It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the University of Connecticut School of Law as a member of the entering classes of 2016 and 2017 this fall.
This is a time of excitement at UConn, reflecting events both inside and outside the law school. I arrived as dean on July 1, following thirty-five years in private practice. My hiring reflects many things about the school, including an openness to change, since it is rare for a law school to bring in a new leader from the private sector.
While I am new to the job, I have known this law school well over the years, and am tremendously pleased with its many strengths. We have a world-class faculty, are part of a strong University in a state that values and supports education, and connected to a broad alumni base. During the several months since my appointment I have spoken with hundreds of our supporters in the profession, the judiciary, and the government. There is a huge amount of goodwill toward this school, and countless people in positions of importance looking for opportunities to help the school and to help you prepare for and enter your careers. You and I are fortunate indeed to be coming to the school at such a time.
No doubt every one of you is well-educated in the changes now engrossing the legal profession and legal education. I have watched these changes develop from the perspective of law firm management and hiring, and from the perspectives of the clients who I have counseled, and now have the opportunity to guide a leading law school as it grows and changes. Most of all I look forward to meeting you and exploring the ways that your legal education will help you succeed in your future careers.
Several aspects of the UConn School of Law will provide you with special advantages as you enter the work world in the years ahead. First is always the quality of our legal education, with at its core, a firm grasp of the analytical methods that distinguish a lawyer from other approaches to problem solving. This is possible both because of the quality of the teaching you will experience here, and an unusually low student-faculty ratio, which together assure you of the opportunity for one-on-one learning and relationships with many of the country’s leading scholars.
Second, our faculty recently reaffirmed its belief in the value of legal skills training by adopting a requirement that all students take at least one experiential learning course before graduation. We are expanding and upgrading our clinical, externship, and other practice-based curriculum to provide a robust array of choices to you during your years with us. I am fortunate, thanks to my decades of work within the profession in Connecticut, to be bringing new opportunities for engagement between our school and the institutions of our state
Third, the UConn School of Law is part of a great research University, which offers an incredible wealth of resources and opportunities for the students of all of its schools, including ours. Our governor and legislature have reinforced the state’s commitment to UConn through massive investments of support, including the billion-dollar development of genomic research capabilities at the Health Center with Jackson Labs just a few miles up the road from the Law School, and more recently with the Next-Gen Connecticut expansion of the University. We are building new bridges between the Law School and our sister schools within the University to bring a legal education component to as many of these new ventures as possible. This will help our students as they learn skills and networking relevant to the client and industry communities where they will find tomorrow’s jobs.
Fourth, this is a welcoming place. You will find that law school, and the first year in particular, can be a disorienting experience. Not only are the subjects that we teach and the style of teaching different from what you have experienced to date, but the responsibilities you will assume in guiding your own learning process will be new. Fortunately for you, we minimize the unnecessary pressures that can otherwise sap your energies as a new student. You will find a community of shared success and collegiality, where the people around you want you to succeed.
Finally, UConn continues to be one of the best deals for law students. Our graduates finish with one of the lowest levels of law student debt in the country. Thanks again to the strong support of the state and our alumni, we are able to prepare you for your career with a small a financial burden as possible.
You are fortunate to be arriving at UConn this fall, and I count myself fortunate to be here to welcome you. Our next few years together will be a wonderful and transformative experience.