Before starting my Princeternship with Professor James Fleming *88 at Boston University School of Law, I was a little nervous about having to confess how incredibly undecided I am in terms of academic concentration and career ambition. I have interests in many different fields, law being one of them, and am still exploring my options. Despite my initial nervousness though, with Professor Fleming, I was very pleasantly surprised by how accommodating he was of my career confusion. The Princeternship both reassured me in that respect and gave me a sense of what the life of a lawyer and law professor is really like. I can honestly say that after spending a couple of days with him, I am one step closer to deciding what subjects I hope to study further.
Even though two days is not much time, we had two very busy days. I realized that while Professor Fleming is undoubtedly an esteemed academic scholar, his work is not at all passive. Instead, he is deeply engaged in his writing, teaching and administrating roles. On the first day, he explained his job description to us and how he came to be in the position he is now in. We met many of his colleagues, who talked about the specific fields of law in which they have interests and specific expertise. We attended the class he taught on Constitutional Law and met some of his students. We also sat in on meetings that Professor Fleming had with his students as well as with Dean Maureen Rourke, the dean of the law school. It was interesting to see how involved Professor Fleming was with the details of all his projects, whether it was an upcoming academic conference, the notes his students draft for law review journals or the lectures topics for his Constitutional Law class.
The second day was a little different but no less busy. We again met with colleagues of Professor Fleming’s to get an idea of what certain specific fields of law are like, attended the class he taught on Constitutional Theory, and sat in on meetings he had with students. In addition, we attended a faculty workshop where one professor presented academic writing and all the other professors offered critique and suggestions for improvement. In the evening, we had dinner with Professor Fleming and his family who very graciously welcomed us into their home.
After our busy two days together, I realized my preconceived notions of detached and passive scholarship were misconceptions and it became evident to me that the world of academia is very hands-on in its own unique way. Although law professors aren’t in the courts litigating, their day-to-day activities are very active and engaged.
While I’m still unsure about whether or not I definitely want to be a lawyer or law professor, I have most definitely gained a new-found respect for law and the work of law professors. Since returning from the Princeternship with Professor Fleming, I’ve shifted my schedule around a bit so that my Princeton coursework can include classes about Constitutional Interpretation and Civil Liberties. I’m now interested in internships and summer opportunities where I can learn more about law and I have even begun researching law schools. I am definitely glad I chose to apply for and complete this Princeternship because it surprised me in some really great ways and helped me to confirm my budding interest in law and politics.