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Wolfman Enjoys Intellectual Freedom That Teaching Confers
by Jennifer Baldino Bonett
After 15 successful years and serving as managing partner with the Philadelphia firm Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, an attraction to teaching and research moved Bernard Wolfman C ’46, L’48 to choose a career in the legal academy. He had been teaching tax part-time at Penn Law for three years at the request of Dean Jefferson B. Fordham, when he was invited to join the Penn Law faculty as a tenured professor in 1962.
Wolfman, now Fessenden Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, says he pondered the invitation from Dean Fordham for “many, many months . . . I liked teaching. I liked practice. In addition to teaching when you’re in the academy, you have the really extraordinary opportunity to decide in your research what you want to work on, how long you want to work on it; you can do so until you are satisfied that you have accomplished what the project you have undertaken calls for.”
His 13 years on the Penn faculty included five years as dean of the Law School. Under his leadership, from 1970-75, Wolfman oversaw faculty growth and major curricular changes. Much of the curricular reform, begun during the administration of his predecessor, Dean Fordham, was expanded and implemented by Wolfman and a large part of it remains in place today.
First-year students can thank Wolfman for shortening first-year courses -- from two terms each with one exam at the end of the academic year -- to one term with an exam at the end of the semester. An upper-level course in constitutional law was moved to the second semester of the first year, and courses introducing statutory law and administrative law were added to the first-year curriculum.
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