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Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:22 p.m.

Paul Berman named dean of GW Law School

GW named Paul Berman the dean of the GW Law School Thursday. Courtesy of GW Media Relations

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Cory Weinberg.

The dean at Arizona State University’s law school will take the helm of GW’s school of law this July, an announcement that concludes an almost year-long search to find the next leader for the No. 20-ranked law program.

University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman tapped Paul Berman over Emory law professor Robert Schapiro, who had emerged as one of the final two candidates.

“Paul Berman stood out among the impressively diverse and accomplished group of finalists who emerged from an extensive national search,” Knapp said in a release. “He brings to this position exactly the right combination of vision, legal scholarship and proven administrative achievement.”

Berman, 45, will take over the Law School at a turning point for one of the University’s top programs, as it aims to increase its fundraising and raise its ranking.

“We have had a series of outstanding deans who have pursued aggressive programs at the school that have paid off,” GW law professor Jonathan Turley said. “In the highly competitive ranks where we are currently, we cannot afford to be any less vigilant in our efforts. In the top 20 schools, it takes little to fall behind more aggressive schools.”

Berman spent three years as dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He previously worked as a law professor at the University of Connecticut and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He will replace interim dean Gregory Maggs July 1, becoming the permanent replacement for former law dean Frederick Lawrence, who left GW in July to become president of Brandeis University.

“GW Law is obviously already one of the top law schools in the country, but it is far more than that,” Berman said in a release. “It is a place where students and faculty work every day to help change the world: tackling the crucial challenges facing our society and integrating their academic pursuits with law in action in our nation’s capital.”

During Berman’s time at Arizona State, he focused on spreading legal education throughout the university, launching a pre-law undergraduate program.

“He really believes that in order to be a well-rounded educated person, everyone needs to have a familiarity with the US legal system. He brought this vision with him,” Arizona State law professor Betsy Grey said.

Berman worked for Arizona State during a turbulent time for the law school, which was a public institution before the university’s president issued a plan to privatize the law school and raise tuition.

“Dean Berman has had to do his best to make this plan work, while maintaining our quality and increasing reputation while losing a significant chunk of funding,” Arizona State law student Ed Hermes said. “We the students are not very happy with this direction and the large tuition increases that necessarily go along with it, but we appreciate Dean Berman working to maintain quality and increase our growing reputation.”

For his work in legal scholarship, Berman has specialized in globalization and cyberlaw, and is currently working on a book, “Law Beyond Borders: Jurisprudence for a Hybrid World.”

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