Northeastern University School of Law has named Jeremy Paul as its next law dean.
Paul is now dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, but announced plans in March to step down once his replacement had been found. He will assume the top post at Northeastern on Aug. 13.
“It’s very exiting,” Paul said on July 19, as Northeastern announced his appointment. “The trend in legal education is to try to figure out how to expose students to multiple practice settings, and that’s something Northeastern has been doing for a long time. It’s built into the fabric of the school, and one hope I have is that Northeastern will become a model.”
Paul has been dean at Connecticut since 2007, and his five-year contract expired in the spring. In an e-mail message to faculty and student in March, Paul said he decided that the law school would benefit from a “new pair of eyes providing perspective on how we might best adapt to the rapidly changing landscape for legal education and the legal profession.”
That message came on the heels of Connecticut’s drop from No. 56 to No. 62 in U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings, although Paul said his decision was the result of many factors. One was that he had held leadership positions at Connecticut for 13 years and was ready for a new environment, he said.
Northeastern, a Boston school that is ranked No. 76 by U.S. News, has a unique curriculum in that each student must complete what is called a “co-op”: four quarters of full-time legal employment. Students alternate between taking classes and working in legal jobs intended to give them a real-world taste of lawyering.
Paul said that one goal for Northeastern is to further integrate the classroom and co-op components of the curriculum, so that students derive the maximum benefits from both. He also plans to broaden what people think of as experiential learning to include understanding technology, business practices and other judicial systems around the world. To accomplish that, he aims to increase the level of collaboration between the law school and other areas of the university.
Northeastern administrators cited Paul’s faculty recruiting and fundraising successes at Connecticut as among their reasons for hiring him.
“Jeremy’s experience within and outside of legal academia, and with our school of law’s distinguished leadership in experiential learning and commitment to social justice, will position us well to address the dramatic challenges that legal education is facing nationwide,” said provost Stephen Director.
Paul said he is under no illusion that taking on another dean job will be easy, particularly with law schools suffering from an image problem and graduates struggling to find jobs. But he said that the need for lawyers with a strong sense of ethics and a commitment to social justice is higher than ever.
“Contrary to what you read, it’s way too early to give up on law schools,” Paul said. “I think they have enormous resources to offer.
Contact Karen Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org.