Growing up, Ursula Weigold wanted to become a teacher because her own instructors had inspired her.
But her career took a different path when she became the first person in her family to go to college. She majored in journalism before deciding to go to law school.
“I went to law school initially by accident, but I quickly became fascinated by the stories in case books which appealed to the writer in me,” said Weigold, who is now director of legal research and writing, as well as a clinical associate professor, at the University of Wisconsin Law School.
“I also had many wonderful law school professors that again reminded me what a difference a great teacher could make to a student’s learning,” said Weigold.
After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, she started her legal career at the Texas Court of Appeals. A teaching opportunity then unexpectedly came her way.
“I got my first teaching job almost by accident because I was asked to take over a course that was already a few weeks into the semester and received permission from the court to teach once a week. This made me discover how much I loved teaching,” Weigold said. “I didn’t plan or neatly prepare for every part of my career, but it certainly worked out in a wonderful way. I am grateful for every day that I can get up in the morning and come to a job that I love.”
After working at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota and Cornell Law School in New York, she joined the UW Law School faculty in 2010. She carried out the Law School’s plan to shift from relying on adjunct instructors and instead make use of a full-time, professional teaching staff. She also doubled the required Legal Research and Writing program credits from three to six.
“Ursula is a role model by example because students are aware of her hard work and high standards,” said Mary Ann Polewski, administrative director of legal research and writing.
“Her experiences as a staff attorney, her work in four legal writing programs and her ongoing research and networking provide her with a broad understanding of issues facing the legal profession. Therefore, Ursula can tell students what is expected of them in their first jobs as law students and when they become attorneys.”
Weigold says she enjoys seeing the ways in which her work benefits students.
“I am proud of building a strong legal research and writing program not only because I think it plays an important part of the law school’s overall mission, and on an individual level, I hope it makes a difference in preparing students to leave school and do justice to the jobs that they have dreamed about their own lives,” she said.