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Alumni and Professor Team Up to Publish Pre-law Textbook

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Though they graduated years ago, four William Paterson alumni suddenly found themselves submitting assignments last summer to Michael Principe, professor of political science.

Principe, who also directs the Legal Studies Program, asked the graduates to join him and two fellow academics, Ryan Rebe, William Paterson assistant professor of political science, and Marty Carcieri, professor of political science at San Francisco State University, in a project to write and publish an electronic textbook for pre-law students titled Readings on the American Judicial System.

Joining him in the project were alumni Christopher Bauer ’13, attorney at Steptoe and Johnson PLLC in West Virginia; Frank Ducoat ’03, assistant prosecutor and director of the appellate section of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office; Valerie Gross ’03, an attorney at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and John Pizzo ’12, law clerk for United States District Court Judge Irene M. Keeley in the Northern District of West Virginia.
Principe spearheaded the project and served as editor. Every team member wrote a chapter, with the contributors focusing on topics in which they have particular interest and experience. This marks the first time any of the alumni contributed to a book.

“What I wanted was a book that gave students both a legal practitioner’s perspective and an academic’s perspective on different areas within our judicial system,” says Principe.

The alumni, who lovingly refer to Principe as “Doc,” said they felt honored when he reached out to ask them to collaborate. “I had the same response as everyone else—that we’d love to, in part because Doc has done a lot for all of us individually and collectively as a group,” says Bauer. “He really does care about his students and does whatever he can to help them, and also keeps in touch with all of his former students.”

Principe has been using the electronic textbook with his students, and teaching them lessons born of William Paterson graduates, he says, is quite meaningful. “I tell my students, ‘This chapter was written by a former student who sat right here in that chair, in jeans and a t-shirt just like you,’” Principe recounts. Citing each of the alumni’s professional success, he adds, “This is what you can do with hard work. It inspires our kids when they see other kids from their background go on to achieve great things.”

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