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Inventing the Future Together

I am thrilled to be joining the GW community as the next dean of the George Washington University Law School! I believe this is a truly exciting moment of transformative opportunity, and I am very much looking forward to working with you all to build the future of this great institution.

This is an incredibly vibrant school. Indeed, I am only beginning to learn just how much goes on here during the course of a year! Each term, we host well over a hundred events, from major international conferences on cutting-edge topics of public policy to lunches and workshops with top scholars and jurists from around the world. During the spring semester and this summer, for example, GW Law's Center for Law, Economics & Finance hosted its second annual C-LEAF in New York event, focusing on hedge funds. Our International and Comparative Law Program brought together current and former judges of the International Court of Justice, members of the U.S. Department of State, and representatives from the American Society of International Law to discuss ongoing relations between the United States and the ICJ. We welcomed Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as a guest lecturer in a Contracts II class. We are honored that Justice Thomas has agreed to teach at GW Law on an adjunct basis starting this fall. And we recently learned that Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan has graciously agreed to serve as a judge for the 2012 Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition Finals.

Meanwhile, our students donate thousands of hours of time pursuing practical legal training in clinics, externships, and pro bono activities, volunteering at government agencies and public interest organizations around the city. Indeed, this past year our students got to work with Ken Feinberg on his administration of the $20 billion BP recovery fund. Our extremely popular LLM programs in Business and Finance Law, Environmental Law, Government Procurement Law, Intellectual Property Law, International and Comparative Law, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, and National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations Law offer advanced training to lawyers from all over the United States and, last year, from 71 countries as well. And literally not a week goes by without our faculty being quoted in the media, testifying on Capitol Hill, or serving as consultants to governments. All this in addition to the astonishing scholarly output of our school, as our faculty members push the boundaries of legal and public policy research, contributing expertise and wisdom across a wide range of fields.

But this is just a start. I am currently meeting with GW Law graduates from around the country, as well as lawyers and policymakers in D.C., to discuss ways this Law School can become even better. And I really want your opinions—both large and small—of how we can improve. Send me emails, call me, talk to me: I can't guarantee we will be able to implement every suggestion, but I can assure you that every suggestion will be considered carefully. This is not a time to be complacent. We all know that this is an important moment for thinking about the future of law practice and legal education, and GW should be at the forefront of innovation in navigating this brave new world.

In the future, I hope to leverage our unique location even more, making GW the law school to attend for students seeking to change the world through the study and practice of law in action in the nation's capital. By integrating our public policy engagement with government and think tanks, our outside placement program, and our extraordinary group of adjunct faculty members, and by further connecting legal education to law and policy practice, we can create pathways for students that no law school in the country can match.

In addition, there are many opportunities, large and small, to transform the day-to-day life of the Law School to make it not only dynamic and engaged, but personalized and nurturing as well. We can provide even stronger connections to practice and even more proactive one-on-one counseling so that our students have a leg up in their job searches from day one. We can expand upon our existing strength in international law to create a truly global law program, with partnerships abroad, international student exchanges and externship opportunities, and leading scholars and jurists from around the world in residence in D.C. We can foster innovative, action-oriented scholarship that seeks solutions to the world's great challenges. We can make sure financial aid remains a priority, ensuring that a top-quality legal education remains affordable to all. And we can continue to build a world-class facility, befitting a school of our international scope, scale, and importance.

All this lies ahead of us. Please join me as we invent the future of this Law School together.

Paul Schiff Berman
Dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law