Letter From the Dean

Dean Jennifer Johnson provides the law school community with food for thought.

Food for Thought!

By the time you are reading this letter, I will have served as the new dean of Lewis & Clark Law School for only a few months. However, as many of you know, I joined the law faculty in 1980 after taking a leave of absence from my firm to “try out teaching” at Lewis & Clark. Some 30 years later, it is quite apparent that I love my new profession and my new school. This summer, Baron (my standard poodle) and I had the honor of moving down the hall to the dean’s office, and it is now my distinct honor and privilege to serve as your dean.

This is a challenging time for legal education, as we in the academy adjust to new realities in the legal market. The financial crisis and the slow recovery of the past few years have taken their toll on legal practice and, with it, the employment opportunities for law graduates. Consequently, the pool of potential law school applicants has declined precipitously nationwide. At Lewis & Clark, we are proactively and responsibly addressing these serious issues, remembering that with new challenges come new opportunities.

Tight economic times can, and should, focus a reexamination of resources and priorities. We have elected to become smaller and more efficient to more effectively serve our students and alumni. We continue to employ creative ways to help our graduates find meaningful legal careers, and we appreciate the service of many of our alums in this effort. Perhaps most importantly, we remain committed to increasing the value of a Lewis & Clark education while ensuring it is attainable. As part of that commitment, I intend to focus my initial fundraising efforts on scholarships for both our full-time and part-time students.

We continue to attract great students to our campus and to provide a first-class legal education. Our faculty is superb and we can boast of nationally recognized programs in many fields, including environmental law, legal writing, public interest law, animal law, and business law of all kinds. We are leaders and innovators across a broad range of diverse programs.

One of my highest priorities is to bring our featured programs together in inventive ways to prepare our students for their 21st century careers. First up—food! On March 13, 2015, we will host our first annual symposium on the law of everything edible! Cosponsored by the Business Law, Environmental Law, and Animal Law Programs, this symposium will bring together a diverse group of legal scholars and practitioners who focus their careers on the food we eat—from farm to table. This event will showcase the collaborative strength that is the hallmark of Lewis & Clark Law School. We hope many of you can join us!

I will be back in touch soon and I look forward to working with all of you. Again, I am honored to serve as your dean.

Thank you,

Jennifer Johnson
Dean and Erskine Wood Sr. Professor of Law