Kim Diana Connolly has focused her academic career on how best to educate future lawyers, as well as how best to use laws and policies to protect the planet and its inhabitants. She serves as the Vice Dean for Advocacy and Experiential Learning for the University at Buffalo School of Law, and directs both the Advocacy Institute and the Clinical Legal Education Program. Her administrative approach is to support excellent experiential instructors offering innovative and exciting opportunities for law students to work either with clients or in simulated settings to prepare for the practice of law. Professor Connolly often presents and participates in collective endeavors that focus on experiential legal education, and has served in national leadership positions (including president of the Clinical Legal Education Association) for many years. Professor Connolly also studies, writes and speaks about environmental and animal law policies, creatively examining and sharing ideas as to how to move toward a sustainable future.
Professor Connolly’s commitment to advocacy began before she attended law school, when she ran a non-profit working to bring social justice to those facing a lack of access to clean water and sanitary wastewater removal in North Carolina. After earning her law degree, she has advocated in multiple arenas, including in judicial settings, before federal, state and local legislative bodies, with federal, international, state, and local administrative bodies, and beyond.
When she joined academia, Professor Connolly began exploring environmental and related policies, as well as best practices for law schools and instructors as part of law students’ journey toward becoming practicing lawyers. She has written both traditional and non-traditional works, and presented at numerous conferences around the world. Professor Connolly’s work has been used by policy-makers as well as cited by scholars.
In addition to her practical research, Professor Connolly loves spending time with students. She teaches two clinics at the School of Law: the Environmental Advocacy Clinic and the Animal Law Pro Bono Clinic. She also teaches substantive courses in the area of environmental law, and experiential classes in the area of ethics. She is active in student advisement and supporting engagement of future lawyers in law school and community experiences that will make them excellent practitioners.
Before joining the law faculty at School of Law, Professor Connolly taught at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where she was associated faculty at the School of the Environment. Prior to her teaching career, she practiced law with a number of Washington, D.C., law firms, including Beveridge and Diamond and Hunton & Williams. She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and her LL.M. with highest honors from George Washington University Law School. Professor Connolly did her undergraduate work in chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a Morehead Scholar, and served as a VISTA volunteer between college and law school. She also received a certification in Non-Profit Management from Duke University.