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Amal Sethi

Current work:
I am a Senior Fellow at the University of Hamburg, Germany. My academic work is broadly focused on comparative constitutional studies. More specifically, he is currently undertaking a project on “The Design of Constitutional Courts: How it Matters,” funded by the German Government’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through its Excellence Strategy. Beyond this, I also serve as the Director of Technology of the International Society of Public Law (ICON•S) and An Associate Editor of Verfasungsblog.

I am originally from India, and before coming to Penn, the bulk of my experience was working in the human rights sector and with Judges in India.

SJD program:
My doctoral dissertation was defended in 2020 and propounded normative theories of judicial role and adjudication for constitutional courts in developing democracies. It was supervised by Prof Sophia Lee. Prof Mitch Berman and Prof Kermit Roosevelt also served on my doctoral committee.

Impact of SJD program in your career:
As a full-time academic, the SJD program was vital for every aspect of what I do today. The SJD program not only helped kickstart my academic career but, more importantly, helped me understand what being an academic entails and how to best go about that role. In the latter context, my doctoral committee and other mentors at Penn went above and beyond what was required of them – for which I shall be forever grateful.

What makes the SJD program at Penn unique:
Based on discussions with peers at other law schools, I feel my SJD experience was vastly unique (and might I say an upgrade) in terms of the individualized attention and support I received not only from my doctoral committee (particularly my chair Prof. Sophia Lee) but also the graduate programs office. This has been an experience echoed by most of my colleagues at Penn SJD program. Moreover, the SJD program is high on the priority list for the graduate programs office. They have, not only during my time at Penn, but even post it, tried to find ways to enhance the experience for SJD candidates.

Advice to SJD candidates:
The SJD degree is a huge commitment and can take an enormous toll. Pursue one only if it forwards your career and is something you really really want to do. The SJD degree is not a solution to a quarter-life crisis.