University of Iowa
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Get to Know: Caroline Sheerin

Caroline Sheerin
PROFESSOR OF Legal Analysis, Writing & Research

At the UI Since: 2006

Alma Mater:

BA cum laude, Barnard College, 1993
MA, Washington University, 1996
JD, University of Michigan, 1999

Where is your hometown?  I grew up in Princeton Jct., New Jersey.

What did you do before joining Iowa Law? I was a lawyer in the Constitutional and Commercial Division at the City of Chicago Law Department.  Prior to that, I worked at a private law firm in Chicago.

Describe your role at the university.  I teach Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research. I also participate in faculty governance; I am a member of both the Faculty Senate and the Faculty Council.  And I love recruiting for the law school.

What do you enjoy most about working at Iowa Law?  The students, of course.  I don’t tell them this enough, but I learn as much (maybe more!) from them as they learn from me.  Now that I’ve been teaching for a while, I’ve gotten to know quite a few students.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I like Millenials!

How did you decide to join the legal profession? I resisted going to law school for a long time, but I ended up in a class on Japanese law when I was studying for my Masters in East Asian Studies, and I realized I had my hand up all the time.  I later learned that the law students in the class probably hated me because I was what they would call a “gunner,” but my interest had been piqued, and I applied to law school that semester.

What is most fulfilling about your work?  Watching students grow as writers and thinkers over the course of a semester. I love watching students have that lightbulb moment when we are talking about an issue.  Law school can be so frustrating for students, but I can see the payoff is so huge when they get a concept.  It’s very satisfying.

What do you enjoy most working in higher education? I feel like I’m contributing to society in a meaningful way. I’ve been reading a biography of each American president (I’m up to Garfield!), and almost every one of them placed a high value on education. It is the cornerstone of our democracy, and to be a small part of that is inspiring.

What’s a risk you’ve taken and did it pay off?  Moving to Iowa.  I was single and totally new to the world of teaching when I moved here to help start a brand new (and, dare I say, somewhat controversial) legal writing program.  Thirteen years later, I have a career, a husband, and a beautiful daughter.  Who knew Iowa would have so much to give this Jersey girl?

What’s your favorite book, or what are you reading right now and why do you enjoy it? My favorite book is Plainsong by Kent Haruf. It’s written in such quiet, plain prose, but the story has stayed with me for almost twenty years.

Name a few of your favorite things.  I love spending time with my family, running, biking, sewing, and reading. 

Is there anything you want alumni to know about you? If I had you as a student, thank you for teaching me so much. And you make me proud.