UCLA School of Law lecturer Justin Bernstein has won the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award for 2022, the university’s highest recognition for excellence in the classroom. Bernstein’s award is for full-time lecturers, adjunct professors, clinical faculty members, and teaching assistants.
The UCLA Academic Senate has presented the award to these non-tenure-track teachers since 1985 “to increase awareness of UCLA’s leadership in teaching and public service by honoring individuals who bring respect and admiration to teaching, at UCLA.” Each year, only three teachers across the UCLA campus are so recognized. In addition, awards go to members of the university’s tenure-track faculty, and in 2022, UCLA Law professor Cheryl Harris won the award for tenure-track faculty members.
Bernstein is the 34th member of the UCLA Law community to earn this campus-wide accolade.
A renowned authority in trial advocacy, Bernstein teaches courses related to trial advocacy and evidence. He directs the law school’s A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy, which has greatly expanded in opportunity and accomplishments since his 2018 arrival at UCLA Law. The program now consistently ranks in the top 10 of all trial advocacy programs nationwide.
He also coaches the law school’s Cappello Trial Team, which has been ranked No. 1 in the country for two consecutive years and has won multiple national championship competitions. In his career, Bernstein has coached many law school, college, and high school trial ad teams to major championships, and he co-authored the book Championship Mock Trial: The Guide for Participants and Coaches (ABA Book Publishing, 2022).
Bernstein earned his B.A. from UC Berkeley and J.D. from NYU School of Law.
In a message to the UCLA Law community following the announcement of Bernstein’s award, then-Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin highlighted Bernstein’s “uncommon ability to work creatively on behalf of his students and our program.”
“The support that Professor Bernstein received for this award underscored his terrific impact on our community and his students,” Mnookin said.
“Many of them have gone on to jobs as litigators in leading major law firms and in public interest settings, and describe their experiential courses and activities with him as key to developing the skills that they need in practice – and, quite simply, as the best moments of their law school experience,” Mnookin said. “He inspires our students to reach their absolute personal best, and so many of them find working with him a genuinely transformative experience that shapes their sense of what is possible.”