It’s not every day that a professor is held up as an example of national excellence, but a new book on best practices in the teaching of law has turned an eye to UMKC. Professor Nancy Levit is one of 26 law professors profiled in “What the Best Law Teachers Do,’” forthcoming from Harvard University Press.
In the book by Michael Hunter Schwartz, Gerald Hess and Sophie Sparrow, the authors provide insights, attributes, and practices of exceptional law professors who positively impact their students. Levit was selected out of more than 150 nominees nationwide.
“The teachers who are profiled in the book work at law schools that represent the full spectrum of U.S. News and World Report law school rankings, yet the core of who they are and what they do is quite similar,” said Hess.
Levit has been voted by UMKC Law students as Outstanding Professor of the Year four times and has received the Elmer P. Pierson Faculty Teaching award three times, demonstrating how highly regarded she is by her students and colleagues. In 2012 she received the Missouri Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Her inclusion in the book is yet another extension of how well her work and her service have been received.
“Like nearly every profession and all forms of higher education, legal education has plenty of room for improvement,” said Sparrow. “But legal education also includes these 26 teachers and plenty of others like them who are inspiring role models to their students, who consciously and carefully prepare their students to practice law, who devote themselves to helping their students grow as people and as future lawyers, and who mentor their students, helping them find jobs and make career choices, even long after the students have graduated.”
As with the other included professors, Levit’s work outside the classroom is equal to her work in front of it. With her students, she has combined high expectations and rigor with kindness and respect—traits that have helped to create confident, high-performing legal scholars. She has also published seven books as well as more than fifty other articles and book chapters that have been cited in hundreds of scholarly publications around the country. She is ranked first among female law professors in the nation in Social Science Research Network’s Top 1,500 Law Professors in terms of article downloads. It’s no wonder the authors chose Levit as one of the law professors to profile as part of their study.
“Nancy Levit is the quintessential law professor. She is a great teacher and scholar and an outstanding contributor to our law school. When she is recognized, as is often the case, she generally tries to push the accolades off to her colleagues. But this distinct honor – being recognized as one of the best law teachers in the country – is hers alone, and it is extraordinarily well deserved,” said Ellen Suni, dean of the UMKC School of Law.