Published in the Graduate Report, Spring/Summer 2013
In 2011, Shauhin Talesh ’00, LLM ’01 fulfilled a dream when he accepted an assistant professorship at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. It was a dream, he says, that began to take shape during his very first class at UConn Law. “It was a beautiful, sunny morning and I was in a class taught by Ángel Oquendo, a great professor,” recalls Talesh. “Within the first half-hour I found myself looking at Oquendo while he lectured and got us going, and it was like a bolt of lightning hit me: I just knew I eventually wanted to be a professor. I didn’t know the path I would take to get there, obviously, but I just knew that the ultimate end-game was to teach.”
Talesh decided to go to law school while he was an undergraduate majoring in criminology, law and society at UC, Irvine (UCI), where he played varsity basketball, was UCI’s Rhodes Scholar candidate in his senior year, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. “I mostly applied to east coast law schools because I had been in California all my life and I felt that it was time to venture out,” says Talesh, who grew up in Granada Hills. “When I visited Connecticut, I really liked the small size of the school, and I thought the campus was beautiful. I also was treated really well on my visit, and I got the feeling that [UConn Law] was going to be a place where there would be lots of faculty-student interaction. It felt like a place where I could thrive.”
And thrive he did. During his three years in the J.D. program, Talesh, who graduated with highest honors, won eight CALI Excellence for the Future Awards (given to the student with the highest grade in a given course), served as articles editor for the Connecticut Law Review, had two student notes published, and was a finalist in the 1998 Alva P. Loiselle Moot Court Competition. And his outstanding record as a law student continued when he stayed on to pursue his interest in health and insurance as an LL.M. student at UConn Law’s Insurance Law Center, clerk for Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Flemming Norcott and, in his not-so-spare time, help coach the Trinity College basketball team. Although Talesh continued to have his eye on a teaching career while working toward the LL.M., he decided that he “wanted to first go through the experience of being a lawyer,” so he headed back to his home state and spent the next five years as a commercial litigator at Foley & Lardner, LLP in Los Angeles. “I did a lot of breach of contract, insurance disputes, and product liability work,” he says. “One of the great things – and I tell Tom Baker (the former director of the Insurance Law Center) this all of the time – was that the LL.M. really made me marketable within the firm.”
Marketable or not, Talesh’s desire to teach and do scholarly research in the area of law and society were the catalysts for the next step in his career path: a Ph.D. in jurisprudence and society at the University of California, Berkeley. “One of the unique things about the Berkeley program is that it is housed in the law school,” Talesh explains. “That – and the fact that I had practiced and had an LLM – put me on a direct path to get a job teaching the law.”
Fast forward to 2011. Faced with the luxury of having several teaching offers from law schools throughout the country, Talesh decides to stay in sunny California, choosing UCI over UCLA. “I chose UCI because it is…a brand new law school (it opened its doors in 2009) and a place where I thought I could have more of a voice than I would have [as an untenured faculty member] at an established law school. I also thought that UCI was a very good fit intellectually, as many faculty members share my scholarly interest in law and society research, which has been coined as the study of the difference between the law on the books and the law in action…Of course, I was also coming home to an institution and campus with which I was very familiar.” Talesh pauses and laughs. “I also had the added benefit of working at the same university as my brother. (Talesh’s older brother – and longtime one-on-one basketball nemesis – Rameen, is dean of students and assistant vice chancellor at UCI.)
Currently, Talesh teaches Procedural Analysis (aka Civil Procedure) to first-year students, an upper division Insurance Law and Policy course, and a seminar entitled Advanced Writing for Law Review. Next year, he’ll be teaching a new course: Health Regulation and Compliance. His current scholarly research addresses the intersection of law and organizations, with a focus on how organizations respond to and shape the meaning of law.
“I just love my job,” says Talesh, the father of a four-year-old boy, Cyrus. “I love the fact that my dream [of teaching the law] began at Connecticut and was cultivated there by several faculty members, including Ángel Oquendo, Richard Kay and Tom Baker, as well as by (former) Deans Hugh Macgill and Nell Newton. I know that they are happy for me.”