Beck Center Faculty

Kamela Bridges headshot

Kamela S. Bridges

Director & Senior Lecturer

Kamela Bridges directs the David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy.  She teaches legal writing, appellate advocacy, and litigation writing.  Before joining the faculty in 2000, Ms. Bridges was a partner at Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP (now known as Locke Lord).  Her practice focused on civil litigation and appellate law.  Ms. Bridges co-authored Writing for Litigation, a text designed to help students and new lawyers learn to write documents typically used in civil litigation.

Stephanie Cagniart


Stephanie Cagniart teaches legal writing. Her courses include Legal Analysis and Communication, and Persuasive Writing and Advocacy. Ms. Cagniart is a graduate of the University of Virginia, from which she earned a J.D. and M.A. in History, and the University of Texas at Austin, from which she earned a B.A.

After law school, Ms. Cagniart served as a law clerk to Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Before joining the full-time faculty in 2023, Ms. Cagniart was a partner at Baker Botts LLP, where she remains of Counsel, and a Lecturer at the University of Virginia School of Law. Ms. Cagniart’s private practice focuses on appellate law and she represents clients in a broad range of complex litigation matters, including statutory issues, constitutional law, and general commercial litigation. She also has extensive experience in a variety of state and federal trial courts.

Ms. Cagniart is an elected member of the American Law Institute. In her law practice, Ms. Cagniart has been recognized as “Up and Coming” in Texas-Litigation-Appellate by Chambers USA, a “Rising Star” in appellate litigation by Texas Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), and a “Next Generation Partner” by The Legal 500 U.S. She completed her master’s thesis in legal and political history, Disunion and Party Politics in the Early Republic: James Madison, the Embargo, and the Election of 1808, under advisors Peter Onuf and Charles McCurdy at the University of Virginia. As an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, Ms. Cagniart won four national championships in public speaking.

Ms. Cagniart currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, is a Foundation Fellow of the Austin Bar Association and a board member of its Civil Litigation Section, and is a member of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.

Edward Caldwell Dawson


Ed Dawson teaches legal research and writing. Before joining the legal writing faculty in 2020, Ed was an assistant and then associate professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he taught civil rights, constitutional law, criminal procedure, federal courts, and legislation. From 2012-2014 he taught legal writing as an assistant professor of professional practice at Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center. From 2004-2012 Ed practiced appellate law at Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, where he was an associate, and Yetter Coleman LLP, where he was a partner. Ed also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Honorable Ed Carnes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and the University of Notre Dame.

Lori R. Mason


Ms. Mason teaches first-year legal writing. Her courses include Legal Analysis and Communication and Persuasive Writing and Advocacy.

Before joining the full-time faculty in 2016, Ms. Mason was a partner and later of counsel and director of professional development at Cooley LLP and taught advanced legal writing as an adjunct professor. Her practice focused on appellate law with a heavy emphasis on representing technology companies in privacy, securities, and intellectual-property litigation. She is especially proud of annually exceeding her law firm’s challenge to contribute at least 60 pro-bono hours and of receiving the firm’s Pro Bono Achievement Award. Her pro-bono work included serving as counsel for the Innocence Network in the courts of appeals and Supreme Court. Her team’s work contributed to the exoneration of George Souliotes 16 years after he was wrongfully convicted of arson based on faulty fire science. She encourages her students to embrace pro-bono work as a way to gain experience and personal satisfaction and to give back to the community.

Ms. Mason served as a briefing attorney for the Hon. Priscilla R. Owen on the Texas Supreme Court and clerked for the Hon. Fortunato P. Benavides on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Matthew Murrell


Matthew Murrell teaches legal research and writing at Texas Law. Before joining the Texas faculty, Matthew practiced complex commercial litigation in Austin, litigating cases in state and federal court, and clerked on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Prior to law school, Matthew taught at McNeil High School in Austin, serving as director of the speech and debate program.

Shannon L. Peris


Shannon Peris teaches legal writing and research. She received her undergraduate degree in economics from Cornell University and her law degree from Cornell Law School. After law school she began her commercial litigation practice in the New York office of Mayer Brown. She eventually relocated to Texas where she continued her practice and also began teaching as an adjunct professor. She joined the full-time faculty in 2018.

Sean Petrie headshot

Sean J. Petrie


Sean Petrie started his legal career as judicial clerk (U.S. Dist. Judge Sam Sparks) and an IP litigation attorney (Wilson Sonsini; Susman Godfrey; and Conley Rose & Tayon). Then, in 2005, he was asked to teach as an adjunct at UT Law. He loved it, was fortunate enough to get a full-time position in 2007, and hasn’t looked back.

Sean currently focuses on legal writing and research, teaching the first-year required courses.

Wayne Schiess headshot

Wayne Schiess

Senior Lecturer

Mr. Schiess teaches legal writing, legal drafting, and plain English and speaks frequently on those subjects. He has also written dozens of articles and four books on practical legal-writing skills. He graduated from Cornell Law School, practiced law for three years at the Texas firm of Baker Botts, and in 1992 joined the faculty at Texas. He blogs about legal writing at LEGIBLE.

Julie D. Wimmer


Julie Wimmer teaches legal writing. Her courses include Legal Analysis and Communication and Persuasive Writing and Advocacy.

Before joining the faculty full-time, Julie practiced immigration law and served as an advisor on the intersection of immigration and criminal law in Texas. She began her practice as a Skadden Fellow after clerking for Judge George P. Kazen on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.