Valparaiso University has tapped Andrea Lyon as the next dean of its School of Law.

Now associate dean for clinical programs at DePaul University College of Law, Lyon represents somewhat of an unconventional choice. A small number of deans come from a clinical background, but the vast majority have doctrinal roots.

“The match between Professor Lyon’s gifts and commitments and the law school’s mission and curricular emphasis suggests she is very much the right person for the right position at the right time,” Valparaiso provost and executive vice president for academic Affairs Mark Schwehn said.

The law school has updated its curriculum to incorporate more practical skills into doctrinal classes and to offer real-world experience in advocacy, business and government. Lyon cited that focus as one reason she took the job, which she will assume in June 2014.

“As a professor and a practitioner, I try to inspire people to do their best,” Lyon said. “At Valpo, it’s evident the faculty care about their students. This is a school of opportunity where students from a diverse array of backgrounds are inspired to create change.”

In addition to her associate deanship, Lyon is visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law. At DePaul, she directs the Darrow Death Penalty Defense College and the Center for Justice in Capital Cases, which directly represents clients facing the death penalty.

Before she became a law professor, Lyon was director of the Illinois Capital Resources Center and was a public defender in Chicago.

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