A letter from Dean Daniel F. Attridge:
Dear CUA Law Students,
April has been an extraordinarily busy month for all of us at CUA Law. With classes ending on April 29, final examinations from May 1 to 11, and graduation set for May 24, we have been devoting an enormous amount of time and energy to the crescendo of events that mark the conclusion of the current semester and academic year. April is also a time for major planning efforts for the year to come -- both for you getting ready for your summer experiences and next fall, and for our faculty and staff, as we prepare for next year and a new class of students. This is a brief report on some of our many activities during the month:
1. Important Curriculum Changes. After months of intense study, consultation, and debate, our Faculty approved a number of important changes to the Law School's first-year and upper-division curriculum. The new curriculum is designed to achieve three main goals. It aims to strengthen our first-year doctrinal courses by expanding credit hours for three courses, making two courses year-long, and adding a practical element to the doctrinal focus of these courses. In subsequent years, the changes support the development of practice-area concentrations to enable students who wish to specialize in selected substantive areas to acquire relevant expertise. And, the reforms emphasize training that will help graduates transition to the real world of practice.
In the first-year curriculum, we will add a one-credit-hour practicum component to two courses, Civil Procedure and Contracts, and make them year-long courses. In Civil Procedure, for example, students might be asked to draft motions, pleadings, or other litigation documents in order to integrate learning experiences into the course’s traditional coverage of legal doctrine. In Contracts, students might be asked to draft or negotiate contracts or engage in other skills exercises that emphasize statutory construction. For Constitutional law, the present five-credit course will be split into two three-credit courses, one focused on the issues of governmental powers and structures and the other on individual liberties.
In the upper division, in response to the increased demand for specialized legal services, we will develop practice-area concentrations as soon as feasible. This will be in addition to the certificates offered by our existing Institutes and Special Programs in Communications Law, Securities Law, Law and Public Policy, and Comparative and International Law, which we will continue to support and encourage students to pursue. Each concentration will include: (a) foundational requirements; (b) a menu of electives; (c) one upper division writing requirement satisfied in the area of concentration; and (d) a transition to practice course requirement in the area of concentration. We will likewise develop a transition to practice requirement for students who elect not to pursue a certificate or concentration. This new requirement is expected to be fulfilled by taking either a clinical course, or a capstone course (some of which remain to be developed). It will afford students the opportunity to apply the doctrinal knowledge, professional skills, and ethical values they have learned in the classroom to real world settings in an actual law practice or complex simulated practice.
We are excited about these forthcoming changes to our curriculum. Taken together, we believe these improvements will put our students in an even better position to respond to the demands of the modern marketplace for well-grounded, practice-ready lawyers. But our overall goal will remain the same: to offer a first-rate legal education while inspiring our students to pursue a lifetime of service to others.
2. Columbus Awards Night. This Friday night event was a wonderful opportunity to honor the many students, faculty, and staff who have rendered outstanding service to the Law School community. 3L student Chris Shipley did a great job serving as Master of Ceremonies. Among other highlights, 3L Michael Burns was presented with the Cardinal Hickey Award for his extraordinary dedication and commitment to community service activities, and 4E Jenifer Stach and 3L Jennice Walter were presented with the Columbus Award as the graduating students best embodying the qualities and spirit of our Law School. Mark Rienzi was chosen as Professor of the Year, Antonio Perez as Outstanding Professor of First-Year Classes, and Mary Leary as Faculty Marshal at Commencement. Reference Librarian Steve Young was named the Staff Person of the Year, and Registrar Stuart Schept was again selected as Administrator of the Year. And the 1L class won the coveted Joan Vorassi Award for the best skit. Congratulations to all of our “Canny” award winners! You are an inspiration to everyone.
3. 2013 Commencement. The class of 2013 is anxiously looking forward to their Commencement ceremony on May 24. The road to graduation is not an easy one, but our graduates will have earned their diplomas the old-fashioned way – with lots of hard work, determination, and support from family and friends. The Law School community awaits the moment to celebrate with them, and we are delighted that our speaker will be William T. (“Bill”) Robinson III, the immediate past president of the American Bar Association. Mr. Robinson is among the country’s most experienced, versatile, and recognized legal practitioners.
4. New Associate Dean. Associate Dean Suzette Malveaux will be taking a leave of absence at the end of the semester in order to assist in the care of her mother. Dean Malveaux’s mother has been in the hospital since February, struggling with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease. We are very grateful for all of Dean Malveaux’s terrific work during this particularly challenging year for the Law School. She and her family will be in our thoughts and prayers.
We are very pleased that Professor Marin Scordato will become the new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research. Professor Scordato is an outstanding teacher and scholar who has served on our Faculty since 2002. He has taught at four other law schools and is highly regarded by his students and colleagues. He has a strong record of service to the Law School and the University. I am very much looking forward to working with him. Please click here if you’re interested in learning more about his background.
5. Admissions Update. It is no secret that the overall number of applicants to law schools has dropped dramatically in the last few years. This year, applications to all ABA-accredited law schools are down more than 20% as compared to last year. This trend is obviously impacting us as well, but we are acting aggressively to attract students. As of last Friday, we have received deposits from 190 admitted applicants to secure their places at our Law School. As of a year ago on the same date, we had only 130 deposits. While it’s too early to know how many students will actually matriculate with us during the coming year, this is a very positive sign.
6. Board of Visitors. The Board of Visitors, chaired by alumnus Donald Farley ’69, is a group of distinguished lawyers who provide advice to the Dean about ways to strengthen the Law School. The Board has many new members, including Michael Bidwill ’90, Pat Cipollone, Richard Favretto ’66, Randall Hulme ’90, Kathleen Kundar ’74, Jeffrey Puretz ’81, Richard Shapack ’77, John Skenyon ’73, Kevin Tighe ’69, Jenell Trigg ’97, and Thomas Yannucci. For more information about our BOV, please click here. We are very fortunate to have their dedicated service.
On April 11, the Board hosted a fundraising event at a rooftop restaurant in downtown Washington. Organized by alumnus Richard White ’94, the sold-out event was attended by many BOV members and other alumni, as well as colleagues from my law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and family members. The event raised over $65,000 in scholarship funds and featured a gentle “roast” of the new Dean by his longtime friend and law partner, Thomas Yannucci.
The following day, April 12, the BOV met at the Law School with me and other faculty and staff. They asked tough questions, provided thoughtful advice, and offered their strong support. The BOV announced that, in an effort led by alumna Susan Newell ’93, a new alumni association is getting underway. This will be a great way for all alumni to stay connected with each other and the Law School, especially our younger alumni and those located outside of the Washington metropolitan area. The BOV meeting concluded with remarks by CUA President John Garvey who, as a former law school dean himself, has a deep appreciation for the challenges we and other law schools are facing.
7. Alumni Visits. I am continuing my visits with many alumni, both individually on campus and in groups at your offices. This past month, I attended “meet the new Dean” events at Jones Day, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and Crowell & Moring. This has been a great opportunity for me to get to know alumni personally, to talk candidly about what’s happening at the Law School these days, and to explain how interested alumni might be able to help us with my priorities of enrollment, job placement, and fundraising.
8. Interesting Events. This past month also has included a wealth of interesting events and programs that I had the opportunity to attend. For example:
- Our Admissions office hosted a Friday-Saturday “Intro to CUA Law” program for newly admitted students, encouraging them to attend our Law School.
- Our graduating class of students began the one-month countdown to their big day at a “Champagne Toast” event.
- Second-year students in our appellate advocacy program, directed by Distinguished Lecturer Leslie Fair, argued their cases before panels of judges, including me.
- This year’s Pro Bono Reception honored Professor Sandy Ogilvy, the “father of our pro bono program,” for his lifetime achievements, as well as the 140 CUA Law students who participated in pro bono work.
- The students’ International Arbitration Team, advised by Distinguished Lecturer Harris Weinstein, celebrated its best year ever at an alumni-student reception.
- The Law and Public Policy Program, directed by Professor Sarah Duggin, held a Sunday brunch to honor their fellows and certificate candidates.
- The student-run Catholic Law Review held their annual banquet, celebrating this year’s achievements with their faculty advisor, Professor Roger Hartley, and other guests in attendance.
- Five “Pizza with the Dean” sessions were held with groups of first-year students, who had a chance to offer comments, ask questions, and otherwise practice their cross-examination skills.
- Alumnus Paul Molloy ’65 was honored at the University’s Alumni Awards Celebration for his work in founding and leading the Oxford House, a residential program for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
- CUA President John Garvey spoke about Catholic Legal Education at the Mary, Mirror of Justice lecture.
- Professor Karla Simon discussed her new book, Civil Society in China: The Legal Framework from Ancient Times to the “New Reform Era,” over lunch with faculty and staff.
- Irit Kohn, President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, delivered a lecture on the subject of Universal Jurisdiction
- Professor Philip Schrag from Georgetown, an expert on law school financial aid, gave a presentation to interested students on the latest developments.
- And, finally, students with the winning bid in the auction to benefit summer public interest fellowships spent a half-day on the Chesapeake Bay aboard the Dean’s motoryacht.
Good luck to all of you on your final exams. Thank you for your interest and support. I welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel F. Attridge
Dean and Professor of Law