After more than a decade at the helm of New York University School of Law, dean Richard Revesz announced on October 24 that he will step down at the end of the academic year. 

“Leading this amazing community has been an enormous privilege, an experience that has been rewarding beyond measure,” Revesz wrote in a message to students and alumni. “I am deeply proud of all that we have accomplished together, and confident that the law school will continue to flourish under new leadership.”

Revesz’ decision to vacate the deanship came less than a week after the law school went public with changes to its third-year curriculum that are intended to better prepare students to get legal jobs and practice. The reforms involve more opportunities to study abroad and the addition of voluntary tracks in specific areas of law.

NYU president and former law dean John Sexton said the law school has seen “remarkable progress” during Revesz’ tenure. The size of the faculty increased by 30 percent as the school lured professors from competitors including Yale, Stanford and Harvard, Sexton noted in his own letter to the law school community.

“Ricky has also proven to be a remarkable fundraiser, working tirelessly to secure the long-term success of the institution he loves so much,” Sexton wrote. “He has raised $520 million during his ten years at the helm of the law school, and under his leadership, the NYU Law Fund has more than doubled.”

The university will soon form a committee to search for Revesz’s replacement, Sexton said.

Revesz, named dean in 2002, has taught at the school since 1985 and said he plans to return to teaching. A 1983 graduate of Yale Law School, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Revesz oversaw the addition of 19 clinics and 12 centers and institutes dedicated to researching specific areas of the law and public policy. He has encouraged student interest in public interest and government careers by expanding the school’s loan repayment assistance program and scholarships.

Revesz’ departure comes at a difficult time for law schools across the country, including highly ranked schools like NYU. Applications have declined significantly nationwide during the past two years, and job prospects for new law gradates have diminished.

Revesz recently told The Wall Street Journal that the school received about 2,000 fewer applications this year compared to 2010, but that the student body remained highly qualified.

The school reported that nearly 91 percent of the class of 2011 had secured jobs that require bar admission nine months after graduation, although more than 10 percent of those graduates were in jobs funded by NYU. The percentage of graduates in law firm jobs declined from 75 in 2008 to 54 in 2011.

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