Chapman University School of Law has tapped Tom Campbell — a lawyer with a Ph.D. in economics who has been a law professor, a business school dean, a U.S. congressman, a bureaucrat in the Federal Trade Commission, a state finance director and a would-be senator — as its next dean.

Campbell replaces former Chapman Dean John Eastman, who stepped down in February 2010 to run for California attorney general, effective today.

Eastman didn’t win that election, but he remains on the faculty of the Orange County, Calif., law school.

Campbell himself is no stranger to politics. The Republican represented California in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 1993 and again from 1995 to 2001. He served two years in the California State Senate between those stints in Washington. He has made three unsuccessful bids to represent California in the U.S. Senate — most recently in 2010, when he lost in the Republican primary to former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina.

Between his political life and being dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, from 2002 to 2008, Campbell said he’s comfortable raising money, which will be one of his primary duties at Chapman.

“It’s a lot easier representing Chapman than representing myself,” he said.

“I don’t have to make my case in the space of an elevator.” Campbell, who has been a visiting professor in the law and economics departments at Chapman since 2009, said he was interested in the dean position in part because of the school’s small class sizes and innovative curriculum.

“There’s a great emphasis on practicum here,” he said. “We appear to have more clinics per student than any other law school I’m familiar with.” Chapman takes a more entrepreneurial, outside-the-box approach than some other universities, he said. For instance, when the university managed to bring in Nobel prize-winning economist Vernon Smith as a visiting professor, it elected to appoint him to both the law and economics schools. Smith is running a workshop on the economic foundations of legal rules, Campbell said.

As dean, Campbell said, he intends to retain the “top-rate educational experience for students” and build the reputation of the school. He also plans to emphasize ethics and respect for the rule of law around the globe.

Creating job opportunities for Chapman law graduates will be a top priority and a challenge, given California’s more than 12% unemployment rate, Campbell said.

“My role as dean is to do my best to open as many doors as possible,” he said, adding that he plans to visit many law firms to build solid relationships with employers.

While Campbell has spent much of his recent career in politics and business school administration, he has considerable experience in the legal academy.

After graduating from Harvard Law School and earning a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago, Campbell worked briefly in private practice and accepted several government positions before teaching at Stanford Law School in 1983, where he remained on the faculty until 2002.

“Tom Campbell brings a wealth of experience as a teacher, educator and public servant,” Chapman President James Doti said in a written statement.

“His outstanding record of scholarship and leadership at UC Berkeley and Stanford, as a member of Congress and in his service to the state of California augurs well for the skills he brings to Chapman.” Having held positions in both law schools and business schools, Campbell sees some fundamental differences.

“There a difference in the students and their goals,” he said. “I don’t put either down — they’re both honorable. But the goal of the business student is to get into the economy and create opportunity. The duty of the law student is to provide a professional service to those who ask for it — and in many cases — those who cannot afford it, and to help them protect their rights and achieve their goals in a civilized society.”

Karen Sloan can be contacted at