Four McGeorge School of Law faculty awarded 2024 Professor of the Year honors

Students in McGeorge School of Law’s Class of 2024 voted on the faculty for the law school’s annual Professor of the Year awards. The award recognizes faculty who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives of their students.

Omar Dajani won Full-Time JD Faculty of the Year; Erin O’Neal won Part-Time JD Faculty of the Year; Dr. Marcie Paolinelli won MPA/MPP Faculty of the Year; and Kim Delfino, ‘93, won MSL Faculty of the Year.

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Omar Dajani

Dajani was named the Professor of the Year by the JD Class of 2024. He teaches courses on Contracts, Constitutional Law, International Negotiation, and Public International Law.

Dajani is the co-director of the law school’s Global Center for Business & Development and is recognized as a leading expert on legal aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He traveled to the Middle East several times  over the last year for research and to advance the work of A Land for All, an Israeli-Palestinian peace movement whose board he co-chairs. He gave talks regarding the situation in Israel-Palestine and his vision for peace at more than a dozen universities this academic year including Dartmouth, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, and Yale.

Dajani began his legal career clerking for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He served as a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team in peace talks with Israel, ultimately participating in the summits at Camp David and Taba. He then joined the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), where he worked on peacebuilding and governmental reform initiatives and  Much of his scholarly and policy work since then has focused on the Middle East.

Dajani joined the McGeorge faculty in 2003. He loves teaching, and his substantive expertise is complemented by his enthusiasm, respectfulness, and compassion.

“I am honored and moved beyond words to be named Professor of the Year on this, the twentieth anniversary of beginning my academic career at McGeorge,” Dajani said.

Dajani has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a JD degree from Yale Law School.

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Erin O’Neal

O’Neal was named the Part-Time JD Professor of the Year. She has taught courses on Capital Lawyering & Policymaking and Global Lawyering Skills as an adjunct faculty member since 2018. O’Neal will join the full-time faculty in August as a Visiting Associate Professor of Law.

O’Neal serves as the Director of McGeorge School of Law’s Capital Center for Law & Policy and Capital Lawyering Concentration. O’Neal has been a coach for McGeorge’s nationally-ranked moot court competition team since 2019. She is also the director of the Pacific Legal Advantage Program at the University of the Pacific, which provides an immersive pre-law educational experience designed to expose students to the legal field and prepare them for the rigors of law school.

“Working with students to develop their analytical and advocacy skills and having the opportunity to be a part of the tremendous amount of professional and personal growth they experience during their time at McGeorge is the best part of my job. Receiving this award was incredibly meaningful to me and I am truly honored,” O’Neal said.

Prior to attending law school, O’Neal was a California Senate Fellow and legislative consultant in the office of Senate President Pro Tempore Bill Lockyer. O’Neal clerked for federal district Judge Jon P. McCalla in the Western District of Tennessee after graduating from law school. Before joining the faculty, O’Neal was a civil litigator for both a national firm and a boutique law firm focused on complex federal cases. 

O’Neal has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a JD degree from Stanford Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Stanford Law & Policy Review. She currently serves as chair of the Association of American Law School’s State & Local Government Section.

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Dr. Marcie Paolinelli

Paolinelli was awarded Professor of the Year by graduating Public Administration and Public Policy students. She won the award in 2022 and 2023 as well. 

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the MPP/MPA Professor of the Year award,” Paolinelli said. “This recognition reflects the hard work and dedication of my incredible students, whose passion for public administration inspires me every day. In the upcoming year, I look forward to continuing our journey of learning and discovery, striving to equip each of our students with the knowledge and skills to effect positive change in our communities. Thank you for this remarkable honor.”

Paolinelli rejoined the McGeorge School of Law faculty in 2023 as a full-time professor for the Public Administration and Public Policy programs. She previously taught at McGeorge from 2015-2022.

Paolinelli has provided management consulting services to public sector organizations for over 30 years, having led projects for a wide variety of government programs, including environmental protection, health, social services, transportation, and emergency management. She served as the co-director of the University of Southern California’s California Leadership Institute, an executive leadership and management training program for the State of California’s top-level managers.

As a member of the American Society of Public Administration, Paolinelli has served as President of the Sacramento Chapter, National Board Member of the Section on Intergovernmental Administration and Management, and National Council Member representing California. She was honored by the American Society for Public Administration, Sacramento Chapter with the Ross Clayton Distinguished Public Service Award for meritorious service in the field of public administration over the course of a lifetime.

Paolinelli has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis. She also received a Master’s of Public Administration and a Doctor of Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

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Kim Delfino, ‘93

Delfino was awarded Professor of the Year by graduating Master of Science in Law (MSL) students. She is an adjunct professor, teaching in the school’s MSL program. She has taught courses on Environmental Law at McGeorge School of Law since 2020.

Delfino is also the president and founder of Earther Advocacy. Delfino provides policy and advocacy expertise to nonprofits and foundations with the goal of protecting and restoring our lands, water, and wildlife for future generations. Delfino has nearly 30 years of experience in public and private land use planning and policy, species conservation, and water policy, including serving on the California Commission from 2010-2015.

Delfino serves on the boards of the Water Education Foundation; Sustainable Conservation; and the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Trends.

Delfino has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis and a JD degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

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