Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

May 10, 2011
2011 Excellence in Teaching Awards Announced

Professors Karen R. Smith, Butler D. Shaffer and Christine Chorba have been selected to receive the law school's 2011 Excellence in Teaching Awards. Dean Bryant Garth said, "It is gratifying to see these honors going to professors who embody the kind of commitment to teaching excellence and student support that we so highly value."

Professor Karen R. Smith

Professor Karen SmithThis is the fifth time - and third consecutive year - that Professor Smith, who has been teaching at Southwestern since 1982, has received an Excellence in Teaching Award. This year, she was selected for her work as a First-Year Professor; that is, as one who teaches first-year (or 1L) students. Her course list includes Advanced Criminal Procedure; Constitutional Criminal Procedure; Criminal Law; Defenses in the Law; and Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiating, as well as multiple courses in the SCALE® Program. "Professor Smith truly exemplifies the characteristics that make a great teacher," voters commented. "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." Her talent for teaching inspired one voter to say, "Professor Smith makes me want to go into academia after practice, just to be able to touch the lives of students. She is not only a professor and a scholar I look up to, but a mentor in all aspects of life."

Professor Butler Shaffer

Professor Butler ShafferProfessor Shaffer has been recognized for his work as an Upper Division Professor. He joined Southwestern's faculty in 1977 and teaches courses in Administrative Law, Antitrust Law, Informal Systems of Order Seminar, Property and Property Transactions Practice, as well as multiple courses in the SCALE® Program. "His ability to engage students in the material and his dedication to making sure the topics are crystal clear have been so helpful for someone who has never had any prior legal experience," one voter said. "Professor Shaffer'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 his teaching methods. I was able to apply what I learned in the real world, and it makes looking at the law so much more enjoyable and relevant."

Professor Christine Chorba

Professor Christine ChorbaProfessor Chorba, who began teaching at Southwestern in 2004, has been selected to receive the award for the Adjunct Professor category. She is the Director of the law school's Writing Center and teaches an intersession course in Appellate Process and Opinion Drafting. One voter said, "If all academia were infused with such professors, how could any student fail? It is her supportive and inspiring passion that makes every student of hers want to succeed. My writing style definitely improved!"

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.