Faculty Spotlight

Latest Work Examines Role of Difference in Practice of Law

Professor Laurie Shanks

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Professor Laurie Shanks recently published her piece “The Mirror Exercise: A Quick and Easy Method to Begin Discussing Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Age and Other Differences with Your Students” in the spring 2012 issue of The Law Teacher by the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning.

The article details how Professor Shanks works with her students to prepare them to more effectively deal with clients, jurors, colleagues, judges, witnesses and opposing counsel.

As Professor Shanks writes in the piece, "My students have internalized the belief that it is inappropriate to acknowledge and discuss differences in race, gender, age, class or ethnicity. There is a pretense that they exist in a color-blind, androgynous society in which everyone is the same."

She continues, "I want the students to understand that these differences may have a very dramatic impact on their representation of clients."

A frequent resource for journalists on a variety of legal issues, Professor Shanks teaches Client Interviewing and Counseling, Negotiating for Lawyers, Trial Practice I: Criminal Pretrial Skills, and Trial Practice II: Criminal Trial Skills. She also serves on Judge Kaye's task force on wrongful convictions and the state bar's committee on the future of indigent defense, as well as a referee for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Professor Shanks joined the Albany Law School faculty in 1989 after private practice in Phoenix, Ariz., where she focused on criminal defense and personal injury litigation. While in Arizona, she was also the training director for the Maricopa County Public Defenders Office and served as a judge pro tem.

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning is a joint initiative by the Gonzaga University School of Law and Washburn University School of Law.

Laurie Shanks