Susan Saab Fortney has developed a reputation as an expert in legal ethics and malpractice. Her work focuses on issues related to law firm governance, culture, ethics, and malpractice. She has conducted numerous empirical studies and is a prolific and well-published legal scholar. In 2012 she completed an empirical study on proactive management-based regulation of law firms. Professor Fortney has also co-authored the nation’s first textbook on Legal Malpractice law, published by Thomson-West.
Before joining Hofstra, Fortney served as the Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished University Professor and Interim Dean at Texas Tech University School of Law. At Texas Tech, she also previously served as Associate Dean for Research and Associate Dean for Students and held the George Mahon Professorship of Law. She was the founder and director of the Health Care and Bioethics Mediation Clinic, the first such program in the country.
Prior to joining Texas Tech, Fortney practiced law in both the public and private sectors. Upon graduation from law school, she first served as briefing attorney for Chief Justice Carlos Cadena of the Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas. She continued her public service as an attorney with the Division of Corporation Finance and the Division of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Fortney later entered private practice, first handling securities and corporate matters and later focusing on legal malpractice cases.
Fortney has received recognition for her work as a teacher, scholar, and public servant. In 2006 she received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award at Texas Tech University. She has received Distinguished Researcher Awards and the Texas Tech President’s Academic Achievement Award. Texas Lawyer newspaper selected her as one of the 30 Extraordinary Women in Texas Law. In 2010, the Texas Bar Foundation selected her as the recipient of the Lola Wright Foundation Award in recognition of outstanding public service in advancing and enhancing legal ethics. In 2011 she was selected as the Howard Lichtenstein Distinguished Professor of Legal Ethics. In 2012, she obtained a grant to develop a teaching module on the Ethics of Diversity. In 2013 she was selected as a John Gregory Research Fellow.
As a Fulbright Scholar, Fortney taught a comparative legal ethics course in Slovenia. In 2011 she taught a course called the “Global Lawyer” to graduate law students in Melbourne, Australia. Her 2013 presentations include speaking at the ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility and at programs at Fordham and St. Thomas Law Schools. Upcoming international presentations include speaking at a program in Toronto sponsored by the Law Society for Upper Canada and delivering the Wickwire Lecture at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Fortney has been elected as a member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation. She also is one of the seven members of the National Conference of Bar Examiners Committee that drafts the Multi-state Professional Responsibility Examination. She is a member of the Executive Committee for the AALS Professional Responsibility Section, the Texas Committee on the Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, and a member of the Board of Editors for the ABA Journal of the Professional Lawyer and the Professional Lawyer.