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By Lori AthertonApril 14, 2016
Assistant Professor Kate Andrias, who has been described by one law student as a "quintessential example of the Michigan Difference," has been named the 2016 recipient of the L. Hart Wright Award for Teaching Excellence.
"This is the most exciting news I've received since joining the law faculty," Andrias said of the award, which is managed by the Law School Student Senate (LSSS) and voted on by students. "I'm delighted to have won the award."
An expert in the fields of constitutional law, labor law, and administrative law, Andrias joined the Law School in 2013. She previously served as special assistant and associate counsel to the President of the United States and as chief of staff of the White House Counsel's Office, where she focused on constitutional and administrative law issues and on domestic policy, including labor and immigration. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Andrias was an attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of Perkins Coie LLP, where she practiced in the political law and appellate litigation groups. She also clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Hon. Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Andrias said she loved her law classes and was to drawn to teaching because of the enjoyable experience she had as a law student. "I try to convey passion for the subjects I teach," Andrias said. "I want my students to engage with the doctrine and rules and to explore the best arguments on both sides of a case, but also to understand the policy implications—how law affects real people's lives."
Andrias's enthusiasm for her subjects resonated with 3L Megan Pierce, who took two of her classes. "Anyone who meets Professor Andrias can't miss her incredible passion for labor law and social justice and equality," Pierce said. "This passion, mixed with her wealth of experience, makes her an incredibly effective and inspiring professor in the classroom. She works hard to make sure her students understand and engage with the relevant material, and she also makes sure to place the law in its social context and reality."
What impressed 2L Hallam Stanton, who took Intro to Constitutional Law with Andrias last semester, was her willingness to stay behind after class to answer students' questions. "What made this experience special was her enthusiastic approach to discussing wider points of view not covered in class," Stanton said. "It was then that you would often gain wonderful insights into the Supreme Court, based on her own intimate knowledge of that world."
Outside the classroom, Andrias is equally engaged with students, according to Pierce. "Despite her incredibly busy schedule, she always has time to meet with students to talk about everything from class material to job searches to current events," she said. "Her efforts to get to know her students on a personal level are a quintessential example of the Michigan Difference."
"Not only was she an excellent professor, she also has been a great resource," added 2L Marika Rothfeld, who took Andrias's mini-seminar on law and social movements last fall. "She pushed me to apply for a specific job that I thought was beyond my reach, and then took the time to edit my cover letter multiple times and provide me with feedback. I ended up getting the job."
The L. Hart Wright Award is named after the Michigan Law professor who was both widely influential in the law and deeply revered by the students he taught. Andrias will receive the award next fall during the LSSS Faculty Wine and Cheese reception.
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