Correction: This article has been changed to correct a fact error. Leo Martinez is a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

The next leader of the Association of American Law Schools is no stranger to the organization.

The association has tapped Georgetown University Law Center professor Judith Areen as its interim executive director, effective on December 1. Areen served as AALS president in 2006 and has served on its executive committee.

She will fill in for Susan Westerberg Prager, who is leaving after five years to become the dean of Southwestern Law School.

“Judith Areen is a well-known and well-respected figure in legal education,” said AALS president Leo Martinez, professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. “We are fortunate that a colleague of Judith Areen’s stature, scholarly focus on higher education and extensive experience with AALS is willing to serve as interim executive director and chief executive officer.”

Areen has plenty of management experience. She was dean at Georgetown from 1989 to 2004 and served as interim dean there in 2010. She has taught at the Washington law school since 1972, specializing in education law and family law. She will take a leave of absence from Georgetown to focus on the AALS, which counts 176 law school members.

Areen said she hoped to give the AALS sufficient time to find a permanent leader. She already lives in Washington, where the organization is headquartered, she noted. But she added that leading the group won’t be easy.“It really is a challenging time for the legal academy. I’ve been in legal education for 40 years and it’s never been this difficult.”

She would like the AALS to help move the discussion beyond handwringing over application declines and climbing costs and toward improving legal education overall.

One top priority is to reduce law school costs, she said.

“My personal interest is to see if we can be better about using technology—not just as a replacement for the classroom, but in the classroom,” she said. “That might help address the cost issue.”

The organization might turn to outside groups for solutions to the challenges law schools face, she said.

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