Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA
Southwestern Reporter

November/December 2008

Professor Turner
A Dozen Questions for Professor Tracy Turner

Q: What is your favorite Harvard memory?

A: I remember my feelings the first day of law school. I walked up the stairs of one of the buildings that had been in so many movies and said to myself with great astonishment that I was now a student there. I thought of all the great world leaders who had gone to the school before me and felt, for the first time in my life, that I had achieved something tremendous. I also believed that no matter what mistakes I might make in the future, this was an accomplishment that could never be diminished. I want our students here to feel the same sense of accomplishment. The life of a law student is hard, and the life of a lawyer is even more difficult. It is easy in this stressful career to be too hard on yourself. I wish I could make every student recognize that every step they accomplish along the way deserves celebration. The memories of each accomplishment can be a coping mechanism for those hard times when you feel like you can't do anything right.

Q: Why did you move to Los Angeles after law school? Are you originally from the Southern California area?

A: The short answer is that I moved here from Boston because my husband was born and raised in Los Angeles. But, I started dreaming about living in Los Angeles as a teenager. My impression of the city then was that it was an exciting, energetic place as far removed from my blue collar, small town as possible. I often joke that I might have fallen in love with my husband in part because he was from Los Angeles. Although the wisdom of adulthood has helped me appreciate the value of my upbringing, I am thrilled that my children will be exposed to the endless array of opportunities and viewpoints that are housed in this city.

Q: What were some of the most common kinds of cases you handled while working as a civil litigator?

A: The beauty of my practice as an appellate attorney was that there was no "common" case. One of the most fun aspects of being a lawyer for me was exposure to an array of topics, many of which I never would have encountered were it not for my job. Appellate law is the ideal practice to maximize exposure to different topics. My cases involved everything from the common car accident to complex business transactions. But even as an employment litigator, I had to learn about experiences that were completely foreign to me. For example, one of the earliest cases I worked on required me to become intimately familiar with the world of tugboat operators. I had to learn the lingo, understand the operations, and then translate this information using language the average person could comprehend. It was so much fun!

Q: Were there any particularly memorable or unique cases you worked on?

A: I'm not sure whether to choose the case in which our private investigator caught the plaintiff in a disability case driving to meet her attorney (90 miles an hour, no less) when she claimed she could not drive, or the one in which I got to write a brief on a meaty, exciting First Amendment issue. They were both fun in different ways.

Q: Based on your experiences as a civil and appellate litigator, what are the biggest differences in how you approach these cases in trial and appellate courts?

A: I think every trial attorney should sit down and chat with an appellate attorney. As an appellate attorney, I learned the importance of creating a record of the case that could be used to bring or defend appeals and the importance of preserving issues by making intelligent objections at trial and ensuring a clear ruling on them. I saw many good issues that were waived because they were not raised in the right way or because the record was unclear. For example, a transcript that notes "inaudible response" when the witness nods in response to a critical question at trial could make or break your argument on appeal.

Q: Why did you leave private practice to teach law school?

A: I felt that I had valuable information to share with law school students about how to be an effective and ethical lawyer. I also wanted a career that would be more academic and less adversarial. One thing I love about teaching is that I get to focus on the intellectual aspects of lawyering while also contributing to the development of future advocates. I feel that I am doing my small part to correct the aspect of advocacy that I disliked - the subtle erosion of the lawyer's role as an officer of the court. I try to convey to my students that honest advocacy is a lawyer's responsibility and, incidentally, it builds a reputation that will translate into better outcomes for clients. Another aspect of teaching I love is that I have the ability to choose any aspect of law I want to explore rather than being limited to whatever cases I am working on.

Q: What do you like most about teaching legal writing?

A: The greatest aspect of teaching is helping students become better advocates. It is tremendously satisfying to help students push themselves to higher levels of thinking and communication. And, I feel that by improving our future advocates, I am contributing to better outcomes in our legal system.

Q: What is the most important advice you give to your students?

A: The role of a lawyer in our society is very serious business.

Q: As principal drafter of the Moot Court problem for 1Ls, what are your main considerations in constructing the issue?

A: Problem design is tricky business, but it is also great fun. My primary goal is to identify issues that will be interesting to students. Our spring course is extraordinarily rigorous. It's not fair to ask students to work so hard on a boring issue. And, I don't want to work on a boring problem either! Of course, I also have to consider more practical aspects: Is there sufficient legal support for each side of the issues? Is the difficulty level fairly even between the two issues and sides? Is there enough to say on each side of the issues? Are there adequate secondary sources to guide students through the case law? Can students present the key arguments within the page limit? Can students understand and articulate the arguments without going into a historical survey of a huge body of case law?

Q: What do you think is most important for first-year students to do to properly prepare their briefs for intramural moot court?

A: The most successful students are very disciplined. They start early and keep on pace. They organize their research well. They allow ample time for drafting and redrafting. They pay close attention to details such as word choice and citation. In addition, it really helps to engage in dialogue with your peers about the problem so that you can understand and address all of the arguments.

Q: What are your favorite kinds of reading - legal or not?

A: I am a Stephen King junkie. I love a good story, and he is the best storyteller around.

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of the legal profession?

A: Right now, I am pretty consumed by my role as a working mother of two. In my former life, I loved to hike and host dinners for my friends.

Southwestern Welcomes New Adjunct Faculty

Three experts in their fields have joined Southwestern's adjunct faculty for Spring 2009.

Jerry Gardner - Federal Indian Law

Jerry Gardner, the Executive Director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, will teach Federal Indian Law in the Spring Semester. Through the Institute, he is responsible for the administration of programs designed to deliver education, research, training, and technical assistance programs to promote the improvement of justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples. Professor Gardner is also an Associate Justice for the Turtle Mountain Court of Appeals of Belcourt, North Dakota and has worked with various organizations, including the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA), National Indian Justice Center, Inc. (NIJC), American Indian Lawyer Training Program, Inc., and the United States Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. He has also served as an adjunct professor and clinical supervisor at UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools and the New College of California in San Francisco. Professor Gardner earned his B.A. degree (magna cum laude) in Political Science from Northwestern University, his J.D. degree from Antioch School of Law, and is a member of the District of Columbia and California State bars. He is a widely published author in the area Tribal Courts, including the areas of training and policy, as well as Tribal Court Review and Evaluation Reports and has edited various Tribal Law publications.

Jeff Sheldon - Patent Prosecution and Drafting

Jeff Sheldon, a partner with the law firm of Sheldon Mak Rose & Anderson, will teach Patent Prosecution and Drafting in the Spring Semester. Recognized by California Lawyer as one of the 20 best intellectual property lawyers in the state, Professor Sheldon serves as an expert witness and is the author of a leading treatise on writing patent applications (How to Write a Patent Application, Practising Law Institute). Before practicing law, he garnered technical experience as a chemical engineer with Exxon and Shell, a scientific coordinator at Lee Pharmaceutical, and a medical device development engineer at American Hospital Supply Corporation. Professor Sheldon earned his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, his M.Sc. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, his J.D degree from Loyola Law School and is a member of the District of Columbia, California State and Patent bars. He has published and lectured widely in the area, as well as served on boards of numerous organizations, including terms as Chairman of the State Bar of California's Intellectual Property Law Section and President of the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association.

Alan Wayte - Real Estate Transactions

Alan Wayte, Senior Counsel with the Los Angeles office of DLA Piper, will teach Real Estate Transactions in the Spring Semester. With over 35 years of experience in all aspects of real estate transactions, including real estate finance, purchases and sales, leasing, sale-leasebacks, joint ventures and other forms of partnership, workouts, and foreclosures, his principal clients include insurance companies, banks, pension funds, and REITS. He also has experience on various unique projects, such as acquiring rights of way from railroads for use by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority and negotiating long-term leases for the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall. He has been named as a top real estate lawyer by various publications, including America's Leading Lawyers for Business (Chambers USA), which described him as "a hugely admired figure" and a Senior Statesman for his real estate and construction real estate practice. Professor Wayte earned his B.A. and J.D. degrees from Stanford University and is a member of the California State Bar. He frequently lectures for law schools and professional groups and is a permanent faculty member for the American Law Institute-American Bar Association's annual Modern Real Estate Transactions and Real Estate Financing courses.


  • Participant, Council of Legal Education, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, New Orleans, LA
  • Site Team Chair, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, University of District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, Washington DC
  • Panelist, Ethical Issues, The Comprehensive Construction Defect Claims & Coverage Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • The Path Forward After Leegin: Seeking Consensus Reform of the Antitrust Law of Vertical Restraints, 75 ANTITRUST LAW JOURNAL 467 (2008)
  • Interviewed regarding Supreme Court's indecency case, Ad Age Magazine
  • SUBDIVISION LAW AND GROWTH MANAGEMENT, 2nd vol., Supplement Release No. 3 (Thomson-West, 2009)
  • Participant, U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law, Washington, DC
  • Presentation, "Linking Trade, Intellectual Property and Investment in the Globalizing Economy: The Interrelated Roles of FTAs, IP and the U.S.," Workshop on IP Aspects of Free Trade Agreements in the Asia Pacific Region, sponsored by the Centre for Comparative Law and Development Studies in Asia and the Pacific, University of Wollongong, and the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property Law, Wollongong, Australia
  • Presentation, "NAFTA and U.S.-Mexican Relations: Resolving Trade Disputes," Occidental College
  • Grant Evaluator, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for Mexican Rule of Law Projects, Higher Education for Development, American Council on Education, Washington, DC
  • Interviewed regarding conviction of Lori Drew for computer hijacking on MySpace leading to suicide of a 13-year-old girl, "AirTalk," KPCC-FM
  • Quoted, "Proposition 6: The Most Implosive; A tiny, unnoticed clause could allow the use of much looser hearsay in trials," LA Weekly

  • Panelist, "Immigration Options for Abused, Neglected and Abandoned Children," 13th Annual Partnership Conference: A New Beginning for Partnerships for Children and Families in Los Angeles County, Los Angeles
  • Interviewed regarding legal issues concerning spy gadgets and cameras, NBC News
  • Quoted, "Guilty verdict in MySpace suicide case could chill Internet speech," Christian Science Monitor
  • Distilling the Concrete From the Abstract, 24 JOURNAL OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE 145 (2008)
  • Quoted, Guilty verdict in MySpace suicide case could chill Internet speech," Christian Science Monitor
  • Appointed, ABA Standards Committee, Legal Writing Institute
  • Appointed, Expedited Commercial Panel, American Arbitration Association
  • Panel Coordinator, "School Discipline: The Law, Implementation, and Its Effect on Our Children," 13th Annual Partnership Conference: A New Beginning for Partnerships for Children and Families in Los Angeles County, Los Angeles
  • Member, ABA site evaluation team for Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Virginia


  • Profiled, "Fink v. Charney: Combative lawyer rumbles with flamboyant CEO," Los Angeles Business Journal
  • Panelist, "Permanency Planning Mediation - Collaboration for Permanence," 13th Annual Partnership Conference: A New Beginning for Partnerships for Children and Families in Los Angeles County, Los Angeles
  • Profiled, "Leading Digital Agents," Television Week

ABA - American Bar Association
- Association of American Law Schools
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
- National Association for Law Placement



Contact: For matters regarding the Southwestern Reporter Online, contact the Public Affairs Office.
Student organizations, faculty and staff should submit articles or information to be considered for publication by the 1st of each month. Send submissions to the Public Affairs Office.
Southwestern Law School is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and is fully approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (321 N. Clark Street, 21st Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60654, Tel: 312.988.6738). Since 1911, Southwestern has served the public as a nonprofit, nonsectarian educational institution. Southwestern does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, or prior military service in connection with admission to the school, or in the administration of any of its educational, employment, financial aid, scholarship or student activity programs. Non-discrimination has been the policy of Southwestern since its founding.