Top of page

An Interview with Professor Emily Kadens, Kluge Fellow

Share this post:

The following interview was conducted by Donna Sokol, Special Assistant to the Law Librarian of Congress.

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.

Emily Kadens seated and facing to left holding an old book open to show pages of text.
Professor Kadens

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?

The Law stacks are the most amazing resource.  The sixteenth and seventeenth century material the Library has on the shelves is just incredible!

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.

Comments (2)

  1. Outstanding…!!! Interesting to read about Professor Kadens background. I have always had an interest in law. Am becoming a paralegal this year…

  2. Just a brief note to express a heartfelt thanks to Professor Kadens for her work at the Law Library, and for shedding light on the amazing –and much unexplored– 16th and 17th-century law materials available in our stacks. Thanks also to LLC leadership for facilitating the work of scholars of Prof. Kadens’ level.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *