David Lopez. Photo: Diego Radzinschi.

 

Rutgers Law School has selected its next dean from outside academia.

David Lopez, who has been appointed co-dean and will oversee the school’s Newark campus, is currently a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Outten & Golden, serving in the discrimination and retaliation practice. Before joining the firm in 2016, he was the general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for six years. Altogether, Lopez worked in the EEOC for 22 years.

His appointment is pending approval by the university’s board of governors.

Lopez will replace outgoing co-dean Ronald Chen, who is returning to teaching after five years at the helm of the Newark campus. Chen’s co-dean, Michael Cahill, will continue to run the school’s Camden campus.

The two Rutgers law campuses operated as separate schools until 2015 when they officially merged. As part of the dean selection process, Lopez visited both campuses and met with faculty and staff, according to an announcement from the law school about his appointment. He is slated to join the faculty in August.

While Lopez is not a traditional academic, he does have experience at the front of the classroom. This spring, Lopez was a lecturer at his alma mater, Harvard Law School, teaching a course called the “Frontiers of Civil Rights Enforcement.” He has also taught as an adjunct at Georgetown University Law Center.

Lopez began his legal career as an associate at Washington firm Spiegel and McDiarmid for three years before joining the U.S. Department of Justice as a senior trial attorney in the civil rights division’s employment litigation section. From there, Lopez became a field prosecutor with the EEOC before ascending to general counsel during the Obama administration.