What drew you to the law?
My original interest was human rights law, which came from undergraduate study of the Nuremberg trials and the international law that came out of that. I was fortunate in graduate school at Columbia to study with people like Louis Henkin, who had a firsthand perspective, and then to work with the plaintiff’s lawyers on the damages phase of the Filártiga case.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I enjoy most aspects of teaching, but I especially like when a current or former student teaches me about the law by raising a point I’ve not considered, or by seeing something in a different light. It happens several times a year.
What do you hope students gain from your courses?
The goals vary with the courses. Civil Procedure is an introductory survey of a vast area ranging from Middle English common law writs to state procedure to federal procedure, covering everything from jurisdiction to judgments. There, I hope students get a basic foundation on which to build in later classes and practice, and the ability to see problem solving as a blend of substantive law and procedure. This contrasts significantly with federal courts, where we do an in-depth and focused study of federal jurisdiction under the Constitution and federal statutes. My goal here is to prepare federal litigators for areas like employment law, intellectual property, environmental law, civil rights, criminal defense and complex litigation. In all my courses, I hope the students learn to see the law both for its formal structure and its tactical use in solving clients’ problems.
What did you do prior to entering academia?
I spent ten years as a full-time lawyer in Oklahoma and Texas before entering full-time teaching. I’ve represented clients in the state courts of 18 Oklahoma counties and all three Oklahoma federal districts. My Texas practice runs deeper. I’ve litigated in 31 Texas counties, including cases in the state and federal courts of every metropolitan area in Texas. The case resolutions ranged from quick dismissals to jury trials for clients both urban and rural, rich and poor.
What are you passionate about outside the law?
These days I’m immersed in my work and do little on the side. I still ride my Gary Fisher mountain bike occasionally, and I used to ride a Raleigh Professional road bike. I also had an ’89 Harley Softtail and a BMW R80, but now my transportation interests are focused on the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
What are your research interests?
My current research interests are conflict of laws, international practice, trade regulation and the use of narrative.