Since January of this year, Professor Emily Kadens has been a Kluge Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. In her time here, she has given numerous presentations on her topic of study – customary law in the writings of medieval jurists – and has made extensive use of the Law Library’s rare book collection.
Describe your background.
I started my PhD in medieval history thinking that I would be a history professor, but along the way, I decided that I wanted to be a little more relevant and practical, so I ended up going to law school, not quite sure where that would lead me. I taught European legal history courses while in law school, and decided that I really enjoyed teaching and studying legal history, so I ended up looking for law school jobs.
What is your academic/professional history?
I have the equivalent to a master’s in medieval studies from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, a PhD in medieval history from Princeton, and a JD from Chicago. After law school, I clerked for the Honorable Danny Boggs of the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and since then I have been teaching at the University of Texas School of Law.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I tell people I have the best job in the world. I love teaching law students. I teach two practical courses: first year Contracts and an upper-level Sales Law course. In those classes I get to train lawyers in lawyerly skills. Then I teach legal history, normally either Roman Law or a survey course called Western Legal Tradition. In those classes I get to create educated lawyers. Part of my job is also running the Law School’s judicial clerkship placement program, which lets me help students apply for post-graduate clerkships. And for the rest, I do scholarship. For a few years I was focused on 18th-century English legal history, in particular on judges and on bankruptcy. Now I am returning to my roots, and I have embarked on what I think will be a long-term project on custom as a form of law in pre-modern Europe.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
Because the Law Library has so many of the pre-modern sources that I want to look at all in one place!
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I was the starting pitcher for my college’s NCAA Division III varsity fastpitch softball team.