Valery Behan | School of Law | SIU

Southern Illinois University



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 (1986) and her undergraduate class at Brigham Young University (College of Social Sciences, 1991). She also served a church mission in Vina 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, Legal Aid of Northwestern Missouri, and a Provo, Utah firm: Howard, Lewis and Peterson (where Chris worked too). She is most proud that two 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 vows her tombstone will 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). His acceptance into the JAG Corps moved them to Virginia, and then upstate 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) and twins Megan June and Bonnie Rose (1998). The family was moved to Fort Drum, Kansas. There Valery continued to served in her church, and became a Brownie Scout Leader. She also worked with an immigration attorney in Topeka helping many to become permanent residents through amnesty. 

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 at church, as a Girl Scout Leader, an ESL teacher in Carbondale, and as a volunteer with the SIU Immigration Project. Last Spring Semester she taught Lawyering Skills full-time while Professor Sue Liemer was on sabbatical; and the day before her last class, her 7th (and final) child, James Anthony, came along.

This past Spring Semester she taught Interviewing and Counseling. Valery loves God, Family, Country, The Law, a good book, good food, good music and conversation and taking short walks and long naps!