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Faculty Spotlight: Martha Pagliari

Martha Pagliari has dedicated over 15 years to DePaul Law’s Legal Analysis Research & Communication (LARC) Program, serving as the program’s director for the past six years. She also has served as faculty advisor to the moot court and national trial teams, which have seen increased successes under her leadership.  In Fall 2022, she begins her new role as assistant dean of the law school’s Experiential Learning Program, and her experience as LARC director has prepared her well for this next chapter.

As LARC director, Professor Pagliari viewed legal writing holistically and implemented several new initiatives to improve the student experience.  Working collaboratively with LARC faculty, the first-year curriculum was revised in a number of ways.  For example, LARC now introduces the issue of cultural competency for lawyers to help students better understand how different cultures might respond, so they can more effectively represent them.  As she explains, “If you don't approach clients the right way, you might not get the right answers.” The required third semester course, LARC III, continues to teach the core appellate brief writing skills, but it now also includes an introduction to transactional document drafting, as more DePaul graduates work on these types of documents in their law practices. 

The most significant program modification was the development of specialized LARC sections for all first-year students, which includes sections in business law, health law, family law, intellectual property law, litigation and public interest law. These specialty sections allow first-year students to gain some substantive knowledge of a particular area of law, while also gaining core writing skills and creating communities of students with shared interests.

Another change was moving the LARC III course to the Fall semester, which allows for a specialized moot court section where team members gain additional advocacy skills prior to the start of the competition season.  This section, along with other changes, resulted in better competition briefs and oral argument skills, as well as greater camaraderie among team members, which ultimately led to DePaul being ranked 58 in the 2021-2022 University of Houston Law Center Blakely Advocacy Institute Moot Court Program Rankings.  

Professor Pagliari further improved the Moot Court Team experience by creating a Moot Court Alumni Board, a unique collaboration between current and former moot court team members. Alumni coaches now advise and mentor current team members on the importance of the competitions and how best to prepare for them. She also works with the head National Trial Team coach, Theo Thomas (JD ‘08), who shares her passion for advocacy and competition.  

As she comes on board as the new experiential learning dean, Professor Pagliari has nothing but praise for her predecessor, Professor Julie Lawton, who “had a strong vision and left everything in great shape.” She looks forward to building on Professor Lawton’s many achievements by identifying additional synergies between the law school’s Programs of Excellence, clinics, externships, trial advocacy and skills programs.  She also plans to continue highlighting the law school’s unique experiential learning programs, such as the Third Year in Practice (3YP), which provides qualifying students with a unique third-year experience engaging in all aspects of the practice of law, as well as Litigation Lab, where practicing lawyers consult with current students to prepare actual cases. 

While Professor Pagliari plans to use her first year as assistant dean to get a better view of the landscape, she is confident that the Experiential Learning Program and the myriad opportunities it provides DePaul’s law students will only continue to grow and improve.