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Longtime University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor A. Leo Levin was honored for excellence in judicial administration last week by the American Bar Association at its annual conference in Chicago. Levin, of Merion, Pa., was presented the award by a former student, U.S. District Judge Norma Shapiro. The award is given by the ABA in honor of dean emeritus Robert B. Yegge of the University of Denver Law School to an outstanding member and leader of the Lawyers Conference as well as a mentor to attorneys in judicial administration. FOUGHT AND TAUGHT The progression into law was a natural one for Levin, who had been exposed to Jewish Talmudic law from a very young age. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Yeshiva University in 1939 and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942, Levin served in World War II. When he returned from overseas, he immediately began teaching law upon the strong suggestion of his mentor at Penn Law, who “told me I belonged teaching the law.” “The demand was so great for teachers that anybody who was judged able to stand up for 50 minutes in front of a class was deemed able to teach, there was just such a tremendous shortage,” Levin said. “So, I have been standing in front of a class since 1947.” He credits his philosophy in the classroom to his upbringing and experience in the military. Levin described his style in the classroom as “rigorous, but at the same time humorous to ease the pressure.” In his long-time teaching career, Levin has taught primarily in three areas — evidence, civil procedure and judicial administration. He said he has seen the academics of law schools change since he began about 54 years ago. “When I started here, there was no LSAT, no standardized method of comparing students,” he said. “We were flunking out about one third of the students because there just weren’t the mechanisms of determining if someone could be really good at the law.” However, the work ethic he observes among his students has been relatively constant. “If they are any good, if they come to Penn, then they intend to work,” Levin said. A DISTINGUISHED PATH Levin began his teaching career at the University of Iowa in 1947, and soon moved to his current appointment at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1949. After achieving full professor status in 1953, Levin was vice provost at Penn from 1965 to 1968, and vice president of academic affairs at Yeshiva University from 1969 to 1970. In 1970, he was named the Leon Meltzer Professor of Law at Penn. He became a professor emeritus in 1989. He has also taught as a visiting professor at Stanford, Northwestern, the University of Colorado, UCLA, NYU, Georgetown, American and Duke law schools. In addition to his academic appointments, Levin was the founding director of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy from 1971 to 1973 and the first non-judge director of the Federal Judicial Center from 1977 to 1987. He also held several other positions of distinction. Levin recalled his time at the Federal Judicial Center as exciting, with every single newly appointed federal judge in the United States coming through the office for orientation. The job also allowed him to travel around the country, attending annual circuit court conventions, an experience that he particularly enjoyed because he said it allowed him to see the regional characteristics of America. The author of six books and 35 articles or chapters for other books, Levin has carved out a niche for himself in the legal scholarly community as well. “He is a wise reformer, a superb teacher and a beloved figure in American jurisprudence,” said Shapiro. “He is a person of deep integrity, is very humble, and teaches by inspiring his students to do their best.”

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