We asked Marcia Goldsmith, Professor of Legal Writing at St. Louis University 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?
[MG] As an undergrad I took a class that included a focus on the law. The professor had us read a few cases, and that experience absolutely fascinated me. I was really drawn to the way the legal world presented information and wanted to know more about that way of thinking and analyzing issues.
Did you have a favorite professor in law school? If so, who was the person and what made them stand out?
[MG] My favorite professor was Professor Robert Thompson at Washington University School of Law (he is now at Georgetown). He taught corporate law and made that area of law so interesting that I ended up taking other classes in that area. His style of teaching was engaging and engaged and it made me want to dig deeper into an area of law that I had no knowledge of prior to his class.
What law school course did you enjoy the most?
[MG] I enjoyed corporations, securities law, and employment discrimination.
What are your primary areas of writing and teaching? What fascinates you about these areas of law?
[MG] My primary areas are Legal Research and Writing, Appellate Advocacy and Academic Support. All of these courses are experiential in nature and require work from the students (whether in the form of research and writing or practice test taking) and frequent feedback from the professor. I enjoy teaching in these areas of law because the need for individualized, intensive instruction allows me to reach students of many different abilities and backgrounds to help them learn, struggle with and eventually learn the necessary analytical skills and communication techniques required for the practice of law.
Do (or did) you have a mentor or someone that has inspired or encouraged you in your writing or teaching?
[MG] My colleagues in Legal Research and Writing, Appellate Advocacy, and Academic Support are some of the hardest working most caring professors I know, they inspire me constantly with their dedication, their willingness to innovate, and their willingness to collaborate and share so we can all grow to be better, more inspiring teachers.
What motivated you to write a casebook?
[MG] My co-author Twinette Johnson was truly the motivating force behind this textbook. We had both been teaching bar preparation courses and through our conversations and collaborations had come upon what we thought was an extremely effective way to teach the study skills needed for effective bar preparation and ultimately bar passage. Prof. Johnson was the motivator and the cheerleader for this project. Its gestation period was long, since we are both experiential professors so our free time was somewhat limited, but once the proposal was ironed out we realized we had the makings of a very timely, useful textbook.
What has been the most influential or pivotal moment in your career?
[MG] The most pivotal moment in my career was when I decided to leave private practice and enter the field of legal education. When I entered the classroom and realized how exciting, and engaging the experience was, I really never looked back.
What changes in legal education excite you?
[MG] I am excited that the legal community is really beginning to understand the importance of experiential classes. More and more law schools have strong vibrant legal research and writing programs, and many now include a strong focus on appellate advocacy. Furthermore, it has been very gratifying to see the areas of academic support and bar preparation get new attention, resources, and respect. Law school administrators are starting to realize that these types of experiential learning courses will truly help our students gain the study skills they need to be successful students, successful communicators, and ultimately successful bar passers.
What advice do you have for today’s law students?
[MG] Seek out help, advice, and mentoring from your professors. They are there to educate you, but also to encourage you along your path to becoming a practicing attorney.
How do you hope to be remembered by your students or law school?
[MG] I would like to be remembered as a passionate educator in the areas of legal research and writing, appellate advocacy, and academic support. I’d also like to be remembered as a mentor and advisor to my students and a valued colleague to my fellow faculty members.
What are your interests outside of law?
[MG] I am an avid exerciser, everything from spinning, running to bootcamps and pilates. I enjoy hiking (but no camping-a nice lodge at the end is nice) and just walking around a new town with my husband and two sons. Finally, I enjoy reading almost every genre but especially science fiction and I am an enthusiastic movie goer.
Marcia Goldsmith is a Professor of Legal Writing at St. Louis University School of Law and is the author of the new textbook, Advanced Legal Analysis and Strategies for Bar Preparation.