Brain Man  

Debra Austin, JD, PhD

Debra teaches Lawyering Process and Advanced Legal Research at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She received the William T. Driscoll Master Educator Award in 2001.



Debra writes about how neuroscience research can improve law student, law professor, and lawyer well-being.  Her first article was on stress and cognition, and her second piece discussed the impact of substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and marijuana on brain function.  Her work in progress will examine neuroscience research on the relationship of nutrition and brain health. 

Debra was awarded a Legal Writing Institute-Association of Legal Writing Directors-LexisNexis 2012 Legal Writing Scholarship Grant for her article on stress in legal education and lawyering. She was awarded a Hughes-Ruud Research and Development Fund grant to attend 2014 Neuroscience Boot Camp at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her articles include:

Killing Them Softly: Neuroscience Reveals How Brain Cells Die From Law School Stress and How Neural Self-Hacking Can Optimize Cognitive Performance, 59 Loy. L. Rev. 791(2013). Her article has been covered by the ABA Journal Law News Now, the National Jurist, the TaxProf Blog, and the Colorado Bar Association Legal Connection.

Drink Like a Lawyer: the Neuroscience of Substance Use and its Impact on Cognitive Wellness, 15 NEV. L.J. 826 (2015).

Got stress? You may be harming your brain, The Coffee House 6, a Publication of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, Spring 2015.

Debra speaks to law students, law faculty, lawyers, and judges about her research. Read feedback from the Kansas Judicial Center, Professor Ian Gallacher, and the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association.


Prior to coming to DU, Debra worked for West Publishing Company and she was a law clerk at Wendel, Rosen, Black, Dean & Levitan, in Oakland, California. She began her professional life as a middle school teacher in Arvada, Colorado.

Debra consults with law firms and individual lawyers on lawyering skills and cognitive wellness. She is a member of the Rhone Brackett Inn of Court.

© Debra Austin 2008-2015
Images by Keith Jones