A letter from Dean Daniel F. Attridge:
Dear CUA Law Students,
We hope you our students, along with our faculty and staff, enjoyed the Christmas break after the conclusion of our fall semester. With our spring semester beginning on January 8, we are already into the full swing of classes, programs, activities, and special events. This is a brief report on what’s been happening and what’s coming up:
1. New Master of Legal Studies Program. We are very pleased to announce the launch of our new Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree program, with applications now being accepted for enrollment in the summer of 2014. The 15-month, 26-credit program will offer M.L.S. students both a general understanding of the American legal system and specific knowledge of their chosen field of interest. The program aims to meet the demand for professionals who want to develop specialized knowledge and enhanced understanding of the critical role the law plays across various industries and disciplines, but who do not wish to become lawyers. M.L.S. students will complete the program on a part-time schedule over two summers, one fall, and one spring semester. Initially the degree program will offer an area of emphasis in Intellectual Property Law. The program is expected to expand into other areas in the future. For more information about the new program, please click here.
2. Professor Mark Rienzi at the Supreme Court. Our Professor Rienzi has had a busy month litigating headline-grabbing cases before the Supreme Court. On December 31, Professor Rienzi successfully obtained a temporary order from Justice Sonia Sotomayor exempting the Little Sisters of the Poor from complying with Obamacare’s requirement that health insurance plans include coverage for contraceptives. Please click here for more details on this story. Then, on January 15, Professor Rienzi appeared before the full Court to present argument for individuals asserting a First Amendment challenge to a controversial Massachusetts law that prohibits pro-lifers from peaceably entering within 35 feet of abortion clinics. Please click here for that story. Both of these cases have received widespread media coverage.
3. Professor Cara Drinan on Juvenile Justice. Professor Drinan's expertise on life sentences for juvenile offenders has caught the national media's attention. She was quoted as a leading expert on the topic in a front-page story that appeared in The New York Times on January 19, which referenced her recent law review article entitled, "Misconstruing Graham & Miller". Professor Drinan also appeared as an expert on the topic on C-SPAN’s national public affairs program, Washington Journal, on January 25.
4. Brandon Crisp, J.D. For the past two years, 4th year evening student Brandon Crisp has battled brain cancer while studying for his law degree. During his ordeal, Brandon has drawn support from his wife Amy, his loyal classmates, his thoughtful professors, and our dedicated staff. In December, Brandon completed all the requirements needed for graduation, but in the ordinary course of events he would have had to wait until May to graduate. Given his precarious health, the Law School faculty voted to expedite the recommendation for the award of his J.D. degree, and that recommendation was quickly approved by the University’s Academic Senate and President John Garvey. On January 10, I had the great honor and privilege to present Brandon with his diploma at his home in Manassas. Please click here to see the graduation photos. Brandon’s story is incredibly inspiring. He is a model of phenomenal dedication, tremendous courage, and amazing persistence in achieving the goal of a CUA Law degree. Congratulations, Brandon!
5. Columbus Community Legal Services. Our clinical programs, known as CCLS, afford students opportunities to acquire real-world experience representing clients on a pro bono basis. Our CCLS students' clients are grateful for the assistance. One client recently wrote: "Working with you was an informative and pleasant encounter. You were proactive, proceeded logically and conducted yourself in a professional manner throughout." Another client wrote: "There are no words in the English language that can convey my thanks and appreciation for what you all did for my brother and my family." And a third concluded: "God bless all of you for the work you do for all God's poor and needy." Congratulations to our CCLS students!
6. Admissions. All signs are pointing to another down year for law school applications. The number of LSAT takers is down 11% from last year and down a whopping 45% from just four years ago. The number of applicants to all law schools accredited by the American Bar Association has dropped by another 13.4% compared to last year. These trends are of concern, despite our great success in recruiting an outstanding first-year class entering in the fall of 2013 that is 14% larger than our 2012 entering class. To counteract the national trends, we are continuing to take steps to better target and recruit prospective students. These steps include (1) initiating contacts with select groups of LSAT takers who fit our profile as potential applicants; (2) having students, faculty, and alumni follow up directly with admitted applicants; and (3) arranging specially tailored on-campus visiting programs for admitted applicants. If you are interested in getting personally involved – by referring a prospective applicant or by assisting our efforts to reach out to admitted students – please contact our Director of Admissions, Shani Butts, at email@example.com. We appreciate your help in recruiting our next great class of CUA Lawyers.
7. Alumni Events. After a break over the Christmas season, I am resuming my visits with groups of alumni, both at their offices and at various off-campus locations. We are planning an active schedule of alumni events for the spring semester, with out-of-town destinations to include Atlanta, Boston, New York, southern Florida, and Philadelphia.
8. Interesting Events. This past month has included many other interesting events and programs:
• On January 13, Professor Rienzi mooted his Supreme Court argument at CUA Law’s Slowinski Courtroom. An attentive audience of students, faculty, and staff watched him prepare for his debut before the Supreme Court. Three days later, Professor Paul Cassell from the University of Utah Law School was in the Slowinski Courtroom with CUA Law community again in attendance, to moot his own Supreme Court argument. This marked the third opportunity this academic year for students to observe the real-world preparation of Supreme Court advocates.
• On January 16, we hosted our Spring 2014 Externship Fair at the Law School. Organized by Professor Mary Leary, the Fair drew 50 employers who are interested in offering students the opportunity to work as externs in many different areas of practice. We were pleased to hear from many employer representatives that our students are reliably viewed as “the best” of their externs.
• On January 20, over 600 Catholic University students, faculty, and staff participated in a university-wide MLK National Day of Service. An enthusiastic delegation from the Law School volunteered at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, where the day’s tasks included preparing food and packing clothing for the homeless as well as writing “thank you” letters for our troops.
• On January 24, we held a reception for first-year students and their alumni mentors. The event captured the essence of what we mean when we talk about the CUA Law Advantage: the strong CUA Law alumni community standing ready to guide our students on their chosen career paths. Michael J. Bidwill ’90, President of the Arizona Cardinals, was our keynote speaker. Joined by several of his classmates who are his life-long friends, he spoke eloquently about what CUA Law means to him and other alumni, and about how important the skills, experience, and values embodied in a CUA Law education are to today’s students. Please click here to view Mr. Bidwill’s biography.
9. A Personal Note. February 1st marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my service as dean at CUA Law. It has been a fascinating year, filled with many rewarding experiences in my new academic setting and wonderful opportunities to work with so many of you in the CUA Law community. My wife Missy and I are grateful for the tremendous welcome that we have received from the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Law School. Our Law School faces many challenges as we strive to adapt, improve, and innovate. As we do so, one thing is certain: we are walking together, not alone.
Thank you for your interest and support. I welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel F. Attridge
Dean and Knights of Columbus Professor of Law