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Prof. Nancy Vettorello Wins L. Hart Wright Award

Legal Practice Prof. Nancy Vettorello Named L. Hart Wright Award Recipient

By Lori Atherton
April 11, 2013

Before the Law School Student Senate officially notified Clinical Assistant Prof. Nancy Vettorello, '97, that she was the new L. Hart Wright Award recipient, the proverbial cat was out of the bag. That's because congratulatory messages from students had already been flooding the legal practice professor's inbox.

"I'm equal parts thrilled, honored, and touched," Prof. Vettorello said of winning the award, which recognizes teaching excellence. "I'm very grateful that students pulled together to nominate me."

Indeed, it was a group effort from students that ensured Prof. Vettorello's win. Though she was in the running for last year's L. Hart Wright Award, students ultimately chose Prof. Nick Bagley as the recipient. So when the contest was announced this year, Prof. Vetterello's former and current students banded together with senior judges (teaching assistants) in a campaign to honor their well-respected teacher.

"The reason students got together to help Prof. Vettorello win this award is simple: we wanted to give a little something back as a thank you for all that she has given to us," said 2L Devon Holstad, who took Prof. Vettorello's class as a 1L and is serving as a senior judge this year. "To her students, she is more than a professor. She is a mentor, role model, and friend. Her passion and care for students embodies the spirit of Michigan Law and is the gold standard of how a professor can play an instrumental role in the lives of students."

Added 2L Christopher Hanson: "She's fun, down-to-earth, and someone that I've been able to talk to since walking through the door. She's effective, and works with each student to bring out the best in them."

Students cited Prof. Vettorello's approachability, warmth, kindness, ability to teach in an individualized way, and constructive and positive feedback about their legal writing as reasons for nominating her for the award, which is named after the beloved former longtime faculty member L. Hart Wright. This is the first year a legal practice professor has won the award.

Prof. Vettorello, who has been teaching legal analysis and writing since 2001, said she strives to foster a collaborative relationship with her students, one that is dependent upon giving and receiving constructive feedback and asking smart questions. "I treat my students as if they are young attorneys," she said. "I strive to teach the students to do a lot of their analysis up front. That, with lots of time spent on revision, equals better writing." Her goal, she said, is for students "to learn how to be good at critiquing their own work and to approach it with a professional attitude."

Prof. Vettorello's teaching style is among the many attributes that 1L Kate Aufses appreciates about her professor. "She puts a lot of work into making her assignments clear and understandable," Aufses said, "and gives us feedback, including line-by-line edits, on everything we do. She genuinely cares about making us learn substantively. Plus, she's a wonderful person—someone we all admire and want to hang out with. We're thrilled that she won."

Prof. Vettorello will be presented with the L. Hart Wright Award at next fall's faculty wine and cheese reception.

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