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Estin says of her own teaching that “it took me a while to be comfortable being exactly myself and not worry about what a law professor was supposed to look like, supposed to ask.” Once Estin jumped the hurdle of tenure, she says, she felt greater freedom to define her own style and methods. During her experience at Penn Law, this was an example set by Regina Austin, who served as a model of both a woman lawyer and law teacher for Estin.

For aspiring law professors, Estin calls writing “essential,” as is the understanding that writing is an integral part of the law professorate. It is important, she says, to ask oneself “to what extent that will be a satisfying and rewarding life.”

Another member of the Class of ’83, Robert M. Jarvis, L ’83, professor of law at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, went into law teaching after four years practicing admiralty and international law in New York City and earning an LLM at New York University. When it came time to apply for a law school job, however, Jarvis found his admiralty experience was a drawback. “Law schools are not looking to hire people with exotic interests,” he says, “and admiralty is about the most exotic interest you can have.”

As a result, Jarvis redid his resume to emphasize his international law experience, and landed a position at Nova. Jarvis cautions aspiring law professors to think carefully about how they package themselves. “People looking for teaching jobs need to put themselves in the position of law schools and ask: ‘What do they need?’ Schools don’t need people who want to teach courses with small enrollments. What law schools need are people willing to be team players who can cover difficult-to-staff courses, like tax and bankruptcy and the UCC.”

Holly Maguigan L’72, professor of clinical law at NYU, had originally dismissed the idea of teaching when Howard Lesnick, Jefferson B. Fordham Professor of Law at Penn, presented her with it while she was a student. She recalls her reaction: “Spend my summers writing? No way.” After 14 years of practice, she taught at CUNY, then moved to NYU where the clinical programs gave her time in court. “Practice is more thrilling and more exhausting and you think very hard, but generally in a case-by-case way,” she says, adding candidly: “Teaching is less thrilling, less exhausting, but you get to think much harder about larger questions.”

 
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