Meet Our Faculty & Staff
Associate Professor of Law
Director, S.J.D. Program
Lia Epperson is the Director of the S.J.D. Program and an Associate Professor at WCL, teaching Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory, and Education Law. Prior to joining the law faculty at American, she was a faculty member at Santa Clara University, and served as a visiting professor at the University of Maryland and has also served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Professor Epperson’s research interests are informed by her experiences litigating education cases throughout the country, and lobbying for the maintenance and enforcement of civil rights protections. Prior to entering academia, she served as the Director of Education Litigation and Policy for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she litigated in federal and state courts, advocated for federal reforms and authored multiple amicus briefs to the Supreme Court. Prior to her time at the Legal Defense Fund, she worked as an attorney with Morrison & Foerster, and clerked for the Honorable Timothy Lewis on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Professor Epperson received her B.A. in sociology, magna cum laude, from Harvard University. She received her law degree from Stanford University, where she served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review as well as the Stanford Law and Policy Review.
Interim Director, S.J.D. Program
Assistant Professor of Law
Benjamin Leff teaches courses on U.S. federal tax law and the law of charitable and non-profit organizations. His scholarship focuses on nonprofits and other social enterprises, especially as those organizations are regulated by US federal tax law. He has written about political campaign activities by charities, federal regulation of nonprofit boards of directors, and compensation of nonprofit managers.” Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Leff was a visiting assistant professor at Harvard Law School, practiced tax law in Austin Texas, and clerked in Federal District Court. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, holds an M.A. in religious studies from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Oberlin College.
Amy L. Tenney
Associate Director, Program on Law & Government
Adjunct Associate Professor of Law
Amy Tenney is the Associate Director of the Program on Law & Government and a member of the adjunct faculty. She directs the daily operations of the Program, including the LLM in Law & Government and the SJD Program. She previously was a Partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block LLP, where she was a member of the Government Contracts and White Collar Defense & Investigations practice groups. Before joining Jenner & Block she clerked for Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and Judge Frank M. Coffin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. She also previously served as Chief Aide to then-ACLU President Nadine Strossen and worked for U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney. Professor Tenney was the 2004 Recipient of the Albert E. Jenner Pro Bono Award for her work on behalf of death penalty inmate Kevin Wiggins in both the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the Court set new ground rules for effective legal representation in death penalty cases, and in his re-sentencing proceedings. Her community involvement includes serving on the Advisory Board of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship. She received a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from New York Law School, where she was a Snow Scholar and the Supervising Editor of the New York Law School Law Review, and a Bachelor of Arts with High Honors in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland.
Hilary T. Lappin
Assistant Director of Admissions and Special Projects, Program on Law & Government
Hilary Lappin is the Assistant Director of Admissions and Special Projects at American University Washington College of Law's Program on Law & Government where she works with all LLM and SJD applicants through the admissions process and serves as newly admitted students main point of contact. In addition to working with admissions, Hilary works with new programming initiatives including the Summer Institute on Law & Government and marketing and outreach efforts. Hilary joined American University in 2002 and has been with the Program on Law & Government since 2009. Previously, she worked for the Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement, served as the Academic Advisor for American University’s Washington Semester and the Washington Internships for Native Students Programs, and more recently was the International Exchange and J-1 Visa Coordinator for the Washington College of Law. She completed her BA in International Politics from the Catholic University of America. She studied at the University of Leuven in Belgium while working in the European Parliament and through Leeds University while working in the British Parliament. She has her MA in International Politics from American University’s School of International Service and a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from American University’s School of Public Affairs.
Staff Assistant, Program on Law & Government
Diana Sawyer is the Staff Assistant for the Program on Law & Government. She previously worked for Senator Blanche Lincoln and Representative Vic Snyder. Mrs. Sawyer earned a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas in Political Science and International Relations with minors in Spanish and European Studies.