The Brandeis School of Law is pleased to welcome two new faces to the law school community this semester, both of whom will be working closely with the student body. Jennifer T. DiSanza arrived in Louisville this summer to become Assistant Dean of Student Life, while Scott A. Hite is pleased to take over as the Director of Academic Success.
Both newcomers wish to forge a strong partnership with the law school’s students, and encourage students to stop by their offices, Rooms 212 (Hite) and 216 (DiSanza) to ask for guidance, information, or just to chat about thelaw school experience.
Here is some brief background information about these individuals:
Jennifer T. DiSanza
Assistant Dean of Student Life
After spending the last 14 years in law school student services at two different schools, the University of Maryland School of Law and Capital University Law School, Jennifer DiSanza arrived in Louisville this summer and said that she has been overwhelmed by the “Southern hospitality” and generosity of the faculty, staff, and students in the short time she’s been in the Bluegrass State.
Dean DiSanza received her law degree from the University of Maryland in 2002, her master’s degree in strategic human resources from Johns Hopkins University in 2005, and her undergraduate degree is in business, specifically human resources, from Miami University in Ohio. In fact, Dean DiSanza enrolled in law school because of her extensive experience in human resources and her desire to “move up the corporate ladder” at a large manufacturing company where she was employed and where everyone in the corporate employee and labor relations department seemed to have a law degree.
Having moved multiple times for the company in a five-year span, Dean DiSanza wanted an assurance that she could stay in Baltimore to complete her law degree in Maryland, but the company responded that she would, unfortunately, miss out on promotion opportunities as a result.
“It was at that time, I ‘accidentally’ fell into student services, because I was active at my law school alma mater, and the soon-to-be Assistant Dean of Student Affairs needed a director,” DiSanza said. “It was an almost seamless transition from HR to student services.”
DiSanza regards her career move into student services as the best decision she’s ever made.
“I believe the partnership between student life and academics is core to the mission of the school, without one, the other suffers,” she said. “Students need support in all aspects of their law school education, and that is what Student Life is here to do. As student advocates, Student Life personnel are here to listen to issues, concerns and stressors, and try to help students cope with the things that happen while in law school. My mantra is, ‘life happens while you are in law school.’ You can’t expect everything around you to stop for three years, while you are getting your degree. That’s where we come in.”
When she’s not exploring new places, listening to live music, or visiting with family, friends, or her dog in her spare time, Dean DiSanza is committed to collaborating among the different constituencies at the law school, overseeing and enhancing the extra- and co-curricular activities at the school, and improving the overall learning experience here at Brandeis.
Her number one tip for students? “If you are having trouble, do not wait; seek out assistance as soon as you feel something isn’t right.”
Scott A. Hite
Director of Academic Success
In his new role as Director of Academic Success, what he describes as the “perfect fit,” Scott Hite has so many tips for how to be successful in law school, that he found it difficult to think of just one when pressed for answer. That said, Hite settled on reminding students to “stay diligent,” because “diligence will carry over to your professional career.”
“I have already noticed how much the students respect the professors, so creating a solid partnership between my office and the students is a fundamental ongoing objective of mine,” he said. “I want to make sure that every student views my office as a resource for opportunity and success while they attend law school. My door must be open to them, and I must be always approachable.”
A native of nearby Bardstown, Hite has been drawn to a career involving the law since childhood. One decade after earning his undergraduate degree in English and mass communications at Bellarmine University, one decade later, Hite attended and graduated from Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. While in Lansing, Hite clerked at a small criminal defense firm, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and for then-Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, who later served as the Governor of Michigan. In Louisville, Hite has externed at the Louisville Public Defender Office, in addition to serving as an applications consultant for LexisNexis for a number of years and as an associate attorney for a small insurance defense firm. Most recently, Hite returned to Bellarmine to earn his master’s degree in communications.
When not helping students in their law school pursuits, you can find Hite, an avid golfer, finishing a travel and review book on the top public golf courses in Kentucky, cycling the back roads of Oldham County, collecting batch bourbon, or cheering on his favorite sports teams at his home in Prospect, where he lives with his wife and four dogs.
Professor Laura McNeal recently appeared on CNN as an education law expert on the Michael Brown shooting. Her commentary focused on the need to change existing laws to require police officers to receive training on how to interact with youth. Currently, police officers are using adult policing practices on youth which lead to increased arrests for non-violent crimes such as disorderly conduct.
Follow Professor McNeal on Twitter
The IT Department is pleased that Lee McWhorter, a work-study student pursuing a master's degree in Computer Science at the Speed School of Engineering, will be staffing the Help Desk for law students, located outside the first floor lab in the Law Library, again this year. Mr. McWhorter will be available from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and provide first-tier support for:
- Wireless networking (ulsecure)
- Wireless printing
- Lab computing and printing
- Exam4 downloading, installation and basic usage
Students are reminded that the Brandeis School of Law's online Help Desk is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Professor Ariana Levinson was interviewed by Corey Weinberg of Bloomberg Businessweek for an article he wrote about wearable technology in the workplace. She was selected by Mr. Weinberg because she has written extensively in the area of workplace technology and privacy. The interview is summarized in the article, and Professor Levinson is quoted alongside Professor Ethan Bernstein of Harvard Business School. Read the full article.
On August 19th David Herzig, the Petrilli Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, presented Coasean Approach on Inbound Real Estate Investment, at the University of Chicago Junior Faculty Workshop.
Assistant Professor of Law Jamie Abrams has been named the recipient of this year’s university-wide Presidential Exemplary University Multicultural Teaching Award, sponsored by the University of Louisville’s Diversity Programming Committee of Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality. Previous winners of the award include fellow Brandeis School of Law professors Enid Trucios-Haynes and Cedric Powell.
The intent of this teaching award is to affirm, value, honor, and recognize members of the university teaching staff (full- or part-time; undergraduate, graduate and/or professional) who integrate multicultural and global perspectives into their scholarship, teaching practices, curriculum, and research.
Professor Abrams, who has served as an assistant professor at the law school since 2012, was nominated for the award by Dean Susan Duncan, who had personally observed Professor Abrams’ teaching style. Her nomination provided information on the ways in which she incorporates multicultural perspectives into her classroom and scholarship.
Professor Abrams regularly teaches torts, domestic relations, legislation, and a seminar on women and the law; despite the diverse array of topics she teaches, Professor Abrams said that she has, at least, one common goal among all of these classes: “My goal is not just to teach what the law is in a value-neutral, abstract way, but also to push students to think harder about who actually wins and loses based on what the legal rule or standard is…I want to make sure that we pause and reflect on who’s left out of the standard that we just selected and studied.”
This way of thinking is sometimes particularly challenging for students who “often approach the law with a sense of reverence and a really high regard for the study of law, which almost creates a built-in bias because you believe what you’re learning has to be the right way…or that diversity is merely a tangent in the casebook, which is not the case,” said Abrams.
According to Professor Abrams, a straightforward example of the application of her multicultural perspective teaching style can be seen in her domestic relations class, where much of the law is framed around the institution of marriage. From a multicultural perspective, notes Professor Abrams, this framing can be problematic as the institution of marriage explicitly excludes whole members of the population, whereas other people simply choose to opt out of marriage, thereby privileging certain families based upon marriage, and consequently privileging certain families because of class, race, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
Similarly, when producing her scholarship, Professor Abrams seeks to try out her ideas in workshops in diverse and interdisciplinary settings, immerse herself into the legal context in which she is trying to better understand, and challenge herself to analyze whatever legal issues she is writing about from a variety of different “lenses” rather than starting with a basic assumption about how a law or laws apply to different groups of people.
In fact, this penchant for challenging widely-held assumptions in the practice and study of law likewise served as the basis for Professor Abrams’ forthcoming scholarly piece in 2015, where she argues for reframing the Socratic method at law schools—a method that “disincentivizes inclusion and diverse perspectives” by its inherent nature—and replacing this traditional method with a client-focused approach, where students can think of how a particular precedent would affect one of their clients.
Receiving the award has already affected Professor Abrams: she has been further motivated to continue to incorporate and learn new multicultural perspectives in her teaching and work with the support of her colleagues and mentors in the university community.
Gearing up for Spring 2015 and planning your classes? Consider this opportunity.
How about celebrating spring break of the Spring 2015 semester with service work in Belize? Learn more about this opportunity at UofL’s International Service Learning Program (ISLP) website http://louisville.edu/islp/. Law is one of several participating disciplines. The Law team lead by Dean Susan Duncan will develop restorative justice programs and work in schools and communities outside Dangriga. You can find out about past projects, see photos, and read about the work on the ISLP website. The service is rewarding and the memories last a lifetime! Plus, you’ll earn three hours of academic credit and build useful skills.
The priority deadline for the March 2015 trip is coming up soon on September 29th. Applications received after the priority deadline will be considered if space is available. Encourage your friends to apply along with you! Contact Dr. Joy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Kandi Walker (email@example.com) if you have questions.