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September 30, 2013

Local law professor profiled in new book

CHESTNUT HILL — Gloucester resident and Boston College Law School Professor Ingrid Hillinger is a 37-year teaching veteran, and — according to a recently published book — one of the best in her profession.

Hillinger was among 26 law teachers profiled in “What the Best Law Teachers Do,” based on a four-year study of law educators who have a significant, positive and long-term effect on their students.

The book explores the qualities that make these select professors stand out from their peers — such as their class preparations and teaching methods, and how they relate to students, provide assistance and assess their learning.

A 25-year member of the BC Law faculty who teaches a variety of commercial law and bankruptcy courses, Hillinger is described as an inspiring role model for her students, one who carefully prepares them to practice law, devotes herself to helping them grow personally and professionally, and continues to mentor former students long after graduation.

Researching their book, the authors visited BC Law to observe Hillinger’s lectures and conduct lengthy interviews with her, BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau, her colleagues, as well as students and alumni. The authors said they felt moved, inspired and excited to change their own teaching methodology based on what they observed and heard.

“You don’t need to be brilliant to be effective,” said Hillinger, who won a BC Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002.

“You need to be clear. If a student doesn’t get it, then it’s been a waste of time. I think the nicest thing you can say about me is that I care about the students. If you care, they care back,” said Hillinger in a statement.

Hillinger says she lets students know what they’re in for at the outset: “On the first day, I’ll say something like, ‘All the rumors you’ve heard are true: This is BC Law’s hair-and-weight-loss class, and I eat a bowl of code provisions for breakfast.’

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