Rachel High Jennings, left, and Joelle Portzer.
Rachel High Jennings 3L and
among 12 law students selected from around the country by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a
two-week program in Germany and Poland this summer, which uses the conduct of
lawyers and judges in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on ethics in the
legal profession today.
FASPE law program, which was developed with the assistance of Eric L. Muller, Dan K. Moore
Distinguished Professor of Law in Jurisprudence and Ethics at Carolina Law,
offers an approach that differs from the usual classroom experience by
providing a holistic curriculum that looks beyond the legal profession’s formal
rules of ethics to the ethical problems faced by individual lawyers in the
contemporary settings in which they practice. Daily seminars are led by
specialized faculty who engage fellows in discussions and critical thinking
about both the historical and the contemporary. The law program examines the
role of lawyers in the Nazi state, underscoring the reality that moral codes
governing the legal profession can break down or be distorted with devastating
consequences. With this historical background, the law fellows are better
positioned (and more willing) to confront contemporary issues.
most of my legal (military and civilian) training so far, the emphasis has been
on the difficult choices in the most harrowing of situations,” says Portzer,
who is a lieutenant in the United States Navy along with being a student at
Carolina Law. “Yet while it is the daily challenges that ready us for those
newsworthy moments, the simple, fundamental types of ethical questions have
received the least emphasis so far. It is my hope that through FASPE, I will
develop a better understanding of how to approach the most regular of ethics
quandaries in a way that will prepare me to meet the most challenging
quandaries with focus, clarity, and confidence.
the law program will be led by Muller and Susan Carle, professor of law at American
University’s Washington College of Law.
“FASPE will facilitate critical
thinking about the ethical issues I will encounter in practice, allowing me to
continue a principled approach to impacting my community,” says Jennings, who,
after graduation, will clerk for the Honorable
Henry F. Floyd at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and then
move to Washington, D.C., to join the law firm of Ropes & Gray, LLP. “I want to be a FASPE fellow
primarily to adapt my strengths from previous roles to my position as a lawyer
and join a network of lawyers working toward the betterment of our professional
and Portzer join a diverse group of 63 FASPE fellows across five areas of study—business,
journalism, law, medicine and seminary—who were chosen through a competitive
process that drew close to 1,000 applicants from around the world. FASPE covers
all program costs, including travel, food and lodging.
experience of the law fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside business and journalism
fellows, who together—in formal and informal settings—consider how ethical
constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ. The
three groups will begin their trip in Berlin on Sunday, May 21 and travel on to
Krakow and Oświęcim (the town in which Auschwitz
is located), Poland, on May 26. In Berlin, the program includes museum visits, meeting with a Holocaust
survivor, and educational workshops at
the House of the Wannsee Conference, the site where state and Nazi Party
agencies convened in 1942 to coordinate plans for the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” In Krakow, fellows will continue their
seminars at Jagiellonian
University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities, and at Auschwitz, they will be guided by the distinguished
educational staff of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
the program, each fellow will submit an essay focused on a contemporary ethical
issue of his or her choice. Select essays are published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases work in
all five disciplines.
-March 30, 2017