All posts filed under: From the Dean

Diversity in the classroom

Why Achieving Diversity Remains a Challenge

I recently had the opportunity to gather with colleagues from across Temple University for a popular discussion series called “Can We Talk?”  I chose as my topic the question of why diversity is so difficult to accomplish, and what might make it easier.  Of course, neither question can be answered to anyone’s satisfaction in an hour, no matter how robust and sincere the conversation.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important conversation to begin, and to continue whenever possible. I think it’s important, though, to offer a few observations up front.  First, I think it is important to recognize that however much it is desired (in theory or in reality), diversity doesn’t come naturally.  While a lot of people express support for it – and even a desire for it, we’re not  all clear on what “it” even is, let alone how to achieve it.  Second is the matter of vocabulary.  The word itself sometimes gives off the connotation of “forced mixing,” which sounds like work or something even less voluntary.  And third, the …

Temple Law Orientation 2014


I love this time of year. For most of my professional life, it’s been a time of welcoming – welcoming new students to the school and the profession I love; welcoming returning students as well as friends and colleagues among the faculty; and welcoming a new academic year, full of potential for both challenge and opportunity. If the first few weeks of this academic year are any indication, it’s going to be an exciting one. Our incoming class is packed with creative, talented people whose focus and commitment have been impressive. As we do every year, we capped off orientation week with our traditional pledge ceremony, in which the incoming class affirms the privilege of service that is ours as lawyers, and commits to seeking equal justice for all. I believe that this class has the potential to do amazing things, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for us. Teaching one of the first-year courses, Litigation Basics, I feel particularly privileged to teach – and thus get to know – …

The 2014 MacArthur Awards

I happened to notice while scanning the list of MacArthur Award recipients that three of the 21 honorees were lawyers – Mary Bonauto, a civil rights lawyer credited with building the case against DOMA; Sarah Deer, a law professor working on legislation that empowers tribal nations to protect women from domestic and sexual violence; and Jonathan Rapping, a criminal lawyer whose organization, Gideon’s Promise, provides coaching, training, and professional development to public defenders in an effort to address the problem of inadequate representation for indigent defendants. I offer this observation because as we continue to wrestle with the challenges facing both legal education and the profession, it’s important to remember that two things remain true: first, that we will always need talented, passionate lawyers; and second, that a good legal education delivers an extraordinary opportunity to creative, passionate people who want to change the world.

Temple Law Trial Ad Trophies

September at Temple Law

We are just a few short weeks into the semester, and the Law School is a flurry of activity.  Last week, we dedicated the Trial Lawyers’ Hall of Fame, an interactive display featuring some of the nation’s most prominent and powerful advocates.  That the National Trial Lawyers Association selected Temple as the home of its Hall of Fame is strong affirmation of Temple’s continued nationally renowned strength in advocacy training.  We were honored to hear from one of the Hall’s inductees, Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Click here to read more about Mr. Dees’ remarks and the challenge he issued to the audience. This week, our own Professor Jaya Ramji-Nogales was joined by her co-authors, Georgetown Professors Andrew Schoenholtz and Philip Schrag, as the three presented to a packed room from their book, Lives in the Balance:  Asylum Adjudication by the Department of Homeland Security. In Lives in the Balance, the authors analyze a database of 383,000 cases to better understand the effect on grant rates of a host of factors unrelated …

Caroline Power Top Gun

The Top Gun

I was delighted to learn last week that Caroline Power, who graduated in May, had won Baylor Law’s prestigious Top Gun Mock Trial Competition.  It was a wonderful conclusion to Caroline’s amazing run as a trial advocacy student, and an even better beginning to her life as a trial lawyer.  We at her alma mater are immensely proud of Caroline, excited for her future, and not at all surprised. For those unfamiliar with Top Gun, it is an elite invitational competition in which advocates from the top programs in the country have just 24 hours to learn the case file and prepare their arguments, after which they argue their cases solo, rather than in the traditional team format.  The pressure is intense and the stakes are high.  Only one person a year earns the right to call herself a Top Gun. “Becoming a trial lawyer isn’t for everyone. That said, I believe that coursework in trial advocacy is.” This year’s contestants argued a case regarding copyright law in which a publisher was accused of encouraging …

The Heart of the Matter

Almost everyone who’s ever even thought about law school has heard that attending one will teach you, primarily, to “think like a lawyer.”  While that is universally recognized as an important element of any legal education, three events over the past week have led me to conclude that we cannot only be about teaching our students’ minds: we must also be engaging their hearts.  Fortunately, recent events have reminded me that this is something the faculty and alumni of Temple Law do exceptionally well. On Friday, April 4th, Temple Law hosted Wills for Heroes, an organization that assists first responders and members of the military in drafting basic estate planning documents.  Dan McKenna ’05 and volunteers from Ballard Spahr joined Temple Law faculty, administrators and students to provide this much-needed service.  The feel-good vibes were palpable, and you could see in the faces of the clients the peace that comes from knowing that you are doing something tangible and concrete to protect the ones you love. On Saturday, Professor Jane Baron, who had also volunteered …