Washburn law professor named one of 26 ‘best law teachers’

Professor Rory Bahadur of Washburn University Law school has recently been named one of only 26 ‘best law teachers” in the nation in What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013). Bahadur strives to make each of his classes fun and energetic.

Professor Rory Bahadur of Washburn University Law school has recently been named one of only 26 ‘best law teachers” in the nation in What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013). The book is the culmination of a four-year study that sought out extraordinary teachers of law who make positive impacts on their students in the classroom and beyond.

Although Bahadur feels honored to be chosen and considers it “the most important and meaningful accolade” he has ever received, it is what the students say about him that he finds most meaningful.

“One of the things for me is that students know that even though some of the teachers in that book were the most rigorous and most demanding, they were able to detect that the teacher was really invested in their learning.” Bahadur said. “Students appreciate teachers who work hard for them.”

Bahadur loves teaching, puts a lot of effort into it and according to student evaluations, it shows. Among the positive feedback, students like that he is always prepared for class, keeps them engaged, has high energy, teaches what relates to practice and does not merely use academic exercises in learning the law.

Bahadur, who currently teaches Torts, Civil Procedure, Admiralty and Maritime Law and Federal Courts, understands that teaching law does not have to be stuffy or boring as it is often presumed. He emphasizes to students that different people communicate and learn in different ways and tries to make them confident in being who they are and learning the ways they learn.

“I repeat to them that there is no cookie cutter method for learning law and I emphasize to them that I’m not any brighter than they are. I just read the material 500 million times more.” Bahadur said.

Bahadur contributes much of his love and style for teaching to those teachers who influenced his life. Both his mother and grandfather were teachers and eventually become principals. His mother often taught after hours, volunteering many Saturdays, to provide extra help for students. A former high school zoology teacher, and two law school professors also made positive impressions.

After graduating from the University of Miami, Bahadur worked as a marine biologist in Alaska. Later he worked as an environmental consultant for the corps of engineers, working mostly on ships observing endangered species. Eventually he went to law school to represent workers on ships powerless to defend themselves. Such life experiences provide stories for Bahadur to give context for legal doctrine and to relate the law to reality.

One of the qualities that each of these ‘best law teachers’ appears to have is being very happy. Bahadur agrees.

“I think my happiest times are in that classroom,” Bahadur said. “It means so much and is so enjoyable to see people learn and to see the effort you put into teaching being appreciated. It literally is a high.”

Bahadur didn’t think twice about choosing Washburn to teach law, finding the community and genuineness of Washburn refreshing.

“Recently people are like ‘Oh, Washburn is lucky to have you,’” Bahadur said, “But I think it’s the opposite.”

Bahadur explains how he could have easily ended up in an institution where good teaching wasn’t valued as much and where colleagues just cared about publication, status, appearance and hierarchy.

“I’m the one that lucked out,” Bahadur said. “They’ve allowed me to be as passionate about the teaching as I want to be.”