Announcement from Dean Andrew T. Guzman
I write to share the bittersweet news that Prof. Sue Wright will retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. As we are all well aware, Sue is an outstanding member of the faculty, serving as director of our Academic Success program, and has taught Advanced Legal Writing both as a full-time professor and a lecturer at USC Gould.
Sue is a Trojan through and through, having graduated magna cum laude from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, followed by enrolling at USC Gould and earning her juris doctor in 1987. It was here at Gould that her affinity for legal writing took hold and she assisted others as a student legal writing instructor. She also was named to the staff of the Southern California Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif.
She is well known for her infectious Trojan spirit, nurtured as an undergraduate while she was a member of the Trojan Marching Band – where she met her husband Craig Steele, incidentally. A special highlight was playing with the band in the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She and Craig regularly attend USC football and basketball games and now get to watch their daughter Kelly perform in the Trojan Marching Band.
After graduating from Gould, Sue launched a successful career in law. She first joined Latham & Watkins as a litigation associate, then moved to the Major Litigation Department at ARCO, and litigated cases at a boutique firm in Pasadena. She then returned to Gould as a lecturer, teaching Pretrial Advocacy and Legal Writing and Advocacy for many years. She joined the full-time faculty in 2012 to teach Advanced Legal Writing and mentor students in the Academic Success Program with Prof. Cap Coleman, director of the program at the time. Together, they expanded the offerings of the ASP program and created legal writing workshops for 1L students who needed assistance in legal writing.
Sue was named director of the Academic Success Program in 2020 and expanded the program’s resources by adding workshops for 1Ls and bar programming for 3Ls. In 2021, she and Prof. Laura Riley collaborated with colleagues from Admissions, Student Care, and DEI to create Gould Preview, a multi-day, pre-orientation program for incoming 1L students. Throughout her tenure in ASP, she has been a tireless advocate for students, always looking for ways to improve the student experience.
Sue worked closely with Cap to improve the Legal Analysis of Evidence class, displaying her talents for teaching and giving strong constructive feedback. She taught a second section of Advanced Legal Writing for upper-division students, creating new complex assignments every year and helping fine-tune the weekly exercises and class presentations.
She is a master teacher, having spent a year in the Faculty Fellows Leadership Institute at USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching. In her classes, she breaks down concepts and presents them in a clear manner, and students routinely comment on how her engagement encouraged them to become better thinkers and writers. She is known for leading students through the challenges of law school with patience and compassion. And thanks to Sue, many Gould students have successfully navigated Gould and gone on to fruitful careers.
As a colleague, she impresses with her dedication to students and problem-solving abilities, in addition to her empathy, reliability, and sense of humor.
Our community has been lucky to have such a gifted teacher, caring mentor, and wonderful colleague. While we wish Sue well on her future endeavors, we’re also glad that she’ll continue to be part of our law school for another great year ahead.
Lastly, Sue’s departure creates the need to hire a Professor of Lawyering Skills. Information about the process to do so – along with plans to celebrate her many contributions to Gould – will be forthcoming soon.
Andrew T. Guzman
Dean and Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law, and Professor of Law and Political Science