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June 22, 2007

Nurturing Scholarship: UT Law’s Emerging Scholars Program

Photo of the 2007 Emerging Scholars
UT Law’s Emerging Scholars: Scott Sullivan, Alvaro Santos, Philomila Tsoukala, and David Gamage

In an effort to encourage and support young scholars, UT Law launched a program that awards fellowships for up to two years of in-residence research and teaching. “This program is largely the brainchild of Professor Jane Cohen,” said Robert Peroni, the James A. Elkins Centennial Chair in Law. “In three short years, the Emerging Scholars Program has already established itself as one of the top initiatives of its kind. It provides promising law teaching candidates with an opportunity to teach the wonderful UT Law students and work on interesting legal scholarship projects with the assistance of the permanent faculty members, who provide constructive critiques of their work and helpful advice about their scholarly agenda.”

Initiated in 2004 under Dean Bill Powers, the Emerging Scholars Program enriches legal education for students, hones the skills of participating Fellows, and allows UT Law faculty to contribute to the growth of the legal academy. Professor Mitch Berman chaired the committee charged with creating this program. Berman worked closely with other faculty members, including Professors Cohen and Willy Forbath, to develop something that would fully utilize UT Law’s unique strengths.

Treated like tenure-track faculty—they receive a stipend, a faculty office, and administrative assistance—Fellows also have reduced teaching loads and no administrative responsibilities. This gives them time to focus on scholarship, and it is expected that they will present at least one research paper to the faculty during their time in residence.

The first Emerging Scholars Fellow, Sam Buell, completed the program in 2006 and joined the law faculty of Washington University in St. Louis. During the 2006–2007 academic year there were four Fellows in residence at UT Law: David Gamage, Alvaro Santos, Scott Sullivan, and Philomila Tsoukala.

Fellows enjoy substantial support from the faculty in the furtherance of their scholarly pursuits. “The most amazing thing about this program is the access to faculty,” said Scott Sullivan, who joined the Law School in the fall of 2006. “In my particular case, Derek Jinks has been incredibly helpful. I’ve been working on issues surrounding treaty interpretation, arguing that the courts should take a much greater role in this process, despite a traditional deference to the executive branch. Next fall I will co-teach with Derek a course called ‘The Rule of Law in Wartime,’ which addresses a large variety of issues relating to legal controversies in wartime.” Sullivan is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He earned a JD from the University of Chicago Law School and an LLM from the European University Institute.

David Gamage, whose research interests include taxation and the tax lawmaking process, concurs with that assessment. “The faculty here is phenomenal,” he said. “I’ve worked with scholars who specialize in the theoretical aspect of law, as well as scholars who understand how law works on the ground.” He also appreciates the Law School’s proximity to the state capital. “Texas went through major tax reform last year, and it was very useful to my research to have such ready access to legislators during that process.” Gamage is currently working on a paper that analyzes the effects of economic fluctuations on state budgets. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford and his law degree from Yale. Gamage accepted a tenure-track position at UC-Berkeley’s Boalt Hall which he begins next fall.

Because Fellows bring such extensive and varied scholarly experience, they expand and enrich the intellectual life of the Law School. Philomila Tsoukala is a graduate of the Conservatory of Northern Greece and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She earned an LLM from Harvard Law School, where she is now an SJD candidate, and a master’s degree in public law from Université Pantheon-Assas Paris II. Her approach is interdisciplinary in nature. “I draw from a wide variety of sources—legal history, feminist theory, law and economics—to understand how the legal system deals with issues such as unremunerated care work,” said Tsoukala. “I’m interested in legal norms in family law and how they relate to market regulations. My time here at UT Law has been tremendously valuable in helping me understand how these things connect.” Next fall, Tsoukala will begin at Georgetown University Law Center as a Visiting Assistant Professor.

“The Emerging Scholars Program was a fantastic way of starting my academic career,” said Alvaro Santos, who completed his fellowship at end of the spring 2007 semester and accepted a tenure-track appointment at the Georgetown University Law Center. He earned a JD from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and an LLM from Harvard, where he is now an SJD candidate.

“It opened the door to a vibrant intellectual and collegial exchange with a first-rate faculty,” Santos continued. “Their feedback on my research was invaluable. And, I had the privilege to teach an outstanding and diverse group of students. I’m going to miss UT and Austin a great deal. I might even miss the Longhorns. But I take with me many valuable friendships—and I’ll visit often.”

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