Scholarship and Research Interests
(in no order of preference)
- Family Law
- Collaborative Practice
- School Law
- LGBTQIA issues
- Writing and Rhetoric
Works in Progress or Brainstorming
- Document Accessibility: Why We Must Do It and Teach It
- Insurance Denial of Gender Affirmation Surgery as Sex Discrimination
- A Call to Strike Gender Dysphoria From the DSM-V
- Change the Narrative to Change the Profession
(in no order of preference)
- Family Law
- Legal Writing and Research
- Education Law
- LGBTQIA and Diversity Issues
- Collaborative Dispute Resolution
About Joshua Aaron Jones
Douglas High School – Advanced Diploma
University of Montevallo – Bachelor of Music Education, cum laude; Senior Elite (valedictorian for music school)
A native of the Sand Mountain region of northeast Alabama, I grew up in a small, rural town and attended a very small, all-white, all protestant high school. I excelled in academics and music. I wanted to be a doctor until the 11th grade when AP Anatomy and Physiology helped me realize I do not have the stomach for it! So I went with my best and majored in music education at the University of Montevallo. I am a first generation scholar within my immediate family and the first attorney in my entire family.
During music school, entertainment law and music business caught my attention, and an article had recently published that music education majors were among the highest group of admitted law students. Perfect!
University of New Hampshire School of Law – JD/Master of Education Law
So I attended the University of New Hampshire School of Law (then Franklin Pierce Law Center), which was ranked first for intellectual property. I had the good fortune of a half-tuition diversity scholarship based on being gay. After the first semester, I hated every minute of it (loved New Hampshire) and considered dropping out. But having invested in a year of tuition and dragging my partner (now spouse) more than a thousand miles from home, quitting wasn’t an option.
I spent a lot of time soul-searching. Was it really that law school was so bad, or was there something that was no longer in my life that had brought me joy? After much introspection, I realized that it was teaching that I missed. Not just the music classroom, but teaching. I was chosen as a legal writing teaching assistant for my 2L year, and it all clicked in place. My spark was back. I taught saxophone lessons to classmates’ children. Then I signed on for the joint degree program and earned a master of education law from FPLC’s Education Law Institute. During my second summer, I clerked at the National Education Association New Hampshire. I TA’d for Professor Sarah Redfield’s Administrative Law: Education and Government class for which I managed the online classroom. I went on to serve as her research assistant and interned at the New Hampshire Department of Education. It was never about music law. My calling was education law.
After my internship at NH DOE, I continued there as a hearings officer, managed, mediated, and conducted evidentiary hearings between special education students and schools, as well as teacher discipline cases. But home was calling, so we returned to the South to be closer to our aging parents. We settled at Pensacola, Florida.
In Florida, I was an associate at a prestigious plaintiffs firm, suing pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. It was exciting and sexy law – lots and lots of travel for depositions and document review in cities I had never visited. I filled my downtime as an adjunct professor at Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida. At some point, the glamour wore off. Occasionally, the partners allowed an education law case, including my representation of the first transgender student at a local high school who had been denied enrollment. Clients were faceless in an inventory sea, and even teaching on the side began to lack luster. I needed a change.
Law School – Again
University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law – LL.M in Government and Public Policy with an emphasis in school law; Downey Brand Fellow for Public Service and Leadership
So I left Florida for Sacramento and pursued an LL.M in Government and Public Policy, with an emphasis in school law, at McGeorge School of Law. I actually deferred for a year because I wasn’t sure about a separation from my spouse, but with a fellowship, full tuition waiver, and a stipend, it was too good to pass up. During the fellowship, I ran the Education Pipeline and taught Street Law. Though I passed the California Bar Exam, the economy was still unstable, and the unemployment rate for attorneys in California was at 25%. We decided to make Pensacola home, forever (not so fast!), and I opened a solo practice.
Practice – Again!
My solo practice was quite diverse. I wanted to know my clients, and I wanted to have long-term relationships with them. Intentionally, I crafted my practice to be an old-school, small town law office. Like a general practice physician, I invited clients to return for any legal issue, and if we needed a specialist, I would help them find a specialist. I handled family law, estate planning, small business, and education matters regularly. I became the go-to attorney in northwest Florida for LGBTQIA issues, and I even managed to build a small entertainment law practice. And of course, I was teaching on the side.
During those eight years, I thought about making the leap to full-time law teaching, so I began planning. Without a top-tier law school on my CV, I knew that my path to the academy would be a challenge. First, I kept teaching, and I upped my networking game through professional organizations. Second, I published. Third, I attend the AALS FRC as an observer. Though AALS discourages folks from attending the FRC without a screening interview, I thought that was absurd and went anyway. How could I know the vibe and build a network within the academy, eight year after my LL.M, if I kept myself outside the academy. I went to the AALS FRC 2018, without an interview, and looked like I was supposed to be there. I was a fly on the wall, and I introduced myself. Had I not done that, I would never have met the fine folks who still mentor me today. It worked!
Finally Home in the Academy
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law – visiting professor
- Legal Communication and Analysis
- Collaborative Family Law
- Trusts and Estates
Peking University School of Transnational Law – visiting professor
- Contracts Drafting
I found an out-of-cycle, late job posting, and now I’m a visiting professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. I teach in a top 20 legal writing program. Me – a first gen scholar, with two law school degrees of mediocre rank (though good GPA’s), virtually no academic network, and only two publications (both in journals outside T100). I shouldn’t be here – impostor syndrome. I am proof that there is a path into the academy, no matter your background. You just have to forge it for yourself. It probably was harder work than my colleagues from T10 law schools, but I’m sitting right next door. Hey, there!
At IU McKinney, my primary assignment is Legal Communication and Analysis, and I taught collaborative family law, a course that I designed, this summer. I was also glad to volunteer to teach Trusts & Estates last spring when a colleague needed medical leave. In early summer, I taught contracts drafting for Peking University School of Transnational Law. Networking never ends, and I went out on a limb to offer speaking proposals. They can only say no, but they said yes:
- AALS LRRW New Scholars Showcase;
- Central States Legal Writing Conference ALWD Scholarship Symposium;
- Central States Scholarship Symposium;
- New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers Annual Conference;
- Iowa’s One Day Legal Writing Conference; and
- SEALS Jurisprudence, Statutory Interpretation, and Constitutional Law New Scholars Showcase.
My piece about Title IX and transgender issues in law schools was published in the NYU Review of Law and Social change, not too shabby a placement, and my work-in-progress, presented at SEALS, was awarded the ALWD/LWI Scholarship Grant.
It’s been a very busy first year of full-time law teaching, but I hope the strong work ethic and tenacity will prove fruitful, as I enter the market for the 2021-2022 school year.