Levi reappointed dean of Law School

November 15, 2011Duke Law News

David F. Levi has been appointed to a second five-year term as dean of Duke Law School, Duke University Provost Peter Lange announced Tuesday.

Now in the fourth year of his deanship, Levi will begin his new term on July 1, 2012.

“We're very pleased Dean David Levi will continue his strong leadership of the School of Law,” said Lange. “His tenure at the school has been marked by the creation of wonderful new opportunities for law grads, an extraordinary record of developing professional opportunities for students, and close attention to faculty development. He is a respected and dynamic leader who has built on the School’s strong foundation and has ambitious plans for its future.”

Members of the Duke Law community have enthusiastically supported Levi’s reappointment.

“David’s reappointment is very welcome, if completely unsurprising, news,” said Katharine T. Bartlett, the A. Kenneth Pye Professor of Law and Levi’s predecessor as dean. “He has done a fabulous job in the four-plus years he has been at Duke — faculty hiring has been strong, student morale is high, and there is enormous energy around various initiatives he has undertaken, including the entrepreneurship degree program and the new judicial studies center.

“David is well-respected around campus and among other law deans, and his stature among federal judges has enhanced our students’ access to judicial clerkships,” Bartlett added. “I am proud to be a member of this community.”

“Dean Levi has been outstanding, in every way,” said James E. Coleman, the John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law. “He is a supportive colleague, a visionary leader at a time of great change in the legal profession, and a concerned teacher. Upon his arrival, he immediately threw himself into the difficult work of being dean and has not slowed down. His experience as a lawyer and judge serve Duke well as law schools generally begin to respond to the demands of the legal profession for more practice-ready law graduates. I look forward to his continued leadership.”

“Dean Levi's reappointment is an incredible thing for Duke Law School,” said Natalie Bedoya ’10, a former editor in chief of the Duke Law Journal who now clerks for Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. “Having been fortunate enough to work closely with Dean Levi while a student at the Law School, I was able to see what an amazing leader and person he is. His approach is practical and no-nonsense, and he knows how to get to the heart of an issue and to, in that way, find the best solution. He also knows how to tap into people's strengths and to motivate those around him. And he does all this with such grace and good humor. He is a truly wonderful dean.”

Levi joined the Duke Law faculty as dean and professor of law in 2007, after a long career in public service. After serving as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of California, he was appointed as a federal district court judge in 1990 and became chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in 2003. He was appointed by former Chief Justice William Rehnquist to the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1994 and later to serve as chair of that committee. He also was appointed to serve as chair of the Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure in 2003, a position he held until 2007; he is currently a member of the Standing Committee, as well as other professional boards and committees, and he participates in a number of law reform initiatives.

Levi’s close connections to the judiciary and the legal profession are evident in many of his key initiatives and achievements as dean of Duke Law School. These include: more than a dozen extraordinary faculty hires; the establishment of new student externships and practical skills training programs; the launch of two new degree programs and several research centers; a marked increase in the number of graduates accepting judicial clerkships; creative globalization initiatives; and initiatives designed to facilitate graduates’ entry into public service and private practice positions during a period of disruption in the legal economy.

Dean David F. Levi teaching a class
Levi also regularly teaches classes at Duke Law relating to ethics, jurisprudence, and legal history and has published several articles on judicial decision-making and the legal profession.

Committed to making sure that Duke Law students graduate as effective, prepared professionals, Levi has expanded skills-training opportunities — externships, clinics, simulation classes, and intensive skills-based classes — along with the rigorous academics that have long been the hallmark of a Duke Law education.

First-year students have benefited from an expansion in the ranks of legal analysis, research, and writing faculty — and a corresponding reduction in class sizes — and the 2009 introduction of the yearlong Dean’s Course, which Levi designed to introduce them to universal characteristics valued and modeled in the profession.

Levi has presided over a significant expansion of the Law School’s faculty, hiring more than a dozen leading and emerging scholars and professors of the practice, who bring exceptional depth of experience in law practice, business, policymaking, and military justice to their classes. He annually recruits an impressive roster of visiting scholars who offer students specialized and topical curricular offerings and perspectives. Notable among these is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who for the past three years has taught a weeklong seminar titled Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation to upper-year students. Justice Antonin Scalia joined the 2011 faculty of the Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law.

Levi has initiated the addition of two unique LLM offerings at Duke Law: the LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship (LLMLE) and the Master of Laws in Judicial Studies for sitting judges.  Launched in the 2010-2011 academic year, the one-year LLMLE blends rigorous academic study of the legal, business, institutional, strategic, and public-policy frameworks and considerations that apply to entrepreneurs and innovation with a hands-on practicum in a Research Triangle-area startup.

The Master of Laws in Judicial Studies is the only graduate degree program at a major law school devoted to the education of judges. Set to welcome its inaugural class next summer, the program is designed to address a need for advanced educational opportunities for judges and to support scholarly research on judicial institutions and judicial decision-making.

The Judicial Studies degree represents one of two core areas of programming of the Duke Center for Judicial Studies, which also focuses on the scholarly study of the judiciary. The center builds on the strength of the Duke Law faculty in judicial studies, empirical studies, the study of institutions, international and comparative law, public law, legal strategy, and law and economics.  Other new research centers at Duke Law include the Center for Law, Race and Politics, the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, and the interdisciplinary Duke Center for Sports Law and Policy.

Like the deans who preceded him at Duke, Levi has put a premium on building and strengthening ties to the far-flung alumni community. His outreach has brought substantial returns as alumni volunteer their time as mentors to students; recruit on campus and hire recent Duke Law graduates and students; teach courses and offer lectures; and support scholarships, fellowships, programs, and professorships.

“David has really energized the entire Duke Law community by bringing his well-regarded judicial background, keen intellect and warm personal touch to advancing Duke Law School’s role as a preeminent center for legal education that is fully up to the challenges of the 21st century, both in the United States and globally,” said David W. Ichel ’78, chairman of the Board of Visitors and a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York.  “His creation of Duke’s Center For Judicial Studies, his recruitment of Supreme Court justices and other important judges from across the country to teach Duke students, his development of literally dozens of new practice-oriented courses, and his remarkable personal outreach to students on career issues are just a few examples of why we are all so excited by David’s second term.”

“I am pleased to have the opportunity of continued service to the remarkable Duke Law community,” Levi said. “The faculty are extraordinary scholars and teachers, and it is their dedication to their fields, their students, their colleagues and their profession that makes all the difference and makes Duke such a great law school. Our students are also wonderful young professionals who are determined to succeed as lawyers and civil leaders. Helping them to do so is one of the great joys of being dean. Our loyal and talented alumni provide daily support, encouragement, and advice. Coming to know them has been a delight. Finally, our dedicated and superb staff and administrators permit us to develop in new ways and meet the challenges of a dynamic and changing profession.

“I am excited to think what we will accomplish together in the years to come, and I am grateful to be part of something so good, both in its ideals and accomplishments.”