What excites you most about joining the UCI Law faculty?
I've been a faculty member at several law schools, including my first year of law teaching at a law school that was new at the time (UNLV). I loved the energy and creativity of building an institution and the kind of faculty, students and staff that are drawn to the opportunities of institution-building.
Why did you go into law teaching? What is your teaching style?
I teach commercial law and related fields, which are governed mainly by statutes. To help students master these laws, I use a problem method. Each day, students are assigned several hypothetical problems and directed to the relevant law. Their task is to apply the law to the problem, which often involves identifying missing facts or legal ambiguities. The students see in a very direct way that some legal problems have concrete answers and others are amorphous. The problems also allow us to discuss the practical and ethical issues that arise in representing consumers and businesses, whose problems often are not as neatly packaged as we lawyers would wish.
Describe your scholarship, or a favorite pro bono or service project.
In 2007, I conducted an empirical study on the compliance of mortgage servicers with bankruptcy law. The study was featured on the front page of The New York Times and helped spark a more careful examination of a longstanding presumption that we can trust big businesses to follow clear legal rules. Today, the problems with mortgage companies complying with foreclosure laws are well known, but they remain difficult to solve. It's been rewarding to build on my research findings to aid policymakers at Congressional hearings in thinking about these problems and to do media work to help the public understand these challenging issues.
What is your favorite part of being a faculty member?
There are many great aspects of this job, but now entering my eighth year of teaching, I am finding great satisfaction in my students achieving rewarding careers. Some of my students are young leaders in the bankruptcy bar in their areas, and I love reading in trade publications about their successes. Others work in public interest, such as for legal aid, or are building strong client bases in firms. I love hearing from my students with their accomplishments or their questions.
What would you like to accomplish at UCI Law?
I look forward to helping UCI create a fresh approach to learning business law that reflects both changes in the legal profession and the dramatic changes in the financial landscape in the last few years. I hope to help our students see the way in which business laws have a dramatic impact on society and to challenge them to think across an artificial public interest/private practice divide.