The Charleston School of Law recently sat down with Professor Jean Steadman to talk about her passion for teaching the law. Steadman teaches Contracts, Sales, Business Associations, Drafting Preliminary Agreements, Litigating a Transaction, and Practical International Business Transactions.
Charleston School of Law: Where did you grow up?
Professor Steadman: My dad was a Colonel in the Army, so we traveled all over the place. However, our home base became Washington, DC.
Charleston School of Law: What do you enjoy doing after work? Hobbies, passions?
Professor Steadman: I have a dog, Clementine. We are training for her to become a comfort dog at airports, hospitals, and schools.
I do not watch much TV; I only have streaming services. I spend most of my time listening to music. I am a big music person. I love 80’s music.
Charleston School of Law: What genre of music of the 80’s do you like to listen to?
I am a big British invasion fan. My most played Spotify songs are Squeeze, XTC, the Cure, Fine Young Cannibals, Roxy Music.
Charleston School of Law: What’s your favorite movie all-time?
Professor Steadman: Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Professor Steadman: My favorite meal is an Italian steak, the Florentine. In the United States, a prime rib is similar, but you can’t get a Florentine because the name itself means it has to come from Florence Italy.
Charleston School of Law: Do you have a sweet tooth?
Professor Steadman: I like candy, but I don’t really like chocolate. I will eat chocolate, but I gravitate more towards gummy bears and jellybeans.
Charleston School of Law: Tell me one thing about you that would surprise everybody?
Professor Steadman: I have driven a stick shift since 1984. Every car I have had until recently has been a stick. There is just something about a manual transition that just speaks to me.
When you live in Europe, all the cars are manual. When I came back to the U.S. in 2018, I looked for about two months for a manual transmission and it came down to two used Volkswagen cars. Today’s it is almost impossible to find a manual.
Charleston School of Law: After not driving for a while, were you grinding the clutch?
Professor Steadman: Not at all. It is like second nature. It all comes back to you in a second. Now my son says he is never going to have an automatic. He will have a tough time because they are hard to find.
Charleston School of Law: You practiced law in Italy for almost 20 years. How did you get from the States to Italy?
Professor Steadman: My husband was Italian. He lived in Italy his entire life. I met him when he was only in the US for a week. When we decided to get married, we played a game: I will send my CV to law firms in Italy and he would send his CV to agencies in the United States. Whoever gets the job first, moves. So, I got a job first and moved.
But after years of practicing, I reached the point where I was looking for something else. I knew I wanted to transition into teaching. There is something about when you walk into a classroom, it is an amazing feeling. You want your students to feel the same way, that it’s an awesome experience and you don’t want them just looking at the clock. I just knew immediately that this is where I belong.
Charleston School of Law: How has teaching full-time shaped the way you understand and teach the practice of law?
Professor Steadman: I’m the kind of person that can’t put things down. I cannot settle with good enough. I’m constantly trying to find that student in the room who hasn’t spoken and I want to figure out what resources are going to reach that person.
But the law is evolutionary too, especially commercial law. We get interesting things coming up all the time and I think that gives us an opportunity to bring real life issues into the classroom. I think that gives the students practical experience in seeing the law unfold in front of their eyes as opposed to just reading it in a case book. That makes teaching so fascinating.
Charleston School of Law: Where did your passion to practice law come from?
Professor Steadman: I was a social worker before I went to law school. I enjoyed the work, but I realized quickly that my impact on people’s lives was quite limited. I wanted to do something more substantive to improve the lives of others, and that was what drove me to law school.
I specifically worked with the mentally ill in the homeless shelters in the Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia. We had clients that were on the streets that were mentally ill that we’re not medicated, that we had a hard time getting them treated and medicated. As social workers we were getting as much done as the system would allow us to get these people in a stable housing situation, but within a week or two the meds would wear off and they’d be back on the street. It was just this awful cycle. Two of my clients died, and it was too much for me. I just felt like I was not making enough of a difference in people’s lives.
Professor Jean Steadman
Links and Resources
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