“I Got Lucky”: A Professor’s Take on Life and Teaching

“I Got Lucky”: A Professor’s Take on Life and Teaching

Bob Dauber

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“Enjoying life is more important than getting a good grade.” This is the advice Professor Bob Dauber gives to his students. “Keep things in perspective. Your reputation and the relationships you build are so much more important than what your GPA was in law school.”

That’s probably not what you’d expect to hear from your law professor. But Professor Dauber is no ordinary faculty member.

As the clinical professor of law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Dauber regularly teaches courses relating to civil procedure, trial advocacy, and dispute-resolution processes.

His research interests include court-connected mediation and comparative dispute resolution. He regularly presents papers and workshops on alternative dispute resolution-related topics.

This may be very apropos considering Professor Dauber received a BA in Near Eastern studies.

“It made me very well-trained to be a bartender,” he joked, “which is what I did when I came back to Phoenix before law school.”

A native of Arizona, Professor Dauber’s higher education journey has been defined by a set of financial circumstances which included moving to Southern California after receiving a scholarship for his undergraduate education, then moving back to Phoenix and receiving a scholarship to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Like many graduates, Professor Dauber worked for a big law firm after law school. But after seven years with the Phoenix office of Winston & Strawn as a trial attorney, Professor Dauber took a sabbatical for six months and traveled to Europe and the Middle East.

“My backpacking experience was the best thing I ever did,” Dauber said.

After returning from his travels, Professor Dauber found himself in need of a new direction and purpose.   

“I always wanted to teach law and it interested me, but it wasn’t an easy thing to get into. Then when I came back [from my travels] I heard there was a need for somebody to cover the civil clinic at the law school and they asked me to do that.”

That was 26 years ago. Joining the clinical faculty in 1990, Professor Dauber still finds teaching to be the most rewarding career.

“When it all starts clicking that’s a gratifying feeling,” he described.

As a clinical professor, it’s no surprise that Dauber feels the best way to teach students is through practical application.

“Putting them in a position to apply what they have learned in real life situations is incredibly effective. But it’s also very expensive to have clinical teaching,” Dauber professed. “You need a very low faculty-to-student ratio for the law school to provide clinical opportunities. It’s less costly to put one professor in front of a group of 100 students than to have four faculty in front of a group of 20 students.”

Dauber’s dedication to teaching shows in his enthusiasm and genuine, self-deprecating approach.

“I got lucky,” he said. “That temporary fill-in teaching position turned into a longer job and eventually I was around so long they couldn’t get rid of me.”

And that could be because of the teaching environment that ASU Law promotes. “It’s a place to learn and still be able to enjoy your life. You don’t have to sacrifice your quality of life,” he said.

When Professor Dauber isn’t teaching, he enjoys concerts and spending time with his wife and his extended foster-son’s family.