‘What the Best Law Teachers Do’ profiles Cooley professors


The book “What the Best Law Teachers Do” by Harvard University Press profiles the 26 “best law teachers” in the U.S. Photo via hup.harvard.edu

Thomas M. Cooley Law School is the only law school in the country with two of its faculty members included in the recently published book “What the Best Law Teachers Do” by Harvard University Press.

Associate Dean Nelson Miller and professor Phillip J. Prygoski are included in the book’s list of the 26 “best law teachers” in the U.S.

Four-year study

The book is the culmination of a four-year study that sought to identify extraordinary law teachers.

The study details the attributes and practices of professors who have a significant, positive and long-term impact on their students.

“It comes as no surprise that Cooley has two professors listed as the best in their profession,” said Cooley Law School Associate Dean of Faculty Charles Cercone. “Cooley has strived to bring only the best practitioners into the rank of the school’s professors. We are honored to have both Phil and Nelson on our team.”

Classroom observation

As part of the research for the book, the authors visited each of their 26 subjects at their respective law schools, so they could observe classroom behavior and conduct lengthy interviews with professors, deans, colleagues, students and alumni.

Each chapter in “What the Best Law Teachers Do” focuses on a theme common to all of the outstanding law teachers: how they relate to students, prepare for class, teach, provide feedback and assess their students’ learning, what they expect of their students and the personal qualities they share.


Prygoski is credited in the book as being passionate and told the authors, “I think a big part of motivation . . . is the passion for the subject . . . and if they see that you’re passionate — you’re jacked up about it and that you care — they’re going to buy into it.”

The book was authored by professor Gerry Hess, of Gonzaga University School of Law, professor Sophie Sparrow, of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, and Michael Hunter Schwartz, dean and professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. 

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