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Now that it has renovated its facilities and revised its curriculum to add a new degree program, Albany Law School will undergo another significant change this fall, when the New York school welcomes a new dean, Thomas F. Guernsey, formerly dean of Southern Illinois University School of Law. Guernsey, who has served as dean at Southern Illinois since 1996, will begin his deanship at Albany this fall. Dale L. Moore, associate dean for academic affairs, is serving as interim dean following the retirement of Dean Thomas H. Sponsler on June 30. Guernsey said the move from a public law school to a private one has energized him. “At a private, independent law school, the dean plays a larger role,” he said. “In a sense you are the administration, and the level of responsibility that comes with that is a professional challenge I look forward to.” A lifelong academic, Guernsey, 50, also served as the associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Richmond School of Law from 1992 to 1995. He began his career teaching law at Vermont Law School in 1976, following his graduation from Detroit’s Wayne State University Law School. While earning his Master of Laws degree at Philadelphia’s Temple University School of Law from 1978 to 1980, Guernsey served as assistant general counsel at the Temple Legal Aid Office. Most of his work involved advocacy for children in special education. “Most of the kids that I represented were adolescents with mental disabilities who were institutionalized … and a lot of the work was getting them out of the institution,” Guernsey said. “We were successful most of the time. Unfortunately, often times the kid was so poorly treated that you couldn’t help but be successful in getting better services than those being provided.” Guernsey also handled litigation pro bono for disabled clients from 1985 to 1996, while he was a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. At Albany, Guernsey inherits a law school that has recently completed major changes. Last year, the school finished construction of a three-story building that now houses its administrative offices, its government law center, and several new classrooms. It was the first new building at Albany Law School since 1929. The school has also completed renovations of its present facilities. Additionally, the school will begin its first Master of Laws program during the new dean’s first semester at Albany. The school will offer LL.M. degrees in advanced legal studies, government administration and regulation, health law, intellectual property law and international law. An LL.M. program for foreign law graduates will also be offered. “It’s a fairly logical time in the school’s evolution [to change deans],” said outgoing dean Sponsler. “A major phase is over and it’s time for someone to take the school into the next phase.” LAWYERING SKILLS For his part, Guernsey plans to focus on a curriculum that stresses lawyering skills, as opposed to simply learning the letter of the law. “It wasn’t much before the ’80s that there were classes addressing interview counseling and negotiation tactics, for example,” Guernsey said. “No matter how systematically you break [the law] down there is the overlay that you’re dealing with human beings, and there is always a social and psychological component that makes it unpredictable.” A native of Battle Creek, Mich., Guernsey, who lives in Carbondale, Ill., will move to Albany with his wife, attorney Kathe Klare, a Long Island native. His daughter, Alison, 20, recently graduated from the University of Michigan; his son, Adam, 18, will attend the University of Oregon this fall.

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