Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Jennifer Ann Drobac
Professor of Law and Director of the IU Central and Eastern European Law Program in Croatia
Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis
Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis
Appointed to IU faculty, 2001
B.A., Stanford University, 1981
M.A., Stanford University, 1987
J.D., Stanford Law School, 1987
J.S.D., Stanford Law School, 2000
"Regardless of their political affiliations, there are ways for students to engage with the law in the greater community. I explain to my students that the law is the bulwark of our sociopolitical world. It allows us to coexist peacefully in this plurality." --Jennifer Drobac, Professor of Law
Jennifer Drobac's law courses address a range of topics, including family law, juvenile law, sexual harassment law, HIV/AIDS law, professional responsibility, and women and law. And while the courses differ, each ends the same way, with Drobac's "Annual Gerald López Lecture."
Professor López, an influential legal theorist on lawyering and problem-solving, deeply impressed Drobac when she was a law student, and he was her instructor at Stanford University, where López co-founded the Lawyering for Social Change Program. Drobac delivers her modified López lecture at the end of each course, to inspire students just as he inspired her. The principles expressed -- duty to community, duty to profession, and duty to self -- make up the very fabric of her courses and her teaching career.
"After tenure and promotion, professors occasionally lose their enthusiasm for and dedication to teaching," writes Gary Roberts, dean of the IU School of Law-Indianapolis, and Joel Schumm, clinical law professor. "Not Professor Drobac. If anything, she has taken her teaching 'mission' to the next level. By integrating diversity issues and ethics into all of her classes, Professor Drobac is preparing a new class of lawyers to serve Indiana, this nation, and even our global community."
Drobac practiced law in California from 1992 to 2001, focusing on employment law issues and litigation. From 1997 to 2000 she served as a lecturer at Stanford Law School, where she also was pursuing her doctorate. During this time, she realized she could find a balance for what was important to her -- her family, acquiring knowledge, and service to her profession and community -- through work as a law professor. She joined the law school faculty at the IU School of Law-Indianapolis in 2001.
As part of her scholarship, she has worked to make sexual harassment law a distinct academic field rather than a component of employment discrimination law or feminist jurisprudence. This work began when Drobac was asked to teach a semester-long course on sexual harassment but realized she would need to write the course material because it was such a new area. She set to writing the necessary casebook, which would become Sexual Harassment Law: History, Cases, and Theory, published in 2005. For the American Bar Association (ABA) she co-authored Sex-Based Harassment: Best Practices for the Legal Profession, 2002, and it remains a prominent ABA guide to sexual harassment law.
Her focus on sexual harassment legal theory eventually narrowed to a particularly vulnerable population, teen employees. Her work in this area includes journal articles, an amicus brief, conference presentations, and even boot camp. Drobac was one of 30 academics invited to the University of Pennsylvania Neuroscience Boot Camp, a summer institute on neuroscience for professionals in law, ethics, education, and other fields.
Her amicus brief, filed at the request of the National Employment Lawyers Association, and other writings about legal change for sexually harassed adolescents and their employers, are just a few of the examples of how she incorporates community service into her work. In her classes, she urges her students to take pro bono cases to help the law work for "people who really need it." She encourages students to volunteer while still students. She encourages political action -- in whatever way students feel comfortable.
Drobac uses a variety of teaching techniques to engage students, including simulated in-chambers hearings, online video feeds of Indiana Supreme Court oral arguments, practicums in mediation and negotiation, PowerPoint presentations for every lecture, and weekly discussions of family law current events.
Peers describe her as having an energetic and engaging teaching style. She received the 2005 IU Trustees' Teaching Award, and she was named a John S. Grimes Fellow in 2006 and 2009 and a Dean's Fellow in recognition of scholarly excellence in 2005-2006. Drobac serves as vice chair and trustee of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Board.
"I teach law, and I love my job. How many other lawyers can say that they love their job?" writes Drobac. "Life is short, I tell my students. Question who you are and what you value; then, pursue what you value."