Dear Alumni and Friends:
Part of what makes Cornell Law School so unique, and what makes me especially honored to become its 16th dean, is the sense of community that permeates the institution. Where else can you experience such a supportive, collegial, and friendly environment within a top law school? I like to think the answer is "Nowhere but here." This is one of the reasons I feel so proud to return home to Cornell.
My favorite ways to describe the unique culture of Cornell Law School is that we are “serious without being stuffy” and “elite without being elitist.” In the coming years, as we position ourselves to compete aggressively with our peers for the best applicants, it is the culture of school that will always be one of our biggest selling points. Crucial to recruiting and retaining the best students is delivering the best educational experience possible—and the community in which students learn is an essential component of that experience.
Here at Cornell, the notion of community has always been inclusive rather than exclusionary. As you will
see in the article on Mary Donlon Alger, a 1920 graduate, inclusiveness at Cornell Law School is not a new
addition. Donlon was not only the first woman editor in chief of a law review, she went on to become the first woman partner at a Wall Street law firm. It is neither surprising nor a coincidence that we generated four female law review editors in chief before any other top law school generated even one, or that we count among our first graduating class a man who had been born a slave. And this openness to a diverse community extends to today. By any number of measures, we are the most diverse top law school.
One of the best examples of the collegial nature of Cornell Law School can be found within our clinical legal education program, which is highlighted on page 26. When students participate in one of our 15 clinics, they learn to collaborate as part of a team, instead of as individuals. By working together with real clients on real issues of law, students gain invaluable experience that will make them better lawyers, but also better people. In this regard, I hope to expand the clinical offerings by adding clinics in intellectual property and transactional law.
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