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Meet four Penn Law professors who hold joint appointments at Wharton

February 12, 2020

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s commitment to cross-disciplinary study shines brightly in the impressive number of faculty members who hold joint appointments at Penn. Indeed, the Law School and Wharton share numerous connections, holding joint conferences and workshops throughout the year and also offering certificate programs such as the Wharton Business and Law Certificate (WBLC) and the Wharton Certificate in Management.

Through the Law School and Wharton, Penn also offers the country’s first fully integrated three-year JD/MBA: the Francis J. & William Polk Carey JD/MBA Program. This unique course of study allows students to earn both degrees in three years instead of five, and graduates emerge ready for careers in law, business, and more after studying with some of the world’s foremost experts in their fields of study.

The Carey JD/MBA Program requires that students spend their first in year in the Law School and the following summer in both Law and Wharton courses designed specifically for the program. The second and third years also require both Law and Wharton courses as well as a JD/MBA capstone course.

Below, meet Michael S. Knoll, Herbert Hovenkamp, Natasha Sarin, and David S. Abrams who are four of the ten renowned scholars who hold joint appointments in the Law School and Wharton. 

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Michael KnollMichael S. Knoll

Theodore K. Warner Professor Law and Professor of Real Estate Michael S. Knoll has been instrumental in establishing and expanding Penn’s accelerated JD/MBA program. He also serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Tax Law and Policy and is a former Deputy Dean of the University.

Knoll has taught classes on federal income taxation, corporate finance, and taxes and business strategy, but his role extends far beyond the classroom. Each summer, Knoll and his wife Lauren B. Steinfeld, Chief Privacy Officer of Penn Medicine and Senior Advisor for Privacy for the University of Pennsylvania, host a barbecue at their home to welcome incoming JD/MBA students so that they feel a strong connection with the University as well as with their classmates.

Regarding the value of a JD/MBA, Knoll noted that “the importance of law has only increased as businesses become more and more international, and having a siloed view of the law isn’t helpful and it doesn’t make for a good practitioner. Penn Law is at the forefront,” he said, “constantly working to give students lots of opportunities to explore the interdisciplinary nature of business and the law.”

Knoll’s most recent article, “Why the Supreme Court Should Grant Certiorari in Steiner v. Utah,” co-authored with University of Virginia Law Professor Ruth Mason, was published in Tax Notes Sttate. The Supreme Court of the United States relied heavily on Knoll’s research in its 2015 decision in favor of the taxpayer in Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne.

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Herbert Hovenkamp

James G. Dinan University Professor Herbert Hovenkamp holds a joint appointment in the Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton. He is also a Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor and has been called the “dean of American antitrust law” by the New York Times. Hovenkamp’s work lies at the intersection of antitrust law, business, legal history, patents, innovation, and technology.

“In my research field, which is antitrust,” said Hovenkamp, “knowing business makes for better legal scholarship, and teaching at Wharton has enabled me to see a side of antitrust and business that I had not seen before.”

Hovenkamp is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and American Council of Learned Societies, has won the Justice Department’s John Sherman Award for his lifetime contributions to antitrust law, and in 2012, served on the ABA’s Committee to advise the President-elect on antitrust matters.

He has published over a hundred articles and a dozen books, his most recent a casebook, Antitrust Law, Policy, and Procedure: Cases, Materials, and Problems (Carolina Academic Press, 2019, with E. Thomas Sullivan, Howard A. Shelanski, and Christopher R. Leslie). Hovenkamp’s most recent article, “Antitrust and the Design of Production,” was published in the Cornell Law Review last year.

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Natasha Sarin

Natasha Sarin joined the University in 2018 as an Assistant Professor Law and holds a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Finance Department of Wharton. Her interests lie in how the law and finance intermingle, and her current research focus is on consumer finance and macroprudential risk management.

She recently co-wrote an op-ed with professor and past president of Harvard University Lawrence H. Summers, “If business leaders are serious about doing good, they can start by paying their taxes,” which was published in the Washington Post.

Sarin’s article, “Making Consumer Finance Work,” was published in the Columbia Law Review in 2019, and her scholarship has received extensive coverage in the media in places such as the Economist and the Financial Times.

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David S. Abrams

David S. Abrams is a Professor of Law who holds a secondary appointment at Wharton as a Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy. He is one of the leading young economists working in empirical law and economics, and his research interests extend to intellectual property, law and health economics, labor economics, and corporate finance.

Abrams is a past John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago and worked as a quantitative analyst and trader with D.E. Shaw and Co. His scholarship has appeared in top peer-reviewed journals and law reviews, including the Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, and Journal of Legal Studies.

His current research focuses on crime and innovation – “all from an empirical perspective,” said Abrams.

“On the crime side, I’m very excited about an ongoing field experiment that seeks to determine whether the use of machine learning can help increase fairness in the criminal justice system,” he added. “On the innovation side, I am investigating whether and when the standard measure of innovative value, patent citations, may need to be modified. This has the potential to impact the basic methodology used to value innovation in a broad array of disciplines.”

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* This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting Penn Law professors with dual appointments across the University.