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Faculty member Stephen J. Morse often advises students considering law teaching. “In the past, a golden resume was good enough to get you an academic job,” says Morse, the Ferdinand Wakeman Hubbell Professor of Law who is also a professor of psychology and law in psychiatry at Penn. “These days, it’s not good enough in most places. One also has to show scholarly ability, and the way you show that is with a record of scholarly production.”

Through a Penn Law seminar focusing on scholarship taught by assistant professor Gideon Parchomovsky, students interested in law teaching get a jump-start on the writing and publications they need to be attractive to law school hiring committees. (See last page for further information.)

A significant cohort of Penn Law alumni — nearly 200 graduates — are in the legal academy, helping to teach and train the next generation of lawyers and legal scholars. These alumni say that understanding current expectations and training lawyers to be academics are necessary lessons in law schools today.

“The legal academy has taken on the attributes of a formal academic discipline, and that’s a big change from when I first started,” says Austin. “The legal academy has always been a little strange because law schools are professional training grounds, so we’re training lawyers. We’re not really teaching graduate students to do what it is we do — to, in essence, replace us. So I’ve always felt that leaves some people who are interested in law teaching at a real disadvantage, so they have to make their own path.”

At Penn Law, that is changing. The interdisciplinary nature of legal practice and legal scholarship today demands expertise in related fields, and Penn Law provides a foundation for its students.

Says Morse: “In most first year classes at Penn, in almost any section, students will be exposed to interdisciplinary approaches to the law. For example, in literally every contracts class, they’re going to hear a lot about economics. In every torts class, they’re going to learn about relevant economics and philosophy. In criminal law, they’re going to hear about philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry. In property, they will learn about history and economics. It’s just part of the water they drink and the air they breathe.”

 

 
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