David W. Barman is a 2005 alumnus of the College of Law and one of the first registered patent attorneys from the college. He recently accepted a full-time faculty appointment with the university’s College of Business. Barman, who has taught courses at the bachelor’s and master’s levels at FIU, recently discussed his career path with FIU News.
What have you been doing since your graduation from law school?
After law school, I took a position with a patent firm in Hollywood. While I was working there, I had occasion to meet an assistant chair in the Department of Criminal Justice at FIU. Although I did not practice criminal law, they offered me a position teaching a class as an adjunct. I have a teaching background having previously taught high school science/advanced math and SAT and MCAT test preparation for Kaplan.
The position eventually led to teaching assignments in Public Administration, where I taught administrative law, and the College of Business teaching business law. I have been teaching as an adjunct at FIU for six years.
How did you become interested in teaching law at the university level?
I have always loved teaching. I have two undergraduate degrees from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, one in chemistry and one in music performance — tuba. Teaching brings out the performer in me. The opportunity to get back in the classroom while still practicing law was most appealing to me.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your work?
When a student comes for advice on their next stage in life, and I am able to offer help. I have written letters of recommendation for jobs and grad school as well as offered career/life advice. Receiving responses from these students informing me of their successes after my class [means a lot].
You’ve just received a university faculty appointment. How did your time at FIU Law prepare you for this?
To paraphrase… it’s not just a job. This is my university. I was a member of the inaugural law school class at FIU. I am honored by the opportunity to be a member of the full-time faculty in the College of Business.
My first day of my first university class, I was reminded of what I was told after my first (very rough) day teaching high school. My principal said, think about a teacher that you remember learning a lot from, and copy what they did.
FIU Law has some talented teachers. You can be a scholar in your field and not have the ability or talent that translates to teaching. I thought of two FIU Law professors, in particular, and copied their teaching style. When studying the law, it becomes easy to slip into a theoretical manner of communication. The professors in mind excelled not only as scholars but as teachers. They worked current news/cases/events into their courses and lectures. They gave me direction on how to teach.
The College of Law gave me the skills and knowledge to move forward.
What advice would you offer to current FIU Law students interested in teaching law?
As in every profession, the greatest difficulty is getting the first job. Be persistent. Look for opportunities to teach at universities, community colleges, even online.
My first contact with the College of Business was two years before my first class. The department chair at that time was very nice and told me to keep checking back. Every semester, I sent a friendly and short email that I was checking back. One semester, she had a faculty member with a schedule conflict three weeks before the start of the semester. She called and asked, “Do you want to teach a course?” I had no hesitation. I told her, “YES!”
I have not looked back.