Faculty Spotlight: Robert DeKoven

With over 30 years teaching for USD’s Paralegal Program and California Western School of Law, Legal Research & Writing professor, Robert DeKoven, brings an unsurpassed level of experience to the classroom.

Mr. DeKoven’s love for law goes hand-in-hand with his love for education. He was “raised by teachers” and credits his mother as the most influential teacher in his life. His desire to “assist people [particularly students] who couldn’t assist themselves” motivated his career in law.

I was the AS President at San Diego State University. It didn’t take long to learn education is the most critical aspect of human development.

As an instructor, he enjoys “the challenge of taking something relatively boring and obscure as ‘legal research’ and making it relevant, fun, (sometimes) funny, and accessible.” Seeing a student build confidence and learn the essential skills to the practice of law, is what Mr. DeKoven finds most rewarding in his career.

My hope is that every student who takes my class is able, upon completion, to research anything and to be able to find an answer (if there is one) to a legal problem.

He acknowledges that “every student is unique” and challenges himself to adapt his teaching style to reach any student who may be struggling. “Teaching the paralegal curriculum is incredibly difficult. We try to take a relatively large and complex body of law and reduce it to a short seminar. My USD teaching colleagues are extraordinary.”

His advice for those entering the field:

Every day you will learn something new. You become far more seasoned and valuable as time goes on. There are no stupid questions. True professionals enter the field to help others, so ask for help. Keep challenging yourself.

How he challenges himself outside of the classroom, “Legal research isn’t just what I teach, it’s my passion. If I’m not teaching, I’m reading cases, watching C-SPAN, and even watching city council meetings on T.V….I’m addicted to reading ‘slip opinions’ and ‘advance sheets’. I like to stay current with the latest trends in the law.” The biggest lesson Mr. DeKoven has learned through his career is that “one needs to be able to creatively solve problems not just through litigation, but also through legislation, and perhaps administrative regulation.” This interest seems to have began at an early age, as he notes history and civics as his favorite subjects in school. “I love policy and why things are what they are, and how could they be better.”

For those considering law school as a next step, he assures, “you made the best decision by taking paralegal education. I’m unique because I attended the USD [Paralegal] program, then attended law school…There’s no question that having had a 300 hour legal education gave me a huge advantage when I attended law school.”

To keep life light and balanced, Mr. DeKoven strives to follow the one-third principle: one-third work, one-third hobby/entertainment, and one-third social. He also heavily relies on his passion for comedy, both in and out of the classroom.

There are lots of funny moments in my classes. I love it when people laugh because it usually means they are engaged, alert, and learning…If they’re laughing, they’re learning.

Read what students have to say about Professor DeKoven’s Legal Research & Writing course.

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