Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The paths I’ve followed haven’t always been well-illuminated. The one I’m on now, in fact, has led me to a brand new, pre-accredited law school (albeit one at an established, well-regarded research institution). The “story” of how I ultimately found this job is that, while I did realize in my first or second year of law school that teaching law would be the best job imaginable, I didn’t begin then meticulously plotting an academic trajectory. Instead I went down a few side roads and soon enough I found my way to the right place.
I didn’t start out looking for the side roads, however. In law school I followed the crowd to the doors
of the big
In Philly I practiced commercial litigation at a great firm, Pepper Hamilton, and got tremendous experience. I worked at a high level on lots of different commercial matters -- contract, antitrust, securities, copyright and trademark. I also got some practice experience in public law areas, namely first amendment and higher education work, which I loved. I got trial experience, mediation experience, mentoring experience -- all kinds of good stuff. I worked at a sane place with good people and did well.
Then my first daughter arrived. At the time my spouse was consulting (read: traveling 4-5 days/week) and I knew I couldn’t do what I needed to do and keep all fronts covered adequately, so I took a big risk and took an extended maternity leave. The last time I checked, “extended maternity leave” is not on anyone’s list of “how to get a teaching job” (Leiter? Wendel?). I ended up staying out for two years – having a second child (another daughter) almost right away and also teaching for the first time. To stay engaged while I was out, I taught “media law and ethics” as an adjunct to undergraduates at a local university.
Shortly after returning to practice I knew that it was time
to start making the move to academia. Two
years ago I started teaching legal writing at
For anyone unfamiliar with this recent history, which is probably just about everyone reading this, or anyone curious about what it is like to start a new law at an established institution, I recommend a post on the subject written by my colleague, Dan Filler, at Concurring Opinions. The crux: “this is entrepreneurship, on someone else’s dime. Anything is possible.”