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Jean Galbraith

Jean Galbraith

Professor of Law; Deputy Dean

Jean Galbraith is a scholar of public international law and of U.S. law as it relates to foreign affairs. Her research focuses on how legal and institutional design choices affect international cooperation and global justice. Her scholarship has been published in the American Journal of International Law, the Michigan Law Review, the NYU Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and many other journals.

One strand of Galbraith’s research explores how the United States joins, implements, and exits treaties and other international commitments. She calls for structural and doctrinal reforms that would increase the prospects for U.S. international engagement. Her research also demonstrates how, over time, U.S. presidents have increasingly claimed constitutional power over diplomacy and uses of force at the expense of Congress through expansive legal reasoning.

In other work, Galbraith studies how international institutions could operate more effectively to promote equality and justice. Her empirical research on the use of “opt in” versus “opt out” clauses in treaties provides strong evidence that behavioral design can improve international cooperation. Her paper on Ending Security Council Resolutions argues that the U.N. Security Council could reduce gridlock by making use of carefully designed termination clauses. Her recent work explores how criminal justice systems in the United States and around the world overly penalize low-income persons with fines and other financial penalties – and highlights the implications of these findings for human rights treaty bodies.

Before becoming a legal academic, Galbraith served as a law clerk for three judges: Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court of the United States, Judge Theodor Meron of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She also practiced law in Philadelphia as an associate at Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University and received her J.D. from Berkeley Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review.

As a professor, Galbraith maintains close ties to legal practice. From 2019-2021, she litigated pro bono cases relating to excessive fines, criminal procedure, and immigration law as the co-director of Penn Carey Law’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic. She has filed briefs in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Third Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Her co-authored amicus brief in United States v. California provided a scholarly defense of the constitutionality of California’s climate cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec after it was challenged by the Trump administration. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law, and a long-standing member of the American Society of International Law.

At Penn Carey Law, Galbraith teaches a wide range of classes, including first-year Contracts, Foreign Relations Law, Federal Courts, and upper-level seminars in international law. In 2017 and again in 2020, she received the Harvey Levin Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence, which is awarded by vote of the graduating J.D. class.