Next up in our SHE Educates series is Professor Amy L. Moore. Professor Moore teaches at Belmont University College of Law in a wide variety of areas including administrative law and civil procedure. She also serves as the Director of Advocacy and runs the award-winning, competitive advocacy program which includes appellate advocacy, trial advocacy, and transactional work. Professor Moore has been teaching at the law school level for over ten years and researches in the area of how process affects rights in a variety of contexts.
Name: Amy Moore
Company: Belmont University College of Law
Who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
I am a full professor of law and the director of advocacy. I always say that I’m from nowhere because I grew up with a parent in the military (Air Force pilot) and so I went to around twelve different schools before high school. I did go to high school in Texas and my parents were both born there so that’s probably the state I identify with most after Tennessee. At Belmont I teach several different law classes and also direct our competitive advocacy program. I see my role as someone who has information to share about the law or about advocacy and I want to work with my students so that they can have that same knowledge and usable skills that come with it. The administrative aspects of my job are harder, so for me the focus is on the students.I see my role as someone who has information to share about the law or about advocacy and I want to work with my students so that they can have that same knowledge and usable skills that come with it.
What inspired you to become a professor of law? What was your path there?
All my life I have wanted to teach. My mother was a career educator and through all of our moves I saw several varied ways that education could play out. When I was in high school I started competing in debate and extemporaneous speaking and immediately started mentoring the classes beneath me. I went to college at Harding University with an original plan to become certified to teach high school and coach debate. Midway through my political science program I took a class called “Administrative Law” and I fell in love with the subject material. The next year I started a free tutoring session/program for students that were in the class. My professor convinced me to take the LSAT saying that I could teach law theory. At the time he knew I was more interested in teaching English and political theory than statistics and the political science field was headed into statistics. I took him up on it and changed my trajectory to law school, but never gave up my dream of teaching. After law school and into law practice that professor had moved on to be a law professor at a school who needed more professors and he gave me a call and the rest is history.
What about your job brings you the most joy? What challenges you the most?
Without a doubt the thing about the job that brings me the most joy is the students. Being right there when someone “gets it” or watching someone’s progression from their first year to the last year is so incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. The nature of my profession is that students graduate and leave, but then I get new students, so I’m constantly creating a larger and larger base of these amazing people that I get to interact with and be friends with long after they have graduated. And even though some students are really challenging to me, the biggest challenge with my job is working within the confines of the administration. Things can get political very quickly and sometimes the bureaucracy of a big school can get in the way of doing real work with students. the biggest challenge with my job is working within the confines of the administration. Things can get political very quickly and sometimes the bureaucracy of a big school can get in the way of doing real work with students.
What obstacles have you faced, internal or societal, in your involvement in education and the legal field?
I have never had any obstacles to being involved in education as I feel I have been steeped in it from a young age. I went to a very conservative, evangelical undergraduate institution and there was certainly some push back to my decision, as a woman, to want to go to law school. Most of the political science majors there were male and the focus for women was on getting married right away. My advisor for my undergraduate thesis was very hostile to the concept of church and state which complicated that entire process for me. However, I had enormous support from my parents who really wanted me to go to law school and some key mentors who helped me navigate the process and find the right place for me.I went to a very conservative, evangelical undergraduate institution and there was certainly some push back to my decision, as a woman, to want to go to law school.
Law is a profession where continuing education is required, how do you feel this shapes your development both personally and professionally?
Because I’m not a practicing attorney (I’m listed as inactive where I am barred, in Illinois), I am not subject to the rules on continuing education. However, part of my job requirements are to produce scholarship and so I’m writing new law review articles every year which keeps me up to date on current legal theory. Also, as the main coach for our moot court teams I am researching approximately three new problems every year for the purposes of competition. In my view teaching reinforces scholarship and scholarship reinforces teaching which enrich both aspects of my job.
What advice would you give SHEs considering a career path or continuing their journey in education?
Approaching every aspect of your work with as much passion and verve as you can muster will sustain you on a longer journey.Focus on each step individually while keeping the eventual goal in mind. If you’re in law school currently, focus on doing the best you can in law school and in each individual class and on each individual exam. If you’re practicing law, look for enticing opportunities to write about what you love to build a base for your scholarly agenda as you try to break into education. Approaching every aspect of your work with as much passion and verve as you can muster will sustain you on a longer journey. And if you don’t love what you are doing, be looking for something else. You will find what’s right for you!