Inspiring Ideas: College of Law
Innovative teaching. Encouraging demeanor. A passion for the subject. Contagious enthusiasm. All of these traits help inspire students to great ideas. Here are two faculty members from the College of Law whose teaching, research, and community service are both inspired and inspiring.
Childs, who came to UT in 2011 to be an associate professor of law and the college’s associate dean for library and technology services, got his first taste of the law working as a police officer in Alabama.
The experience wasn’t what he imagined, but it did spark his desire to go to law school.
He thought he’d be a public defender, but clinical experience showed him that civil law was a better fit. After getting his law degree, he worked in legal aid for seven years before going back to graduate school to study information science.
Doug Blaze, dean of the College of Law, said Childs “has brought a great culture of service and innovative approaches to access to information as leader of our law library.”
Childs said it’s challenging to keep the law library reliable and relevant for students, faculty, and local lawyers, as well as residents attempting their own legal research.
Law librarians—like other librarians—struggle to decide what materials should be accessed electronically and what books should be kept. Money and space often force them to choose.
“It’s really hard for us, as librarians, to say, ‘We don’t need that book anymore’ when the only other access to that information might be a digital product from a remote Internet server based on a transient annual license,” he said.
He predicts that law libraries, traditionally very protective of their own holdings, will have to increase resource sharing.
Childs believes that teaching legal research skills is one of the most important things law librarians do.
Before coming to UT, Childs worked in the law libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Louisiana State University, and Cornell Law School.
It’s a thought Hess tries to live by.
“I want the world to be a better place when I leave than when I came. I also want the law to be better. And I try to instill that in my students,” said Hess, a Distinguished Service Professor and the Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis and Williford Gragg Distinguished Professor of Law.
Blaze said Hess “has devoted her career to the best teaching, service to the legal profession, and most of all to scholarship.”
Hess specializes in trusts and estates, property, and taxation. Since 1994, Hess has authored updates to one of the nation’s leading treatises on trust law, The Law of Trusts and Trustees. Each year, she prepares updates to eighteen of the twenty-three volumes. In addition, she has rewritten four volumes.
If you think it sounds dull, Hess might just change your mind.
It’s an aspect of the law that allows her to do two things she loves—help people by solving problems and “play with words” through voluminous writing.
“I think if you like what you’re doing it rubs off,” she said, proud that she’s heard multiple students say “I thought I was going to hate your course, but I loved it.”
Hess came to UT in 1981. Before that, she practiced law in New York City and Virginia.
Her articles on federal taxation have appeared in the Tennessee Law Review; the Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal; and the Tax Lawyer. She also is the co-author of a casebook on the law of trusts and estates.
In addition to her academic activities, Hess occasionally serves as an expert witness on matters involving estates and trusts law.
C O N T A C T :
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)