Susan Saab Fortney

Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research

Susan-Saab-Fortney-aug2016

“Clients entrust their lives, liberty and property to lawyers. As law professors, our students entrust their education and well-being to us. It is our responsibility as law professors to help our graduates recognize the special position lawyers hold and to internalize the ethos of professional accountability.”

Get to Know Susan Saab Fortney

What drew you to the law?

In college I was interested in pursuing social work as a career, believing it was a profession that helped and empowered those in need. After examining the possibilities and learning about law practice, I realized that lawyers were ideally situated to serve others as agents of change and to make a long-term difference in their communities.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

As a teacher, I see myself as a lifelong student. My students inspire, challenge and enlighten me on many different levels. It is a joy and privilege to get to know students and an honor to play a small role in their professional development.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

I hope students develop the skill of ethical decision making. Most fundamentally, this involves knowing what questions to ask and where to go for answers. In tackling legal ethics concerns, I urge future lawyers to never stop with asking whether a particular move is legal or ethical, but to also seriously consider how the conduct makes them feel about themselves.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

I worked in the public sector as an attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. After I left government service, I practiced securities and corporate law with law firms in Texas. Using that experience, I started to handle professional liability claims against corporate and securities lawyers. That practice evolved to the point where the majority of my work involved the defense and insurance coverage of legal malpractice claims. When practicing, I started teaching professional responsibility as an adjunct professor. I fell in love with teaching and pursued a full-time academic career.

What are you passionate about outside of the law?

Although I run at a snail’s pace, I love long-distance running. My favorite travel experience is exploring hiking and running trails.

What are your research interests?

Generally speaking, my research interests largely deal with legal ethics and malpractice. More specifically, many of my scholarly endeavors involve law firm ethics and governance. I have conducted a number of empirical studies related to law firm ethics and culture, as well as lawyer conduct and regulation.

Publications

Link to my publications.

Presentations

Presentations are listed on my CV.

Expertise

  • Legal ethics and malpractice
  • Lawyer regulation
  • Law firm ethics and culture
  • Attorneys’ professional liability insurance
  • Health care and bioethics mediation

Courses

  • Professional Responsibility
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Torts
  • Externship
  • Bioethics
  • Health Care & Bioethics Mediation Clinic

Academic Experience

  • Professor of Law
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2015-present)
  • Howard Lichtenstein Distinguished Professor of Legal Ethics
    Director of the Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics
    Maurice Deane School of Law at Hofstra University (2011-2015)
  • Interim Dean (2010-2011)
    Texas Tech University School of Law
    Paul Whitfield Horn University Professor (2008-2011)
    Associate Dean for Research (2009-2010)
    George H. Mahon Professor of Law (2003-2005)
    Associate Dean for Student Affairs (2003-2005)
    Full Professor (1997-2011)
    Associate Professor (1995-1997) (unanimous promotion vote)
    Assistant Professor (1992-1995) (promoted at earliest possible time)

Education

  • J.S.D., Columbia University School of Law
  • LL.M., Columbia University School of Law
  • J.D., Antioch School of Law
  • B.A., Trinity University, magna cum laude

Awards / Honors

  • 2015 - Selected to represent Hofstra University in the Harris Manchester Summer Research Fellowship Program at Oxford University
  • 2014 - Selected to deliver the 23rd Annual F.B. Wickwire Memorial Lecture in Professional Responsibility for Schulich School of Law and Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, and named keynote speaker for the national conference of Canadian Discipline Administrators
  • 2013 - Named to the 2013 Martindale Hubbell Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers
  • 2013 - Selected as a John Gregory Research Scholar, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
  • 2012 - Named a 2012 Top Rated Legal Malpractice Attorney in Long Island, New York
  • 2012 - Selected as a Research Fellow, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra
  • 2012 - Naming of the Fortney Public Service Fellowship Program at Texas Tech
  • 2011 - Awarded Hofstra Faculty Diversity Research and Curriculum Development grant
  • 2011 - Appointed Howard Lichtenstein Distinguished Professor of Legal Ethics and Director of the Hofstra Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics
  • 2010 - Selected by the Texas Bar Foundation to be the recipient of the Lola Wright Foundation Award in recognition of outstanding public service in advancing and enhancing legal ethics in Texas. The $10,000 award went to a charity.
  • 2010 - Selected as an Integrated Scholar by the provost, Texas Tech University
  • 2008 - Selected by Texas Lawyer magazine as one of the 30 Extraordinary Women in Texas Law
  • 2008 - International Scholar at the University of Melbourne
  • 2008 - Elected as a member of the American Bar Foundation
  • 2008 - Appointed as a Paul Whitfield Horn University Professor
  • 2007 - Awarded a grant in the Texas Tech Research Enrichment Competition
  • 2007 - Texas Tech Law School Distinguished Researcher Award
  • 2007 - Elected as a member of the American Law Institute
  • 2006 - Texas Tech University’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award — one recipient for the entire university
  • 2006 - Texas Tech Law School Distinguished Researcher Award
  • 2005 - Texas Tech University Presidential Academic Achievement Award, a university-wide award for excellence in teaching, research and service
  • 2003 - Most Influential Texas Tech Law Professor – TEXAS LAWYER survey of law students
  • 2002 - Texas Tech Association of Parents – Spencer A. Wells Faculty Award, university-wide recognition for the Most Valuable Contribution to Creative Excellence in Teaching
  • 2001 - University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Nomisma Honoris and D.D.D. Diploma
  • 2001 - Fulbright Scholar teaching legal ethics in Slovenia
  • 2000 - Texas Tech University President’s Excellence in Teaching Award
  • 1999 - Elected to the Texas Tech University Teaching Academy
  • 1999 - Texas Tech Law School graduates created the Fortney Ethics Award
  • 1997 - Outstanding Professor Award, selected by law students (tied)
  • 1996 - Outstanding Professor Award, selected by law students
  • 1994 - Texas Tech Ex-Students Association New Faculty Award

Other Professional Activities

  • National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Drafting Committee for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination
  • Secretary, Professional Responsibility Section, American Association of Law Schools
  • American Law Institute, Consultative Groups: Principles of Law: Government Ethics & Restatement of Law (Third) Torts: Liability for Economic Harm
  • Co-Chair, American Bar Association Regulators’ Workshop on Proactive Regulation of Lawyers (2015)
  • Planning Committee, 2016 International Legal Ethics Conference
  • Legal Profession Editorial Board, JOTWELL
  • Editorial Board, ABA Journal of the Professional Lawyer and The Professional Lawyer