Clinic director Lisa Brodoff earns 2019 Great Teacher Award

October 11, 2018

Lisa Brodoff and studentProfessor Lisa Brodoff earned her law degree 38 years ago, and she's been teaching at Seattle University School of Law for more than 20 years. But recently, for an entire academic year, she went back to school as a law student, auditing a legal writing class taught by Professor Mary Bowman.

Motivated by her desire to grow and learn as a teacher, Brodoff took the class to better understand how professors in the Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, which she directs, can better collaborate with legal writing faculty in ways that help students.

This commitment to excellence is just one of many reasons why the Society of American Law Teachers named Brodoff as a recipient of its 2019 Great Teacher Award.

"The selection committee was overwhelmed by the impact you have had on your colleagues and students, and the sense of community your teaching and engagement has created," SALT leaders wrote to Brodoff in announcing the award.

Professor Richard Klein at Touro Law Center in Suffolk County, New York, will also receive the award.

SALT will honor Brodoff and other award recipients at its annual celebration, to be held Jan. 4 at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law.

"I am so honored and humbled by the nomination from my beloved colleagues and by receiving this honor from SALT," she said. "Working as a team on teaching social justice has been my life's work — the team is what makes it so fun, gratifying, and effective. Our Seattle University teaching team is simply the best."

Brodoff joined the faculty of Seattle U Law in 1997 after serving as chief review judge in the Office of Appeals for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services and chief administrative law judge for the Office of Administrative Hearings. Her areas of expertise include the rights of sexual minorities, people with disabilities, the elderly, and public assistance beneficiaries, as well as clinical law teaching theory.

She was instrumental in creating the law school's unique integrated skills curriculum, which encourages co-teaching and collaboration among doctrinal faculty, practical skills teachers, and law librarians.

Davida Finger '02, a former student who now teaches clinical skills at Loyola University New Orleans, remembers Brodoff as "available, patient, and endlessly enthusiastic about teaching law students."

Finger admired her kindness, her clarity, and her dedication to social justice. "Her approach to teaching the practice of law requires students to consider justice through every decision and interaction," she said.

Professor Sara Rankin said these same qualities make Brodoff invaluable as a colleague. "She demonstrates genuine curiosity and excitement in what others are doing, which in turn makes others believe they are capable of doing more than they initially believed," she said.

"The fact that Lisa is still willing to learn and grow as an educator is exactly why she so deserves this honor," said Dean Annette Clark '89. "She enriches the lives of her students and her colleagues with her passion and commitment."