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Dean's Message

Dean's Message

Improving the World Through Public Service

The Law School has a long history of public service by its students. Many of you probably remember your volunteer involvement through our partnership with the Minnesota Justice Foundation, a program that is still going strong. This past year, 144 members of the Class of 2012 volunteered more than 17,000 hours to help 3,336 clients.

Many students also participate in public service through clerkships, the Asylum Law Project, New Orleans Legal Assistance-MN, and our 24 clinics. Students in our immigration clinic, for example, recently helped a West African man fleeing detention and torture for his political beliefs secure U.S. asylum. Students in our human rights clinic wrote an amicus curiae brief cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.

Prospective students cite public service more frequently than any other career path as their principal goal upon graduation. But students who want to dedicate their careers to public service face serious financial hurdles. Now, with the help of a $3.5 million gift from the Robina Foundation, the Law School can help those students surmount many of the hurdles.

We are using Robina's gift to establish a new Public Interest Scholars Program, which will create a seamless path from admission to full-time employment for students interested in public service careers. The program will fund scholarships to attract top students committed to public interest work, summer internships to engage those students in public interest projects during law school, year-long post-graduate fellowships to help them launch their careers, and loan repayment assistance to make those careers affordable.

While many law schools offer some of the elements of the new Robina Public Interest Scholars Program, few if any combine them in an integrated program of this kind. In addition to providing transformative opportunities for interested students, the program will help badly stretched legal services providers better serve their clients and communities.

The Law School achieved an additional distinction this year by becoming one of only five schools to receive the Burton Award for legal writing seven or more times, a strong testament to our exceptional legal writing program. Our congratulations go to Phillip Walters (’12) for his award in the law school category and to Bridget Ahmann (’85) and Joseph Price (’72), along with their Faegre Baker Daniels colleagues Jennifer Dukart and Denise Kettelberger, for their award in the law firm category. And our thanks go to the many local alumni and other professionals who serve as adjuncts to make the writing program the success it is.

June 30 marks the end of our fiscal year. I hope you will join in to help us meet our 20% annual giving participation goal. With your support, we can build on the momentum created by the Robina Foundation's gift and others.

Thank you and have a great summer.

David Wippman
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law