Areas of legal expertise: Academic support, legal research and writing, legal education.
Professor Silkey has a great passion for helping all students to succeed in law school. Based on her commitment to improving the law school experience for all students and her vision for creating an inclusive and supportive community of learners, Professor Silkey has built a strong Academic Success Program that serves students at all levels of need throughout law school. The Academic Success Program also helps students and alumni in preparing for the bar exam. Under Professor Silkey's direction, the Academic Success Program has become an integral part of the law school curriculum. Professor Silkey's unwavering commitment to student learning is reflected throughout all aspects of the Academic Success Program. Based on her firm belief in the importance of helping all students to reach their full potential, Professor Silkey has led her team of professional tutors in developing a culture in which students are eager to participate in the Academic Success Program. Professor Silkey believes that individual instruction is the most critical component in helping students to improve their skills, and she has placed a strong emphasis on individual tutoring sessions as the cornerstone of the Academic Success Program. Individual tutoring affords students an opportunity to create a program in consultation with their tutors based on the areas in which they most want or need assistance. The Academic Success Program also offers a series of workshops presented by the law school faculty. The first six workshops are designed to help students strengthen their basic skills in case synthesis, note taking, outlining, exam taking, written advocacy, and oral advocacy. Based on Professor Silkey's belief that it is very important to help students develop a strong ethical framework in addition to strengthening their basic skills, the final workshop in the series focuses on the challenge of ethical issues in the practice of law. This workshop helps students reflect on why they chose to enter the legal profession as well as on the challenge of maintaining a commitment to the ethical practice of law. It also offers students an opportunity to discuss the important work of lawyers in bringing about change in society. In addition to individual tutoring and workshops, the Academic Success Program offers Structured Study Groups in Contracts and Civil Procedure. The Structured Study Groups improve student learning by focusing on the mastery of skills within the context of a doctrinal class. In accord with Professor Silkey's vision for creating a supportive and positive learning environment, the Structured Study Groups afford students an opportunity to engage in collaborative and cooperative learning with their peers and to develop important mentoring relationships with their study group leaders.
Before becoming the Director of the Academic Success Program in August 2006, Professor Silkey directed the Legal Research and Writing Program at Hamline University School of Law for fourteen years. She taught Legal Writing for three years and served for two years as the supervisor and as an instructor in the summer practicum program at Hamline School of Law before becoming the Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program. Professor Silkey continued teaching Legal Writing during her directorship. As the Director of Legal Research and Writing, Professor Silkey combined her expertise in writing with her passion for teaching to build an excellent Legal Research and Writing Program. With leadership and insight, she built a team of professional Legal Research and Writing instructors who teach the skills that are critical to the ethical and competent practice of law. The Legal Research and Writing Program offers research and writing classes that allow students to significantly strengthen their writing skills, develop critical legal reasoning skills, and ultimately learn how to effectively articulate their thoughts and ideas on the law in written and oral advocacy.
Prior to joining Hamline's School of Law faculty, Professor Silkey taught at William Mitchell College of Law as an Adjunct Professor of Legal Writing and as a Professor of Legal Reasoning and Writing in the Summer Enrichment Program. She also was a solo practitioner in the areas of estate planning, wills and trusts, and real estate. In law school, she received American Jurisprudence Awards for Achievement in Administrative Law and in Negotiable Instruments. Professor Silkey is a member of the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors.
Professor Silkey's scholarship focuses on ways to improve legal education. She is working on a book that focuses on the pathways to humaneness in legal education and the best practices in academic support. In her book, Professor Silkey uses the Academic Success Program at Hamline School of Law as an illustration of how to build an academic support program based on the principles of humaneness in legal education and how to humanize the law school experience for all students.