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Zachary Kramer seeks justice through the classroom
, who recently joined the College of Law faculty, nearly dropped out of law school after the first semester at the University of Illinois College of Law.
“I was sure I didn’t want to be a lawyer,” he said.
In a pivotal meeting with the dean of students, Kramer was convinced to stick it out, eventually becoming the editor-in-chief of the
University of Illinois Law Review
, and graduating
magna cum laude
“The Dean reminded me that lawyers are in a special position to right wrongs and fight injustice,” Kramer said.
Kramer teaches Employment Law, Special Topics in Employment Discrimination and Property. His research focuses on antidiscrimination law, law and sexuality and work/family issues.
“My work deals with the law of everyday life–work, family, sex,” Kramer said. “For most people, these are the most important areas of life and the law regulates them heavily. I’m especially interested in the law of the workplace. Everybody has to work, and few people get to choose who they work with and they have little say over what happens to them on the job. The law is incredibly powerful tool to promote workers’ rights and protect them from difficult situations with their coworkers”
Before joining the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Kramer taught at Penn State and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He said he came to the College of Law because of the strong faculty and the College’s willingness to explore innovative approaches to the teaching of law in the 21st century.
“Zachary Kramer is one of a new generation of scholars who are literally redefining how employment discrimination issues should be conceptualized in the 21st century,” said Dean Paul Schiff Berman. “He is a rising superstar, and we are very fortunate that we have lured him to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law given the many other options he had.”
Even after that crucial meeting with the Illinois dean, Kramer was sure he didn’t want to practice law.
In fact, his family has a long history of non-practicing attorneys. His uncle makes movies, a cousin runs a think tank on educational issues and another cousin sells folk art.
“My grandfather did practice law. He went to law school at night and eventually became the head of the contracts division in New York City’s legal department.” Kramer said.
Taking the path not practiced, Kramer became the inaugural Charles R. Williams Teaching Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, a two-year position during which he fell in love with teaching.
“Teaching is a conversation with people, a chance to talk about ideas and why those ideas matter,” Kramer said. “It’s rewarding to see the substantial growth between first-year and third-year students. They don’t come in thinking like lawyers, but they leave that way.”
Teaching courses about discrimination law attracts a self-selecting group of students, Kramer said.
“They are committed to justice,” he said. “I feel incredibly lucky to be in a position to engage with these students about using the law to right wrongs.”
In choosing to come to ASU, the weather is a bonus.
“Last October, in Pennsylvania, we had over 21 inches of snow—in October! I decided it was the last time I would spend the winter that way.”
Kramer relaxes by playing guitar and ukulele, and he’s trying to learn to play banjo. “It’s not going so well,” he said. “It’s a lot harder than I imagined.”
He stays in shape playing tennis and practicing yoga.
He also writes. A paper he recently wrote, “Heterosexuality and Title VII,” won the 2009 Dukeminier Award from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. The award is given every year to honor the best articles in the field of law and sexuality.