What drew you to the law?
In college, I led a campus effort to address some challenges our college had on issues of diversity and I realized later that I had used lawyering skills in doing so. It was empowering to see how some of the proposed remedies we crafted that were adopted by the administration ended up leading to positive and lasting systemic change. The legislative work I did just after college on Capitol Hill on behalf of a congressman from rural Texas, though frustrating at times, only reinforced the belief I had that law could be used to improve the lives of people.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
In general, I like helping students realize their potential both academically and professionally. I take particular joy in mentoring students in ways that help them achieve success in and out of the classroom during their time in law school and then as legal professionals afterwards, especially with respect to students who end up serving the public interest in some way.
What do you hope students gain from your courses?
My overall goal is to help train law students so that they can be successful attorneys. To this end, I enjoy helping students master specific legal concepts while also helping them to realize that the law is nuanced, complex and dynamic, not mechanical and static. I also want my students to understand that legal decision makers draw on policy, whether explicitly or implicitly, to justify shaping the law in the ways they do.
What did you do prior to entering academia?
I worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide then legislative director for a congressman from rural Texas before going to law school. After law school, I worked in Washington, D.C., first as an associate for a large law firm and then as a judicial clerk for a federal judge.
What are you passionate about outside the law?
My wife and I take enormous pleasure in spending time with our wonderful, caring and energetic daughter, including when we travel to places like California, New York and the Caribbean, when we go bike riding, or when we are being supportive soccer parents. I also enjoy the work I have done with nonprofit organizations, including one that works with disadvantaged family farmers and another that works on environmental stewardship and conservation matters.
What are your research interests?
My research primarily addresses real property issues that impact poor and disadvantaged communities, many of which are rural. More broadly, I research issues of economic inequality, specifically focusing on how the ability or inability of individuals or communities to build and retain assets can impact inequality.