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As Seen by the Dean

photo of Dean Young

Forward Momentum

There are many ways to measure the success and growing stature of your Law School: impressive national rankings, wide-ranging impact of the faculty on the legal issues facing the nation and the world, strength and breadth of the curriculum, extraordinary quality of our student body. In this column, I try to convey the sheer level of excitement (the “buzz,” if you like) at GW Law. There is no replacement for actually coming to campus and experiencing the life of the school, as I encourage all of you to do whenever you find yourself in Foggy Bottom. But in the meantime, many of you have told me how useful this magazine is in keeping alumni informed of our many accomplishments and progress. I hope this issue helps you gain a true sense of what we are doing and what a privilege it is to be a part of this community.

First, we should all take pride in our incoming class, the strongest in GW Law history. We received more than 10,400 applications this year—our figures rose despite a more than 5 percent national decrease in law school application volume. We chose to bring in a slightly smaller number than last year’s record-setting class of 535. We increased selectivity, extended fewer offers, and welcomed a combined day and evening class of 504. The quality of this group is extraordinary. Statistics alone do not tell the story of this class, but that is a great place to start. Our median GPA for the incoming class is an astounding 3.75, shattering last year’s record high of 3.62. Our LSAT median of 167, an increase from the past year’s record level of 165, means that our median LSAT is at the 95th percentile level. Our students come from 44 states and many different countries, and they have diverse and interesting backgrounds. We welcome these students and expect much from them in the years to come—both while in school and upon graduation.

While our admissions practices have become more selective, we still continue to foster a collegial community of scholars, faculty, staff, and alumni. Indeed, this is the hallmark of the GW Law community and plays a key role in our recruitment of students and faculty alike.

In that spirit of community, our new University President, Steven Knapp, has written an article for this issue (page 14). In his own words, President Knapp articulates what GW Law means to him and to the overall institution. For my part, I am pleased to tell you that our new president is an engaging, insightful, and forward-thinking leader. It has been a great pleasure for Kathy and me to welcome Steve and Diane to the GW family, and I hope that many of you will have the chance to meet them soon.

In just his first few months at GW, President Knapp and I have had several meetings. He toured the Law School within two weeks of taking office and returned at the start of the semester to share lunch with our faculty and address them on our mutual agenda. He has held several private meetings with some of our highly active and involved alumni, and he invited our Student Bar Association president to dine with him and the University trustees. President Knapp brings fresh ideas and energy to the campus, and we all benefit from the developments of this partnership.

Amid the progress, it is important to note another thing that will never change. I refer, of course, to our core mission: providing outstanding training of young lawyers in Washington, D.C., and producing scholarship that addresses the legal issues of the day. We remain the premier place to study the law in our nation’s capital. Last year, we welcomed national and international legal and political experts, including former Vice President Al Gore and Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia to our classrooms, our symposia, and our competitions. This year we have already welcomed Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for an August visit and, at just the start of our fall semester, we welcomed Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to our annual Law Review Symposium, which honored the path-breaking scholarship of our own Jerry Barron. In our wide range of international programs, we have already welcomed Nassib Ziade, the new chief counsel of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, and Judge Tulio Treves from the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. These visitors bring expertise and excitement to our Law School and engage with our students on a unique level. Our unmatched connections and our location continue to help us draw large numbers of exceptional applicants, and from these applicants we select the next generation of great legal minds. From the day they arrive on campus, they are already important members of the GW Law family.

In this dynamic and energized academic atmosphere, there is one more thing that I assure you will not change: I remain very proud to be your dean.

Frederick M. Lawrence
Dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law