Texas Tech University

Susan Fortney

2010 Texas Tech Integrated Scholar

Interim Dean; Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Law; School of Law

Susan FortneyPart of what I try to do is help students see that regardless of what you do with your legal education, you can make a difference. In my teaching, I try not to just use examples of people making lots of money at big law firms, but that I refer to the work that I did when I was a law student working in a clinic or when I was in the public sector working in the securities and exchange commission. I use those different examples in my teaching.
- Susan Fortney

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What is your research objective/interest(s)?

Generally speaking, my research and scholarly endeavors relate to legal ethics and malpractice. Specifically, I conduct empirical studies on law firm ethics, culture, systems, and governance structures.

How do you feel your research impacts the globe?

Worldwide lawyers represent individual and entity clients. Through my research, I strive to assist lawyers in improving the ethical delivery of quality legal services.

Where do you get your inspiration?

For my teaching and research, my students and colleagues provide inspiration. For my service, I am inspired by other public servants and the individuals we serve.

What type(s) of service projects do you enjoy doing?

I thoroughly enjoy working on the macro-organizational level with governing bodies and boards. I find it particularly worthwhile to perform interdisciplinary work and connect individuals from different disciplines. For example, the work that I do with the Health Care and Bioethics Mediation clinic provides conflict resolution training to health care professionals and free mediation services to community members. On an individual level, I find real joy in serving individuals such as pro bono clients.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on numerous projects. The following projects are a few involving the intersection of service, scholarship, and teaching:

  • My main research project relates to studying ethical conduct in law firms. I am a member of the U.S. research team that is conducting an empirical study on the ethical infrastructure of large law firms. We are collaborating with teams in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • I am also working with the Legal Services Commission in Australia and a professor at University of Melbourne. We are writing an article based on data obtained from surveys conducted by the Legal Services Commission. This article will focus on ethics, billing, and cultures in law firms.
  • I also serve as a member of the State Bar of Texas Disciplinary Rules Committee. This committee is involved in the drafting of proposed ethics rules for Texas lawyers.

What advice do you have for new faculty members on balancing the components of an integrated scholar into their careers (academics, research, and service)?

First, I suggest that the scholar identify topics of genuine interest to them. Opportunities for service, teaching, and research evolve when the scholar pursues topics with zeal. One way to strive for balance is do not treat the areas as distinct, but interrelated. For example, professors should attempt to expand oral presentations to articles or essays. One should also be careful about overextending and assuming responsibilities in too many different areas. If one's service, teaching, and research are related, balance is less of a concern.

Scholar Background

  • Originally from El Paso, Texas
  • B.A., Trinity University
  • J.D., Antioch Law School
  • LL.M., Columbia University School of Law
  • J.S.D., Columbia University School of Law


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