The Charleston School of Law recently sat down with Professor Bill Janssen to talk about his passion for teaching the law and his latest research. Professor Janssen teaches Civil Procedure, Torts, Food and Drug Law and First Amendment Law (Religion Clauses) at Charleston School of Law.
How did you get to Charleston School of Law?
Professor Janssen: I was looking for a law school where the classroom experience was valued; where it wasn’t just how many law review articles can you pump out in the calendar year. This law school was the only school I interviewed with that pitched that classroom experience value to me. I didn’t think this kind of a law school existed. So, I came down and met the faculty and fell in love with it. As meaningful as my career was practicing law, working to influence the lives of law students is so tremendously fulfilling.
If you could only teach one class, what would it be?
Professor Janssen: Civil Procedure.
Professor Janssen: Because it’s the beginning of the journey. Everything builds off the first year. If you can excite students about the law in their 1L year, it can really make a difference in how they progress. It’s the page turner. Now, the upper level courses are tremendously rewarding too. But the moment where you can be inspirational at a time when students are still assessing their career choices is formative.
What current research are you working on now?
Professor Janssen: There are a couple of interesting developments in the law attorney-client privilege that are happening right now, including one just argued at the United States Supreme Court. The question is how highly do we value the attorney-client privilege and why? How aggressively are we prepared to be to protect that? I’m in the process of writing about those issues.
When you’re looking at starting a research project, where do you look to generate subjects?
Professor Janssen: The most recurring source for me is every year’s work on my civil procedure handbook. I’m also a member of an institute on food and drug law. Every year I write a paper discussing a development in that discipline. I usually find myself tripping across some judge doing something innovative. I’m always keeping my ear to the ground.
Who mentored or influence your teaching style?
Professor Janssen: I think there are a lot of them, and they all had attributes that I’ve tried to model. I had a great college education with teachers who were top notch. What stood out to me were the teachers that were just electric in the classroom. They were excited. It goes beyond just teaching X’s and O’s. I think there are a lot of people capable of imparting knowledge. The challenge is motivating the listener (student). The easiest path to do so, I think, is if the messenger is excited about the topic. It’s infectious.
What are your passions beyond the law?
Professor Janssen: I love to read. I love music. I love all sports.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Professor Janssen: I’m sort of a traditional rock guy. Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen. Elton John. Fleetwood Mac.
What was the last non-fiction book you read that you really enjoyed?
Professor Janssen: Walter Isaacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin. I thought that book was remarkable. Franklin is the patron saint for Philadelphia, my hometown and it’s amazing how much I didn’t know about him. Isaacson is a gorgeous writer. Beautiful writer.
Professor Bill Janssen
Links and Resources
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