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Valery Behan

Valery Behan, Adjunct Professor of Law

Valery Christiansen Behan, was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She graduated as the Valedictorian of both her High School class (Penn Wood 1986) and her undergraduate class at Brigham Young University (College of Social Sciences, 1991). She also served an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Viña del Mar, Chile, S.A., which she loved, and there became fluent in Spanish.

After returning to the States, she started dating a long-time, intelligent, witty, and balding friend, Christopher Behan. They became engaged shortly before she began law school, and were married after her first semester. During law school, Valery served as a Senior Editor of the BYU Journal of Public Law, and Student Director of the Immigration Clinic. She also worked for the Utah Attorney General (Corrections Division) in Sandy UT, Legal Aid of Northwestern Missouri in St. Joseph Mo., and a Provo, Utah firm: Howard, Lewis and Peterson (where Chris worked too). She is most proud that her two oldest children were born during this time: Cara Helena (1992) (before Fall finals 2nd year) and Jacob Wayne (1994) ( before Spring finals 3rd year). Despite the distractions, she earned her J.D. and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the J. Reuben Clark School of Law (BYU) 1994.

She took and passed (and remains a member of) the Missouri Bar, never again returning to Missouri to practice. (She used to vow her tombstone would read–“Why did I take the Mo Bar?!"). She continued to work for the Provo firm, until Chris graduated Law School in 1995 (also Magna Cum Laude but with a slightly higher GPA as he will remind her from time to time; whereupon she will remind him that he did not carry nor deliver two children either [although he did have many sleepless nights and changed many diapers]).  His acceptance into the Army JAG Corps moved them to Virginia, and then upstate to New York and allowed Valery to be a stay-at-home Mom.

While in Watertown, New York, Valery served as a pro-bono Tax Advisor at the Fort Drum Tax Clinic, and as the Relief Society President of her church’s women’s organization. She also became a mother to Joseph Val (1996), care giver to a series of guinea pigs, and then twins Megan June and Bonnie Rose were born in 1998.  Shortly thereafter Val was diagnosed with R.A. and although it slowed her down for a bit, with the help of prayer, good doctors and a supportive husband she bounced back.

The family was moved to Fort Riley, Kansas and they loved living in the KSU college town of Manhattan, where they did a lot of swimming and playing at the nearby park. Valery continued to serve in her church and became a Brownie Scout Leader. She also worked part-time with an immigration attorney in Topeka assisting with appeals and helping many to become permanent residents through amnesty.  Around the time of 9/11 a cat the kids found and named "Crystal," became part of the family. 

The family of 7 moved to the Charlottesville Virginia area when then "Captain" Behan was chosen to attend the LLM Program (Masters in Military Law) at the Army JAG School.  He excelled in the program, was asked to teach at the school, and was promoted to Major.  He reluctantly allowed Val to adopt their second cat "Pounce" and later their first dog, an older black lab named "Cindy."  Valery focused this time on service to others and family and Samuel Christopher was born in 2006, shortly before the Behans came to SIU.

Here in Southern Illinois, Valery has continued with her volunteer work, with the youth and children at church, as a Girl Scout Leader, an ESL teacher in Carbondale, and as a volunteer with the SIU Immigration Project. She was asked to teach Lawyering Skills II at SIU Law for Spring Semester of 2008, and the day before her last class, her 7th (and final) child, James Anthony, came along.  (Of course that didn't stop her from grading papers or judging 1L Oral Argument rounds).  Under the direction of then Dean Peter Alexander, in Summer 2009 she taught Lawyering Skills I to an amazing group of CLEO (Counsel on Legal Education Opportunity) students.  

She first taught Interviewing and Counseling in 2009 as an Adjunct Professor and has taught it every year until the present.  She began teaching Animal Law  in 2011 and continues to do so every other year.  Since 2012 she has taught Negotiations each semester.  For several years Val was also a "universal" essay grader for KAPLAN's Bar Preparation Course online, and for several summers Val was appointed by the ISBA (Illinois State Bar Association) to be the Director of ILLI (the Illinois Law and Leadership Camp) for minority high school students from around the state.  She also helped to establish an ongoing Summer Trial Advocacy program partnering with Upward Bounds at SIU.

As a pet update: sadly Cindy ran away their first Sunday in Illinois; but the family now has 3 dogs named: Syri (age 8), and Calvin & Hali (age 2); as well as a sweet gecko  named Stripes (age 3).  All 7 kids are happy and healthy.

Valery currently is a member of the Damas Latinas Club, and serves  on the Boards of the Williamson County Family Crisis Center in Herrin IL, and the Gaia House Interfaith Center in Carbondale, and is Service Coordinator and Gospel Doctrine Teacher for her local church.  

She loves teaching at SIU Law, and is FINALLY an active member of the Missouri Bar again and hopes to be able to waive into the Illinois Bar this year. 

Valery loves God, her Family and fellow Earthlings (human and animal), The Law, good books, good food (especially soup), good music and conversation, her aerobics class, and taking short walks and long naps!


  • 570 - Client Interviewing and Counseling
  • 609 - Current Developments in American Law: Animal Law
  • 642 - Negotiation