It’s a moment every teacher treasures: when the light of understanding dawns in a student and you can see it in his or her eyes.
That moment is one that Thomas Hare, who joined the UB School of Law faculty this fall to teach in the B.A. in Law program, knows well. At St. Bonaventure University, where he served as an assistant professor of business law, he ushered undergraduates into the world of contracts, torts, securities regulation and legal reasoning. And he mentored many of them as they decided on law school and worked their way through the LSAT and the application process.
“It’s one of the most satisfying aspects of the profession,” Hare says. “At the end of the day, we want to connect with students and help them develop an interest in the fields we teach, or at the very least be competent in that area because it’s part of their curriculum. When we see the light bulb go off and know that we had a hand in that, it’s very rewarding.”
Hare brings that commitment to his undergraduate classes at UB, where he’ll teach courses including Legal Reasoning and Introduction to American Legal Institutions. Not every student will pursue law school, he notes, but the program is designed to give those who do the best possible preparation.
“We’ll give them the foundational principles about the American legal system, common law, legal reasoning, business and criminal law,” he says. “Students get an introduction to the core foundational principles they’ll need in law school and hopefully be able to hit the ground running.
“It also puts them in position to be highly successful. One of the important aspects of the first year of law school is how you rank in your class. That can be a precursor for opening all kinds of doors, like making law review, clerking for a federal judge or becoming a law professor. This program will give many of our students a leg up.”
Hare’s background is varied both academically and geographically. An Arkansas native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Alabama A&M University; his J.D. from the University of Arkansas; a master’s in accounting from the University of New Orleans; and a master of laws in corporate finance law at Wayne State University. Professionally, in addition to his teaching roles, he has been in private practice; done civil work with New Mexico Legal Aid; served as an assistant public defender, also in New Mexico; and worked as a police officer, an Air Force auditor and a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
His experience in law enforcement, he says, was useful when he was doing criminal defense work. “I understood how law enforcement worked, and I had a practical, real-world understanding of things like probable cause, excessive force and departmental policies,” he says. “I often made arguments related to my understanding of policy. It also gave me the benefit of being able to see the other side from their point of view. I was always very respectful of the other side, and I think that came across to juries when I litigated cases.”
Hare’s scholarly interests center around employment law, securities regulation, immigration law and criminal law, and he’s enjoying the flexibility to pursue that research at UB. He’s working on an article titled “The Rise of Family Responsibilities Litigation: How Women Are Marginalized in the Workplace.” It deals, he says, with “the discrimination that happens when women lose out on benefits and career opportunities because they’re the primary caregivers for their families. I’m looking at how to address that issue legally, and even if we can address it at all.”