Clockwise from top left: Sheldon A. Evans, Kate Klonick, Kayonia L. Whetstone, and Anna Roberts
Four years ago, the St. John’s Law faculty put into action a bold strategic plan anchored by twin goals of academic excellence and student achievement. The plan’s success is evident in several key measures: graduate employment among the highest in the nation; a two-year bar passage rate that is the best in New York City; steadily increasing student credentials; sharply increased alumni engagement and support; and a 30 percent increase in applications over the past two years.
An important part of the strategic plan is adding new talent to the faculty. In Fall 2016, the Law School welcomed two superb new faculty members: Professors Kate Levine and Rachel Smith. This fall, four additional new faculty members will join St. John’s Law.
Sheldon A. Evans joins the full-time faculty as an Assistant Professor of Law, bringing with him noteworthy practice experience. He received his undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Southern California and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where he served on The University of Chicago Legal Forum.
After law school, Professor Evans served as a law clerk to Hon. Lavenski R. Smith in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and practiced law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where his work focused on legal malpractice, complex contract disputes, and labor and employment law. He also devoted a significant portion of his time to pro bono advocacy for clients seeking immigration relief.
Professor Evans‘ scholarship thus far has focused on criminal law and procedure, and has touched on constitutional interpretation, legal history, and public policy as well. He will teach Professional Responsibility and Immigration Law at St. John’s Law this coming year. “I’m excited and honored to join the faculty at St. John’s Law, which has a distinguished history of training generations of successful and insightful legal professionals,” Professor Evans says.
Kate Klonick, comes to St. John’s as an Assistant Professor of Law after completing a Ph.D. in Law at Yale Law School, where she also was a resident fellow at the Information Society Project. She graduated with honors from Brown University and earned her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a Senior Editor on the Georgetown Law Journal and the Founding Editor of the Georgetown Law Journal Online.
After law school, Professor Klonick served as a law clerk to Hon. Richard C. Wesley in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Hon. Eric N. Vitaliano in the Eastern District of New York. Before law school, she worked in journalism and wrote for many publications, including the New York Times, Vox, The Atlantic, Slate, The Guardian, Talking Points Memo, and ABC News. Her scholarship focuses on how networked technologies have transformed the way that social norms shape legal and non-legal regulation. Most recently, she has studied and written about how social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have fundamentally altered the rules governing online speech. Her article on that topic, “The New Governors,” was just published by the Harvard Law Review.
Professor Klonick will teach Property, Land Use, and a class on Information Technology this year. "It's incredibly exciting to join a law school that has faculty as talented as they are warm and who share a demonstrated commitment to not only teach, but truly support their incredibly talented and hard-working student body," she shares.
Anna Roberts, an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law, will be a visiting professor at St. John’s Law this year and will teach Evidence, Torts, and a seminar on Contemporary Criminal Justice Seminar.
Professor Roberts holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Cambridge, where she graduated first in her class in Classics, earning a Starred First with Distinction. She received her J.D. magna cum laude from NYU School of Law, where she was a Dean's Scholar, a Florence Allen Scholar, and a Member of the Order of the Coif. Following law school, she clerked for Hon. Constance Baker Motley in the Southern District of New York, and then spent several years as a public defender with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem. She began her academic career at NYU School of Law’s Lawyering Program.
Professor Roberts’ scholarship focuses on assumptions and stereotypes that contribute to, and are fueled by, criminal records. Her articles have been published or are forthcoming in leading journals including the University of Chicago Law Review, Washington University Law Review, Boston University Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, Boston College Law Review, Alabama Law Review, and the U.C. Davis Law Review. She also has a book chapter forthcoming with the Oxford University Press.
Reflecting on her new role, Professor Roberts says, “I’m inspired by St. John’s because it offers the best of what New York City offers—diversity, boldness, and limitless opportunity—and because it partners with students to develop the law and pursue justice.”
Kayonia L. Whetstone joins St. John’s as an Assistant Professor of Legal Writing. She received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and her J.D. from Howard University School of Law. For the past 15 years, she practiced appellate law as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx and Queens, where she handled a range of criminal appeals, motions, and petitions involving complex legal issues in New York’s state and federal courts.
Professor Whetstone is delighted to teach legal writing at St. John’s. “Throughout my years as a practitioner, I’ve learned that good legal writing is an essential tool for every attorney,” she observes. “So I’m tremendously excited to work closely with students and to help produce scholars who are exemplary advocates and confident in their abilities to serve global communities.”
Her practical experience informs Professor Whetstone’s perspective on teaching students from diverse backgrounds. “My instructional approach is considerate of learners of different backgrounds and abilities, and employs strategies that thoughtfully engage and assess a person’s oral advocacy, writing, and research abilities,” she says, adding, “I was impressed that St. John’s Law encourages its faculty to serve as instructors and mentors for students in addressing the complexities of navigating coursework, internships, and personal life trials.”
Noting the Law School’s remarkable progress over the past four years, Dean Michael A. Simons shares his excitement about the future. “The changes we’ve made under our strategic plan have strengthened St. John’s Law and positioned us to add to and replenish our exceptional faculty. The addition of our four new colleagues will help to ensure the continued intellectual vitality of the Law School for many years to come.”