April 30, 2008
Nearly 14 years have passed since Andi Curcio turned down John Edwards' offer to join his North Carolina law firm so she could accept a teaching post at Georgia State University College of Law.
Curcio, who really enjoyed practicing with Edwards, told him she wanted to teach for a year to see if she liked it. If she didn't, she hoped he would leave the door to the firm open to her. As she says, “he graciously agreed.”
“I came into teaching and I loved it,” Curcio recalls. “It was like the glove that fit.”
Her students recently echoed that sentiment when they named Curcio the law school's 2007-2008 Professor of the Year.
“I was totally touched and honored,” said Curcio, who received the award at the annual Barristers Ball.
When Georgia State offered Curcio a position in 1994, she also had interviewed at other more-established law schools. She found Georgia State is where she wanted to be because she really liked the students and her new colleagues.
“This is a school where the expectation is that you will be excellent in the classroom, and that's not the expectation at a lot of schools,” said Curcio explained. “The professors expect each other to be really good teachers here. That was the culture in 1994 and we have continued that culture with all our new hires..”
Curcio, who teaches Civil Procedure, Evidence and co-directs the Externship program, finds that law students at Georgia State “really care about learning” and don't approach getting their education with any sense of entitlement.
”To get the award almost made me cry,” she said. “Teaching is the thing I care about the most because I want my students to go out and become good lawyers.
Curcio says she approaches teaching as a collaborative learning process, both for her students and herself.
“I feel like we're all involved in it together,” she explains. “I think with students who are this age saying you're a teacher may be kind of a misnomer because really what you're doing, if you're doing it right, is you're engaging the students. The students are almost self-taught learners, and really all I'm doing is helping them figure out the best way to learn the material. It's not like imparting the material from on high. It's a very mutual process. “
Recently, Curcio, along with fellow law professors Tanya Monique Washington and Gregory Jones, were named this year's recipients of Georgia State University's Instructional Effectiveness Award, to be awarded as part of the University's commencement ceremony on May 10. The award recognizes their collaborative, empirical work assessing the impact of practice exams and other factors on student essay exam performance in large classes. In the spring of 2006, Curcio gave her Civil Procedure students five required writing exercises and generalized feedback. The impact of those exercises upon students' legal and factual analysis was studied. The results of that study were recently published in the Journal of Legal Education and the Florida State University Law Journal.
Curcio has also written in the areas of tort reform (punitive damages), sexual violence and sexual harassment, and reforming the existing bar exam. She has served as a reporter for the Georgia Supreme Court Equality Commission when it examined how the Georgia justice system could improve its treatment of sexual violence victims.
Curcio is a board member for the Center for Justice and Democracy, a non-profit organization devoted to providing the public with accurate information about tort reform issues. She also chairs the Society of American Law Teachers' Bar Exam committee, a committee working to develop alternatives to the existing bar exam.
Curcio graduated with high honors from the University of North Carolina in 1988 and spent five years working with the North Carolina law firm of Beskind and Rudolf, and one year with the firm of Edwards and Kirby, the former law firm of John Edwards, who was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004 and was a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination