By Karen Sloan
The law school dean appointments are coming fast and furious.
The latest to lock in a new top administrator is Richmond University School of Law, which has snagged Georgetown University Law Center Associate Dean Wendy Collins Perdue—the Washington school's second in command.
During the past two weeks, Pepperdine University School of Law named Circuit Judge Deanell Reece Tacha as dean and Chapman University School of Law nabbed former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.).
At Richmond, Perdue will replace John Douglass, effective on July 1. Douglass has run the law school since 2008.
Perdue—an expert in civil procedure and conflict of laws—has taught at Georgetown since 1982 and has been an associate dean in several different roles since 1998. She is currently the associate dean for Georgetown’s juris doctor program.
“We talked to 500 people this fall,” said Richmond law professor Corinna Barrett Lain, who co-chaired the dean search committee. “We called people who we felt were experts in legal education and people who knew people. We told them what we were looking for, and said we weren’t looking for someone to hold the wheel steady. We wanted someone who would do innovative things and who is well respected. We had so many people say, ‘You ought to talk to Wendy Perdue.’ ”
Perdue represents a relatively high-profile hire for Richmond, which is ranked No. 86 by U.S. News & World Report. Georgetown is ranked No. 14.
“The school has done a tremendous job in the past couple of years as far as faculty hiring,” Perdue said. “I’d like to increase the school’s profile a bit. The scholarship is outstanding, but perhaps not as well known around the country.”
Perdue said she likes the school’s longstanding emphasis on practical skills, but wants to do even more to ensure it produces graduates who are strong leaders and can collaborate with others.
Keeping law school affordable and making sure students have access to jobs will be among the biggest challenges of her new job, she said—although she noted that Richmond has been less affected by the slowdown in large law firm hiring than some other schools have been.
“Schools like Richmond are less dependant on Big Law for jobs because we send a lot of people to government positions and regional legal employers. Frankly, we’ve been less hard-hit,” she said. “I think we’re better positioned than some of the schools that felt the boom much more lavishly.”