Meet a Colleague: Leila Lawlor Leila Lawlor is Director of the new Academic Excellence Program and a Professor of Practice.
Leila Lawlor is Director of the new Academic Excellence Program and a Professor of Practice at W&L Law. Leila comes to W&L after teaching law at Georgia State University since 2008, where she directed the LL.M. program, the academic success program, and ran the study-abroad exchange. At Georgia State, Leila taught Lawyering Skills, Introduction to U.S. Law, Constitutional Law, Evidence, Civil Procedure, and Business Law. Leila was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where she and her husband Joe raised their two sons – now in their twenties.
Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
Although the setting of this entire campus is beautiful, my favorite spot is my own office in the law school. I have only been in my office for two months and it has turned into a haven. A wonderful student helped me find a fun sofa and a beautiful rug – both at great prices! That student’s know-how helped me create a welcoming space in my office. Another clever student helped me find an espresso machine online, so my office is now provisioned perfectly for my work with busy law students. I can hardly believe that I see hawks out my window, soaring overhead, and deer prancing through the parking lot.
Q. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
I love to catch up with my family and walk my golden retriever while enjoying the natural beauty of this area. I often do these things simultaneously, thanks to cell phones!
Q. Most used/enjoyable app on your phone?
I am not sure that this app is the most used, but lately it is the most enjoyed – Facebook Marketplace. Thanks to my students’ input, I am now a bit addicted to finding deals on the app. In addition to my office, I have now furnished a wonderful little cottage in the mountains with Facebook finds.
Q. What/Who inspired you to teach?
My father was a college journalism professor back when newspapers (with emphasis on the paper part of the word) were delivered to our door each morning. He trained students who left his classes ready to produce grammatical, concise, interesting news articles. His students joked that my father spent more time marking their papers with his red pen than they had spent writing their papers. My father took his responsibility as an educator very seriously because he realized the capacity of education to change lives. His own education had provided him with opportunities that his parents had certainly not enjoyed. My father taught me that making the most of one’s education can open many doors. He also taught me that, for an educator, building mentoring relationships with students is essential to enjoying the process of teaching.
Q. As the first Director of W&L Law’s Academic Excellence Program, what goals do you have in mind for the program and law students?
For 1L students, we are developing a series of academic excellence workshops. We have already held workshops on briefing cases, time management, outlining, and best practices for study groups. Upcoming workshops will address how to confront a final exam, issue spotting, and how to maximize points when taking essay exams. These workshops have proven to be popular because 1L students don’t just hear from me; they also receive practical advice from upper-year students who serve on panels to discuss their own overcoming of pitfalls to attain success at W&L Law.
Our new Academic Excellence Program will also host speakers who can share advice and teach techniques to enable law school success. Stress reduction, wellness, and mapping a plan for law school and beyond are topics that I hope to emphasize. One scheduled speaker is the founder of the Mindfulness in Law Society. Other speakers will focus on overcoming the imposter syndrome, professional identity formation, and the power of a law degree to effect societal change.
During summer of 2024, I hope to debut a pre-law school program, Jumpstart Your J.D. at W&L. My goal is to position students for a successful trajectory, even before they enter W&L Law for their 1L studies.
Q. What is your favorite part of the law school experience?
My favorite part of the law school experience at W&L is something that I have found to be wonderfully unique to this institution: our students truly support each other’s success in law school and in their future practice of law. Law school is, by its nature, a competitive experience, but at our law school the sense of community is palpable, and the students seem to compete with themselves – focusing on developing their own potential – rather than trying to outdo each other.
Q. Any advice for current law students to take advantage of the program’s offerings?
Come see me! Make an appointment or just drop by my office – 450. I have snacks and espresso drinks! I sincerely want to help you succeed, and that begins with getting to know you.
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