Dean Camille Nelson, center, with AUWCL Teaching and Service Award recipients, Professor Robert Dinerstein, Professor Elizabeth Earle Beske, Professor Jean Han, and Judge Carlos Acosta.

Four AUWCL Professors Recognized for Teaching, Service

October 30, 2018

Four outstanding professors at American University Washington College of Law were honored Tuesday, Oct. 30 as winners of the annual AUWCL Teaching and Service Awards. Recipients were recognized for their innovative teaching and service both in and outside of the classroom.

Excellence in Teaching Award: Professor Elizabeth Earle Beske

The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching, reflected by thoughtful pedagogy, commitment to student mentoring and advising, institutional leadership focused on improving the variety, quality, and rigor of teaching at the Washington College of Law.

Professor Elizabeth Earle Beske teaches classes on legal rhetoric, research and writing, and the federal courts.

Beske most recently published "Rethinking the Nonprecedential Opinion" (UCLA Law Review, June 2018) and will publish "Backdoor Balancing and the Consequences of Legal Change" in early 2019 (forthcoming, Washington Law Review).  In her work, she challenges the increasing phenomenon of nonprecedential opinions in the federal courts of appeal as inconsistent with settled principles of adjudicative retroactivity.

Innovation in Pedagogy Award: Professor Jean Han

The Innovation in Pedagogy Award recognizes exceptional creativity and innovation in instruction, including but not limited to, the use of technology.

Professor Jean Han, director of AUWCL’s Domestic Violence Clinic, specializes in the areas of clinical legal education, domestic violence, and gender and the law. She looks to bring students closer to the community they serve through rapid-response advocacy opportunities. Since January 2017, she has often focused on the development of cross-clinic projects where students have engaged in advocacy surrounding President Trump’s immigration policies.

Han organized and supervised students as they provided support to incoming immigrants and refugees at Washington-Dulles Airport following the original Travel Ban; led a teach-in for their fellow clinical students on how to advise clients regarding the executive orders on immigration; and provided representation and support at a DACA renewal and consultation clinic. Through this work, Han’s students joined other volunteer lawyers, many of them seasoned immigration attorneys, learning first-hand what “rapid response” really means and what they, even as students, can do to uphold the rule of law in this increasingly challenging world.

Han’s forthcoming article, The Good Notario: Exploring Limited Licensure for Non-Attorney Immigration Practitioners (Villanova Law Review, May 2019), examines the delivery of legal services to low-income immigrants.

Adjunct Teaching Award: Professor Carlos Acosta

The Adjunct Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching, thoughtful pedagogy, committed student mentoring, or exceptional creativity and innovation in instruction by a member of the adjunct faculty.

Adjunct Professor Carlos Acosta teaches Advanced Trial Advocacy: Homicide Prosecution,, and Challenges and Obligations of the Prosecutor at AUWCL. He currently serves as an Associate Judge for the District Court of Maryland.

Acosta has been instrumental in the development and success of the Diploma in Oral Litigation. The program is organized jointly by AUWCL, Centro de Estudios de Justicia de las Américas, and Universidad Alberto Hurtado. It is designed to provide instruction in Spanish on the new procedural rules in the criminal justice systems in Latin America, an introduction to the United States courts and evidence, and workshops on United States courtroom trial practice skills. 

Most recently, he was invited to Borneo (July 2017) to make several presentations to judges, police and wildlife conservators on the handling of wildlife smuggling cases.

Outstanding Service Award: Professor Robert Dinerstein

The Outstanding Service Award recognizes a faculty member’s outstanding service either outside or within the law school or university.

Professor Robert Dinerstein, director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic, specializes in the areas of disability law and clinical legal education. Over his long career at AUWCL, he has served as associate dean for academic affairs, director of AUWCL’s nationally recognized clinical program, and the associate dean for experiential education.  

Dinerstein’s service work within the AUWCL community is extensive, currently serving as faculty advisor for the Disability Law Society and on the faculty advisory committee of the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and Law, and on various faculty committees including the Public Interest Committee, the Diversity Committee, and the Committee on Rank and Tenure subcommittee on revision of the AUWCL faculty manual. He also serves as a PIPS mentor, an SJD advisor (for two degree candidates), and a faculty host for visiting Humphrey Fellows.

Externally, Dinerstein has served on numerous professional boards and currently is president of the board of the Equal Rights Center and board member for New Hope Community, Inc. He is also a member of various disability law committees, including the ABA Commission on Disability Rights, the Jacobus tenBroek annual disability law symposium, the Blue Ribbon Panel for AIDD/ACL National Resource Center for Supported Decision Making, and Council for Court Excellence, Project on “Helping Adults with Cognitive Limitations or Intellectual or Age-Related Disabilities: A Guide to the Options Available Under the Laws of the District of Columbia.” Dinerstein frequently delivers service-oriented disability law presentations, including a recent presentation on “Significant Developments in Mental Health Law, 2017-18” at the NARPA Annual Meeting on Sept. 28 in Baltimore, Maryland, one of three similar presentations he has made since June 2018.