Zelda Harris: Community collaborator
Zelda Harris, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, focuses her scholarship on trial advocacy, domestic violence law, and child and family law. A Mary Ann G. McMorrow Professor of Law and director of the Dan K. Webb Center for Advocacy, Harris has also held a leadership role with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), where she provides advocacy training to young attorneys.
What do you like best about Loyola?
Loyola truly embraces its heritage, mission, and commitment to providing a broad community of students and professionals access to higher education. Using education as a tool in service to others rings particularly true at the School of Law. I am proud to be a part of an institution that continually strives and evaluates how to best meet its stated goals and aspirations.
What advice do you have for those who are considering law school?
There is no better time in modern history to attend law school than now. We are at the precipice of historical change in this country and around the world. Lawyers are in a unique position to set the pace for change through advocacy, problem solving, and civil public engagement and discourse. The challenges are great for future lawyers to guide our country forward using the rule of law to denounce racism and bias, to promote universal fairness among our many different constituencies, and to advance the benefits of inclusivity.
Last fall Loyola welcomed the most diverse first-year law class in the school’s history. What is the School of Law doing to nurture a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community?
The School of Law collaborates as a community to ensure we provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. We’re continually evaluating the culture and climate to eliminate racism and bias, and we’ve recently established a new core curriculum to address the professional and moral obligation of lawyers and law students. In addition, we are updating established protocol for addressing incidents of harm in our community. We are well situated in Chicago to promote and sponsor programs, seminars, conferences, and dialogue on issues of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital and socioeconomic status as they relate to the practice of law.
‘There is no better time in modern history to attend law school than now...Lawyers are in a unique position to set the pace for change through advocacy, problem solving, and civil public engagement and discourse.
Loyola was ranked 10th in the country in trial advocacy by U.S. News & World Report in March 2018. How does Loyola prepare students to become effective and ethical advocates?
Loyola’s comprehensive program and curriculum in advocacy prepares students for careers as trial attorneys, appellate advocates, and dispute resolution specialists. The national and international success of our students in moot court, mock trial, and dispute resolution competitions is supported by a strong foundation in our evidence, trial practice, advanced advocacy writing and dispute resolution courses. Many students are attracted to Loyola based this strength and by the chance to work alongside highly regarded and accomplished faculty, practitioners, and judges who volunteer tireless hours to train our students.
You have maintained a leadership role over the years with NITA. Why is continuing legal education important for lawyers?
The professional development programs sponsored by NITA are premier training workshops for attorneys seeking to hone and perfect their craft as advocates. It has been a privilege to be a member of the NITA faculty for the last twenty years. I have learned through my experiences training lawyers across our country and abroad that the tools of persuasion are universal, but the manner in which those tools are used is as varied and diverse as each individual advocate.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do most?
My family is most important. I enjoy all manner of adventure with my husband and two sons. We recently returned from a trip to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where we swam in the Indian Ocean, ate barbeque on Coco beach, and were amazed by the majesty of a lioness and her cubs in Mkumi Park.
*all stats for the 2017 incoming class.