In just one day, Professor James Fleming ’88 had shown all three of us Princeterns so much about pursuing a legal career in both practice and in academia. We started our day in the Boston University Law School in Professor Fleming’s office at 9 am, giving brief introductions about our interests in law. For example, he was able to give me some advice in my pursuit for a PhD and JD, suggesting the sequential route as a possibility to suit my interests. We were then able to hear about his path to becoming a law professor, his passion for law, and the many roles he takes on as an active scholar (writing books, teaching a class on Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, tort, etc., arranging academic conferences, inspiring intellectual vigor from being the Associate Dean of Research, and interacting with students).
Not only did Professor Fleming talk about his career path of getting a PhD in Political Science from Princeton University and a JD from Harvard Law School, he showed us how much he loved being a law professor. Little things such as the funny gifts his students gave him showed so much about his personality and his role as not just a professor, but a mentor and a friend to all the students. He made law school seem less daunting than other people portrayed it to be.
We briefly met a few of his colleagues as we sat in the lounge including his wife Professor Linda McClain, Professor Khiara Bridges, and Professor Robert D. Sloane. We also had the opportunity to meet with Dean Maureen O’Rourke.
Lastly, from 2:10-4:10 pm, we sat in on Professor Fleming’s class regarding Constitutional Law. He was a wonderful lecturer, exploring the right to vote in Reynolds v. Sims, Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, and Bush v. Gore.
Again, we started our day in his office at 9 am, discussing more about the various roles he undertakes in legal academia. It was interesting to see him talk about his role as the Faculty Advisor of Boston Law Review, which led to discussions on how student articles are selected. The student with the top grade automatically gets an article published, while the other spots are selected through writing competitions. He also talked about his role as the Vice President of Law for the American Society of Political Legal Philosophy. Moreover, we learned about what a summer for a law professor looked like. It was relieving to see how much time he is able to spend with his family while getting his work done. For example, while vacationing in Europe, he and his wife would wake up at 5:45 am and get three hours of work in before their children would wake up! He really depicted a holistic perspective of his life.
At 10:40 am, we went to Professor Linda McClain’sclass of Feminist Jurisprudence. I loved this class because I am more used to a seminar-like setting. I loved the way each student had to write reaction papers, which the professor read beforehand, since it allowed the class to be focused around discussion.
For lunch, we attended a Faculty Workshop, in which Professor Faulhaber elaborated on “Tax Expenditures, Charitable Giving, and the Fiscal Future of the European Union.” She gave such an impressive 20-minute overview of a paper she is currently working on, while the remaining 40 minutes included questions and critiques from the faculty. I really enjoyed the genuine devotion each faculty took in making her paper even better.
From 2:10-4:10 pm, we attended Professor Fleming’s Constitutional Theory class, which was again, a seminar class. I enjoyed the seminar class as they explored judicial deference vs. judicial reinforcement of representative democracy.
Lastly, we ended the busy day with a talk from Harvard Law Professor Janet Halley on “Taking a Break from Feminism.” I loved hearing about her path to legal academia through humanities and her inclusion of literature with law. She had such an unique and modernist approach to feminism which included queer theory to eradicate the male vs. female model. Of course, her talk was met with lots of criticisms and comments, but I loved the academic discussions that evolved from this discussion.
Unfortunately, I had to leave right after this talk! But a lot was done in this day. I felt like I was able to really get an insight of what law school AND legal academia was like. This Princeternship really inspired me to get more involved in legal academia, read more, and work just as efficiently as Professor Fleming! I am now even more convinced and motivated that I can combine my interests in humanities with legal academia.