Teaching As An Extension of Law: Judge Michael Feeney, UC Adjunct Professor
Judge Michael Feeney, UC Adjunct Professor
“Teaching is a sort of extension of law,” said Judge Michael Feeney, UC Adjunct Professor. “There is a lot of history between my court and Roger Williams in terms of teaching.”
This connection between Rhode Island’s Worker’s Compensation Court and Roger Williams initially got Feeney involved in teaching. Now, he finds many ways to serve the UC students. Feeney’s roles include teaching legal classes and chairing the American Bar Association (ABA) Advisory Committee that works to maintain the ABA accreditation for UC’s paralegal programs.
Feeney practiced law for 28 years before he was appointed as a judge on the Rhode Island Worker’s Compensation Court in 2016. He brings his litigation experience to the classroom, giving students real-world examples and connecting coursework to his professional career.
“I teach my students all sorts of subsets of litigation. I was a litigator as an attorney and now people litigate cases before me. I teach students from my hands-on experience from the start of a case through the ultimate appeal, if necessary,” he said.
Feeney also brings his professional experience to UC by designing classes that cover contemporary topics that he encounters in his work as a judge. This year, he is teaching a course on workers compensation for police and firefighters, which he developed after observing an uptick in these cases in Rhode Island.
“It’s a very timely class and I had no idea when I put it together twelve months ago that we’d be facing COVID-19. There is a lot currently going on involving COVID-19 exposure for first responders. I developed the course because I saw a lot of cases coming down from the Rhode Island Supreme Court regarding occupational cancer as it applies to firefighters,” said Feeney.
Feeney’s connections make him perfectly positioned to help students take steps forward in their legal careers. His students reach out for advice and assistance in their law school applications and career moves, and Feeney is happy to be of help.
“The students are extremely intelligent and motivated,” he said. “They get involved and it opens doors.”