By Schaeffer, Pamela
National Catholic Reporter , Vol. 35, No. 36
Notre Dame is a special place, I think," says M. Kathleen Kaveny, referring to the law school where she teaches. "It is a great, place to explore what it means to be a Catholic, a smart person and a lawyer at the end of the 20th century."
Kaveny, associate professor at the Notre Dame Law School, says she can't imagine having as much freedom at other law schools to think and write about questions at the intersection of Catholicism and law.
Notre Dame's longtime dean, David T. Link, plans to, carry the principles of Notre Dame's success to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., where he has been appointed founding law school dean.
Kaveny graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1984, then earned a law degree and a Ph.D. in ethics from Yale. She worked as law clerk for John T. Noonan Jr., Catholic historian and U.S. appeals court judge in San Francisco. She also worked from 1992 to 1995 as an associate lawyer for Ropes & Gray in Boston, a firm specializing in health care law.
Now, Kaveny writes and speaks often on such legal-moral issues as assisted suicide, genetics and cloning. Besides bringing "a Catholic sensibility" to questions already under debate, Kaveny likes to raise new ones. For example, in Cleveland in March, she critiqued the concept of "billable hours" at a conference sponsored by the Cardinal Suenens Program in Theology and Church Life. Kaveny compared Catholicism's liturgical sense of time with the legal profession's practice of tracking time, even small units of time, and billing them to clients.
Kaveny sees widespread dissatisfaction expressed by young lawyers in surveys as the result not only of the long, isolating hours of work -- an average today in large firms of 10 hours a day, six days a week, Kaveny said -- but also of the way time is perceived and used in law offices. …