Shawn Olstein ’22
Professor Glenn Falk is a professor of the practice of Public Policy and Law at Trinity College. He teaches a variety of classes involving the law and criminal justice system. This January, Professor Falk will be teaching Trials of the Century, which examines famous criminal and civil trials of the early twentieth century.
Professor Falk’s interest in the law began in elementary school. He had a passion for history, and an interest in Abraham Lincoln which sparked his interest in becoming a lawyer. Some of the first major legal cases Professor Falk studied were the land claim cases made by the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Penobscot Native American tribes against the state of Maine. These cases were battled throughout the 1970s and were particularly interesting to Professor Falk given the use of historical treaties from the 1700s to argue the cases. The Native American land claim cases demonstrated how lawyers can use history to change the present and inspired Professor Falk to pursue his first summer job during law school at Pine Tree legal assistance in Maine.
In 1982, Professor Falk graduated from Harvard and later went on to graduate from Harvard Law School in 1985. After graduating law school, Falk represented low income tenants for New Haven Legal assistance. After about 12 years of working in civil law, he switched to representing criminal defendants. As a criminal defendant Professor Falk described how he would feel crushed every time one of his clients received a poor sentence.
In 2007, Professor Falk earned a master’s degree in history from Trinity College. He had always had a passion for history and had wanted to obtain a history degree for a long time. One of Falk’s professors at Trinity had informed him that the college was looking for someone to teach a law and argument class for the Public Policy and Law department. Thus, Falk began his second career as a professor.
His title as a professor of the practice of Public Policy and Law reflects both his academic and professional experience. Professor Falk’s favorite classes to teach are his Legal History and Crime and Punishment classes, as they allow him to combine his love for history and the law. Falk has been surprised by the increasing attention students pay toward issues of poverty and mass incarceration in the legal system, as for years he has felt like a “voice crying out in the wilderness” for these problems.
While he is no longer in the courtroom, he still gets a taste of courtroom life by coaching Trinity College’s mock trial team. Falk described mock trial as “perfectly replicating the challenges and atmosphere of a real trial.”