by Savannah Price, Indiana University Wells Scholar
The IU Maurer School of Law has a tradition of supporting excellent scholarship in the field of criminal law. The late Professor Jerome Hall helped the US Department of State rewrite other countries’ criminal codes. More recently, the work of the late Professor Craig Bradley, who clerked for US Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, inspired the creation of the Bradley Fellows Program.
Joseph Hoffmann, Harry Pratter Professor of Law, began the Bradley Fellows Program in 2018 with money from his own retirement fund. “I talked to my wife, and we decided that we would take a piece of money that had been put aside for retirement and use it instead to create an endowment fund,” he said. “My idea was to use this as a kind of springboard to bring faculty and students in criminal law together.”
The program accepts 15-16 students per class, and Hoffmann says that “the selection is pretty much based on interest and commitment.” Students apply before starting their second or third year of law school.
From the time they are selected, Bradley Fellows benefit from extracurricular activities and an exclusive externship program. The externship program allows Fellows to complete an externship of their choosing while they meet as a group with their fellow students and a professor.
“The Bradley Fellows externship is a ramped-up version of a class, where you're taking a mini- seminar connected with the experience,” said Hoffmann. “The professor will assign readings and meet with the students to go over those readings. They talk about what they're all learning in their day-to-day externship work.”
Another unique aspect of the Bradley Fellows Program comes from Hoffmann’s relationship with Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. The relationship began on an IU-sponsored trip to Poland where Hoffmann found himself admiring their law school.
“So much of what happens in academia and especially in law school, I think, tends to be really individual,” said Hoffmann. “What I saw with this law school in Poland is that they work together, from the senior professor even down to the level of the undergrads. It was a collective effort, and it really felt like something that we should try to do more of.”
Now, both students and faculty benefit from this relationship with Jagiellonian University. In the Bradley-Wolter Colloquium, faculty from Poland and Indiana meet every two years to discuss selected criminal law topics. For the Fellows, the Comparative Law Seminar is offered as a week-long event to connect with students from Poland and explore their country’s law. “We give each group problems or cases to solve based on the other country's law,” Hoffmann remarked. “The Polish students have to try to figure out what the answer would be under US law, and the US students try to figure out what it would be under Polish law, and then they critique each other.”
Outside of the opportunities to network in both Indiana and Poland, Bradley Fellows also take a series of academic courses focused on criminal law. These courses help students understand if criminal law is the right field for them while helping them to make connections in the field if it is.
Hoffmann’s favorite part of the program is what goes on outside of the classroom: the formation of a community. “The most enjoyable part is getting to know students in a more holistic way,” he said, pointing out the program’s movie nights and happy hours. “I like to find out what it is the students are interested in doing when they get out of here.”
The Bradley Fellows Program enhances the law school experience with international events, faculty mentors, and a sense of community. When selecting a law school, undergraduates with an interest in criminal law should know that, according to Hoffmann, “the Bradley Fellows Program is one of the few programs anywhere in the country that could speak to that interest.”
Savannah Price is a first-year undergraduate student in Indiana University's Wells Scholars Program. She wrote this article as a guest contributor to the IU Maurer School of Law.