David Lavine joined St. Francis School of Law as Dean in 2011, bringing with him valuable teaching experience and a broad exposure to a variety of litigation matters. Dean Lavine served in many different positions within the legal community including: as a federal prosecutor for the Department of Justice in the Criminal Division, as an Assistant US Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, and as a Judge Pro Tem in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dean Lavine has also taught various law courses at Hastings School of Law, Chapman University and JFK University School of Law. For a full bio, please visit the St. Francis Website.
Dean Lavine answered some questions to give us a little insight as to who he is as an attorney, an educator, and a person. Enjoy!
St. Francis (SF): What inspired you to go to law school?
Dean Lavine (DL): I wanted to become an advocate, to bring my persuasive skills to bear on the legal and policy conflicts of our time. I saw law school as a vehicle to refine and improve writing and oral advocacy skills.
SF: What was the most challenging part of law school and what was the best part?
DL: I liked the give-and-take of class discussions. It was not always easy when a new hypothetical changed the facts on the class just after we had reached a consensus on the solution to some burning legal problem, but it was stimulating to try to keep up. The most challenging part was keeping up with all of the assigned and recommended reading, case briefing and outlining.
SF: If you could do it all again, would you do anything differently?
DL: It was difficult during the first year of law school to know whether all of the long and hard study was productive while I was doing it. In hindsight, I would have sought out more wisdom on how to work smartly — that is, to come to terms relatively quickly with the essential facts and holding of a case, add it to an outline in progress, and move on to the next one. Dwelling on the sometimes-interesting but non-essential details of a case simply slowed down the whole endeavor. I could have been a more efficient case reader and analyzer.
SF: Why did you want to start teaching law?
DL: To instigate stimulating legal discussion, to sharpen writing and oral advocacy technique, and to instill in a new generation of students the idea of legal practice as devoted service to clients and to the public at large.
SF: Why did you choose to work for St. Francis?
DL: I agreed with the founders’ fundamental belief that law schools generally were not doing a good enough job teaching students how to practice law, and that it was high time for a law school to make practical legal skills the cornerstone of legal curriculum and instruction.
SF: What makes St. Francis different from other schools at which you have taught?
DL: Its abiding faith in training future lawyers to perform legal skills, not simply to know what the law is.
SF: Is there any advice you would give to law school applicants or current students?
DL: To those contemplating applying: Consider hard whether being a legal practitioner is for you, or whether practical knowledge of the law will aid you in whatever non-legal career you have selected. To those already enrolled: study hard, but smartly, per the guidance I mention above. Efficient time management is key to successful legal studies, as it is later on to a successful legal career. And always remember that practicing law is a privilege and a noble service to one’s community.
SF: What do you enjoy doing when you are not litigating or teaching?
DL: Spending time with my twin toddlers or traveling to parts unknown.