Leslie P. Culver

Visiting Professor of Lawyering Skills

Legal Writing Professor
Program Director, A.I.M. for Law Diversity Pipeline Program
California Western School of Law


Leslie Culver joined the faculty at California Western School of Law in 2009 and is an experienced Legal Writing Professor.  As an avid lover of all forms of writing since her youth, Professor Culver—after years in law practice—found her calling in teaching law students to develop their legal writing, research, and oral advocacy skills through an elevated lens of identity formation.

Prior to joining California Western, Professor Culver was an Assistant Professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, her alma mater, where she taught Legal Research & Writing, and Missouri Civil Procedure. Prior to teaching, she was an Associate Attorney at Husch & Eppenberger (now Husch Blackwell Sanders), one of the top litigation firms in St. Louis, Missouri. During and immediately following law school, Culver clerked for then-Chief Judge Mary K. Hoff and the late Hon. Lawrence G. Crahan of the Missouri Court of Appeals. During law school, she as Faculty Fellow, Teacher Assistant, and also served on the Executive Board of the Saint Louis University Law Journal.

Professor Culver’s research interests lie at the nexus of critical race theory, feminist communication, and social science, with a central goal to empower marginalized law students and attorneys toward conscious identity performance.  Her work intersects fundamental tenets of critical race and communication theories into the law school environment to empower marginalized groups who sometimes feel pressure to perform strategies to communicate their identity in a predominantly white legal profession.  She has presented and published widely in this area, and is passionate about empowering all her students to be culturally conscious attorneys in this racial era.

In White Doors, Black Footsteps: Leveraging 'White Privilege' to Benefit Law Students of Color, 21 J. Gender, Race & Justice 37 (2017), Culver calls for white privilege awareness among white law professors, intentional interethnic engagement, and a leveraging of that privilege to open professional doors for diverse students.  

Her most recent articles include: Conscious Identity Performance, 55 San Diego L. Rev. 577 (2018), which expands on legal scholarship discussing identity performance by drawing on a theoretical framework that legal scholars have largely ignored, co-cultural theory.  This Article posits that co-cultural theory offers micro-level communication practices to assist outsiders in navigating their workplaces where insiders are predominant.   Continuing the important conversation of identity performance, she wrote The Rise of Self Sidelining, 39 Women’s Rts. L. Rep. 173 (2018), as part of a Gender Sidelining Symposium hosted at California Western School of Law.  In this Article she characterizes self sidelining as women’s false endorsement of inadequate feelings that, when externally validated by male gender preference, may cause women to consciously or subconsciously discipline themselves to forgo their professional advancement. Ultimately, this work exposes the social harm of self sidelining, even absent adequate legal remedies, and urges its awareness and presence in the ongoing gender inequity discussion in the legal profession.

Professor Culver is currently engaged in an empirical study that is examining the communicative practices of lawyers in the profession, with co-researchers from Western Michigan and Arizona State University.

Professor Culver serves as the Director of A.I.M. for Law, a diversity pipeline program to encourage collegiate students from underrepresented communities to consider law school, and as the faculty advisor to both the Black Law Student Association and the Christian Legal Society at California Western School of Law.

Professor Culver was the 2018 Galen Distinguished Guest in Legal Writing at Oregon Law.

Current Courses:

Lawyering Skills IIIdentity, Power & Professional Responsibility

Prior Courses:

Lawyering Skills I, Lawyering Skills II, Identity, Power & Professional Responsibility


  • Leslie P. Culver, 15 Mo Prac., Civil Rules Practice (Rules 41-55) §§ 41.01-55 .33-8 (4th ed. 2012 & 2017 Cum. Supp.).

Law Review Articles & Works in Progress

  • Leslie P. Culver, "Conscious Identity Performance," 55 San Diego L. Rev. 577 ( 2018).
  • Leslie P. Culver, "The Rise of Self Sidelining," 39 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 173 (2018).
  • Leslie P. Culver, "White Doors, Black Footsteps: Leveraging White Privilege To Benefit Law Students of Color," 21 J. Gender, Race & Justice (forthcoming 2018).
  • Leslie P. Wallace, "And I Don't Know Why It Is That You Threw Your Life Away: Abolishing Life Without Parole, The Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida Now Requires States to Give Juveniles Hope for a Second Chance," 20 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 35 (2010).
  • “Modeling Wicked: The Untold Narrative of IRAC’s Analytical Frameworks,” (in progress).
  • “Professional (Ir)responsibility and the Unexamined Role of Conscious Identity Performance," (in progress).

Book Reviews

  • "My Enemy's Enemy and the Case for Rhetoric," Legal Comm. & Rhetoric: JALWD(forthcoming 2018) (examining Doug Coulson's Race, Nation, and Refuge: The Rhetoric of Race in Asian-American Citizenship Cases).

Short Essays

  • Leslie P. Wallace, "Mentoring: A Vital Concept for Every Lawyer," 5 Missouri Bar Precedent 22 (2011).
  • Sept. 29, 2018:
    Speaker, “From Cooks to Chefs: Developing the Rhetorical Profile,” Western Regional Legal Writing Conference, UCI Law, Irvine, CA
  • May 30, 2019: 
    Panelist, “Leading in the Face of Hierarchy,” ALWD 2019 Biennial Conference, Suffolk University School of Law, Boston, MA
  • July 10, 2019: 
    Panelist, “"Race, Religion, and Careers: Stories of Professors of Color," Seventh Annual Applied Legal Storytelling Conference, University of Boulder, Boulder, CO
  • August 1, 2019: 
    Discussant, “Identity and Legal Education,” and “Diversity + Inclusion = Change, 2019 SEALS Conference, Boca Resort, Boca Raton, FL
  • Sept. 13, 2019:
    Speaker, “Something Wicked This Way Goes: Reviving Analytical Frameworks Across Disciplines,” 2019 Central States Legal Writing Conference, UIC John Marshall School of Law, Chicago, IL
  • December 12-14, 2019:
    Co-Speaker (with Prof. Robinson-Dorn (UCI)), “Awakening the “Critical” in Critical Thinking,” Global Legal Skills 14 Conference, Arizona State University School of Law, Phoenix, AZ
  • Named the 2018 Galen Distinguished Guest in Legal Writing at Oregon Law
  • 1L Professor of the Year Nominee (UCI Law)