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Pioneer in Civil Dispute Resolution and Women and the Law, Menkel-Meadow L’74 Credits Penn Law for Her Academic Ascent
by Jennifer Baldino Bonett
The Socratic method was de rigueur for most classes that Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow L’74 took as a Penn Law student. So when her course in judicial process was taught using the experiential method — emphasizing role-playing and student interaction — it sparked her interest, opening her eyes to a novel, effective way of teaching the law. She told herself: “‘If I’m ever going to teach, this is the way I’m going to teach.’” It wasn’t long before she had the chance to do just that.
After graduating from Penn Law, Menkel-Meadow, now professor and director of the Georgetown-Hewlett Program on Conflict Resolution and Problem Solving at Georgetown Law Center, declined the usual post-graduate path of a clerkship, turning down an opportunity with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Instead, she returned to Penn Law as an instructor. One of the first women on the faculty at Penn Law, she taught a legal education seminar with Dean Bernard Wolfman, directed the legal writing program, and co-founded the clinical program.
“A bit of a student radical,” as she calls herself, Menkel-Meadow was then able to instigate change from within the legal academy. “In everything I’ve done, I’ve always been an intellectual who relates to theory and takes it back to practice,” she says. “It’s a wonderful life to contribute to the production of knowledge, to the improvement of law and legal institutions.” She led a course on women when the concept was still so new there was not yet a casebook on it, and she used the experiential teaching method which had so affected her as a Penn Law student.
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