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Georgetown University Law Center Dean Judith Areen is stepping down after a 15-year tenure marked by accolades and a very public showdown with former university President Leo O’Donovan where she regained her job after an uproar from the university community forced O’Donovan to renew her contract for a third five-year term. As dean, Areen is credited with recruiting much of the current faculty, reducing the size of the incoming class, and tripling the financial aid endowment. Areen and incoming Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff, an immigration and constitutional law scholar, sat down with Legal Times ‘ Bethany Broida for a conversation prior to Areen’s departure. Legal Times: I wanted to begin by discussing some of the challenges facing law school deans today. One of the biggest I would imagine is money, both endowments and financial aid. I wanted to get your sense about the importance of money and the challenges of raising it. Judith Areen: A major challenge for every law school dean is that law school is very, very, very expensive, and we all live with that and worry about it. And it is why all deans spend a great deal of time trying to cushion that expense by increasing the amount of financial aid we can give. But it is — what’s that hamster wheel image I have in my head? — as fast as we are running to increase the financial aid, the expenses of running the school of course continue to go up, so we are caught in this. It is crucial to have alumni engaged in the school, understand the economics, and if you are very fortunate, they are willing to support students better than they were supported when they were here. T. Alexander Aleinikoff: The new challenge, besides the fact that it costs a lot, is, as law schools get increasingly involved in the world and across borders, that raises all kinds of costs for law programs to keep growing. And to keep facing new challenges requires new resources. Legal Times: Because law school alumni are so generous, law schools in general enjoy a great deal of autonomy from their universities. I know this is an issue that you dealt with during your tenure. Areen: Well, university presidents look out over a world that has different kinds of capacities to support the education of current students. Let me go back and explain. It is true for us, and it is true, I would say, for most every private school. Even a student who is paying full tuition, and it is very expensive tuition — alone over $30,000 — is not paying full cost. You spend more on that student, and so it is a very strange kind of business to be in. We lose money on every student. The only way the economics work out is if our past graduates go on and are in a position to give back and feel that the education they received made enough of a difference that it is appropriate to give back. Now we are fortunate in the sense that law is a profession that pays reasonably well. . . . If you happen to be a school, a university, that has a school of education, well most teachers are not paid very well so there is no way that the alumni can support that, and that is one of the challenges that university presidents face. They will have some schools whose graduates are in a position to give more support than other schools, and yet for a university you would want to have a broad range of programs. Legal Times: While we are talking about the ability of alumni to give back, what about the pressure to join a top big-name law firm. What type of pressure do you feel to get your students into top firms? Areen: As a dean, I am really not trying to steer people to a particular job. One of the great things about a law degree in this country is that it prepares you to do so many different kinds of things. And one of the traditions we are very proud of, particularly given our location, is that we send a number of our graduates to the federal government, into public service. And so I am certainly not going to steer people. One of the reasons I worry about the expense of law school is our students are graduating on average $80,000 in debt. Now if they go to a firm with a high salary, they can manage that debt. But for students that want to go into the federal government, they literally cannot. It is bad not just for our graduates. It is bad for the country when graduates coming out of law schools can’t afford to go to work for the federal government. So we are one of the schools, and there is a growing number, that provide loan support, loan forgiveness for students who want to do public service, public interest, community service. I think the job market is structured so that firms are better organized. They come in a very organized way at the beginning of the second year and say, come and interview for the summer, and [they] make those offers at the beginning of the third year. Lots of government agencies, lots of legal services programs won’t know until May or June what their budget is for the next year. They won’t be able to make offers until much later, so students feel pressure I think simply from the structure. Aleinikoff: I think our students have those opportunities. I don’t think there is pressure on them to get those kinds of jobs. Many of the students that graduate here are sought after by top firms around the country. The issue is one more of expanding choice than it is of helping them to get into the place where they can compete. They are competing for those kind of jobs already. Legal Times: Given Dean Aleinikoff’s background, will expanding international law focus and attracting international students be primary goals? Aleinikoff: International law has always been a strength at Georgetown. Dean Areen is almost finished building these two new buildings. . . . Those will be things she left us, a wonderful international law building with an international law library. But that is just the most concrete manifestation of the direction of, I think, law schools in general, particularly this law school given our location, given our traditional strength, given the number of foreign students who come here. We now have about 180 LL.M. students who come to get graduate degrees and a number of students in our J.D. program.We tend to think of diversity in our class as being a domestic affair, we have different representatives from different groups in our society. Our diversity is also enhanced by a large number of foreign students. . . . It is just a natural development we are following the rise of globalization, in some ways leading the rise of globalization. But we will have to take more interest in those things that mean students coming here. That also means curricular change. It means hiring faculty with those interests. It means partnering with foreign institutions, foreign universities where we can share faculties and students across borders, and the like. And that is very exciting for most of our students and most of the faculty. Legal Times: Could you talk about plans to enhance Georgetown’s diversity and what has already been done under your leadership? Areen: We actually do count up every year by looking at the statistics that the [American Bar Association] puts out, and for several years now, we have more minority students than any other law school in the country except for Loyola [Law School] of Los Angeles. The two of us share top honors, and that is a very important part of our tradition here. It’s important for us to be open to groups that have traditionally not been represented in the legal community, and, frankly, the faculty here feels strongly that it makes a much more effective classroom to have a very diverse student body. But I want to agree with Alex’s earlier response. It is important for us to look at diversity in a new way. It is not just ethnic and racial diversity, but it is national and international diversity, and that is the really challenging one for the 21st century. Aleinikoff: The Supreme Court in the University of Michigan law school case recognized what most academics who teach on a daily basis know, that a more diverse class is a more interesting, exciting class. It is a better learning experience, and this ties into the global point as well. As law practice expands where it is doing its work, students have to be trained to deal with other cultures, with other legal systems, or they will not be as effective lawyers as they should be. So the diversity is not good just because you have a more interesting class discussion . . . but it is because you actually are helping students learn how to function in other cultures where they will be doing their work. . . . The diversity that we have now that is important is actually preparing you for the kind of practice you will be doing, which is practicing across a diverse culture because of changes in our country and across the world as well. So it is crucial. I mean the Supreme Court recognized that and made the right decision. Legal Times: Have you made any changes to your admissions policies based on the University of Michigan decision? Areen: We have always had very individualized determination. We don’t do it on the numbers. We look at each child, and so we are very pleased to have the Supreme Court validate, if you will, the approach that we have undertaken. Legal Times: There are some changes facing the D.C. law school landscape this summer not only at Georgetown but also at George Washington University, where Dean Michael Young is also leaving. What kinds of changes do you think the influx of new leadership might bring? Areen: I do think it is important that a person not do this kind of job too long, and as I say this, I think I have done this too long. There were reasons to do a third term but it would have been better to do two terms, which would have been ten years.Why do I say that? I think that institutions benefit from having fresh eyes and fresh leadership, and there are some things each of us can do well, but inevitably there are things we miss. And so I think it is just great for Georgetown to have this talented new dean. Aleinikoff: Not everyone agrees that Judy stayed in this job too long. You know it is just our time at this point for this to happen in a couple of places. People come in with different perspectives, and I will come with some different kinds of ideas, I guess, than Judy has worked on, and she has worked on issues that I probably would not have focused on. Legal Times: What other goals have you set or what other areas are you looking at? Aleinikoff: Given the increasing costs of legal education, increasing financial aid is always going to be important, increasingly, increasingly important, and getting the message out to both alumni and other friends of the law school that it is an expensive proposition. . . . I think another area that I will be working on that, again, Judy was instrumental here working on is public interest law. We created under her tenure here OPICS, the Office of Public Interest and Community Service, which is a way to bring together folks here to help students to work in the community, do pro bono efforts, to help them find jobs in the public sector and in the public interest sector. Legal Times: What lessons will you take away from Dean Areen’s tenure? Aleinikoff: Here is the chief, well, two chief lessons: First, that strategic thinking is crucial for a law school. Academic institutions don’t do enough strategic thinking. We have had five-year plans here for the law school. We have gone through the process of coming up with a five-year plan and actually carrying out the five-year plan, which has led to significant improvements, so that kind of planning is real important. Second is that you can run a first-class operation in a way that looks like you have got a lot money when you really, really pay attention to how the money is spent. One of the things coming up through the academic staff you don’t notice is this, but when you move to become an administrator you see the difference between a well-administered institution and a poorly administered institution. A well-administered institution looks richer than it is because it has really put the dollars in the right place and made people be efficient. Legal Times: What lessons have you learned over the past 15 years? What do you hope he takes from your tenure? Areen: I would absolutely agree with what Alex just said, but I would describe the second one a little differently. It really is about people, and we are very fortunate not only to have an extraordinary faculty but also to have some of the great administrators in the country. . . . Even though we don’t have as many people as we would like, to deal with our students and all of the different functions around the law school, the people we have work so well and have such good judgment it really does work for our students and our faculty. Legal Times: What do you hope your legacy will be? Areen: I feel very much a part of the process, and the minute you come into a job like this, you sense that, and things that I am sometimes given credit for are really the reflection of good planning by the faculty and deans years and years ago. So I hope that people will feel that I continued that trajectory. Legal Times: Dean Aleinikoff, do you think that will be her legacy or maybe something more? Aleinikoff: Maybe slightly larger. Well, I think that Judy is right to one extent, that you can go back three or four deans and you can see the development of the modern Georgetown law school. What her impact is on program, on physical plan — here is the biggest impact actually. We do surveys of our students when they leave about their satisfaction here, and if you look at the numbers from 1992 to this year, they are like this [gesturing upward with his hand] in terms of satisfaction across the board, and I think that is what this dean will be remembered for. Building the kind of place that students thought was just a great educational opportunity and some of the best years of their lives. I guess the other thing I would look at would be the change in faculty because probably 60 percent of the faculty has been hired under your tenure. . . . Maybe half, that really remakes an institution when you are responsible for hiring half the faculty. Legal Times: I read where you said that Dean Aleinikoff is “uniquely situated” for this position. What makes him so unique? Areen: We are, as you know, the largest when you look at the size of the faculty or just the complexity of the administration, the student body. I think it would be very hard for someone to come in who had not been part of Georgetown. So, I think it is wonderful that he has not only been here on the faculty and knows things as a faculty member, but also he has been serving as an associate dean. Looking forward, it is only going to be harder. I want to underscore we will be competing with the best endowed and the most established law schools in the country for faculty and for students, and that is going to take someone who is himself a recognized scholar, who does outstanding work, to be able to effectively engage in competition and continue to recruit really super faculty and students. And third . . . if you go back to the beginning of the 20th century, law schools tended to be regional or even local. . . . Over the course of that century a handful of elite schools became really national in a sense. Now, the challenge is to go global, and that is hard because it is a big world and you can’t teach the law of every country. So what does it mean? How do you prepare yourself? And again Alex has been doing that in his own work, so he is exactly, I think, in terms of subject matter, very willing to take on the challenge. So, you put the three together, and he is uniquely qualified.

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