Five Questions


Five questions with Stephen R. Cook: 2010 Outstanding Professor of the Year

What made you decide to leave private practice and become a professor?
I was here at the school interviewing an expert witness for a messy personal injury case that our firm was handling. As I was leaving school, Mike Walsh, who was working in the Legal Clinic at the time, told me about a new Small Business Clinic that was going to be starting, as a part of the regular Legal Clinic. The interview process for the Director of the new Clinic had just begun, and I put my name in the hat. I had worked in the Legal Clinic all through law school and knew J. Dean Carro and Mike Walsh. My Clinic experience was the highpoint of my law school days. I interviewed for the new position and was fortunate to get the job, which was part-time at the start. The opportunity to build a Clinic from the ground up was very appealing to me. As time went on, the New Business Clinic was formed and grew. I took on additional Clinic and teaching responsibility and ultimately was made an assistant clinical professor of law.

What do you love most about teaching?
No one thing. I enjoy working with bright, motivated students. I learn as much from them as they do from me. I enjoy the confidence students put in me when they talk privately about problems. I get great satisfaction from being a small part of students’ lives and helping them gain the confidence to become good lawyers.

You are retiring from teaching and working in the Clinic full time. What will you miss the most?
Interactions with students. I am in awe of how bright, insightful and motivated our students are.

The Class of 2010 now has the fun task of studying for the Bar. What advice do you have for them?
Start early. The bar exam is ten miles wide and one inch deep. You can only succeed by starting early so that you can cover the great amount of information you need to know.

Your bowtie has become the signature of your appearance. Can you tell us the origin?
My mother dressed me in a bowtie when I was five. I never grew up.