Newest additions further strengthen ASU Law’s faculty roster

September 18, 2017

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is pleased to welcome a dynamic and diverse group of new faculty members for the 2017–18 school year. A top 25 law school and one of the highest-rated public law schools in the country, ASU Law is continually evolving and expanding its programs as it remains committed to offering an elite education and a pathway to a rewarding legal career.

ASU Law Dean Douglas J. Sylvester is confident the newest members of the faculty will help continue that growth. Beus Center for Law and Society south facade Download Full Image

“We are thrilled to be adding such a brilliant and accomplished group to what is already a world-class team of legal minds,” Sylvester said. “The diversity of their expertise and experience will help us evolve as we continue to offer the high-level legal education, incredible opportunities, and successful outcomes we’ve grown to expect.”

The newest full-time members of the ASU Law faculty are:


Angela Banks

Angela Banks, professor of law

Banks joins ASU Law as a Charles J. Merriam Distinguished Professor of Law. An immigration and citizenship expert, she will be part of ASU’s Southwest Borderlands Initiative, a provost program that focuses on issues related to the Arizona-Mexico border.

Banks most recently taught at the William & Mary School of Law and is a regular contributor to leading American law review journals.

She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Spelman College summa cum laude and a Master of Letters in sociology from Oxford, where she was a Marshall Scholar. Banks is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as an editor of the “Harvard Law Review” and the “Harvard International Law Journal.”

Jessica Berch

Jessica Berch, lecturer

Berch joins ASU Law as a lecturer, after visiting the previous year. Before that, she was an associate professor at Concordia Law School and served as a visiting associate professor at Southwestern Law School.

With a wide range of expertise, her scholarship involves the intersection of civil procedure, strategy and ethics, and she has recently taken an interest in the horizontal federalism implications of piecemeal marijuana legalization.

She received a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Arizona State University summa cum laude, and is a graduate of Columbia Law School.

Jason Cohen

Jason Cohen, clinical professor of law

Cohen joins ASU Law’s highly ranked legal writing team. He was awarded the Rutgers Law School campuswide Chancellors’ Award for Teaching Excellence in 2015, and was selected as Professor of the Year, Reader of the Names and Grand Marshal of the Law School’s graduating classes. In 2016 and 2017, he was selected the law school’s Lawyering Professor of the Year.

Cohen has represented governmental and quasi-governmental entities, including the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate in various matters before Commonwealth Court and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He recently served as special counsel to the Parliamentarian of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on issues involving statutory interpretation, and he has served on the Board of Directors for GALLOP (Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia) and the Mazzoni Center, an LGBT wellness organization based in Philadelphia.

After graduating from the University of Florida with honors, Cohen graduated cum laude from Rutgers Law School.

Don Gibson

Don Gibson, professor of practice

Gibson has more than 30 years of experience as an attorney, business executive and entrepreneur in the sports and entertainment industries. He has spent more than 20 years in senior leadership roles with major sports organizations, including Major League Baseball and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In his eight years with MLB, his roles ranged from an attorney in the Commissioner’s Office to senior vice president in charge of Major League Baseball Properties, the division responsible for licensing, corporate sponsorship, special events and marketing.

Gibson was a faculty associate at ASU Law from 2015 to 2017, teaching courses in sports law and business. Now joining the staff as a professor of practice in the Sports Law and Business Program, he focuses primarily on interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics, including an examination of gender- and racial-equity issues. He also designed a new course focused on personal and business branding for athletes and sports properties.

Gibson graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell and is a graduate of University of California Los Angeles School of Law, where he was a member and chief comments editor of the law review. Following law school, he was a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge David W. Williams in the Central District of California, and a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School, where he taught legal research and writing to first-year students.

Stephanie Jarvis

Stephanie Jarvis, lecturer

Jarvis joins the Sports Law and Business Program, where she will teach sports strategic career planning and business communications. She is also developing a new course that will focus on the planning and execution of sports big events from a legal and business perspective.

She has played leading roles on various organizing committees for some of the Phoenix area’s largest collegiate sporting events, including the chief operating officer for the men’s basketball Final Four and the senior vice president and chief operating officer for the College Football Playoff, and was general counsel and chief compliance officer for the Fiesta Bowl.

Jarvis also served as associate commissioner and general counsel for the Indianapolis-based Horizon League, where she was in charge of NCAA compliance, oversaw conference championships and worked with student-athlete advisory committees.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in French language and literature from Northwestern University, she graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Abigail Jones

Abigail Jones, lecturer

Jones, who had taught as an adjunct professor at ASU Law since January 2016, joins the faculty as a lecturer this fall.

After graduating from law school, Jones completed a clerkship in Federal District Court with the Honorable William P. Copple. While in private practice, she worked in the litigation departments of several law firms, focusing on product liability defense and commercial litigation.

In 2002, after helping Questar Corporation prevail in the trial of a $500 million partnership dispute with another energy company, Jones joined the legal department at Questar, where she became vice president, compliance and corporate secretary.

Jon Kappes

Jon Kappes, lecturer

Kappes joins ASU Law as a full-time faculty member after several years teaching intellectual property courses as an adjunct professor.

Kappes owns a law firm that represents clients in patent licensing and enforcement matters in a variety of technical area, including semiconductors, mass media and wireless communications.

He received the first annual Lisa Foundation Award for contributions to the Center for the Study of Law, Science & Technology at ASU, as well as the Hon. Mary M. Schroder Award for federal practice.

A magna cum laude graduate of ASU Law, Kappes has a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at Colorado State University, and a master’s degree in radiochemistry.

Victoria Sahani

Victoria Sahani, associate professor law

Associate Professor Victoria Shannon Sahani is an expert in ADR, civil procedure, legal ethics, and international law. She served for five years as deputy director of Arbitration and ADR in North America for the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

A prize-winning legal scholar, Sahani received the 2014 Francis Lewis Law Center Prize for Excellence in Legal Scholarship and the 2015 Law Alumni Faculty Fellowship Award for Teaching given by Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Sahani participated in the inaugural 2003-2004 class of the Harvard University Management Fellowship Program, during which time she served as the External Relations Fellow in Harvard’s Office of Government, Community, and Public Affairs.

She graduated cum laude with a psychology degree from Harvard University, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Joshua Sellers

Joshua Sellers, associate professor of law

Sellers was an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and a post-doctoral fellow in law and political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

This fall he is teaching Civil Procedure and Election Law, a course that will examine the Constitution and its protection of the right to vote, reapportionment, the Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering, the constitutional rights of political parties, campaign finance regulation and election administration.

Before entering teaching, he was a law clerk to Judge Rosemary Barkett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

He studied political science and Afroamerican and African studies at the University of Michigan, where he graduated with honors. He received a Juris Doctor and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago, where he served as an articles editor of the University of Chicago Law Review.

Click here to learn more about the ASU Law faculty.

Senior director of communications, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


ASU professor guides students to realize own revelations

September 18, 2017

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and communication from the University of Southern California, Sarah Tracy did a short stint in public relations before deciding she wanted to become a professor. 

When asked why she wanted to enter academia, Tracy said, “when I was an undergrad, I fell in love with the Dean of Women Joan Shafer — renowned for her kindness, passion, great empathy and brutal honesty. She had a gift for listening, saying exactly what needed to be said, and creating community and excitement in everything she touched.” Sarah Tracy, a faculty member in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Professor Sarah Tracy in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on organizational communication, leadership, happiness and qualitative methodology. Download Full Image

In 1996, Tracy received her master’s degree in communication from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She returned to the university as a doctoral candidate and earned her doctorate in 2000. After working as a teaching and research assistant for the University of Colorado Department of Communication, Tracy joined the faculty at Arizona State University in 2000.

“I have continued to work toward creating the type of community Dean Shafer modeled for me at the University of Southern California more than 25 years ago,” said Tracy, a faculty member in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.

As the Jeanne Lind Herberger Professor, Tracy teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on organizational communication, leadership, happiness and qualitative methodology. She is also the co-director of the Transformation Project, an initiative focusing on transformative communication and how it can improve lives and relationships at all levels of human interaction.

“The best way to learn is to discover for oneself,” Tracy said. “It matters much less what I tell students or what knowledge I convey, and much more the questions I ask and the environment created in the classroom so students can come to their own revelations. I think it’s vital to create structures where failure is not a problem, but rather is evidence of courage and practice."

Tracy’s research focuses on emotion, communication and identity in the workplace. She examines work-life balance, burnout, bullying, compassion, engagement and generosity. Her research comes from a use-inspired standpoint and takes place in naturalistic contexts.

As a disciplinary leader in qualitative research methods, Tracy’s research has resulted in two books, “Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact” and “Leading Organizations through Transition: Communication and Cultural Change.”

Currently, she’s researching and writing the second edition of “Qualitative Research Methods.” Tracy said she’s passionate about her research that involves talking and interacting deeply with other people. She also enjoys writing about traditional qualitative methods (such as interviewing, ethnography and participant observation) as well as more innovative and arts-based methods (such as drawing, photo-voice, performance and Legos as serious play.)

“An ongoing goal in my research is to talk about complex research methods in a simple and understandable way,” Tracy said. “I also want to encourage researchers to be OK with being snubbed, ignored or offended; provide tools for effectively justifying and explaining qualitative research; and help writers understand how to effectively present their qualitative research. 

Tracy has partnered with a couple of doctoral students to create “Get Your Qual On,” a YouTube channel that features short videos about qualitative research methods. She also worked with a past doctoral student to analyze how school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff interacted with a would-be school shooter and ended with his surrender.

“My hope is that people leave my scholarship feeling moved to practice listening, connecting with and supporting others,” Tracy said. “It may spur others to practice compassion with people who might, on their face, seem angry, distant or even violent.”

Tracy said she believes the most important skill for tomorrow’s workforce will be the ability to listen, authentically understand and rigorously communicate other people’s concerns and interests into future plans, missions and project — a critical piece of the relevance of liberal arts and sciences in the contemporary world.

“With the rise of digital technology, it’s easier to suffocate ourselves in a sea of viewpoints that are exactly the same as our own,” she said. “I think the 2020s will demand courses that specifically train students in face-to-face communication and will require research that encourages connection with people who have disparate views.”

When asked about her greatest achievement, Tracy talked about racing the Ironman Triathlon — a race with a 2.4-mile swim in Tempe Town Lake, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. Despite 15–20 hours of training each week, she ranked in the lowest 10 percent of all finishers of the race.

“From the back of the pack, I discovered humility and gratitude. I learned I can face fear and feel triumphant even when all external signs point otherwise. I also better understood how being in the bottom does not equate with lack of effort,” she said. “I learned that good comes even when — and perhaps only through the process of — not excelling compared to others.”

Amanda Stoneman

Science Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering