I am MaryCatherine Crock and I am a third-year student at Florida State University College of Law. Although I plan on pursuing a career in criminal law, constitutional law has become a passion of mine, both inside and outside of the classroom. I had the pleasure of having Professor Nat S. Stern for Constitutional Law I and Constitutional Law II. Professor Stern is a well-known instructor and scholar and is a favorite among the students at the College of Law. I had the opportunity to interview Professor Stern about his passion for constitutional law, his research and academic activities, and what advice he would offer to both prospective and current law students.
MaryCatherine Crock: Can you give us a little background about your legal education?
Professor Stern: I received my B.A. from Brown University and my J.D. from Harvard University.
MaryCatherine Crock: How did you become interested in constitutional law?
Professor Stern: My favorite course as an undergraduate was a political science class about the judicial system that included a significant number of Supreme Court opinions on constitutional law. Unsurprisingly, my favorite class in law school was Constitutional Law.
MaryCatherine Crock: What are your research interests?
Professor Stern: I focus principally on First Amendment doctrine and specifically on commercial speech and defamation.
MaryCatherine Crock: What advice would you offer a student pursuing a career in academia?
Professor Stern: In academia, especially, publication is crucial. A person seriously interested in pursuing such a career should begin writing early.
MaryCatherine Crock: Why is Florida State University College of Law such a great choice for one’s legal education?
Professor Stern: I don’t think I can list all the reasons! One of the most important, though, is our wonderful student culture. Faculty visiting from other schools routinely comment to me on how supportive our students seem to be of one another. Another is the deep commitment of the faculty to the law school’s teaching mission. While the faculty is best known to the outside world for its scholarship, extensive publication has in no way come at the sacrifice of devotion to teaching. Surveys of our students have consistently confirmed this to be the case.
MaryCatherine Crock: What do you love most about teaching?
Professor Stern: It would have to be the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of really bright, talented, and enthusiastic students.
MaryCatherine Crock: Are you involved with advising any extra-curriculars? If so, can you tell us about them?
Professor Stern: My principal involvement since coming to the law school has been with the FSU College of Law Moot Court Team, which had established a tradition of excellence and success long before I assumed the role of advisor in 1993.
MaryCatherine Crock: Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice and why?
Professor Stern: I really can’t single out one. I guess it shows my affinity for constitutional law that I enjoy reading the opinions of Justices with a wide range of judicial philosophies.
MaryCatherine Crock: What is your biggest piece of advice for incoming/prospective law students?
Professor Stern: Don’t feel that you need to concentrate on learning law before you arrive at law school. In particular, don’t feel pressed to load up on “pre-law” courses in college. On the contrary, the more broadly you are educated before attending law school, the more effectively you’ll be able to employ the legal tools that will be placed at your disposal there.