You’d be hard-pressed to find any member of the University of Connecticut School of Law faculty that would have a single bad thing to say about former dean Jeremy Paul.
"People love him. He’s a great guy," said Leslie Levin, associate dean for academic affairs at UConn Law School. "You couldn’t ask for somebody nicer…he was a great and generous colleague."
Many recalled how attentive he was to both faculty and students.
"Jeremy really spent a lot of time with each individual faculty member," said Steven Wilf, associate dean for research and faculty development at UConn Law. "He would walk the hallway, make the rounds and talk to folks. He was very well respected in virtually every corner you went. When I went to attend the dean’s meetings at the university, Jeremy had a special voice within that conclave."
Wilf said Paul has a similar voice among law school deans nationally, which gave UConn Law a certain "luster."
For students, Wilf recalled when Paul created "Are You Happy Hour?" enabling students to ask questions and voice concerns in an open forum.
"I thought the name was terrible but the idea was great," Wilf said.
Wilf recalled there was always someone there taking notes and Paul would try his best to address all of the concerns. "That was an important aspect of Jeremy’s deanship," Wilf said. "He was accessible and he would respond honestly to the students."
In honor of Paul’s accomplishments, particularly during his 23 years as a faculty member at UConn Law, he will be presented with one of two Service to the Profession Awards at the Law Tribune‘s Honor’s Night ceremony.
Paul, a longtime member of the Law Tribune‘s Editorial Board, left the UConn Law faculty a year ago to become dean at Northeastern University School of Law.
Paul’s departure came on the heels of criticism, mostly from alumni, regarding UConn Law’s dip in the U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings, going from No. 56 to No. 62. in 2012. The number was 16 places down from their 2008 rank.
Unsurprisingly, at the time, Paul said he refused to relent to pressures to "manipulate our numbers" in an effort to get a better score.
Paul ultimately decided that after 13 years in leadership positions at UConn Law it was time for a new voice. He stepped down in March 2012. Starting in July, Timothy Fisher, a partner in the Hartford office of McCarter & English, will take over as dean of the law school.
Paul’s journey to Connecticut began in the late 1980s. In 1989, Paul said his wife was offered a job as editor-in-chief at the Law Tribune.
"She really wanted to take that job," Paul recalled. So he applied for a job at UConn Law.
Prior to his tenure at UConn, Paul had been on the faculty of the University of Miami’s School of Law, where he taught real property and jurisprudence, as well as administrative law and landlord/tenant law. He also taught at the Boston College Law School as a visiting professor.
Paul remembers just starting out as a 27-year-old professor at Miami in 1983. He had graduated from Harvard Law School in 1981.
"It was a very heady experience to be brand new….but I remember thinking at the time, it’s cool to be 27 and have the same job as someone 55 but how am I going to feel when I’m 55 and have the same job as someone 27," said Paul.
Paul knew early on he wanted to do more than teach. He absolutely wanted to be a dean. He tailored his career path to meet that goal. As such, Paul spent two separate stints outside of academia with the intent to have the necessary legal practice experience to make a better dean one day.
Paul served as a clerk to Judge Irving R. Kaufman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as a professor in residence for the appellate staff of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He was also assistant to the president of Travelers Group Inc., where he oversaw various projects, including aspects of the integration of Travelers Insurance Co. into the larger Travelers Group Inc.
Paul also knew he needed to learn about fundraising to be a successful dean. So Paul joined the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut and served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
"In the five years that I’ve been dean, the role of fundraising remains significant," said Paul.
Paul’s assent to the deanship at UConn Law did not happen overnight. Paul served as associate dean for academic affairs and as the School of Law’s first associate dean for research.
Paul also penned a bestselling book with UConn law professor Michael Fischl called "Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams." Paul said it’s the bestselling law book on Amazon.com and has sold roughly 75,000 copies.
Paul became dean in 2007 and his accomplishments are too many to name, though he words it differently.
"I would say the law school accomplished them while I was dean," said Paul.
Among the achievements under his watch was an expansion of the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic, which gives students the opportunity to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He also launched the Center for Energy and Environmental Law, which hosts a certificate program as well as both in-house clinics and externship clinics at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Paul has lectured extensively abroad, including in China, where he helped recruit students for an S.J.D. program for international students. That program was also started while he was dean.
The school under his leadership began its semester in D.C. program, a research support program for junior faculty; an on-line community for graduates; and a pro bono pledge program for students.
Paul took steps to increase diversity on the faculty. He hired eight new tenure track faculty members, four of which were persons of color, which matched the number the school had previously hired in total.
Faculty members achieved great success during Paul’s tenure. The 2010-11 school year saw ten faculty members have books published. Paul promoted the year as the "Year of the Book."
"Many people who go into deaning these days are often much less connected to the intellectual projects of law schools but he was very much connected," said Wilf.
Willajeanne F. McLean, interim dean, agrees. In fact, McLean described Paul as a "beautiful writer."
"He would read people’s work and give really great suggestions and comments, critiques," said McLean. "He was very supportive of people’s research and wanting to try out new things. Certainly I benefited from that as his associate dean."
Paul said in addition to all the tasks that keep a dean busy every day, the position is becoming one in which you need to have an entrepreneurial spirit.
"You’re trying to figure out how to start successful education programs that augment revenue law schools make in their JD program," said Paul. "The number of applicants to law school nationally is declining. The students pay the bills approach law schools had 10-15 years ago is unacceptable now. Being a dean calls upon additional business and strategic skills."
Wilf noted that Paul was always careful with decisions, putting a lot of thought into them. Wilf said Paul was always fair both with issues that arose with faculty and students.
"It’s hard to think of anytime Jeremy wasn’t fair," said Wilf.
"He has great instincts. It comes naturally," said Levin. "It’s not like he’s thinking about anybody watching him. He just does the right thing."
McLean noted that Paul has been a great mentor to her and was always generous with his time.
"He made it easier for me to step into this job because he had taken the time to show me the work of being a dean while I was his associate dean," said McLean. "And he was extremely generous with his time whenever I had questions that arose as interim dean. Even after he left he was extremely generous with his time. I would say that’s a hallmark of Jeremy."•