about them.