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Thomas Jefferson School of Law professors achieve noteworthy recognition

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The talents and expertise of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law faculty who collectively help drive the growing national and international reputation of the law school are exemplified by some of their recent noteworthy achievements.

Professor Claire Wright earned a prestigious appointment as a World Trade Organization Scholar and has spent this summer in Geneva working on projects designed to make the WTO rules more advantageous for developing nations. Upon her return, she plans to launch an institute at TJSL dedicated to assisting developing countries on trade law issues and to engage students to investigate potential trade violations against developing countries and post their findings on a website accessible to all.

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania in April relied heavily on an American University Law Review article authored by Professor Ellen Waldman in affirming the award of cryopreserved pre-embryos to a divorcing wife seeking post-marital motherhood. In her article, "The Parent Trap: Uncovering the Myth of ‘Coerced Parenthood’ in Frozen Embryo Disputes," Waldman challenged the judicial presumption that the right to avoid procreation should, in frozen embryo disputes, always trump the interest to achieve genetic parenthood and took issue with judicial notions that adoption exists as a viable option for aging single divorcees. The Superior Court cited Waldman's work in rejecting the husband’s claim that his ex-wife, if precluded from using the frozen embryos, could simply adopt.

Professor Ken Vandevelde was the only American legal scholar asked to speak at the United Nations World Investment Forum, held in Doha, Qatar, on April 21-22. The World Investment Forum is an event organized every two years to consider major economic and legal issues relating to international capital movements.

Speakers included heads of state, Cabinet-level ministers, chief executive officers of major multinational corporations, economists and legal experts. Vandevelde participated in a roundtable discussion of current issues in international investment law and was asked to serve as a final speaker, with a specific charge of proposing practical, concrete solutions to the issues under discussion. He also presented at a one-day conference at Oxford University in June on whether international economic law impairs the ability of governments to address economic crises.

Faculty Fellow Beth Caldwell, honored as a recipient of a 2012 Soros Justice Fellowship from Open Society Foundations, will produce a series of articles and television stories about the impact that mandatory, permanent deportations have on individuals, families and communities. She recently published an article in the University of San Francisco Law Review, titled "Twenty-Five to Life for Adolescent Mistakes: Juvenile Strikes as Cruel and Unusual Punishment," that explores the impact of permanent felony strikes on juveniles convicted of crimes. She also published a related article in the Maine Law Review, titled "Appealing to Empathy," which examines the issue of presenting mitigating evidence in juvenile cases that are likely to produce long prison sentences that last well into adulthood.

Professor Steve Semeraro has won the first-ever Journal of Legal Education Fiction Contest, sponsored by Southwestern Law. His story, "The Birds They Sang at the Break of Day" was selected from among 129 entries by a panel of prestigious judges, including best-selling authors Michael Connelly and Denise Hamilton, television writer Marshall Goldberg, and author and television-movie consultant Charles Rosenberg.

-Submitted by the Communications Office at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

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