A newsletter for the students of the Columbus School of Law - July, 2018 Catholic University, Columbus School of Law website Catholic University, Columbus School of Law website

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A letter from Dean Daniel F. Attridge:

Dear CUA Law Students,

This is my final newsletter, as my resignation as dean will be effective on July 31, and Professor Regina Jefferson will be stepping in as interim dean as of August 1.  I hope you will join me in supporting Interim Dean Jefferson during her service in the upcoming academic year.  I am confident that she will continue to lead the Law School in a positive direction. 

It has been a privilege for me to serve as dean over the past 5½ years after coming to Catholic University following my 32-year career in private practice.  While 5½ years as dean might not seem like a long time, in today’s world it is.  During the past few years, law schools have faced unprecedented challenges as enrollments have dropped, job placements have become more difficult, and costs have continued to rise.  It is no surprise, then, that the median tenure of the deans serving at ABA accredited law schools is only 3 years, and that my tenure at CUA Law has been longer than 75% of the deans currently serving at other ABA accredited law schools as well as 10 of the past 12 deans who have served our Law School.

Since my arrival in February 2013, we have moved rapidly to make changes to improve the Law School.  Our major accomplishments have included:

• We have overhauled the first-year curriculum to integrate more practical learning into our courses, enhanced the upper division curriculum by adding six new areas of concentration to increase career marketability, and added a transition-to-practice requirement to assure a greater readiness to practice.  To add rigor to the program, we have mandated that students take more core courses that will better prepare them for the bar examination and boosted the minimum G.P.A. required to remain in good standing.

• We have added new clinical opportunities, expanded our externship program, and initiated an academic excellence program.

• We have started a student-alumni mentoring program, launched a new alumni association, attracted many notable alumni to join our Board of Visitors, and held scores of events annually to stimulate alumni engagement.

• We have achieved record-breaking success in our fundraising efforts, with FY17 gifts and commitments totaling $5.5 million, more than three times the previous level of donations.

• We have conceived and are in the process of launching three new initiatives – on compliance, investigations, and corporate responsibility; criminal justice reform; and religious liberty – that will capitalize on the strengths of our Washington, D.C. location, mission, and faculty’s expertise.

• We have improved our approach to admissions with better targeting of potential applicants, faster decision-making on applications, and more aggressive follow-up with admitted applicants.  With greater financial support, we have been offering more generous tuition assistance to the strongest applicants for the incoming class, including offers of free tuition for the very top applicants.  These steps have enabled us to outperform other ABA accredited law schools in attracting new students in the midst of a down market.

• We have upgraded our career placement office by providing students with mock interview opportunities, coaching on writing samples, and assistance with cover letters.  We are bringing more employers to campus and offering more expert panels with career advice.  These steps have helped boost our students’ prospects for employment in a difficult market.

• We have renewed our focus on maximizing our students’ prospects for success on their post-graduate bar examinations.  Aided by new specially designed courses and workshops, as well as individualized counseling, our students’ bar exam success rate has increased by 20 percentage points over the past few years.

• We have moved our law journal and other scholarship online, upgraded our website with a new look, features, and content, initiated monthly newsletters to alumni and students, attracted appellate advocates to campus for moot court preparation, and established a student-centric relationship with the Newseum.  

• We have launched a new Master of Legal Studies program for those who want to advance their knowledge of law but do not wish to practice.  The MLS program now offers six tracks:  compliance and corporate responsibility, criminal justice, employment and human resources, intellectual property, political law, and general U.S. law.

• We have taken major steps to reduce our expenses consistent with the current size of our Law School.  Actual expenses have decreased by $7 million or 36% since FY12.  These cuts have involved the elimination and consolidation of numerous faculty and staff positions.  Despite these cuts, we have maintained the very high quality of the legal education we offer.

• We have received reaccreditation by the American Bar Association, without any conditions or reservations.  This came after a 20-month, strict-scrutiny review during which time the ABA took adverse actions against some other law schools.

• We have developed and implemented a new strategic plan.  It has served as a roadmap to lead the Law School with clear statements of our vision and our goals relating to our mission, admissions, curriculum and degree programs, student and alumni experience, and management of financial and other resources. 

Beyond taking pride in these and other shared accomplishments, I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know and work closely with CUA Law’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends.  You are a wonderful group of people who have greatly enriched my life.  You are the reason to be optimistic about the Law School’s future.

Personally, I am looking forward to the next chapter.  I will continue to serve as a regular member of the Law School faculty, teaching again in the fall semester.   I also plan to make more time for personal pursuits, especially with my family.

Thank you for your interest and support.  May God bless all of you. 

Daniel F. Attridge
Dean and Knights of Columbus Professor of Law

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