James Hughes, Emory University, School of Law.
James Hughes, Emory University, School of Law. (Emory.edu)

One month into his tenure as interim dean of Emory University School of Law, Judson Graves has stepped down for personal reasons, according to the law school. James Hughes Jr., Emory Law’s associate dean for academic affairs, will pick up the baton while the school conducts a national search for a new dean to succeed Robert Schapiro, whose term ended in July.

“Jim Hughes is a proven leader who has been part of the Emory Law community for 25 years,” said Emory provost Dwight A. McBride in an announcement. “His extensive leadership experience, ties to the Atlanta community, and devotion to the law school and to Emory will be tremendous assets in this time of transition as we prepare ourselves to identify a new dean to lead Emory Law into its second century.”

Graves, an Emory Law alumnus, was a litigation partner at Alston & Bird until retiring in 2013. He became interim dean Aug. 1 after Schapiro, a constitutional law scholar, announced in March that he would return to teaching. Graves did not immediately respond to a phone call on Friday.

Hughes is a popular professor at the law school, where he teaches courses in property, real estate sales and finance, and professional responsibility. The Emory Student Bar Association chose him as Most Outstanding Professor in 2002, and the Black Law Student Association named him Professor of the Year in 2005. Beyond Emory, Hughes has served for a decade on the board of directors for the City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority. He is a past member of the State Bar of Georgia’s Formal Advisory Opinion Board. Before joining Emory Law in 1992, Hughes was a partner at Trotter, Smith & Jacobs, practicing commercial real estate law. He holds a J.D. from Yale University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Connecticut.

Georgia State University College of Law is also looking for a new dean. Steven Kaminshine stepped down this summer after 12 years in the role, and faculty member Wendy Hensel is serving as interim dean while GSU Law conducts its own dean search.