It is with profound sorrow that we announce the sudden and unexpected passing of Professor Nancy L. Schultz, the Kennedy Professor of Dispute Resolution and the Director of Chapman’s Competitions Program, who passed away at her home on Thursday, December 15.

Nancy, as she insisted on being addressed by students and faculty alike, was synonymous with student advocacy at the Fowler School of Law. She will be remembered as a tireless advocate for the thousands of students she taught and coached during her 27 years at the Fowler School of Law. Nancy was recruited to the Chapman family in 1996, where she created the Competitions Program from scratch and personally oversaw each competition team for almost three decades.

She began her academic career as a legal writing professor at Villanova University Law School, before becoming Director of Legal Research and Writing at the George Washington University Law School. Throughout her career, she co-authored textbooks and published articles in legal writing, with an emphasis on the benefits of speaking, writing, and drafting in plain English. She was one of the rare coaches who was equally able to teach appellate advocacy, trial skills and technique, and alternative dispute resolution in all its forms: negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and client counseling. With Nancy at the center, Chapman quickly rose to national prominence in trial advocacy. To this day, Kennedy Hall is crammed with trophies won by Fowler School of Law students and teams, including seven individual and team awards that Nancy’s teams collected from the Fall of 2023 competitions alone.

As impressive as her resume was, Nancy stridently opposed self-promotion in any form, and insisted that the attention be placed squarely on her students. She prioritized intelligence and charisma, but only through integrity and fair play, “Win or lose, we play clean” was her mantra. It was often Nancy who first showed students what they were capable of achieving, and through her example they brought accolades to Kennedy Hall–later becoming judges, law firm partners, senior litigators, public interest lawyers, legal specialists, mediators, in-house attorneys, politicians, and professors.

Nancy’s home was in Orange, and her hub was in Kennedy Hall, but she was truly a citizen of the world–her expertise was recognized globally and she had friends on every continent. She served in significant leadership roles for the International Client Counseling Competition Committee, the International Law School Mediation Tournament, and the International Negotiation Competition Committee, where she was the North American representative to the Executive Committee. She could speak fondly of the friendships, the tournaments, and travels in Ireland, Great Britain, Brazil, Dubai, Singapore, and all over Europe and the United States.

At the conclusion of the 2023 fall semester, Nancy returned from the United Arab Emirates, where she had gathered with friends and administrators from around the world at the International Ad Hoc Mediation Competition. Yet again, her team of three Fowler School of Law students had won gold. Without a single word about the hundreds of hours she spent preparing and coaching for this triumph, nor discussing her role in establishing a seat at the table for Chapman, her note to faculty read:

“[Our students] represented us with grace, enthusiasm, civility, and professionalism. It is hard to imagine a better performance, not only in terms of talent and skill, but also in terms of just being good human beings. I can hardly remember when a team was so universally liked and respected by judges, competitors, and organizers.”

We are sure that Nancy would take great joy in knowing that her final email to the Chapman community was to share the success of her students.

Her devastating loss is felt keenly by her deepest source of joy and pride, her daughter Lindsay and her son Kyle, and by her three remaining siblings, Lisa, Cindy, and Carl. Nancy’s greatest wish was to create a better world through her children and her students, and as a result, she will be remembered by a global circle of friends. May we keep them in our thoughts during this time of loss, and may our students and faculty carry forward Nancy’s legacy of success, integrity, and humility.

Please send remembrances to Her family would love to hear your favorite memories and stories.

EDIT: Our follow up post after the event includes a link to a video of the Zoom broadcast as well as some still images from the evening.