Member Spotlight

Afton Cavanaugh

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law

St. Mary's University School of Law

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The decision to pursue a legal education occurs at a wide variety of times.  For Afton Cavanaugh, it came in the 10th grade while preparing for a mock trial.  The decision to pursue ASP is similarly eclectic and often arises from personal discovery.  Afton developed an interest in teaching and worked while in law school as both a Teacher’s Assistant and as a Research Assistant.  Despite discouragement about barriers into the academic marketplace, Afton landed a position as an instructor at his alma mater (St. Mary’s) and now currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Law Success.  In this role, Afton manages a team of ASPers who focus on academic support, legal education, legal research and writing, and bar preparation.

Earlier this year Afton published Testing Privilege: Coaching Bar Testing Privilege: Coaching Bar Takers Towards “Minimum Competency” During the 2020 Pandemic.  Throughout the pandemic, Afton had been working with bar takers, and was inspired to write the article based on his experiences with coaching students during the unprecedented pandemic conditions.  The article is an insightful collection of emotions and experiences that he observed.  It is available here.

This past summer, Afton pioneered a new bootcamp at St. Mary’s for 49 incoming first-generation 1L students.  He is currently working on a paper that summarizes his experience in developing a program that makes the law school more welcoming to first-generation students.  In his own words, Afton remarked “We are molding a future generation of lawyers that will make the legal community a better and more welcoming place.”

This spring Afton will be busy helping with the launch of the nation’s first fully online JD program.  It is the first of its kind to be approved by the ABA.  Afton will teach legal research and writing to the inaugural class of the online program.

When asked for his opinion on the most rewarding part of being an ASPer, Afton said, “It’s all about the students…helping someone accomplish their dream is a big deal to me.”  Thank you, Afton, for your service to your students and being a role model for other ASPers.