UMB > Founders Week > Awards > 2013 Awards > Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year

Paula Monopoli, JD

Paula Monopoli, JD

Paula Monopoli, JD
Francis King Carey School of Law, Professor of Law
Founding Director, Women Leadership & Equality Program

Being a professor of law at the Francis King Carey School of Law, teaching courses, mentoring students, and being the founding director of the School’s Women Leadership & Equality Program would be enough for most people.

But Paula Monopoli isn’t most people. So she also holds workshops and symposia, writes books, conducts brown bag lunches, invites prospective students to sit in on classes, supervises independent research projects, and is thesis supervisor for more than 10 students each year.

“We teach students to make sophisticated doctrinal and policy arguments on behalf of their clients,” says Monopoli. “That ability is necessary but not sufficient for them to become successful lawyers. My students also need to stay in the workplace long enough to actually deploy that skill. In order to do so, they need to understand organizational behavior and the ways in which the legal workplaces they will inhabit actually work. They need to know how to determine who holds informal power as well as formal power and how to ask for what they need to not only survive but thrive in their careers.”

So she asks a lot of her students — to develop rigorous analytical skills in her Property, Estates and Trusts course, for instance. But the students get a lot in return.

“Though the study of law is rooted in tradition and resistant to change, Professor Monopoli is a true pioneer in the classroom,” says Andrew Ahye, MS, a JD ’14 candidate.She challenges students to not only learn but apply abstract constructs. In addition, Professor Monopoli makes an unmistakable investment in each student. I recall an in-class exercise she assigned in a first-year property course that had 80 students. All received individualized, written feedback and were invited to sign up for individual, 30-minute consultations. I have not encountered a faculty member who has openly placed such a premium on the success of the student.”

Monopoli’s colleagues also have taken note. “Professor Monopoli likely is the most available member of the School’s faculty and spends untold hours advising students on their professional development, assisting them in securing critical externships, guiding them through the academic publishing process, and ensuring their participation in important academic conferences,” says adjunct professor Maura DeMouy, JD. “I also have experienced first-hand her unfailing generosity and professional wisdom.”

Maryland Carey Law professor Kathleen Hoke, JD, saysPaula has been a mentor to me for 11 years and yet she has always made me feel her equal.  That someone as accomplished as Paula can do that demonstrates her character.” Citing Monopoli’s “unassuming yet powerful demeanor,” Hoke calls her “a true professional and a superb leader.”

Monopoli’s leadership skills have been on display since 2003 when, with a $250,000 grant from the Marjorie Cook Foundation, she launched the Women Leadership & Equality Program—the first in an American law school to prepare women law students to overcome gender barriers that limit their success and equality in the profession. Ten years later, the program is flourishing.

“We're still the only law school in the country to have embedded such courses in our curriculum,” Monopoli says proudly. “After completing the two-course sequence, our students are well-versed in the theory and empirical studies that explain the slow advancement of women to leadership in the profession and in society as a whole. In addition, they've developed concrete skills to overcome those barriers and create collective change for all women.”

From 2008 to 2012 Monopoli directed the scholarship and curriculum component of the $1.6 million LEAD: Leadership, Ethics, and Democracy grant from the Fetzer Institute. The book that resulted “was a satisfying conclusion to those three years of discussions about whether and how leadership studies should be integrated into the American law school curriculum.”

The author/editor of three books and numerous articles, Monopoli takes special pride in one that was published in the Yale Law Journal. “I was very excited to be invited to present my work at the Yale Law School symposium on executive power,” says Monopoli. “It gave me a chance to be on a panel and share thoughts with Elena Kagan — the dean at Harvard law school and now U.S. Supreme Court justice. Publishing in the Yale Law Journal also gave me the widest possible audience for my work on gender and constitutional design.”

A mother of four (including triplets) and married to Marin Scordato, JD, associate dean at Catholic University's law school, Monopoli is a cum laude graduate of Yale College and the University of Virginia School of Law and an elected member of the American Law Institute. She held the Marbury Research Professorship from 2008 to 2011 and has received the law school’s Faculty Member of the Year award several times, most recently in May 2013.

“Whether she knows it or not, Paula’s work touches the lives of many in the UMB community,” says Megan Griest, program manager at the Carey School of Law. “And we are better people, educators, and students because of it.”