Go to the U of M home page.
e-Perspectives logo

Dean's Message

Dean's Message

Spring in Minnesota brings (slightly) warmer weather, potholes, and the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking. We can't do much about the first two, and there is a limit to how much we should care about the third. This year U.S. News ranked the Law School 20th; last year we were ranked 19th. We recognize these rankings are influential, so we prefer to go up rather than down. But we do not believe these rankings are valid indicators of academic quality or value. So, up or down, we prefer to rely on more meaningful indicators.

Such indicators include the quality of teaching, curricular innovation, faculty productivity and service, and the lifelong success of our graduates. Measured in those terms, the Law School is doing better than ever. Here are a few examples:

  • Just last week, Professor Dale Carpenter became the second Law School faculty member (after John Matheson) to receive the University's Graduate and Professional Teaching Award. The award goes to no more than eight faculty across the entire University each year, and recognizes the University's "best teaching professors."
  • Our bar passage rate is among the highest in the nation.
  • New institutes, programs and curricular changes give our students an edge in developing skills in all types of professional careers.
    • Our unique Law in Practice program gives all first-year students intensive skills training in both transactional and litigation matters.
    • Our newly established Center for New Americans, through a one-of-a-kind formal partnership with area law firms and nonprofits, provides comprehensive representation to members of Minnesota's immigrant communities.
    • Our Corporate Institute provides students with mentors and tools to develop leadership skills, as well as access to business leaders, corporate externships, and opportunities to advise start-up businesses through a business law clinic.
    • Eight different subject area concentrations prepare students for the careers of their choice, and multiple new capstone courses enable small groups of students to work with faculty and experts from related disciplines to solve complex legal problems.
    • Our nationally respected clinical program puts us 7th in the country in the number of clinic slots available per student.
  • Our faculty remain among the most productive in the nation. For example, in just the past year:
    • Susan Wolf, a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine, continues to serve on the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity, was elected to the American Law Institute, and completed a year of research on health policy under a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator award. She also published a book with Oxford University Press, completed numerous articles, served as a principal investigator on a seven-figure NIH grant, and spoke at the Smithsonian Institution and National Academy of Sciences.
    • Francis Shen, now in his third year of teaching, was one of only eight faculty across the University selected as a 2014-16 McKnight Land-Grant Professor. The professorships recognize and reward some of the University's most promising junior scholars.
    • In just the last few weeks, four faculty provided testimony before the U.S. Congress and the Minnesota legislature, on issues ranging from corporate governance to juvenile incarceration, from regulating systemic insurance risk to assessing the implications of the IRS "profiling" scandal.

We are perhaps most proud of the contributions made by our alumni. We recognized a handful at our fall 125th anniversary banquet. We will recognize more in the months and years ahead.

For 125 years, we have been admitting great students and graduating great lawyers. With your help, we will continue to do so.

David Wippman
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law