From the Dean

November 18, 2013Duke Law News

Dean David F. Levi

THE FALL SEMESTER IS IN FULL SWING at Duke Law School, and, as usual, our classrooms, conference rooms, and common areas are buzzing with intellectual energy. The excitement here is both due to our students’ engagement with their studies, and to our faculty members, who every day tackle the most challenging and important legal problems and developments in their scholarship, classes, and commentary.

And here is the best news: Our outstanding faculty is adding to its reach and depth. This is one area of academic life in which nothing succeeds like success; the most exciting and promising scholars wish to come to Duke because of the excellence we already have achieved. We have just completed an exceptional hiring year in which we added seven terrific scholars to our governing faculty.

You will read about a few of our new colleagues — Darrell Miller, Elisabeth de Fontenay, and Jayne Huckerby — in this issue of Duke Law Magazine. All three have deep experience as practitioners in their fields as well as outstanding academic credentials.

An award-winning teacher at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Miller adds to our depth in constitutional law with his research focus on the Second and Thirteenth Amendments, and brings insights drawn upon his years of practice to his scholarship and classes in civil procedure. Huckerby, who teaches International Human Rights Advocacy and is the director of our new International Human Rights Clinic, is helping the United Nations craft principles relating to the right to an effective remedy for victims of human trafficking. (Read more about the International Human Rights Clinic, Page 2.) de Fontenay grounds her teaching and scholarship relating to corporate law, finance, and financial institutions in her significant experience in practice as a specialist in mergers and acquisitions and debt financing. Her scholarship focuses on private equity firms and the debt markets. de Fontenay has been a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School since 2011.

Joining the faculty in 2014 is Sara Sternberg Greene, an interdisciplinary scholar whose interests span bankruptcy, commercial law, contracts, tax, poverty, and health law. Broadly concerned with the relationship between law and inequality, she uses qualitative empirical research to examine the effect of welfare and tax rules on low- and moderate-income families. Greene is soon to receive a PhD in social policy and sociology from Harvard University, to add to her JD from Yale Law School.

Our newest faculty member, Taisu Zhang, focuses his research and scholar­ship on comparative legal history, specifically property rights in modern China and early modern Western Europe, comparative law, property law, contem­porary Chinese law, and the Chinese judiciary. A Yale Law graduate, he is also a PhD candidate in the Yale history department, and his ambitious research agenda includes both empirical and theoretical work. Zhang is currently a visit­ing assistant professor at Duke Law School.

We told you about our other new faculty scholars, Marin Levy and Mathew McCubbins, in the winter 2013 issue of the magazine. Levy focuses much of her current research and scholarship on judicial decision-making and federal court administration. Having joined the faculty as a lecturing fellow in 2009, she has also distinguished herself in the classroom as a dynamic teacher. McCubbins, who will arrive on campus this summer following his completion of a year­long sabbatical at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is one of the leading scholars in the study of democracy and the law, and has undertaken path-breaking scholarship on the role of regulatory agencies and the lawmaking process. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and will direct Duke Law’s Center for Law and Democracy.

In general, we seek to add both accomplished and up-and-coming academ­ics to our areas of strength and also to build in new areas, often in partnership with another department or school at Duke. The most important — indeed, essential — traits that we look for are excellence and ambition in scholarship and teaching, and an embrace of the Duke culture of dedication to knowledge in the service of society, the best ideals of the legal profession, and the fulfill­ment of the potential of each and every one of our students and colleagues. We have had extraordinary success in meeting our goals; in just the past three years, we have welcomed 13 exceptional scholars to our already outstanding faculty. Already we feel the difference that such wonderful hiring makes to our forward progress. And this is just our governing faculty. Our resident faculty as a whole, including our research librarians, legal research and writing faculty, clinicians, and senior lecturers, are also extraordinarily talented and make a hugely positive impact on our Law School. We will focus on their many contri­butions in a future magazine.

I hope that you will have the chance to meet and reconnect with our faculty. Their effort, dedication, and talent are at the heart of the excitement and hope that we feel today and every day.

Thank you for your continued support of Duke Law.

Sincerely,

David F. Levi
Dean and Professor of Law

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