The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School recognizes the retirement of two longtime, distinguished faculty members: Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History, Emerita, and Douglas Frenkel W’68, L’72, Morris Shuster Practice Professor of Law, Emeritus.
Gordon and Frenkel have contributed immensely to the Penn Carey Law community during their decades of service to the Law School. Their transformative research and scholarship have helped shape the legal landscape in their respective areas of expertise, and their commitment to teaching has greatly enhanced the Law School’s academic programming and student mentorship.
Renowned Legal Historian and Scholar
Gordon, best known for her work on the history of religion in American public life and the law of church and state, especially for the ways that religious liberty and disestablishment developed over the course of American history, joined the Law School faculty in 1993. She was jointly appointed in the law school and the history department and shepherded the creation of Penn’s joint JD/PhD program, whose graduates include Seaman Family University Professor Karen Tani L’07, PhD’11.
Gordon has been a Guggenheim Fellow, the Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History at the Library of Congress, a fellow at the Huntington Library, and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, among other awards. She was President of the American Society for Legal History, 2017-2019, and served as co-editor of Studies in Legal History, the book series of the Society from 2011-2022, and was named an Honorary Fellow of the Society in 2023. She serves on the boards of the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, the faculty advisory board of the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, and the Omohundro Institute, as well as the California Supreme Court Historical Society.
Gordon’s first book,The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (UNC Press, 2002), won the Mormon History Association’s and the Utah Historical Society’s best book awards in 2003. Her second book,The Spirit of the Law: Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America (Harvard University Press, 2010), explores the world of church and state in the 20th century.
She is currently completing Freedom’s Holy Light: Disestablishment in America, 1771-1876, under contract with the University of North Carolina Press. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, New York University Law Review, Yale Journal of Law and Humanities, American Quarterly, Journal of Southern History, William and Mary Quarterly, Journal of the Civil War Era, and other scholarly publications. She is also the co-editor of a forthcoming symposium issue of the Journal of the Early Republic, which will feature an article by Gordon on an 1856 freedom suit that resulted in the emancipation of 14 women and children and its place in California and American history. A forthcoming special issue of the William and Mary Quarterly will feature her work on incorporation for religious organizations in the Revolutionary era.
An award-winning teacher, Gordon has received the University’s Lindback Award for distinguished teaching and the Law School’s Robert A. Gorman Award for Teaching Excellence. She is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.
Gordon is a frequent commentator in news media on the constitutional law of religion and debates about religious freedom. Her op-eds have appeared in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, ChicagoTribune, Salt Lake Tribune and other news outlets. She has appeared on NPR and “The Daily Show,” as well as in documentaries, podcasts, and lecture podiums around the country.
Pathbreaking Clinical Leadership
Frenkel is the architect of Penn Carey Law’s nationally renowned clinical program, having served as Director of the Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies from 1980 to 2008. A graduate of both Wharton as an undergrad and the Law School at Penn, Frenkel began teaching at the Law School in 1978.
“During my first year at Penn,” said Frenkel, “a colleague asked how I liked my new work. Reflecting on the long hours devoted to learning a literature, teaching seminars, supervising students in court cases, and battling over the status of clinical education, I responded, ‘I love it. But it’s exhausting. Can you imagine doing this when you’re 50?’ That was 45 years ago. Thanks to so many wonderful teaching and administrative colleagues and two generations of great students, it has been a terrific ride.”
Under Frenkel’s leadership, the clinical program grew to include real-case courses in litigation, transactional representation, mediation, legislation, child advocacy, and transnational lawyering. He specializes in alternative dispute resolution generally and mediation, in particular.
He is the author of innovative teaching materials and videotapes in this field and frequently serves as a mediator in employment, commercial, educational, and family matters. His multimedia book,The Practice of Mediation: A Video-Integrated Text (3rd ed., 2019, Aspen Publishing, with James Stark) is the leading law school skills text in the field and the first work of its kind to integrate text and video.
Frenkel is also an expert in legal ethics.
“Going forward, I am updating my law school mediation text in the light of the ‘new normal’ of technology-assisted processes, continuing as a neutral in areas which draw on my strengths, and looking ahead to continued teaching and other engagement with the dispute resolution community,” said Frenkel. “Outside of the professional realm I want to do some of the reading that has eluded me. I hope to travel to tennis tournaments, movie festivals, wilderness and park settings and to return to the international pun competition (as a spectator). Most importantly, having more flexible time to spend with kids and grandkids as GrandDoug is an aspect of retirement—a gift, really—that I will not take for granted.”