Professor Patti Alleva listed among Nation’s Best Law Professors

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School of Law


UND Law Professor Patti Alleva is among the nation’s best law professors, according to a new Harvard University Press publication called "What the Best Law Teachers Do."

Alleva, the Rodney and Betty Webb professor of law at UND, is one of just 26 law professors included in the book, which is the result of a four-year study undertaken by prominent legal scholars who set out to identify the methods, strategies and personal traits of professors whose students achieve exceptional learning.

Her pedagogical prowess has long been celebrated at home, too. She is a two-time recipient of UND’s Lydia & Arthur Saiki Prize for Graduate or Professional Teaching Excellence, a former UND Bush Foundation Teaching Scholar and a multiple winner of UND’s outstanding student organization advisor award.

Alleva serves as the Faculty Mentor for Teaching and Learning Enhancement at the law school. She teaches Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, Advanced Civil Litigation and Professional Visions -- an innovative capstone law and literature course that she designed to explore professional identity and judgment, in part, by turning literary characters into hypothetical clients.

A leader in curricular reform at the law school, Alleva played a primary role in conceiving, and now co-coordinates, a new faculty team-taught first-year course: Professional Foundations, especially created to help law students cultivate the habit of professional self-reflection. Alleva has also conducted law and literature sessions with practicing lawyers as well as federal and state judges to help reinforce the importance of mindfulness no matter the legal context.

Pedagogy and legal education reform are hot-button issues on which Alleva presents nationally. Most recently, she has spoken at the UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis, and the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in Washington, DC. And her recent appointment as Program Co-Chair of the AALS’s Teaching Methods Section finds her co-designing an innovative program on the pedagogy of Civil Procedure as part of next year’s annual AALS conference in New York.

Her scholarship likewise contributes to the national dialogue on legal education. A recent law review article that Alleva co-authored with University of Denver Sturm College of Law Associate Professor Laura Rovner, titled “Seeking Integrity: Learning Integratively from Classroom Controversy” was featured on The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog. And Alleva’s latest piece, an invited essay, titled “Respect Is Key to Teaching, And Also to Learning” appears in the National Law Journal’s September 2014 special report on law schools.

Prior to joining the UND faculty in 1987, Alleva, who graduated from Hofstra Law School after serving as Articles Editor of the law review, practiced law at a major law firm in New York. Before that, she clerked for a federal trial judge.

"I enjoyed practice immensely, and learned from some of the best. It was difficult to leave practice, but to ignore the call of the academy would have been even more difficult,” she recently told a reporter from Hofstra University profiling her accomplishments. “I wanted to become a professor, in part, to help change the way law was traditionally taught. This meant exploring the interpersonal and emotional sides of professional being in addition to the logical and analytical sides that had long been the focus of legal education. It also meant teaching students to become more self-reflective and other-aware, which are keys to empathy and, in turn, to a more humanistic approach to lawyering.”

Asked by her alma mater what advice she has for those students considering law school, Alleva offered these observations: “Studying law is a serious and noble undertaking. Come prepared to think deeply and deliberately, to work hard, and to re-examine who you are in light of the professional goals and obligations lawyers assume and aspire to. The ultimate reward — that law degree — should be evidence of newfound capacities to problem-solve and make a difference for the people you represent — a difference that sometimes only a lawyer can make.”