Janet E. Halley

A family-law scholar

The dean of Stanford Law School alleges that it is located in paradise, and until recently Janet Halley was professor and Paradise faculty scholar for excellence in teaching and research there. But she left, willingly, to become professor at Harvard Law School. She finds in the frozen north "an open atmosphere of intellectual conflict that's really to be treasured." Moreover, the humanities faculty is "rich and wonderful. There are people here I've been reading since high school." Why should the depth of the humanities team matter greatly to a law professor? This one did her undergraduate work in English literature at Princeton, continued at UCLA with late medieval and Renaissance literature through the Ph.D., and taught English at Hamilton College. Then she went to Yale Law School, clerked in Nashville, and litigated for Skadden, Arps before entering paradise. In literature, she studied what it was to be a heretic. "The heretics and their orthodox opponents would get into major fights about what words mean," says Halley, and she became restless to know more about how language and the law intersect. She is now, says her new dean, "one of the nation's leading scholars of the law, politics, and theory of sexual orientation and group identity." She is the author of Don't: A Reader's Guide to the Military's Anti-Gay Policy (Duke University Press, 1999) and of "Sexuality Harassment," a book in progress. "I am interested in the ways that big public practices like law make contact with the really intimate aspects of life, like the process of becoming a person," she says. "My field is the law of intimacy, which should sound like a paradox."

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