After three years of dedicated service to Wake Forest University, Jane Aiken will step down as dean of the law school on July 31.
Aiken will take research leave to work on issues of the criminalization of the exercise of reproductive rights as an attorney with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. After her research leave, Aiken plans to return to the faculty as a university professor.
“Dean Aiken led the Wake Forest School of Law during a tumultuous time for legal education. With her expert guidance, the law school has successfully adapted to the ongoing industry shifts and shifts in the law school experience forced by the pandemic,” the Wake Forest President wrote. , Susan R. Wente, and Vice President Michele Gillespie, in today’s announcement to the campus community. . “We are extremely grateful for Dean Aiken’s service to Wake Forest and our wider community.”
During Aiken’s tenure, the law school improved enrollment, placement, bar admission, rankings, and philanthropic support.
Among the highlights of Aiken’s deanship:
- US News currently ranks Wake Forest Law No. 37, up four spots from 2021.
- Wake Law’s incoming JD class this fall is expected to be one of the most credentialed in school history, setting standards for average LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA.
- Aiken led a highly successful philanthropic effort for the school, securing more than $18 million over the past three years in scholarship commitments, faculty support, and innovative academic programs. This year she broke all previous fundraising records for Wake Law.
- The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released the law school employment results for 2021 law school graduates in the United States. requiring a bar license or where the JD is an advantage. As of March 2022, 96.5% of Wake Law graduates in 2021 were in these “benchmark” jobs.
- During his tenure, Aiken hired 11 teacher-researchers, enhanced the intellectual property program and created two new clinics: an intellectual property clinic and a medico-legal partnership.
- This year, Lawyers of Color (lawyersofcolor.org) ranked Wake Forest Law as the 25th best law school for black students.
During her research leave, in addition to her work on reproductive rights, Aiken will complete her current book project, Maternity and the law: reinforcing altruism.
Nell Jessup Newton, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame School of Law, has been named acting dean and will start on August 1.
Newton is a distinguished lawyer, jurist and educator with over 20 years of leadership experience in legal education. She served as Dean of Notre Dame Law School from 2009 to 2019, building on the strengths of the school’s curriculum in business, international law, and intellectual property.
“Professor Newton is well equipped to lead during this important time of assessment and transition for law school,” Gillespie said.
Newton has held numerous national positions in the legal education community, including the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the Law School Admission Council. She was a member of the board of directors of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Foundation for Law Career Research and Education from 2006 to 2018 and was president from 2014 to 2016.
“Wake Forest School of Law is a remarkable place dedicated to the best in legal education,” said Newton. “I am honored to lead the school during this transitional year and look forward to working closely with the excellent staff, faculty and students.”
Newton is a prominent scholar of Native American law and the editor of Cohen’s Handbook of Indian Federal Lawthe only treatise on the subject.
Under his leadership, Notre Dame launched eight new degree programs, as well as clinics for low-income taxpayers, community development, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship. Newton oversaw the development of a three-year JD/MBA dual degree and four new interdisciplinary programs to enrich the study of law by incorporating knowledge from other disciplines. She has also led initiatives to expand international education opportunities for Notre Dame Law in Italy, China, Chile, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
During his tenure, the law school also doubled externship offerings and expanded externship programs based at the school’s facilities in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Administratively, Newton worked at the expanded the career development office to help students better plan and achieve their career goals, and worked with the school’s Law Advisory Council to increase the school’s loan repayment assistance program from more than 500%, while also increasing scholarships.
For the 2021-2022 academic year, Newton served as acting dean of the University of Miami School of Law. In this role, she strengthened the law school’s admissions and career development services.