On January 1, 2012, I have the honor of taking my post as the next dean of the Law School at Northwestern University. Following in the footsteps of a century and a half of able leaders, I begin my service with humility and excitement. Northwestern Law School (I prefer NW Law to NU Law, for what it’s worth) is an ambitious institution; and I have great ambitions for it.
These great ambitions can be sketched thusly:
(1) To provide a vital, eclectic, and rigorous environment for our students to study the law and legal institutions, a study that necessarily includes exposure to many disciplines, other perspectives, and the deep intersections between the subject of law, the practice of law, the place of law in a diverse society;
(2) To contribute to human knowledge through theoretical and applied research by our faculty and students, research which concerns both positive and prescriptive matters, and which draws upon cutting-edge empirical, doctrinal, and normative analysis;
(3) To nurture careful, coherent thinking about the challenges of the legal profession in the present and future. This “thinking” takes place in the venues of scholarship, teaching, workshops, and even in informal settings when faculty, students, and alumni come together to reflect candidly and constructively on how to respond to the myriad challenges in modern legal practice and, as well, the serious questions raised about the enterprise of legal education in the 21st century;
(4) To further the public interest by providing direct legal services to the disadvantaged and, in parallel, create a climate in which our students learn to value the imperative of law and legal practice as mechanisms of social justice and of means to redress injustice wherenever and whenever it is found;
(5) To provide a model for other great law schools, in the U.S. and abroad, to follow in developing their own objectives, structures, and strategies.
Ambitious indeed. Exciting indeed. I cannot wait to start this excellent adventure!