Ernesto Chavez, J.D.

Photo of Ernesto Chavez



J.D., Indiana University, Bloomington School of Law 1995
A.B., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1991


Ernesto began his academic career at St. Martin's in Spring 2012 as a part-time instructor of criminal justice. As a former practicing lawyer his focus is currently legal studies, but he has also developed a diverse set of teaching interests and expertise. These include communications, philosophy, ethics debate and COR 100. Building on his philosophy background and experience as a Latino, in spring of 2022, Ernesto became the first instructor at SMU to teach Critical Race Theory.  Since 2019, he has been a full-time Lecturer in legal studies and philosophy. 

Before Saint Martin's Ernesto practiced for fourteen years as an attorney, focusing primarily on criminal justice and criminal defense. 

During a hiatus in 2017, Ernesto taught at the University of Washington-Tacoma. At UW, he was a lecturer in law and policy and also the school's Pre-Law Coordinator. He developed an innovative series of pre-law programming, including the school's first LSAT (admission test) prep workshops. At Saint Martin's he advises pre-law students on their applications to law school. Ernesto has also co-taught and co-coached the SMU student debate courses and the debate team. 

Ernesto is an autodidact in philosophy, that means he is self-taught from readings and experience in legal cases. His inspiration and role model for the lawyer-cum-philosopher is the Roman skeptic Cicero, who became a senator and consul at Rome (like a president) based on his storied career as a criminal defense attorney representing clients in Roman courts.