We asked Amy E. Sloan, Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, what has inspired and motivated her throughout her career. This author spotlight gives a glimpse into her passions and what brought her to where she is today.
What or who motivated you to study law?
[AES] I worked in the financial industry after I graduated from college. After I had been in my job for a couple of years, the stock market suffered a downturn. Opportunities for advancement in that job became scarce, so I was looking for something new to do. I started studying for the LSAT at night after work, went to law school, and never looked back.
Did you have a favorite professor in law school? If so, who was the person and what made them stand out?
[AES] I was fortunate to have many great professors, role models for me to this day. It would be too hard to pick out just one.
What law school course did you enjoy the most?
[AES] I liked a lot of classes, but I think my favorite was Civil Rights Legislation, taught by the late Professor Thomas Dienes. The class was especially challenging, but he was so intensely passionate about the material that he made me want to learn it all.
What are your primary areas of writing and teaching? What fascinates you about these areas of law?
[AES] I write about legal research, legal writing, and appellate procedure. I love thinking about how we solve problems, and all of these topics allow me to explore the steps lawyers go through as they move from problem to solution. Legal research in particular is especially exciting. I don’t think any area of law has gone through as much change in the past generation. Writing about research lets me learn something new every day.
Do (or did) you have a mentor, or someone that has inspired or encouraged you in your writing or teaching?
[AES] Different people have mentored me at different points in my career. My students have inspired me with their enthusiasm and inquisitiveness. I am constantly in awe of how much law librarians know and how willing they are to share their expertise. Legal research and writing professors across the country support and mentor each other in many ways, and I’ve been the beneficiary of that community’s generosity.
What motivated you to write a Legal Research text?
[AES] When I first started teaching, I saw my students struggle with research – not only the mechanics, but also the larger questions of how to plan a strategy, where to start, and when to stop. I created materials to use in class, and those became the basis for Basic Legal Research.
What has been the most influential or pivotal moment in your career?
[AES] Clerking for two judges at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland—first the Honorable William Nickerson and then the Honorable Edward Northrop. I learned a lot about the law and about the value of civility in legal practice. Both judges made a point of treating litigants, counsel, and court staff with respect, and that made a strong impression on me.
What changes in legal education excite you?
[AES] Legal education is different now than it was when I was in school. There is less of the Professor as the Ultimate Authority at the front of the classroom. Instead, it feels much more participatory. I love legal education as a collaborative experience with students.
What advice do you have for today’s law students?
[AES] Figure out what you want to get from your legal education and make sure you get it. Don’t just go through the motions to get your degree. Try to have some fun.
How do you hope to be remembered by your students or law school?
[AES] I would like to be remembered as someone who helps students reach their potential and who supports colleagues in their professional endeavors.
What are your interests outside of law?
[AES] Traveling, cooking, reading, working crossword puzzles. I love going to the beach. I am learning to play the drums. I aspire to be a fiction writer but haven’t fit that into my life yet!
Amy E. Sloan is a Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law and is author of the following titles: