First Director of Legal Studies Hired

Paul M. Collins, Jr.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Political Science Department is very pleased to introduce Paul M. Collins, Jr., the first director of Legal Studies, who will begin his responsibilities in the fall. Collins, who will join the department as associate professor, will shape the future of the popular Legal Studies undergraduate major, which is home to nearly 400 students.

“UMass has a long and celebrated history in legal studies,” Collins says. “I am looking forward to working with students, faculty, staff, and the administration in the Program's next phase of development. I am confident that together we can propel the Program into one of the leading centers for legal studies in the country.”

Part of the Department of Political Science, the Legal Studies program is a hub for interdisciplinary and cross-subfield conversations about law and society. It is this varied approach to studying law that attracted Collins to UMass. “I am excited by the opportunity to work in such a diverse intellectual environment,” he says.

Professor Collins’ own research reflects this same interdisciplinarity. He focuses on judicial politics, with a particular interest in the democratic nature of the judiciary. His research is motivated by the desire to apply interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and courts.

“The Department is thrilled to welcome Paul to UMass,” says Brian Schaffner, department chair. “His appointment is the first step toward recruiting new faculty and students to the program, and I speak for the whole department when I say I am excited to kick off a new academic year with him as director.”

Collins joins UMass from the University of North Texas, where he served in the Department of Political Science since 2007. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from Binghamton University and a B.S. in political science from the University of Scranton. He is the author of more than two dozen academic articles and two books: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Friends of the Supreme Court: Interest Groups and Judicial Decision Making (Oxford University Press, 2008), which received the 2009 C. Herman Pritchett Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association.