"Law without (what I call) religion degenerates into a mechanical legalism. Religion without (what I call) law loses its social effectiveness... it is a dialectical synthesis, a synthesis of opposites." - Harold J. Berman, The Interaction of Law and Religion

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where Are They Now?: Alumni of Emory's Law and Religion Program

Emory's Center for the Study of Law and Religion offers incredible opportunities for students interested in the nexus of law and religion.  Through CSLR, students are able to pursue dual degrees in law and religion and engage in the work of scholars within the field.  We have started this series of posts, Where Are They Now?, to catch up with alumni from CSLR's programs and see how their work in this interdisciplinary field has affected their vocational pursuits.  We hope this series will provide an insight to current and prospective students interested in the study of law and religion as to how this interdisciplinary field can serve their vocational goals.

          Amos P. Davis
             J.D./M.T.S., 2010

1.  What is your current vocation?
    I am currently in the second year of my two-year clerkship with the Honorable Kenneth M. Hoyt in the Southern District of Texas in Houston.

2.  What led you to pursue the dual degree?  Why would you recommend the dual degree to a student considering pursuing it?
     I originally came to Emory for the Master of Theological Studies degree.  My first semester in that program, I enrolled in two courses cross-registered with the law school: International Human Rights and The History of Law and Religion in the West.  The latter of those courses was taught by Professor John Witte, Jr., who also directs the CSLR.  I enjoyed his initial lectures, attended an early session of his office hours, was intrigued by the dual degree program, took the LSAT 3 weeks later, and applied only to Emory.  I was one of Professor Witte's research editors for the duration of my tenure at Emory.
     I could not be happier with my decision to pursue a joint degree program, and I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interdisciplinary interest in the humanities.  The program combines the practical with the theoretical, forcing you to hone multiple mental skill sets when addressing competing methods of moral and societal interaction.  Meanwhile, you are welcomed into a close-knit academic family whose divergent viewpoints do not detract from the amicable atmosphere.  Neither of my graduate school experiences would have been nearly as worthwhile in isolation.

3. How has the dual degree helped you in your current vocation and/or career/life path?
     Although I am a relative novice in the legal field, the CSLR program has already benefited me immensely. Learning to combine the crisp precision of legal writing with the flowery verbiage of humanities prose has proved very helpful when drafting judicial memorandum opinions and orders concerning a broad swathe of legal issues.  Furthermore, although I no longer live in the Atlanta area, I have remained in frequent contact with fellow CSLR members, who often offer me guidance, editorial feedback for personal projects, and friendship.

4. What advice would you give current dual degree students?
     Take full advantage of the dual degree program.  You are privileged to be learning from and studying alongside (an intentionally chosen word) some of the best and brightest law/religion academicians in the country.  The CSLR scholars and staff take an atypical and authentic interest in their students, often organizing meals, special lectures, and social outings.  They are your best resource and the most compelling reason to be in the program.  Additionally, your fellow dual degree students undoubtedly have some interests that overlap with yours, and I am equally certain they can challenge some of your deepest presuppositions more effectively than most.  Revel in your unique environment.

5. What law/religion topic are you pondering now or paying attention to in the news?
     At present, I am most interested in the interaction between law, religion, and human rights on the international stage.  Domestically, I am interested in religious instruction for public elementary school students, and I am curious what will become of the contested ministerial exception to anti-discrimination laws.

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