Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

Jeffrey A. Parness
Jeffrey A. Parness

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News Release

Contact: Melody Mitchell, NIU College of Law
(815) 753-9655

January 26, 2006

NIU law professor named among
best legal educators in Illinois

DeKalb, Ill. — Northern Illinois University College of Law Professor Jeffrey A. Parness was named one of the “Best Law Professors in Illinois” by Chicago Lawyer Magazine.

In its January 2006 issue, the publication profiled outstanding professors selected from a pool of nominations submitted by faculty, staff and students at the nine Illinois law schools. Parness’ ability to challenge his students’ prevailing perspectives and his penchant for legal research and policy reform placed him among the leading law professors in the state.

“It’s nice to know that my work is appreciated,” Parness said modestly of the recognition. “I also have enjoyed receiving thoughtful notes from former students congratulating me on the honor."

Since joining the NIU College of Law faculty in 1982, Parness has taught a variety of civil procedure and administrative law courses. Parness particularly enjoys teaching the civil procedure course to first-year law students, which he has done every year for his more than 30 years in teaching. In addition to educating them on core principles, Parness aims to motivate those students to “Think like a lawyer” and to develop their analytical skills.

“Professor Parness’ engaging teaching style, as well as his extensive research and contributions to legal reform, make him an invaluable asset to our faculty and program. He is more than deserving of this recognition,” noted NIU Law Dean LeRoy Pernell.

Beyond the classroom, Parness spends his time researching legal issues he thinks are overlooked and yet affect a great number of people. His primary areas of scholarship include public access judicial rulemaking, the legal status of the unborn, and American maternity and paternity laws. Several state legislatures and Congress, as well as professional and governmental organizations, have called upon Parness for his legal expertise, resulting in landmark court decisions and policy reform. For example, Parness’ research was cited in a 1994 decision by the California Supreme Court involving the death of a fetus from an attack on the pregnant mother. The precedent set in this case led to the highly publicized 2004 trial of Scott Peterson for the murder of his wife, Laci, and of their unborn child.

“I am proud that some of my work has proven useful to federal and state lawmakers across the country,” he said. “As long as there continues to be policy questions in these areas, I will remain interested in researching them.”

Parness’ legal writings also assist both students and attorneys. In addition to writing three textbooks on civil procedure and a book on the topic for practicing Illinois attorneys, Parness has penned several chapters for various legal resources, including the nationally acclaimed “Moore’s Federal Practice.” More recently, Parness is working on a book about contemporary American paternity laws, which calls for federal and state governmental initiatives to reform the policies that produce unwarranted inequalities between maternity and paternity. His articles have been published in numerous law reviews. Parness also has presented many lectures on his research. Currently he is the Reporter for the Allerton House Conference, to be held by the Civil Practice and Procedure Section of the Illinois State Bar Association in April 2006.

Professor Parness earned a J.D. degree at the University of Chicago Law School. He began teaching law at the University of Akron School of Law in 1976. He has been a visiting professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law, Case Western University School of Law, and Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Earlier, Parness served as law clerk to Judge James B. Parsons of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 1974-1976.

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The only public law school in the greater Chicago area, NIU Law has previously been ranked first in the nation for government placement, according to U.S. News and World Report. Nearly one-third of its graduates choose a career in public interest, including more than 50 alumni in the judiciary — a remarkable accomplishment for a law school with less than 3,000 graduates. In honor of its commitment to public service, NIU Law received the 2001 Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service Award.