Published on May 13, 2020 by Morgan Black  

The onset of COVID-19 has put a damper on the dreams of those who enjoy traveling abroad. The same holds true for retiring law professor Deborah Young.

Young’s daughter lives in China and her sister lives in France, which certainly provides great opportunity for global exploration, but for now, that’ll have to wait. In the meantime, Young reflects on a rewarding career practicing and teaching the law. 

Following her graduation from law school, Young served as a clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, then an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. It was in that role where she prosecuted criminal cases of espionage, bribery, fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and narcotics violations.

Her career then led her to academia when she became a professor at Emory University School of Law in 1990. She taught there until 1997 when she joined the Cumberland School of Law faculty.

“I have especially loved every minute in the classroom, whether teaching 60 students Evidence or 12 in an Advanced Trial simulation class,” Young shared.

In 2007, Young was a Fulbright Professor at Xiamen University in Xiamen, China and she was named the Judge J. Russell McElroy professor of law in 2018.

Like the rest of society, Young expressed that teaching law has had to change and adapt with the evolution of technology, especially during a pandemic. “We all enjoy the convenience of being able to research, teach and learn from home,” she said. “But I am a bit nostalgic for the pre-laptop era when Robinson Hall was bustling with faculty and students all day and evening.”

Young said the most rewarding aspect of her career has been seeing law students discover what they are capable of mastering. And, the most challenging was convincing a student that he or she doesn’t have to be a natural to succeed; with commitment and hard work they can master any skill. 

Once travel restrictions are lifted, Young will enjoy her international travels visiting loved ones, including a lot of hiking and cycling. “For now, I’ll visit by FaceTime and hike at Oak Mountain. I look forward to when we can safely travel again.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.