Teaching | Scholarship

Courses: Introduction to Legal Skills, Legal Skills I & II, Legal Scholarship Training Seminar, Advanced Civil Litigation: Legal Drafting (developing upper-level writing); Race & the Law; Identity, Awareness  & Power (developing scholarly writing seminar).

Teaching Overview: Professor Culver is an experienced professor of legal writing, a discipline she has greatly enjoyed for eleven years.  As an avid lover of all forms of writing since her youth, Professor Culver, after years in law practice, has found her calling in teaching law students to develop their legal writing and oral advocacy skills.  Legal writing is often described as a foreign language that challenges even the most adept undergraduate during his or her first year, and Professor Culver believes that through teaching legal writing she can best guide students through a vulnerable season where they can emerge with confidence and a valuable skill set. Most certainly, strong legal writing and research skills are foundational for any law student to become a successful lawyer.  And through the years, Professor Culver has also come to learn that a strong sense of self and identity is crucial to being a resilient, emotionally intelligent and culturally competent lawyer.  In many ways, the transformation students undergo in legal writing — in finding their own voice — informs her scholarship in conscious identity performance.

Recent Publications:

Book Review:

  • My Enemy’s Enemy and the Case for Rhetoric, __ Legal Comm. & Rhetoric: JALWD (forthcoming 2018) (examining Doug Coulson’s Race, Nation, and Refuge: The Rhetoric of Race in Asian American Citizenship Cases, which analyzes race eligibility cases to underscore the value of rhetoric in judicial advocacy).

Scholarship Overview: Professor Culver’s research interests lie at the nexus of critical race theory, feminist communication, and social science with a central goal to empower marginalized law students and attorneys toward conscious identity performance.  That is, her research intentionally intersects fundamental tenets of critical race and communication theories into the law school environment to  empower marginalized groups in the legal profession who sometimes feel pressures to perform strategies to communicate their identity in a predominantly white legal profession.  She has presented and published widely in this area and is passionate about empowering all her students to be culturally competent attorneys in this racial era.

Her most recent articles include, Conscious Identity Performance, 55 San Diego Law Review  ___ (forthcoming 2018), which expands on legal scholarship discussing identity performance as assimilation, covering, and passing. The notion is that “outsiders” (e.g., women, people of color, LGBTQ) use these to strategies to communicate with “insiders” (white heterosexual males) in ways designed to advance their status in the legal profession.  By drawing on a theoretical framework that legal scholars have largely ignored, co-cultural theory, this Article posits that co-cultural theory offers micro-level communication practices to assist outsiders in navigating their workplaces where insiders are predominant.  This article is the first to apply co-cultural theory to legal scholarship.

Continuing the important conversation of identity performance, she authored a piece as part of a Gender Sidelining Symposium hosted at California Western School of Law.  In The Rise of Self Sidelining, 39 Women’s Rights Law Reporter ___ (forthcoming 2018), she describes self sidelining as an experience emanating from two theories: impostor phenomenon and gender sidelining.  This article characterizes self sidelining as women’s false endorsement of inadequate feelings that, when externally validated by male gender preference, cause women to consciously or subconsciously discipline themselves to forgo their professional advancement. Ultimately, this article exposes the social harm of self sidelining, even absent adequate legal remedies, and urges its awareness and presence in the ongoing gender inequity discussion in the legal profession.

In her work, White Doors, Black Footsteps: Leveraging “White Privilege” to Benefit Law Students of Color, 21 Journal of Gender, Race & Justice 37 (2017), Professor Culver focuses on white professors and the role they play in shaping identity in students of color, and reducing racial bias against these students.  In this article, she calls for white privilege awareness among white law professors, intentional interethnic engagement, and then a leveraging of that privilege to open professional doors for diverse students.

She is currently working on a piece tentatively titled, Professional (Ir)responsibility and the Unexamined Role of Conscious Identity Performance, which has two aims: first, to address the need to teach conscious identity performance in law school, as a vital component of professional responsibility and ethics curricula; and second, to deepen teaching tools by incorporating existing identity categories with the co-cultural theory. The significance of this theory is its micro-level catalog of communication practices that actually facilitate conscious identity performance. The value of such consciousness awakens students to be empowered over their own academic journey and legal careers, and not internalize the insiders’ stereotypes to their detriment; as well as provides students with the lexicon and social intelligence for representing clients within marginalized communities.