She’s a Nationally Recognized Law Professor & the First Full-Time Female Dean at Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas Meet Dean & Distinguished Professor of Law Theresa Beiner
Q: Why did you decide to attend law school?
TB: I wanted to be a lawyer since I was in 5th grade. I was very interested in fairness and justice and thought lawyers had a significant role in making the world more just.
Q: When did you realize you would rather teach instead of practice at a law firm?
TB: I had been juggling the practice of law and my family -- in particular my young daughter. I had very little time with my child due to the lack of flexibility in my job. When I was in my last year of law school, one of my professors told me that I would make a good law professor and that it was a great career choice for someone interested in having a family. This conversation came back to me during this time, and I decided to try to find a job in academia.
Q: You were appointed as the first permanent female dean in 2018. Can you share with us what this meant to you?
TB: I see it as an opportunity to challenge myself and be a role model not only for my students, but also other female faculty members. As a feminist legal scholar, it was nice to have this “first,” although there’s a part of me that wishes that it hadn’t taken so long for a woman to be appointed a permanent dean.
Q: Which courses of law do you teach at the William H. Bowen School of Law?
TB: Right now, I teach Civil Procedure I and II. When I’m not the Dean, I also teach Constitutional Law and Federal Jurisdiction.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your career as a Professor of Law?
TB: I enjoy teaching and interacting with students. It’s really rewarding to see those lightbulbs go off when students grasp a very difficult concept. I also enjoy exploring different legal issues and ideas through my scholarly work. I’ve continued to write even after my appointment as Dean.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
TB: It’s important to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
TB: There are many women who inspire me, but if I had to choose one at this moment it would be Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Her story of growing up under difficult circumstances and eventually being appointed to the United States Supreme Court is amazing. Her decision making on the Court reflects her background in a way that benefits many Americans.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
TB: I think most women continue to have the primary responsibility for children and home life. Yet, in spite of the prevalence of women in the workplace, few workplaces have attempted to rethink how they do business to reflect the lives of women workers. It would also help if these gender roles were broken down so that women shouldered less of the burden at home.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career as an Attorney?
TB: Do it! Being an attorney provides you with incredible knowledge and critical thinking skills. You have the ability to problem solve and help others in a way that can be truly gratifying.
Q: What's your advice for women in male-dominated fields?
TB: Hang in there and push for change where it’s necessary to make your field more accessible to women. When you get to a position of authority in a workplace, use it for the good of other women who come behind you.
Four Things About Dean Theresa Beiner
1. Favorite city and why?
New York City. I grew up in the suburbs outside New York. I love the museums, theater, culture, diversity, and food you can find in New York. It’s an amazing city.
2. What was your first job?
I was a waitress at a burger and milk shake type restaurant.
3. Who is your favorite Author?
4. Favorite dessert?