Reflecting on his experiences, Dr. Clay Calvert, ‘91, describes a unique path to becoming a law professor.
Driven by passions for both law and media, Calvert earned a JD degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, followed by a Ph.D. in Communications from Stanford University after working for a year at a prominent Modesto law firm.
Now, at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Calvert is both a professor of law and a professor of mass communication, teaching what he says is “the ideal combination.”
“What this shows is that McGeorge can prepare people to be law professors,” Calvert remarked.
A Northern California native, Calvert chose McGeorge School of Law based on its exceptional reputation.
“The school always had a very high bar passage rate. And up and down the Central Valley, McGeorge had a really great reputation for turning out good attorneys,” Calvert explained. “I knew it was a quality law school.”
At the University of Florida, Calvert holds a joint appointment as both a Professor of Law in the Fredric G. Levin College of Law and as the Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication in the College of Journalism and Communications. He teaches classes in both colleges, to undergraduate students and law students.
Calvert’s enthusiasm for working with students at this intersection between law and media is evident.
“I have truly enjoyed teaching. It keeps you young, because you have to stay in tune with the students, and certainly in the law things are always moving forward,” he remarked.
As the director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, Calvert researches and comments on emerging issues in freedom of expression law. Through the project, Calvert has provided his expert commentary to media and written scholarly articles and law journal articles on freedom of expression issues. In fact, throughout his career, Calvert authored or co-authored an impressive 150+ law journal articles on topics related to freedom of expression, starting with a note published in 1990 in what was then the Pacific Law Journal.
Calvert has also filed amicus curiae briefs with the United States Supreme Court on significant cases that law students at McGeorge routinely study in their Constitutional Law class, such as Snyder v. Phelps (2011) and Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2011).
Calvert notes that highly publicized issues, like the libel claims in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial, as well as the regulation of speech on social media platforms, show that media law is constantly shifting.
“All these changes going on make media law exciting to teach,” Calvert said. “That is one of the best parts about working in this field.”
In his classroom now, Calvert says his professors from McGeorge School of Law — including Professor of Law Clark Kelso and Professors Emeriti Brian Landsberg, John Sims, and Linda Carter — remain influential.
“I had many memorable professors and emulate aspects of their teaching in my own model,” Calvert noted.
Calvert has shared his expertise with his alma mater as a visiting professor. In 2011, he taught Constitutional Law at McGeorge, covering equal protection, substantive due process, and freedom of expression.
“As a professor, there is not much better than writing, learning, and talking about what you love,” remarked Calvert. “I am glad I went into teaching, and McGeorge was certainly instrumental in providing me the law background to do that.”
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