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Paula Schaefer: Legal Volunteer, Writer, Mom, Avid Walker

Paula Shaefer logs some steps in her strolls around campus.

Paula Shaefer logs some steps in her strolls around campus.

At UT: Paula Schaefer joined the faculty in the College of Law in 2008 after practicing commercial litigation. Her areas of expertise are procedural law and professional responsibility. She is interested in developing innovative teaching methods to prepare students for practicing the law ethically.

Schaefer stays involved in the Knoxville law community by writing a column with two colleagues for the Knoxville Bar Association’s publication, DICTA, and by teaching continuing legal education courses on a volunteer basis for the Knoxville Bar Association, the state of Tennessee, and alumni of the College of Law.

Why she chose this field: “Even in high school, I thought I’d go to law school. My dad really encouraged me to go to law school—but I don’t think it’s because he thought I liked to argue. He thought I was bright and a hard worker and that law was a career I could go far in,” said Schaefer.

Though law is her passion now, it didn’t start out that way. “I wanted to go to school for journalism at first. My dad kept encouraging me to go to law school and I started to picture what that would look like. I’m glad I followed his advice.”

She likens lawyers to teachers. “When I was at my best as a lawyer, I was explaining a case to a judge in a way that was persuasive. And now, as a teacher, I still use the same skills. I try to take something that’s complex and make it accessible and present it in a way that is engaging for students.”

Gratitude: “I still feel lucky every day that I come to work here because this is an awesome school that prepares students to practice law,” said Schaefer. “When l listen to how my students talk about my colleagues, I realize that I’m fortunate to work with people who really value teaching here.”

She considers herself a steward of the law school. “The College of Law has been here for 126 years, and my time is short in the grand scheme of things. We’ve been entrusted to take care of the law school and I take that very seriously.”

Outside interests: Aside from spending time with her sons, Henry, 13, and Ben, 12, Schaefer enjoys walking—a lot. She walks more than 15,000 steps a day. “I enjoy how it makes me feel,” she said. “I wish 26-year-old me would’ve known how beneficial this is to me mentally and physically.”

Favorite book: The Straight Man by Richard Russo. “It’s about a professor,” she said. “He breezes into class to teach then breezes out and spends the rest of his day eating at a diner and running errands. I sometimes wish I were Hank Devereaux and didn’t have to prep for class. It sounds like a pretty fun life.”

Favorite UT moment: Going onto the field at Neyland Stadium before a football game. “My favorite teaching moment, however, is when alumni of the law school write me a note to tell me they used something I taught them in class.”

At UT: Paula Schaefer joined the faculty in the College of Law in 2008 after practicing commercial litigation. Her areas of expertise are procedural law and professional responsibility. She is interested in developing innovative teaching methods to prepare students for practicing the law ethically.

Schaefer stays involved in the Knoxville law community by writing a column with two colleagues for the Knoxville Bar Association’s publication, DICTA, and by teaching continuing legal education courses on a volunteer basis for the Knoxville Bar Association, the state of Tennessee, and alumni of the College of Law.

Why she chose this field: “Even in high school, I thought I’d go to law school. My dad really encouraged me to go to law school—but I don’t think it’s because he thought I liked to argue. He thought I was bright and a hard worker and that law was a career I could go far in,” said Schaefer.

Though law is her passion now, it didn’t start out that way. “I wanted to go to school for journalism at first. My dad kept encouraging me to go to law school and I started to picture what that would look like. I’m glad I followed his advice.”

She likens lawyers to teachers. “When I was at my best as a lawyer, I was explaining a case to a judge in a way that was persuasive. And now, as a teacher, I still use the same skills. I try to take something that’s complex and make it accessible and present it in a way that is engaging for students.”

Gratitude: “I still feel lucky every day that I come to work here because this is an awesome school that prepares students to practice law,” said Schaefer. “When l listen to how my students talk about my colleagues, I realize that I’m fortunate to work with people who really value teaching here.”

She considers herself a steward of the law school. “The College of Law has been here for 126 years, and my time is short in the grand scheme of things. We’ve been entrusted to take care of the law school and I take that very seriously.”

Outside interests: Aside from spending time with her sons, Henry, 13, and Ben, 12, Schaefer enjoys walking—a lot. She walks more than 15,000 steps a day. “I enjoy how it makes me feel,” she said. “I wish 26-year-old me would’ve known how beneficial this is to me mentally and physically.”

Favorite book: The Straight Man by Richard Russo. “It’s about a professor,” she said. “He breezes into class to teach then breezes out and spends the rest of his day eating at a diner and running errands. I sometimes wish I were Hank Devereaux and didn’t have to prep for class. It sounds like a pretty fun life.”

Favorite UT moment: Going onto the field at Neyland Stadium before a football game. “My favorite teaching moment, however, is when alumni of the law school write me a note to tell me they used something I taught them in class.”

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