Cassandra L. Hill, dean of NIU’s College of Law, received the 2021 Association of American Law Schools Section Award for the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research during its annual meeting January 6, 2021. This prestigious award recognizes Dean Hill for her significant contributions to the field of legal writing and research. The award, created in 1995, has sometimes been described as a “Lifetime Achievement Award in Legal Writing Education.”
Dean Hill began her position at the Northern Illinois University College of Law on July 1, 2020. She became the first African American woman to serve in this position at NIU and also the first person to come from the legal writing community and be appointed a law school dean.
According to the awards committee, “As a tenured professor of law, Dean Hill has paved the way for countless other professors who teach legal writing, who desire security of position in our discipline, or who aspire to obtain leadership positions in the legal writing community.”
Prior to the NIU College of Law, Dean Hill served as the associate dean for academic affairs at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. She also was appointed by the then-university president to serve on a three-member leadership team with the law school’s acting dean. In addition, her impressive background includes previous positions as associate dean for research and faculty development and director of legal writing.
Dean Hill’s demonstrated leadership is also exemplified at the local and national levels through her membership in bar associations and other legal organizations and as a community leader. She is the first elected African-American member on the Board of Directors for the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), and she was a former Managing Editor of the LWI Monograph Series. Dean Hill is chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Conferences and Programming Committee and has experience as a site-team evaluator with the ABA. She is also a member of the State Bar of Texas, the District of Columbia Bar, and the New York State Bar.
Dean Hill graduated first in her class from Howard Law School in 1997. She then clerked for a federal district court judge and worked for five years at a major law firm, specializing in ERISA and employee benefits. She began her academic career teaching at UCLA School of Law, where she was a lecturer for four years.
Dean Hill is also an engaged scholar, producing books and articles on legal analysis, legal citation, pedagogy, and outcomes and assessments. The second edition of her book, Legal Analysis: 100 Exercises for Mastery, was published by LexisNexis in 2017 and used at more than 25 law schools. Her second book, The Legal Memo: 50 Exercises for Mastery, was just released in December 2020.