Lindsey Simon, an assistant professor in the School of Law, teaches courses that require students to think critically about the subject matter in the context of advising real clients.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, a Master of Education degree from the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. I am currently an assistant professor at the UGA School of Law, where I teach commercial law subjects such as bankruptcy and secured transactions.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA as a visiting professor in spring 2018 and became a full-time member of the faculty in fall 2018. I was thrilled to come to UGA for three main reasons. First, I was drawn to the exceptionally strong faculty at the law school. My scholarship benefited from a number of UGA law professors long before I arrived here as a professor, and I could not imagine a better group of scholars to be my colleagues. Second, I was impressed with the law school’s students and alumni. During my time in private practice, I encountered many excellent attorneys who graduated from UGA Law, and I knew that it would be a privilege to work with current and future law students to continue that tradition. Finally, I appreciated the opportunity that UGA presented for me to continue to develop and leverage my professional network of attorneys and judges in Georgia. These relationships improve my scholarship and allow me to help connect UGA students as they pursue their careers.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I’m partial to all of my courses, but I particularly enjoy teaching “Bankruptcy Practice Seminar.” The class is offered to second- and third-year students, and it explores the lifecycle of a Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy. In each class we learn about the relevant rules and practices for a specific phase of a bankruptcy case, then we work through mock exercises from the perspective of various stakeholders (such as the debtor, creditors, the U.S. Trustee and the judge). By the end of the semester, students have assumed the role of lawyers in client pitches, negotiations, depositions, board meetings and court hearings. It is my favorite course because I get to see students develop their practical skills and think deeply about the strategy behind complex bankruptcy cases.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
So far, I am most proud of placing two articles in law journals during my first year, more than doubling the number of students at the law school who are interested in pursuing bankruptcy clerkships or careers, becoming faculty advisor to the Hispanic Law Student Association, and earning a grant from the law school’s Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in the Legal Profession to improve the pipeline of Hispanic law students and attorneys.
How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?
To those outside of my field, I would say that my scholarship highlights interesting structural and procedural nuances of the bankruptcy process, draws connections between bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy litigation, and identifies instances where existing bankruptcy law and procedure lead to unintended or inadequate results. Most people and companies will interact with bankruptcy at some point, whether it is firsthand or through business or personal relationships. The bankruptcy process is incredibly fascinating and has been designed to impose order and stability into an inherently unfair situation. However, many attorneys and academics do not understand how bankruptcy operates or how its structure fits within our legal system. My scholarship seeks to demystify what is commonly viewed as a complicated and boring topic, and show why the bankruptcy system has many lessons to share in other contexts.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
My scholarship inspires me to focus on the bankruptcy system’s structure and procedure while teaching my bankruptcy courses. It would be easy to dwell on the complexity of the Bankruptcy Code, but spending time drawing a broader picture of the bankruptcy system allows students to understand and analyze whether the Code serves its intended purpose. My experience teaching bankruptcy to law students—many of whom have only ever learned about business litigation in the civil context—reminds me how foreign and yet familiar the bankruptcy system is. I find myself inspired by the questions students ask about the process and comparisons they draw to material from other courses.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
Above all I hope that students leave my classroom with a more concrete understanding of what it means to practice law. My classes require students to think about the subject matter in the context of advising real clients, a skill that many junior attorneys have not practiced. While I certainly hope students will understand and master the doctrine, I most want them to learn to think critically about how to approach client issues and solve problems for their clients. I also hope that students gain a strong awareness of the impact that commercial law issues have on individuals and businesses. These topics are deeply embedded in the vast majority of modern business and consumer transactions, and are almost certain to come up in private practice. The Uniform Commercial Code, which we study in secured transactions, and the Bankruptcy Code, which we study in bankruptcy, are both highly technical and can easily ensnare unprepared attorneys. Students should leave my classes with a firm understanding that even small mistakes on these topics can have significant client consequences.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is profoundly curious; undaunted by the effort it takes to master new concepts, interested in learning from both professors and peers, energized by discovering how law impacts everyday life and—above all—kind.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is …
My favorite place on campus is my office in the law school. I love the energy that flows through the halls during the semester, enjoy having colleagues stop by for coffee and conversation and appreciate the opportunities I have to mentor students about their coursework and careers.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to …
My role at UGA requires me to spend many hours thinking, reading and writing, so when I recharge away from campus I tend to seek ways to be creative and active. Many of my favorite activities are carried forward from a previous phase in my life. For example, I like to play jazz music on my saxophone and take hip-hop dance classes, two things I’ve loved since I was young. I also enjoy tackling interior design and home improvement projects for friends and family, and planning and cooking meals for dinner parties. I push myself to try one completely new activity each year (even though the process is very humbling). This year I am learning to play tennis. Finally, I love exploring nearby places and sharing new experiences with my family. We like camping at local state parks, driving up to North Carolina to ski at Beech Mountain, and visiting different beaches along the Georgia, Florida and North/South Carolina coasts.
Community/civic involvement includes …
I am on the board of the Georgia Latino Law Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the diversity of the legal profession by developing the pipeline of Latinx law students and attorneys. I also serve as vice chair of the board of directors of the Georgia network of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation, an organization that promotes women in careers relating to bankruptcy and restructuring. Finally, I am a Girl Scout leader for a local troop of Brownie scouts.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
Right now I most enjoy revisiting books I loved as a child and experiencing their wonder through the eyes of my own children. Some current favorites include anything by Roald Dahl and the Harry Potter series. As for movies, I couldn’t possibly pick one. I have a very diverse list of favorites that satisfy different needs at different times. Some movies on my list include “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Three Amigos,” “Pretty Woman,” “Do the Right Thing,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Ocean’s Eleven,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Coming to America,” “Erin Brockovich,” “West Side Story,” “Legally Blonde,” “Repo Man” (secured transactions in the wild!), and “Inside Out.”
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
The swell of pride I felt walking around with my family at the law school’s homecoming barbecue during my first semester on the faculty. It was wonderful to see past, present and future members of the law school community come together in the spirit of the day and celebrate life and career victories. At that moment, I knew I had become a part of something very special.