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Oct 15, 2020 Geoffrey B. Kehlmann
Q&A with GMSR’s Geoff Kehlmann, Adjunct Professor of Appellate Advocacy at Loyola Law School

Greines, Martin, Stein and Richland is proud to highlight associate Geoff Kehlmann in his new role as adjunct professor teaching Appellate Advocacy at Loyola Law School, his alma mater. We recently sat down for a virtual chat with the former Loyola Law School valedictorian about his new role. He shared his own experiences as a student at Loyola and practical insight for aspiring lawyers.

Professor Kehlmann teaching appellate advocacy remotely.

Q: You recently became an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, teaching Appellate Advocacy. What inspired you to become a professor?

A: I’ve always loved teaching. There’s something truly fulfilling about going through the rigors of mastering a subject to the point where I can teach it to someone and help bring about that light bulb or aha moment. I feel very lucky that I get to do that in my role as a law professor and as an appellate lawyer.

Q: Can you share a story of when you were a law school student at Loyola, perhaps an interaction with one of your own professors?

A: One afternoon during my first year, I was playing ping pong with my classmates outside one of those large amphitheater classrooms. A professor walked by and jokingly asked, “Don’t you ever study?!” He was right to point out that I was often found at the ping pong tables. What he didn’t realize, though, is that I was playing and studying. Just as the ball ping-ponged back and forth across the table, so did the debates between classmates about the latest rule we had learned in class. Ping pong was a way to relax and have fun, but it also let my classmates and me explore the law together in a dynamic way. Don’t get me wrong, my nose was often buried in a book. But my method of learning the law by talking about the law worked out well in the end.

Q: It sure seems like it, given that you graduated first in your class. Could you tell us about the law school class that was toughest for you?

A: All of them were tough! Oddly, I think that’s part of why I enjoyed law school so much. I approached each class with the mentality that I think most appellate lawyers have when they take on a new case: this is a chance to learn about a new subject area and try to master it. Every day in law school was a chance to learn something new about how the world works, and no matter how complicated that might be, I was always excited for the challenge.

Q: You are also a practicing attorney. Can you share something that you did in law school that has been valuable in your practice?

A: I can’t overstate the value of having participated in Loyola’s appellate moot court program (Scott Moot Court) and Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing (JIFS) clinic. Moot court taught me appellate advocacy skills that I might not otherwise have had the chance to develop as a young lawyer. And in the JIFS clinic, I took on the awesome responsibility of representing real clients whose liberty interests were at stake. Those experiences not only built the foundation for my technical skills as a lawyer, they also shaped the way I think about using the law to build a more just society.

Q: After years working as a litigator and clerking and externing for federal judges, what caused you to seek out full-time appellate work?

A: I’ve always been interested in appellate law—even before I knew what it was. When I was in elementary school, my mom and I would come up with mnemonic devices to help me remember the names of the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nerdy, I know. Growing up, I loved learning about the historical significance of Supreme Court cases, and my experience in law school confirmed my interest in shaping the law through appeals.

To learn more about the course, click here.