Why I Love Teaching at St. John’s University School of Law

I have been teaching at St. John’s University School of Law as an adjunct professor since 1987. Adjunct law school professors teach part-time as opposed to full-time, and are typically lawyers who are brought in to lecture on their expertise.

The primary course I teach is Real Estate Finance, which covers regulation of the mortgage industry and the foreclosure process, including all of the new consumer protection laws, the impact of bankruptcy, and post foreclosure proceedings. I have also taught courses in Real Estate Drafting and Title Insurance:

  • The Real Estate Drafting course teaches students how to draft a contract for the purchase or sale of residential real estate, as well as how to conduct the closing.

  • The Title Insurance course consists of an in-depth analyses of the Title Insurance Policy and issues related thereto.

One of the things I find interesting about teaching in law school is the way students perceive their professors. Jokingly, I have commented that if I tell my students the sky is yellow, they will argue the point all day long. You could go outside and show them that the sky is gray or blue, but they will look you in the eye and respond, “It may not look yellow, but it must be; it says so in my notes!”

I enjoy teaching my students how to understand the pragmatism and politics of the real world as opposed to the theories they are taught in school.

For example: A “receiver” is a person appointed by the judge during a foreclosure to manage the property while the foreclosure proceeding is pending. When I teach my class on receivership, I always ask the students if they know what qualifications are necessary to be appointed as a receiver. Inevitably, the first student raises his hand and answers, “A knowledge of real estate law.” I respond that the answer is incorrect, and another student raises their hand and answers “A knowledge of real estate management,” and again I respond that the answer is incorrect.

Finally they ask me, “What does one have to know to become a receiver?”

I reply, “The judge… you have to know the judge!

I teach this so they will understand that when they don’t like what the receiver is doing, and they want to call the judge to complain, they understand how to handle the situation tactfully.

Lecturing and teaching require me to stay current on recent cases and the newest changes in the law. Students ask questions and expect accurate and informed answers. Their questions are interesting, challenging and “keep me on my toes” - and that’s what I love most about teaching law.

Have you ever considered becoming an adjunct professor?