Associate Dean of Research and Scholarship Christian Sundquist has a straightforward goal for his new role at Albany Law School— “help nurture a community of engaged scholarship.”
In spite of the pandemic, he’s been busy hosting workshops, writing retreats, and virtual speaking engagements.
Even with that work he’s also taken a step back to look at the bigger picture. He details his findings and reflection on the intersection of three crucial topics in his recent paper, “The Future of Law Schools: COVID-19, Technology, and Social Justice,” that was published in the Connecticut Law Review in December.
“The world has changed. So should we when we think about how to teach law,” he said. “We have to ensure our students are being equipped with the skills to navigate this techno-legal landscape.”
On the surface, scholarly research may seem faculty-focused, but law students actually have many opportunities to make an impact on legal research through working on law reviews, upper-level writing courses, and fellowships.
“Our students and staff are part of the greater scholarship community here at Albany Law School. Students participate in producing cutting edge whitepapers and briefs,” he said. “They have a very unique opportunity to shape policy and our understanding of the law itself and how it will be applied, constructed, and interpreted.”
At Albany Law School, students often play a big role in making faculty scholarship a success through serving as research assistants—a role that offers an opportunity to work side-by-side with faculty to continue learning the law and strengthening skills.
“The research is often varied. It can be citation work, BlueBooking articles, finding new references to incorporate. But it also involves developing research memoranda that may assess trends of a specific legal issue or address broader policy concerns,” Sundquist said. “They really produce amazing research and it really is a critical component to faculty scholarship.”
The work is a great opportunity to expand upon classroom topics as well as make an impact outside the law school.
“There is an amazing opportunity right now. We’re witnessing dramatic social change in the last year facilitated in no doubt by the pandemic. Students are becoming increasingly aware of the inequities in our society, whether they be rooted in racial justice concerns, in gender bias concerns, or general social inequality,” he said. “There is an amazing opportunity to become an agent of change by going to law school. It’s a very important decision to make if you’re looking to make a difference.”
Faculty research is a cornerstone of a successful law school, especially at Albany Law, and Sundquist plans to support more strong, timely, and thought-provoking work from the Albany Law faculty.
“Albany Law School provides great opportunities to get in on the ground level of what you’re learning through the clinics, through experiential opportunities, and through our top-notch field placements and internship opportunities,” he said. “It’s a very exciting moment for legal education.”
Looking ahead, Sundquist hopes to continue sharing the themes of his recent paper and making legal education a place that’s adapting to the present and looking to the future.
“Law schools also need to respond to the changing racial, religious, and gender demographics of the country as a whole. A commitment to diversity means more than a statement of support to diverse students but also taking concrete steps to becoming a more inclusive community.”