Elon Law welcomes new legal writing faculty in 2020-21

Caroleen M. Dineen joins the Elon Law faculty from Florida A&M University College of Law, while Amanda Schemkes moves to North Carolina from Seattle University School of Law.

Two new assistant professors will join the Elon Law faculty this summer as the law school’s legal writing program continues to build its national reputation for teaching and scholarship.

Caroleen M. Dineen and Amanda Schemkes enhance a program recently ranked in the top quartile of legal writing programs by U.S. News & World Report. In welcoming Dineen to the faculty, Elon Law will have on its faculty three professors with professional experience directing legal writing programs over the course of their teaching careers.

“Elon Law’s new faculty are yet another demonstration of our commitment to educating lawyer leaders well equipped with the writing and communication skills necessary to excel in today’s profession,” said Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman. “We know that students learn best when they see their professors are passionate about what they teach. Professors Dineen and Schemkes stand out for their impressive histories of mentoring students and nurturing their interests in various practice areas of the legal profession.”

In addition to the new legal writing professors, Elon Law’s faculty recently voted for Assistant Professor Katherine Reynolds to permanently direct Elon Law’s Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic. Reynolds had been serving as interim director since late 2018.

About the New Legal Writing Professors
Assistant Professor Caroleen M. Dineen

Assistant Professor Caroleen M. Dineen comes to Elon Law from Florida A&M University College of Law where she directs the first-year Legal Research and Writing program for more than 200 first-year law students. In addition to the Legal Research and Writing I and II courses she teaches, Dineen has developed and taught upper-level elective courses, including environmental law, legislation, legislative drafting, policy and advocacy drafting, and interviewing, counseling, and negotiation courses. Among her many professional and community affiliations, Dineen is a member of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute.

Prior to entering legal education, she practiced law at Broad and Cassel in Florida and for Gordon Thomas Honeywell in the state of Washington, as well as serving as senior counsel for the State of Washington House of Representatives. Dineen earned her Juris Doctor and her MBA from the University of Washington, and her Bachelor of Arts (with Honors) in English and History from the University of Miami.

Dineen pointed to Elon Law’s 9-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and its trimester system as two of the features that most impressed her about the law school.

“I was attracted to Elon Law because of its innovative approach to legal education, its recognition for being a leader in experiential education, and its student-centered focus,” she said. “The profession really needs practice-ready graduates. Elon Law’s curriculum is designed to create those graduates. What I really enjoy about teaching legal writing in the first-year program is that I get to work with students from day one. I enjoy working with them as they progress through the curriculum, and I find it professionally satisfying to see their transformations during the first year.”

Assistant Professor Amanda Schemkes

Assistant Professor Amanda Schemkes comes to Elon Law from Seattle University School of Law, where she spent two years teaching Legal Writing, Skills, and Values. While she was in practice, Schemkes represented social justice activists in both civil and criminal cases, as well as provided legal support to prisoners, including people indicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. She has also traveled to locations throughout the United States to provide legal support to communities engaged in sustained protest actions to protect land and water.

Schemkes has taught over a hundred legal trainings and workshops to grassroots activists. Prior to her teaching role, she practiced with the Justice Law Group, the Civil Liberties Defense Center, and her own solo firm in Oregon. Schemkes received her Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law, her Master of Science in writing from Portland State University, and her Bachelor of Arts (with Honors) in English with a creative writing emphasis from the University of Washington.

“I love working with my students to both build their writing skills and bring social justice values into the classroom, and I’m excited to continue to do so at Elon,” Schemkes said. “I came to my career in the legal profession from a mixed background of writing and academia, and being an organizer in grassroots social justice movements, and now I repeatedly find myself feeling quite lucky to be able to combine all of those passions into a dynamic learning experience that meets the needs and interests of my students in an ever-changing legal landscape.

“I look forward to building a community with my students that will be supportive to them as they embark on the work that they feel inspired to do, and I look forward to helping them build writing skills that will help them to excel in that work.”

About Elon Law

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential learning in law. With a focus on learning by doing, it integrates traditional classroom instruction with course-connected, full-time residencies-in-practice in a logically sequenced program of transformational professional preparation. Elon Law’s groundbreaking approach is accomplished in 2.5 years, which provides distinctive value by lowering tuition, reducing student loan debt, and permitting graduates early entry into their legal careers.