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Law School alumni in academia bring passion and eclectic expertise to teaching and scholarship

September 16, 2020

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School alumni in academia are producing exciting, engaged scholarship and leading conversations around the world about how to approach society’s most pressing issues. From the fields of medicine and national security to sustainable technology and corporate finance, our alumni have secured and excelled in faculty positions at prestigious academic institutions throughout the country.

Here we meet just some of our esteemed alumni in academia around the country.

Jennifer Herbst L’03 MBE’03

As a Professor of Law and Medical Science at Quinnipiac University School of Law, Herbst has been helping hospitals think through the legal and ethical issues presented by the COVID-19 crisis. She recently helped draft policies for allocating intensive care resources in the event that demand exceeds supply due to a surge in COVID-19 infections at a regional health care system.

“We also built tools into the electronic medical record that have allowed us to track the real-time impact of the first wave of infections and model the potential impact of future surges on our communities of color and poorer communities,” Herbst said. “I’m continuing to work with a great group of clinicians and public health researchers to explore ways to reduce the disproportionate impact that public health emergencies have on these communities.”

Maryam Jamshidi L’07

Jamshidi is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Florida College of Law and is working on a project examining “how the government has historically recruited and continues to encourage private parties to participate in its national security work — including but not limited to private militias.”

Timothy Malloy L’86

Malloy is a Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law and the Faculty Director of the UCLA Sustainable Technology and Policy Program. He worked in government and private practice for 13 years before moving to academia. He found himself dissatisfied with the limits of practicing law, however.

“I enjoyed practice a great deal, but the reality of practice is that the primary goal is to solve the client’s problem,” Malloy said. “Oftentimes that means avoiding an interesting, challenging issue by drafting or planning around it where possible rather than spending time — and the client’s money — exploring the issue to the fullest extent. Ultimately, I found that frustrating. I wanted the freedom to follow the issues of interest to me wherever they took me.”

Malloy now teaches courses on environmental law and regulation. His research focuses on “improving how decisions are made, by policymakers and by the regulated community alike.” On one current project, he is working with colleagues in business management, complex systems, and psychology to understand how a range of policies may influence the rate at which homeowners adopt roof-top solar systems.

James Fanto L’85

Fanto is a Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. He earned his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan before attending Penn Law.

“I had always been interested in teaching, perhaps because I had taught in another field before entering law school and had advanced degrees,” said Fanto. “I gravitated back to teaching after practicing law for about seven years — I just missed the life of teaching and research.”

Today he is teaching banking and corporate finance law, while contributing to the American Law Institute’s project on Compliance, Risk Management, and Enforcement.

“Compliance, which is a firm function designed to ensure that those in an organization are following law, regulation, ethics, and firm guidelines, is simply an interesting field that many lawyers have entered, but that remains today somewhat undefined without a clear professional status,” Fanto said. “Most recently, I have been working on an article on the professionalization of compliance.”

Sital Kalantry L’98

Kalantry is a Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, where she brings her practical experience to an experiential learning program.

“I didn’t enter law school knowing that I wanted to teach, but when I started to work at a firm, I soon realized that I really enjoyed reading and writing and also practice,” said Kalantry. “That’s why I decided to do clinical teaching, because it combines intellectual pursuits with practical applications and allows me to support students doing work that advances justice.”

Kalantry teaches doctrinal courses in addition to leading Cornell’s International Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Clinic. Her research focuses on comparative feminist legal theory and international human rights, and she is working on a book about the Indian Supreme Court.

“I am particularly excited about a speech I’ll be giving soon at Jindal Global Law School, one of India’s top law schools,” Kalantry said. “I will be speaking to their entire incoming class, faculty, and other students virtually about ‘Law and Justice in the Time of Coronavirus.’”

Jennifer Fan L’98

Fan is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Law and spent over a decade practicing corporate securities law, including several years in Silicon Valley. She now directs the school’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic.

“I was interested in combining my interest in law, entrepreneurship, and innovation in a meaningful way,” she said.

Fan’s recent research has focused on corporations and social justice.

“People do not typically see corporations as agents of social change,” she said. “I wanted to test this theory within a legal framework. Specifically, I wanted to study how corporations in the high technology realm have upended norms of corporate purpose and the role of corporations in our society more generally.”

Her latest article exploring these ideas is “Woke Capital: The Role of Corporations in Social Movements.”

Law School faculty’s influence

Alumni in academia said that Penn Law propelled them along their current paths not only by introducing them to the substance of the fields they now teach, but by presenting them with examples of first-rate teaching they continue to follow today.

“While at Penn, I had the opportunity to experience some of the best teachers in action,” said Malloy. “They demonstrated how a series of nuanced hypotheticals can be used to build understanding in complicated areas of the law and instilled in me a respect for students and an appreciation for engaging in robust discourse without being intimidating.”

Jamshidi agreed that her professors “were masterful in the classroom.” She also said that they were “always kind and supportive [and] continue to inspire.”

Fan singled out Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law Jacques deLisle for providing “much needed guidance and support” when she was applying for teaching positions nearly two decades after law school.

“I am deeply grateful for his mentorship,” said Fan. “He’s the type of scholar and teacher that I aspire to be.”

Advice for current law students

When asked what advice they had for current law students interested in pursuing careers in academia, alumni advised students to seek out opportunities to publish and get to know their professors, the better to “learn about the ins and outs of an academic position,” according to Malloy.

“It is an extremely rewarding career,” he said, “but you want to make sure that the demands of the job fit your personality and interests.”

Herbst told students to “be ready to pivot. Like the legal profession and the rest of the world, higher education and legal education are going to have to change over the next 30 years to stay relevant and sustainable, especially for the majority of the world who can’t currently afford to pay legal fees,” she said. “Any pursuit of an academic career should be driven by an intrinsic desire to teach and create knew knowledge, not any extrinsic hope for a particular lifestyle, recognition, or job security.”

Fanto said that students should “make sure they have the scholarly orientation that will be necessary to succeed” in academia. Students “should be taking seminars, participating in journals, and attending faculty talks, so that they will have the opportunity to see if this is the kind of work they want to do,” he said.

“From my own experience returning to Penn Law for conferences,” Fanto added, “I can say that, with its high-level scholarly activity and events, and its highly engaged faculty, Penn is an excellent place for students to do this preparatory work for an academic career.”