Where did you earn degrees, and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I received my B.A. in English from Emory University and my J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. Currently, I am the A. Gus Cleveland Distinguished Chair of Legal Ethics and Professionalism in the School of Law; and I teach Civil Procedure, The Law and Ethics of Lawyering, Ethics in Litigation, and Conflict of Laws.
When did you come to UGA, and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in the fall of 2002. Before that, I served as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge William C. O’Kelley and then spent about eight years practicing law as an associate and partner with Alston & Bird in Atlanta. I left private practice in 1999 to join the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Law. My wife and I are from the South, and we couldn’t quite acclimate ourselves to the Midwest—we missed the warmth and familiarity of our Southern roots. Fortunately, I was able to land a faculty position at UGA, a place that definitely feels like home.
What are your favorite courses, and why?
My principal courses are Civil Procedure and The Law and Ethics of Lawyering. I enjoy teaching both classes very much, but I must admit that I am partial to Civil Procedure. It is a required first-year course, and there is something indescribably special about being a part of students’ initial experience with the study of law. Watching them learn and mature throughout the year is extremely rewarding for me.
What interests you about your field?
The stereotypical perception of lawyers is that they have no ethics. As a general proposition, I know that this stems from misconceptions about the role of an attorney. My field affords me the unique opportunity to challenge these misconceptions through both my scholarly work and my classroom teaching.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
Being selected by the third-year class as the recipient of the first C. Ronald Ellington Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2007, and being selected last year as one of the Honorary Marshals for graduation.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching?
My research focuses primarily on ethics in the adversary process, which is also a significant component of what I teach. As a result, my scholarship invariably complements what I do in the classroom and often inspires me to delve more deeply into certain important topics of particular interest to my students, such as a lawyer’s moral accountability for the clients that he or she chooses to represent.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope that they come as close as possible to understanding what it is really like to be practicing attorneys. More importantly though, I hope they gain a sincere appreciation for the awesome responsibility that accompanies membership in the legal profession and that they come to recognize the enormous good that they can accomplish for the public in that capacity.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is prepared, inquisitive, respectful, humble, compassionate and always on time.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
…attend UGA basketball games.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
…spend time with my family and watch my favorite television shows—currently, “Parks and Recreation” and “The Good Wife.”
Community/civic involvement includes….
My family and I participate in various volunteer activities in the community, often in connection with events in which my students are involved.
Book: Muhammad Ali by Thomas Hauser. Movie: “When We Were Kings” and “Wonder Boys.”
Proudest moment at UGA?
The graduation of one very special student who overcame some seemingly insurmountable obstacles.