Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

May 05, 2010
2010 Excellence in Teaching Awards Announced

Professors Danielle K. Hart, Karen R. Smith and Todd A. Smith have been selected to receive the law school's 2010 Excellence in Teaching Awards. "This year, numerous thoughtful nominations were received," said Chris DeClue, President of the Student Bar Association (SBA). "The SBA was impressed by the strength of individual student observations related to the various faculty members and to learn of the many positive and significant contributions faculty are making to improve student learning and performance."

Professor Danielle Kie Hart

Professor Hart has been recognized for her work as First-Year Professor; that is, as one who teaches first-year (or 1L) students. She teaches Contracts, Law and Sexual Orientation Seminar, Sales, and Secured Transactions. In their written comments, numerous students attested to Professor Hart's teaching methods in her Contracts course, saying: "Words cannot describe how wonderful of a teacher Professor Hart has been during my first year at Southwestern. Her ability to engage students in the material and her dedication to making sure the topics are crystal clear has been so helpful for someone who has never had any prior legal experience." Another enthusiast said, "Professor Hart's method of approaching any legal question will stay with me throughout the rest of my classes in law school, and I am confident that I will do well, solely because of her teaching methods."

Professor Karen R. Smith

This is the fourth time - and second consecutive year - that Professor Smith has received an Excellence in Teaching Award. This year, she received the honor as an Upper Division Professor. Her course list includes Advanced Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Defenses in the Law, Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiating as well as multiple courses in the SCALEĀ® Program. Numerous students praised Professor Smith's teaching methods in Constitutional Criminal Procedure. "Professor Smith truly exemplifies the characteristics that make a great teacher. She is always available for discussions, whether during her traditional office hours or otherwise. She engages students in class by bringing in her own stories during her time in practice, and she takes the time to make sure all her students understand the minute distinctions in the law." As one of her supporters wrote, "She is hands-down the best professor I've had at Southwestern."

Professor Todd A. Smith

Admired for the way he handles his Employment Law Survey course, the Excellence in Teaching in the Adjunct Professor category has been awarded to Professor Smith. His students said, "Professor Smith's enthusiasm about employment law, his interesting stories, and his desire to truly teach make him very worthy of the Excellence in Teaching Award." His inspirational style has encouraged some of his students to further pursue the practice of Employment Law.

Established in 1997, the Excellence in Teaching Awards are designed to reinforce the belief that the day-to-day teaching of students is of primary importance. The recipients are recognized by the student body through a unique nomination and selection process, in which members of the Southwestern Community submit names for the First-Year, Upper Division and Adjunct categories. The top nominees are chosen by the SBA Board and then voted on by students to determine the winners.