Joan E. Steinman
Distinguished Professor of Law
What is the distinction between interpleader and joinder
of parties? Between cross claims and counterclaims? Between ancillary,
pendent and supplemental jurisdiction?
In the complex arena of civil
procedure, Distinguished Professor Joan E. Steinman has the answers.
When Professor Steinman was first approached to oversee a volume of the
next edition of Wright and Miller's classic treatise, Federal Practice
and Procedure, she declined. It wasn't until she was offered
the authorship of the volumes she wanted that she accepted.
"They first offered me the volume on venue. I told them that I think
it's a great treatise and I'd love to work on it, but I thought I would
be bored to death writing about venue," she says with a laugh. "Then
they offered me the volumes on removal and I accepted."
As one of the nation's top experts in federal jurisdiction and removal,
Steinman is a perfect match for the Wright and Miller treatise project.
And Steinman can use the opportunity to stay sharp in her primary area
of legal scholarship.
"The issues involved in removal are among the most complex encountered
in the area of civil procedure. That's probably why I find them interesting,"
Steinman also has contributed her expertise to the American Law Institute's
Federal Judicial Code Revision project, which will publish proposed revisions
this year for those sections of title 28 of the U.S. Code governing supplemental
jurisdiction, removal and venue in the district courts.
"There always are procedural issues to re-think because civil
litigation is expensive, complicated, and time consuming. People
want their disputes resolved as quickly, efficiently and justly
as possible," says Steinman.
At Chicago-Kent, Steinman teaches Civil Procedure, Complex Litigation,
and Appellate Courts and Procedure. Two of the challenges she says she
faces in teaching her first-year Civil Procedure course are engendering
in her students the passion she has for this area of law and impressing
upon them the importance of the myriad details of civil procedure.
Accordingly, she periodically sets aside the traditional classroom approach
of case analysis to discuss The Buffalo Creek Disaster, a non-fiction
book in which civil procedure issues figure prominently. The book chronicles
a lawsuit against a large corporation, brought by residents of several
small towns in West Virginia's Buffalo Creek hollow, after a dam collapsed
and flooded the valley with sludge.
"It's a very appealing story about people who had their homes and
communities wiped out by a flood. You root for the people who were stone-walled
by this coal company. The story gives students a reason to care about
the doctrines of civil procedure, about jurisdiction, and about the doctrines
that govern discovery," says Steinman. "It shows you can do
good and important things with mastery of procedural tools."