Debra Austin, JD, PhD

professor of the practice of law
university of Denver Sturm College of LaW

Debra teaches Lawyering Process and Advanced Legal Research. She received the William T. Driscoll Master Educator Award in 2001.

Debra writes and speaks about how neuroscience research can improve law student and lawyer well-being and performance. 

Killing Them Softly shines a bright light on lawyer depression, substance abuse, and suicide, and its application of neuroscience to the chronic stresses of law school and law practice depicts how law students and lawyers suffer cognitive brain damage that impairs them from doing precisely what their studies and practices require.  Drink Like a Lawyer uses neuroscience research to demonstrate how self-medication with substances like alcohol, marijuana, and study drugs impairs law student and lawyer thinking. Food for Thought examines neuroscience research that explores the relationship between diet and increased risk of cognitive damage, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and describes optimal nutrition habits that build and maintain a healthy lawyer brain.  Positive Legal Education proposes a new field of inquiry and a new method of training lawyer leaders that will enhance lawyer effectiveness and wellbeing.  Debra's presentations connect lawyer wellbeing to performance and ethical obligations, and they are accredited for general and ethics CLE in multiple states.