New Faculty

Reporting by Jeremy Simon

As anyone who has been to law school knows, the essence of a legal education is learning to think like a lawyer, and learning it from great minds. Texas Law’s deep bench of world-class instructors grew by six members this year. 

These new faculty members come from a range of backgrounds, with expertise in a variety of timely areas of the law and legal practice, including subjects such as advocacy and legal writing, election law, constitutional law, law and economics, and public interest law. 

Their expertise will support today’s students as they launch their careers into an ever-changing world. Some, like election law, are relatively new and bring new course offerings altogether. Others, like appellate advocacy and legal writing, are timeless but strongly influenced by new technologies, such as generative AI, that demand innovation in teaching practices.

Meet these new scholars and award-winning instructors, all of whom are providing students the best that legal education has to offer. 

sketch of Behara Srinivas

Srinivas “Vasu” Behara ’05
Clinical Professor

Deputy Chief Administrative Law Judge Vasu Behara ’05 was tapped to lead the law school’s Judicial Internship program. “My own law school judicial internship was a formational learning experience in my career,” says Behara. “I’m hopeful I can make an impact on the brightest future legal professionals in the country.”

 “I’m hopeful I can make an impact on the brightest future legal professionals in the country.”

Judge Behara has extensive presiding and practical experience in civil trial and appeals, mediation, and arbitration. After law school he clerked for Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa on the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, then later as staff attorney to the Hon. Karin Crump, Presiding Judge of the 250th Judicial District Court in Travis County. His work as a public servant also includes a term as the assistant general counsel at the Texas Medical Association, where he worked in health law and legislative affairs. A former member of the board of directors for the Austin Bar Association and staff attorney with the State Bar of Texas, Legal Access Division, Behara worked to promote pro bono representation across Texas.

As a native of McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley, Behara received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio and his JD from The University of Texas School of Law.

Stephanie Cagniart

The law school’s best-in-class legal writing program gets even stronger with the addition of appellate specialist Stephanie Cagniart. Cagniart teaches both Legal Analysis and Communication and Persuasive Writing and Advocacy as the newest lecturer in the David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy.

An elected member of the American Law Institute, Cagniart has her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and her master’s in history, as well as her JD, from the University of Virginia. After law school, she served as a law clerk to Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Before joining Texas Law’s full-time faculty, Cagniart was a lecturer at her alma mater, UVA, and a partner at Baker Botts, where she remains Of Counsel.

Cagniart’s many pursuits include her four national championships in public speaking while a UT undergraduate, her current service as a Foundation Fellow of the Austin Bar Association as well as a board member of its Civil Litigation Section, and as a member of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.

Sketch of Stephanie Cagniart

Sketch of Jamein P. Cunningham

Jamein P. Cunningham
Assistant Professor

Jamein P. Cunningham, a recipient of the Rackham Merit Fellowship and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute in Child Health and Development Fellowship, joins the faculty from Cornell University’s Population Center. As an economist whose research focuses on law and economics,
urban economics, economics of crime, and microeconometrics, he holds a joint appointment with the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

“I’m excited to join UT, and I’m most looking forward to meeting and working with faculty and students both to start new projects to examine the efficacy of oversight in the broader U.S. criminal legal system.” Cunningham currently is teaching two courses: Statistics for Lawyers and a seminar on Crime, Law, and Policy.

I am looking forward to … starting new projects to examine the efficacy of oversight of the broader U.S. criminal legal system.”

He holds professional memberships in the American Economic Association, the Southern Economic Association, the American Law and Economics Association, the Racial Democracy, Crime, and Justice Network, and the National Economic Association. His research has been published in journals including the American Economic Association Paper and Proceedings, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and the Review of Black Political Economy.

Before receiving his Ph.D. at the Uni­versity of Michigan, Cunningham completed his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and a master’s in economics at the University of North Texas. 

John Greil
Clinical Professor

“The Law and Religion Clinic is unique among American law schools for performing soup to nuts legal representation for individuals and organizations exercising their rights to religious freedom,” says John Greil, the clinic’s new professor.

The Law and Religion Clinic is part of the Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center, which is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the First Amendment and to fostering appreciation of its place in our legal system.

Before joining the faculty, Griel was an associate at Vinson & Elkins in Houston. He clerked for two federal district judges, Nathaniel Gorton of the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts and Paul Barbadoro of the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, as well as for The Hon. Jennifer Walker Elrod of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. His scholarship has appeared in the Villanova Law Review and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Greil graduated, cum laude, from both the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Law School.

Sketch of John Greil

Sketch of Joshua Sellers

Joshua Sellers
Associate Professor

Joshua Sellers teaches and writes in the areas of election law, constitutional law, race and the law, and American politics.

“As a scholar of election law, I’m exci­ted to be in Texas, given its enormous influence on American democracy,” says Sellers, whose work has appeared in many leading journals, including the Stanford Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and New York University Law Review.

I’m excited to be in Texas given its enormous influence on American democracy.”

Sellers won the Distinguished Scholarship Award in 2021 from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Election Law, and in 2022 he was awarded the Berlin Prize by the American Academy in Berlin for representing the highest standards of excellence in his field. Before entering the academy, Sellers was a law clerk to Judge Rosemary Barkett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and a litigation associate at Jenner & Block LLP in Washington, D.C.

Sellers holds a JD and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago, where he served as an articles editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, and a BA from the University of Michigan.

Nicole Simmons ’07
Center Director, Clinical Professor

Nicole Simmons has been making a major impact on the academic and professional journeys of Texas Law students for more than a decade. The new executive director of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, Simmons is now also serving as the clinical faculty member teaching Texas Law’s Public Service Internship course. The course gives students hands-on legal experience under the supervision of experienced attorneys in the field, and an academic course component taught by Simmons.

“It’s my passion to support the professional development of students who love public service work as much as I do. Securing internships in nonprofit and government offices is an incredible opportunity.”

“And,” she adds, “it’s fantastic to be back in the classroom.”

Simmons, a member of the Texas Law class of 2007, practiced law as an associate with Mayer Brown in Houston before taking on roles at Texas Law, first advising students on public service career opportunities, and then as the founding director of the Texas Law Pipeline Outreach and Development program. She’s also held leadership roles with the National Association of Law Placement, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, and the Austin Black Lawyer’s Association. 

Sketch of Nicole Simmons
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