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Amy Wax recipient of Penn’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching

April 20, 2015

Amy Wax, the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is a recipient of Penn’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Amy Wax, the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is a recipient of Penn’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

The Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania were established in 1961 with the help of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation. Penn typically gives out eight Lindback awards each year, divided evenly between health-related disciplines and all other departments and divisions. Award winners are determined by nominations and recommendations made by faculty and students based on certain guidelines.

“Amy Wax is a dedicated and highly skilled teacher,” said Wendell Pritchett, Interim Dean of Penn Law and a Presidential Professor. “This award reflects her longstanding efforts inside and outside of the classroom to make Penn students better lawyers, as well as better thinkers.”

Professor Waxhas taught at Penn since 2001. “She is the personal trainer for the legal mind: no pain, no gain,” writes a colleague. Renowned for her use of cold-calling and the Socratic method, she shows her classes, in the words of a former student, “not just how to answer a question but how to ask a question.” In the process, she has taught generations of students not simply the intricacies of civil procedure and Supreme Court advocacy but above all how to think like lawyers.

“Though she asks a lot,” writes one student, “she gives a lot in return,” helping students secure jobs and clerkships, hosting them at dinners at her home and visits to the Supreme Court and “office hours [that] frequently boast a line down the hall.”

She “brings out the best in her students,” echoes a colleague, “because she consistently brings her own best performance to the classroom…beguiling students with the rigor of her questioning, probing until students discover rules and principles they could not have seen on their own…she keeps at it until she is satisfied that the light-switch of understanding has been turned on.” Indeed, generations of students note that, years later, they still refer to their class notes when faced with complex legal challenges at work, finding “not necessarily an answer, but something even more useful: a clear expression of logical reasoning.”

Wax’s work addresses issues in social welfare law and policy as well as the relationship of the family, the workplace, and labor markets. She has published widely in law journals, addressing liberal theory and welfare work requirements as well as the economics of federal disability laws. Her works in progress include articles on same-sex marriage, disparate impact theory and group demographics, rational choice and family structure, and the law and neuroscience of deprivation

All members of the University community are invited to a reception honoring the 2014-2015 recipients of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Awards for Distinguished Teaching on Monday, April 27 at 5 p.m. in the Hall of Flags, Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street.

Christian Lindback was president and principal of Abbotts Dairies, Inc. and a trustee of Bucknell University. The Foundation established Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at colleges and universities throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.