A letter from Dean Daniel F. Attridge:
Dear CUA Law Students,
We’re off and running. Our 2013-14 academic year has started. Orientation for incoming first-year students began on August 14th, and fall semester classes for all students began on August 19th. Our Law School building has come alive again with all of the enthusiasm that greets a new year and a new group of students. Here is a brief report on our latest developments and what’s coming up soon:
1. A New Class of First-Year Students. We have good news from our admissions office, led by Director Shani Butts, especially given that the number of applicants to all ABA accredited law schools was down another 12.3% this year. Despite that negative trend, we enrolled 162 of you as first-year students, a 14.9% increase over last year’s 141 class of 1Ls. We are thrilled about this positive sign for our Law School in an otherwise down market.
Even more importantly, this is another remarkable group of first-year students. You hold undergraduate degrees from 108 different colleges, and come to us from 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as seven foreign countries. 42% are women; 58% are men. 32% are minorities. Of the 162 students, 123 are enrolled in the full-time, three-year day program, and 39 are enrolled in the part-time, four-year evening program. We welcome all of you.
One of our new students, Josh Carroll, a former U.S. Air Force Captain, was recently profiled on ABC News for his work in establishing a non-profit business to help widowed Afghani women support themselves by exporting their beautiful hand-made scarves for sale in the United States. Click here to view this truly inspirational story about service to others.
Our first-year students participated in orientation events from August 14th to 16th. The events included my welcome address urging students to be “all in” for their law school careers, a practical introduction to the project of law school by Associate Dean Marin Scordato, tips on case briefing and outlining by Professor Cara Drinan, a session on academic and professional planning by Assistant Dean Georgia Niedzielko, plus a welcome dinner and lunch, and other offerings geared toward getting our newest students off to a strong start.
2. A Day of Community Volunteer Service. To mark the beginning of our new academic year, many of you participated in a community volunteer service program organized by Jen Tschirch, our Pro Bono Coordinator. Along with members of our faculty and staff, students fanned out to four nearby locations to lend a helping hand. One group went to St. Anthony’s Catholic School to unpack, move, and assemble desks in preparation for the start of the new year. Another one visited senior residents at Carroll Manor, assisting with stretching exercises, manicures, and other activities. A third group cleaned and freshened up the nature center and gardens at Washington Yu Ying, a public charter school. And a fourth group served as summer camp counselors for youngsters at Turkey Thicket Recreational Park.
3. New Criminal Defense Clinic. We are pleased to announce a new clinic for students interested representing criminal defendants. Under the leadership of Professor Mary Leary, Director of the Experiential Curriculum, and in partnership with the Office of Public Defender of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, we have arranged for Matthew T. Foley ’92 to serve as a CUA Law lecturer offering an off-campus criminal defense clinic. Up to six students may enroll in his seminar and handle cases under the guidance of the Public Defender’s office. This will enable participating students to enhance your educational experience with hands-on training and actual client representation.
4. In the Classroom. At many law schools, the dean does not teach. There is simply no time given the many demands on the dean’s schedule. Consistent with this conventional approach, I was advised not to teach, or to at least wait a year or so before taking on this additional responsibility. I have resisted this advice because I strongly believe that teaching will make me a better dean, allowing me to experience first-hand one of the core functions of our Law School. This fall semester, I am teaching a three-credit course on Trial Practice, and I will do the same thing in the spring semester. It is a course focused on learning-by-doing where case exercises are utilized to allow the students to give opening statements and closing arguments, as well as conduct direct and cross-examinations. The course culminates in the full trial of a case where the class is divided up into several teams of advocates. There are 13 upper-level students enrolled in my Monday evening class this fall. They are eager to learn, and I am eager to guide them. It involves hard work and preparation, but we’re having fun learning together.
5. ABA Annual Meeting. I attended sessions held by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. These included informational meetings with other deans and discussions about the many challenging issues facing legal educators. After lengthy debate, the Section’s governing council voted to propose major changes to law-school accreditation standards for public comment. These potential changes include altering the job protection standards for full-time faculty, increasing the experiential learning requirement, modifying the distance learning credit allowance, and eliminating the minimum student/faculty ratio. The council also voted to push back from February 15 to March 15 the date for law schools to report their graduates’ employment outcomes. Even among those long used to the status quo, it is obvious that many changes are needed in legal education to keep pace with the modern marketplace and to allow flexibility in adapting to different economic conditions.
6. New Members of the Board of Visitors. The Board of Visitors is a group of distinguished lawyers who provide advice to the Dean about ways to strengthen the Law School. For more information about our BOV, please click here. I am pleased announce that six distinguished alumni have agreed to join the Board: Ann Corkery ’86, Alice Fisher ’92, Art Fuccillo ’78, Dan Lennon ’90, Luis Perez ’83, and Mark Reinhardt ’71.
Ms. Corkery is a partner at the firm of Stein Mitchell Muse & Cipollone LLP in Washington. Ms. Fisher is the managing partner of the Washington office of the firm of Latham & Watkins LLP and formerly the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. Mr. Fuccillo is Executive Vice President of Lerner Enterprises and a partner of the Washington Nationals baseball team. Mr. Lennon is a partner of Latham & Watkins in Washington and the global chair of its corporate department. Mr. Perez is a partner of Hogan Lovells LLP in the corporate practice in Miami. Mr. Reinhardt is a founding partner of Reinhardt Wendorf & Blanchfield in Minnesota specializing in class action litigation.
7. Alumni Visits. I am continuing my visits with groups of alumni, both at their offices and at various off-campus locations. This past month, we held “meet the new Dean” receptions for alumni in Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. We especially appreciate the generosity of Mike Reilly ’84 and his law firm, Lane Powell PC, in hosting the Seattle reception. Additional receptions are planned in September for Atlanta (9/4), Capitol Hill (9/17), and at my home in Annapolis (9/19). In October, we will visit Providence (10/9), Bridgeport/New Haven (10/10), Hartford (10/10), and New York City (10/16). These visits have allowed 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. Lauren McCaghren, our Director of Alumni Relations, has also helped alumni groups arrange get togethers without the “new Dean.” Word has it that the young alumni in particular have been having a rip-roaring good time at several dean-less events.
Thank you for your interest. I welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel F. Attridge
Dean and Professor of Law