GW Magazine nameplate

A New Era on H Street

Gregory E. Maggs takes over the helm of GW Law School as a nationwide search for Dean Lawrence's successor unfolds

feature spread
download PDF

By Jamie L. Freedman

GW Law School bid a fond farewell to Dean Frederick M. Lawrence in November, ushering in a new era on H Street. Dean Lawrence assumed the presidency of Brandeis University on Jan. 1, marking the second time in a decade that a reigning GW Law School dean has been tapped to lead a major university. The popular dean follows in the footsteps of his GW predecessor, Michael K. Young, who served as dean from 1998 to 2004 and is now president of the University of Utah.

A nationwide search is underway for Dean Lawrence's successor, led by Roger H. Trangsrud, James F. Humphreys Professor of Complex Litigation and Civil Procedure. Mr. Trangsrud, who served as GW Law's interim dean prior to Dean Lawrence's arrival, chairs the 12-member Dean Search Committee, composed of faculty members and leaders from across the Law School and the university. A seasoned pro when it comes to leading law school dean searches, Mr. Trangsrud also spearheaded the 1988 search culminating in the selection of Dean Jack Friedenthal.

GW Professor of Law Peter Smith serves as vice-chair of the committee. Rounding out the group are professors Christopher Bracey, Lisa Fairfax, Phyllis Goldfarb, Sean Murphy, and Sonia Suter; GW Provost Steven Lerman; General Counsel Beth Nolan; GW Board of Trustees member James Humphreys, JD '78; President of the GW Law Dean's Advisory Board Jonathan Kahan, BA '70, JD '73; and President of the Student Bar Association Theresa Bowman.

As the search process unfolds, the Law School remains in expert hands following the appointment of Gregory E. Maggs as interim dean. Dean Maggs, who joined GW Law's faculty in 1993, has served as the Law School's senior associate dean for academic affairs since 2008.

"Greg knows the institution inside and out and has done a spectacular job as senior associate dean for academic affairs," Mr. Trangsrud says. "He will do a great job in maintaining the momentum and upward trajectory that Dean Lawrence has begun."

Interim Dean Gregory E. Maggs knows GW Law School. Over the past 17 years, the third-generation law professor has served the Law School as an award-winning faculty member and, most recently, as senior associate dean for academic affairs.

Over the past 17 years, Mr. Maggs has served the Law School as an award-winning faculty member and co-director of the National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations Law Program. An expert in contracts, commercial law, constitutional law, and counterterrorism law, he is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and is a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

Mr. Maggs also clerked for the late Circuit Judge Joseph T. Sneed of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and served as a special master for the U.S. Supreme Court and as a consultant to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, BA '68, during the Whitewater investigation.

A third-generation law professor, Mr. Maggs follows in the footsteps of his father—a law professor at the University of Illinois for the past 45 years—and grandfather, who taught at Duke Law School for 36 years. "When you combine our years of service, we have been teaching law students for a century," says Mr. Maggs, who has won GW Law's Distinguished Faculty Service Award four times.

Throughout his tenure at GW, Mr. Maggs says he has been impressed by "the enthusiasm and commitment to excellence in teaching and learning" of faculty members and students alike. "I often teach two first-year sessions, so I've gotten to know half the students who have been here over the past 17 years," he says. "I love their energy, enthusiasm, and undistracted concentration. One of the accomplishments I'm proudest of is that the graduating class has honored me four times with the best teacher award."

Another highlight of Mr. Maggs' long affiliation with GW Law is the spirit of cooperation among faculty members. "Our faculty members get along very well with each other," he says. "We're exceptional in terms of our collegiality and willingness to help others with whatever is needed. It made my job very easy as the senior associate dean of academic affairs."

In addition to his work in academia, Mr. Maggs has served as a reserve officer in the Army JAG Corps for the past 20 years. Since 2007, he has served as a military judge on the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, working on at least one appellate case per month.

"Greg Maggs has long been known in our community as a leader and an outstanding scholar," says Tom Morrison, senior associate dean for administrative affairs, who has worked closely with him for many years. "We are fortunate to have him guiding us during this time of transition, and I have no doubt that he will use this time to improve all areas of operation within the Law School."

Mr. Maggs says he will strive to keep the Law School moving forward. "I'm thankful for all that Fred has done for GW Law School and grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely with him," he says. "Fred has left the Law School in a very strong position and has given us a very clear vision of what we need to do over the coming months. I look forward to helping showcase the Law School as we strive to persuade some of the very best people in the country to join us as our next dean."

Jessica McConnell

The Law School rose to new heights of excellence during Dean Lawrence's five-year tenure. An internationally renowned civil rights expert, he took over the reins of GW Law in August 2005 and left an indelible mark on the institution. Over the past five years, Dean Lawrence raised the national and international stature of the Law School—founding the highly acclaimed India Project, establishing exchange programs in Italy and the Netherlands, launching LLM programs in national security and U.S. foreign relations law and business and finance law, establishing several new endowed professorships, and expanding financial aid.

Under his stewardship, GW Law School recruited a number of top-notch faculty members with wide-ranging expertise, as well as the five strongest classes in the institution's 145-year history. This fall, the Law School welcomed its most accomplished class ever to Foggy Bottom, with a median LSAT of 167 and a median cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.79.

"I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved in the past five years," Dean Lawrence says. "While Kathy and I are saddened to say goodbye to the Law School community, we leave with wonderful memories, a wealth of knowledge and experience, and enduring friendships. When I hear of the accomplishments that I know the Law School will realize far into the future, I will be grateful to have been a member of such a remarkable community. Part of me will always remain with the GW Law family."

Accolades and good wishes for the outgoing dean have been pouring in from throughout the GW community. "Since his arrival at the university in August 2005, Fred Lawrence has been a truly transformational dean and an exemplary university citizen," GW President Steven Knapp says. "Brandeis will be well served by Fred's exceptional qualities as a leader, administrator, and educator."

Dr. Knapp also praises the exceptional contributions of the dean's wife, Kathy Lawrence, a highly regarded member of GW's English faculty who co-hosted many Law School events with her husband. "On behalf of the entire university, I offer my sincerest gratitude to Fred and Kathy and wish them every success in this next phase of their lives," he says.

The search for the next dean of GW Law School is moving rapidly through its initial stages. Since the search committee's establishment in September, members have worked long hours developing a recruitment plan, soliciting input from students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and advertising the job in a variety of media.

GW Law School bid a fond farewell to Dean Frederick M. Lawrence and wife Kathy, a highly regarded member of GW's English faculty, in November. The couple visited Mauritshuis, the renowned art museum in The Hague, during the Law School's trip to Europe in May.

Laura Ewald

"Committee members also contacted every dean and assistant dean at the top 50 law schools in the country for suggestions on worthy dean candidates, which yielded a list of more than 350 nominees," Mr. Trangsrud says. "We are now in the process of calling everyone on the list to assess their level of interest in applying for the position."

To ensure that the voices of the Law School's various stakeholders are clearly heard throughout the search and interview process, parallel alumni, student, and senior staff committees were created—each responsible for tapping the ideas of their own constituents. "Each of the three committees surveyed their constituents to identify the top characteristics and qualities they seek in the next dean, as well as the most pressing challenges and priorities the next dean should focus on," Mr. Trangsrud says. "We used the surveys to identify the issues that are most in the minds of each group and develop a list of standardized questions for
the candidates."

After combing through the mountain of resumes pouring in, the committee will schedule screening interviews with the top 15 to 20 candidates and subsequently decide as a group which of the contenders to invite to campus for full interviews. "The campus interviews will likely take a day and a half per candidate and will include meetings with groups of stakeholders and a formal presentation to the law faculty," says Mr. Trangsrud, who expects the interviews to run from late January through March. "By the end of March, we hope to secure the law faculty's approval of three or more candidates whose names will be forwarded to the provost and president, who will select the new dean." The dean will assume the helm of GW Law School this summer.

Mr. Trangsrud says this is "both an exciting and anxious time for the Law School."

"The dean has very broad effects on the character and development of an institution, so finding the right person is crucial. We are one of the five largest law schools in the nation, with 2,000 students, 90 full-time faculty members, 300 part-time faculty, and a staff that goes along with all of that, and leading it will consume most of the dean's waking hours."

"This deanship will be one of the most coveted opportunities in higher education this year," Mr. Trangsrud adds. "GW Law School is one of the most attractive law schools in the country in which to be dean. My mailbox is filling up. It's going to be an exciting year."