The University of Michigan Law School is promoting from within for its new dean, selecting associate dean for academic affairs Mark West to replace Evan Caminker when he steps down on August 31 after 10 years in the job. 

West has taught at since 1998 at Michigan, where he has developed expertise in the Japanese legal system. He has been associate dean for the past five years.

“I’m very pleased that Professor West will assume the leadership of the law school at a time when thoughtful approaches are needed to basic issues facing legal education, such as curriculum, costs, technology, and globalization,” university provost Philip Hanlon said in a prepared statement.

West, whose appointment must be approved by the university’s board of regents, said he was honored at the appointment and recognizes the challenges of leading a law school in today’s climate.

“We’re in an excellent position to address the challenges that are out there,” West said in a telephone interview on January 9. “The primary focus has to be the students. I teach 1Ls and, yes, I see the struggles with tuition levels and employment. The focus has to be on those numbers. I want students to be able to walk in here the way I did, thinking ‘I’m at Michigan Law and I’m off the treadmill. All I have to do is work hard and I’ll get to do what I want to do.’ “

To that end, West said, one of his top priorities will be to raise money to support student financial aid and loan repayment programs. He also plans to formalize employment outreach opportunities between students and alumni.

“This really is the institution that shaped the way I think, write and teach,” he said. “As corny as it sounds, I really do love the place.”

Caminker announced in March that he would leave the deanship at the conclusion of his second five-year contract. During his tenure, the law school built a new academic building and student commons and added courses designed to teach practical skills.

West graduated from Columbia Law School and practiced law in the New York and Tokyo offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garri son.

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