Get to Know a Professor: Christina Duffy Ponsa-Kraus, Columbia Law School

Law Preview retains a roster of law professors that any school would envy.  Not only are they accomplished scholars, but they represent 24 Teacher of the Year Award Winners, five former clerks to justices on the Supreme Court and two federal prosecutors.  But don’t be intimidated by their credentials — above all they are fun, engaging and warm people who simply love to teach.  To show you their human side, we asked our professors to share their thoughts on a range of subjects — from the #metoo movement to Hamilton to their favorite Stranger Things character.  Their responses might make you look at law professors a bit differently.

So, let’s get to know:  Christina Duffy Ponsa-Kraus, George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History, at Columbia Law School.

Get to Know Christina Duffy Ponsa-Kraus

Christina Duffy Ponsa-Kraus is the George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History at Columbia Law School. Ponsa’s work focuses on American legal history. Ponsa is the co-editor of Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution, and the author of several articles and essays on the constitutional implications of American territorial expansion.

Ponsa is currently at work on a constitutional and international legal history of the American empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Prior to joining the Columbia Law School faculty in 2007, Ponsa served as a law clerk to Judge Jose A. Cabranes on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and to Justice Stephen G. Breyer on the Supreme Court.

Ponsa holds degrees from Princeton University, the University of Cambridge, and Yale University.

What is your FAVORITE thing about being a law professor?

Having the luxury and privilege to spend so much of my time thinking about interesting things.

What is your LEAST favorite thing about being a law professor?

Grading exams.

If you weren’t a law professor, what would your “other dream job” be?


If you had a son or daughter beginning law school next fall, what is the BEST piece of advice you could offer them?

Do not overcommit in your first year.

What is your favorite quote and what makes it so meaningful to you?

My favorite quotes come from pop songs, which doesn’t seem serious enough for a professor, so I’m not telling. 🙂

Do you have an opinion about the social impact of the 2017 Women’s March and/or #metoo campaign?

Mainly hoping they have the impact they should have.

List one show you “binge-watched” and what was it about the show that captivated your attention?

I binge-watched West Wing in 2015, and what captivated me was the contrast between West Wing, with its cast of decent, good people just trying to do the right thing, and House of Cards (couldn’t watch more than a few episodes of this one), with its cast of self-centered, ruthless sociopaths trying to amass power at other people’s expense. Ugh.

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