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Legal Oral History Project

David Rudovsky



David Rudovsky is a Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Rudovsky received a B.A. in American Studies from Queens College in 1964 and an L.L.B. from New York University in 1967. During the summer after his second year of law school, Rudovsky interned for C.B. King, a civil rights attorney in southwest Georgia. Rudovsky cites this experience in conjunction with the rises of both the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements as sparking his interest in pursuing a career promoting and protecting civil liberties. After graduating from law school in 1967, Rudovsky came to Penn Law as a fellow in one of the first clinical legal studies programs in the country under Professor Tony Amsterdam. Though originally slated to be a two year commitment to the law school and the Philadelphia Public Defender’s office, Rudovsky remained in the program for a third year working under Professor Howard Lesnick. In 1971, Rudovsky and another fellow at the Penn clinic, David Carries, started their own private law practice specializing in civil rights, civil liberties and criminal defense. However, Rudovsky’s relationship with the University of Pennsylvania remained intact, and, in 1971, he returned to Penn Law first as a part-time instructor supervising students in the clinic researching prisoner’s rights, and later as an instructor in trial advocacy. (1974-1983) Rudovsky began his stint as a Senior Fellow at the Law School in 1987. Currently, Rudovsky teaches one class per semester, Criminal Law, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, or Evidence, while also working as a practitioner at the law firm he established roughly 30 years ago. He specializes in class and in practice in the areas of police misconduct and search and seizure. Rudovsky credits his success as a teacher on his ability to merge doctrine and practical experience he has gained from his legal work. Rudovsky has twice argued in front of the United States Supreme Court, both times in Civil Rights cases. He is also the author of a book on police misconduct litigation which has been in print for 22 years. He has received a number of awards including the Flood Memorial Award, the Mac Arthur Foundation Award, the American Civil Liberties Award and the Bread and Roses Community Fund Social Justice Award. Among the things Rudovsky would like to do in the future is continue to teach as well as devote more time to research and writing. He hopes that in the long run his work will help to produce systemic change in the way police departments operate and deal with the public.