Professor Michelle Adams has won the 2024 L. Hart Wright Teaching Award, and recently expanded faculty awards also honor Professors Kerry Kornblatt, Eve Primus, and Dave Moran. The Law School Student Senate (LSSS) chose the award winners from more than 200 student nominations. 

The L. Hart Wright Award dates back to the 1990s, while the three additional honors—for legal practice teaching, experiential teaching, and innovative and inclusive teaching—are in their second year.

LSSS continues to offer the annual teaching awards in recognition of the incredible breadth and depth of talent among our faculty,” said 3L AJ Tsang, the outgoing LSSS president.

Victoria Pedri, the incoming LSSS president, added, “Next year, LSSS plans to name the new awards based on major figures from Michigan Law history.”

L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching: Michelle Adams

Michelle Adams
Michelle Adams, the Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law, received the L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching.

This award goes to a faculty member who exemplifies extraordinary teaching, dedication to students, and the spirit of Michigan Law. It is named after a beloved Michigan Law professor who was renowned in the field of tax law.

“Professor Adams is the best teacher I have had in my three years of law school, hands down,” wrote one of the students who nominated her. “She is brilliant, but in a way that is really accessible to students. She pushes her students hard because she knows what we are capable of and wants to see us reach our potential. She takes students really seriously as people. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to take a class with her, and it was really a privilege to be a student of hers.” 

Adams—the Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law—researches race discrimination, school desegregation, affirmative action, and housing law. She has published in the Yale Law Journal, California Law Review, Texas Law Review, and other scholarly journals. 

Adams is working on a forthcoming book, The Containment: Detroit, The Supreme Court, and the Battle for Racial Justice in the North, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It tells the story of the critical desegregation struggle that ended the Brown v. Board of Education era. Before joining Michigan Law, Adams was the co-director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where the 2022 graduating class named her Professor of the Year. 

“I’m so very honored to be recognized for my teaching—it’s the most important and best part of this job,” Adams said. “I love working with young lawyers and guiding them toward that ‘light bulb’ moment. Whether it’s working through the intricacies of constitutional law with 1Ls or walking through the doctrine and supplemental materials in an advanced constitutional law class like Race and the Law, it’s my joy and privilege to work with Michigan Law students. I can’t wait to teach First Amendment in the fall.”

Faculty Award for Dedication to World-Class Legal Practice Teaching, Students, and the Spirit of Michigan Law: Kerry Kornblatt

Portrait of Kerry Kornblatt
Kerry Kornblatt, a clinical assistant professor of law, received the Faculty Award for Dedication to World-Class Legal Practice Teaching, Students, and the Spirit of Michigan Law.

This award honors a member of the legal practice faculty who develops their students’ legal research and writing skills from the moment they set foot on campus as 1Ls.

“Professor Kornblatt is a beacon of light and warmth. She is always ready to lend an ear to her students as they try to navigate law school and legal writing,” one of her student nominators wrote. Added another student, “Professor Kornblatt checks in on her students, gives us grace when we need it, and pushes us to be better thinkers and lawyers. Overall, Professor Kornblatt truly is a gift to this law school, and I aspire to be like her in my own practice one day.”

Kornblatt, a clinical assistant professor of law, previously taught legal research and writing at Wayne State University School of Law. Before teaching, Kornblatt worked in the federal judiciary, clerking for the Hon. Helene White of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Hon. Leslie Southwick of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the Hon. Mark Goldsmith of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She also served as a staff attorney for the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Kornblatt co-directed the Conference on Public Service and the Law and received the Kramer/Bangel Award (recognizing the graduate who “contributed the most to the community”) at the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, Kornblatt served as a constitutional litigation fellow at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“Words can’t fully capture how honored—and touched—I am to be recognized by our students in this way,” Kornblatt said. “I have the best job in the world, and I feel incredibly fortunate to get to do it in this special place. Our students are amazing. It is a privilege to help them build the foundation that they’ll rely on throughout their careers. And having the chance to connect with them and get to know them is one of my very favorite parts of teaching.”

Faculty Award for Dedication to World-Class Clinical and Experiential Teaching, Students, and the Spirit of Michigan Law: Dave Moran, ’91

David Moran, Clinical Professor of Law
Dave Moran, ’91, a clinical professor of law and director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, received the Faculty Award for Dedication to World-Class Clinical and Experiential Teaching, Students, and the Spirit of Michigan Law.

This award honors a faculty member who prepares Michigan Law students to support real-life clients. 

“Professor Moran has been instrumental,” one of his nominators wrote. “He trusts students to take ownership over their cases while also being a great source of wisdom and advice. Professor Moran has changed my outlook on the law as a profession for the better: He inspires me to be the kind of attorney that he is. He perseveres in representing his clients, no matter how hard the case is. He has taught me more about the criminal justice system than I have in any doctrinal class. He points out the issues and inspires us to make incremental changes through our everyday work. Professor Moran deserves this award, period.”

Moran, ’91, clinical professor of law, joined Michigan Law in 2008 and is retiring in the fall. He co-founded the Michigan Innocence Clinic in 2009, which to date has freed 42 people who had been serving prison sentences (totalling more than 650 years) for crimes they didn’t commit. In addition to his work in the clinic, Moran teaches Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. He has published many articles about various aspects of criminal procedure, especially search and seizure. He has argued six times before the US Supreme Court. Among his most notable cases is Halbert v. Michigan, in which the Supreme Court struck down a Michigan law that denied appellate counsel to assist indigent criminal defendants who wished to challenge their sentences after pleading guilty. 

“I am very grateful to the students who nominated me for this award,” Moran said. “For the past 16 years, I have been incredibly privileged to teach about 200 students at my alma mater how to investigate and litigate claims of wrongful conviction, and I have watched in awe as those students have taken those lessons and applied their own creativity to free 42 men and women who had served hundreds of years for crimes they did not commit. Scores of those students have stayed in touch with me after graduating, and I look forward to continuing those relationships after I retire.”

Faculty Award for Innovative, Interdisciplinary, and Inclusive Teaching: Eve Brensike Primus, ’01

Eve Primus, Professor of Law
Eve Primus, ’01, the Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law and director of the MDefenders Program and the Public Defender Training Institute, received the Faculty Award for Innovative, Interdisciplinary, and Inclusive Teaching.

This award honors a faculty member whose teaching style goes beyond the traditional case method—contextualizing the law through history and social science, as well as employing diverse learning media such as videos, news articles, and field trips. 

One nominator wrote, “Professor Eve Primus is an incredible human, a dedicated professor, and a mentor to every public defense interested student. The Public Defender Training Institute (PDTI) is a phenomenal, year-long course for aspiring public defenders…[where] students practice the day-to-day work that public defenders do for each case. We are on our feet in class each week, practicing making arguments and getting extremely detailed and personalized feedback that Professor Primus must spend hours on. The opportunity that PDTI offers has become clear in the past few years, as graduates from the institute have been practicing…and more students apply to join the institute. To my knowledge, PDTI is the only class of its type in the nation, and I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.”

Primus, ’01, is the Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law. She is the founder and director of MDefenders and the Public Defender Training Institute—programs designed to educate and support aspiring public defenders. She also directs the Data for Defenders project, which promotes creative and evidence-based criminal defense advocacy through the strategic and effective use of social science research. Primus has won multiple teaching awards for her instruction in criminal procedure, evidence, and habeas corpus courses. She co-authors one of the nation’s leading criminal procedure textbooks and writes about structural reform in the criminal legal system, with a particular focus on indigent defense reform. The US Supreme Court and lower appellate courts have cited her scholarship. Before joining Michigan Law, Primus worked as a criminal investigator for the Public Defender Service in Washington, DC, and as a trial and appellate public defender in the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.

“I am incredibly honored to have received this award,” Primus said. “It means so much that the students feel that I am creating an inclusive environment and approaching the classroom with innovative practices that keep them engaged. Teaching at Michigan Law is such a privilege, and learning with and from my students is part of what makes my job so worthwhile.”