Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

June 27, 2006
Two Professors to Join LAWS Faculty in Fall 2006

This fall, Alexandra D'Italia and Catherine Kunkel Watson join the Southwestern faculty as Instructors of Legal Writing in the Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills Program (LAWS). Professor D'Italia is a former practicing attorney who has taught and developed legal writing courses over the past several years, and Professor Watson is also an experienced practitioner and former member of our legal writing faculty who is returning as a visiting instructor for the 2006-07 academic year.

Professor D'Italia aims to help law students look at writing in a whole new way and stresses that form is just as important as content. "You lose the opportunity to make an argument by not writing well. On a close case, the writing and analysis does make the difference," she said.

She knows this from experience; having practiced law in San Francisco for several years, including time spent representing indigent defendants on appeal as a panel attorney for the Sixth District Appellate Program. She began teaching law in 2002 as a member of the adjunct faculty at Golden Gate University School of Law where she instructed courses in the first-year legal writing program and the academic support program, developed a new advanced legal writing elective, and served as a faculty advisor to the law review. This past year, she served as an assistant professor of Lawyering Skills at Western State University College of Law where she taught Professional Skills I and II in the first-year required legal research and writing program.

Professor D'Italia has also served as a contributing author and editor of treatises on Criminal Law Advocacy, Texas Tort and Remedies, Texas Litigation Guide, Illinois Tort Law, Illinois Civil Trial Guide, and Business Insurance Law for Matthew Bender & Company. She completed her B.A. degree in Government from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania in 1989 and her J.D. degree at Golden Gate where she graduated in 1994. In law school, she was Managing Editor of the law review and a Public Interest Law Scholar, and her article, "Employment Law, Gantt v. Sentry Insurance," was published in 23 Golden Gate Law Review (1993). She is a member of the California State Bar.

As a Southwestern alumna and legal writing instructor, Professor Catherine Kunkel Watson has been where her students sit. She knows that to learn legal writing isn't just a matter of absorbing a new language, but also a different way of contemplating. "Once you get out of law school, your thinking pattern is different. You don't think the same way that the everyday person does," she said.

Professor Watson initially joined the law school's adjunct faculty in 1990, and a year later was appointed as a full time Instructor of Legal Writing, also serving as a faculty advisor to the Moot Court Honors Program. After retiring in 2002 to attend to family matters, she returns to Southwestern for the fall semester

Before becoming an instructor at Southwestern, Professor Watson combined her lifelong interest in medicine through a career in malpractice defense. She joined the firm of Rushfeldt, Shelley & Drake where she handled medical malpractice cases, specializing in staff privilege defense and government entity defense.

When she was a student at Southwestern, Professor Watson served on law review and received an award for excellence in legal writing. As an instructor, she says that the process of teaching legal writing is thrilling, especially when it really starts to click. "I like watching the students learn. I like watching their face light up when they find out how simple this all really is," she said.

She earned her B.A. degree in English with honors in 1982 from California State University, Los Angeles, and her J.D. degree in 1986 from Southwestern where she served on the law review and received an award for excellence in legal writing.  She is the author of "Transsexual Marriages: Are They Valid Under California Law?" 16 Southwestern University Law Review 505 (1986). She is also a member of the California State Bar.