There are so many academic deans among Washington area colleges and universities that it is impossible to note all of their comings and goings.
But I’m told that the announcement this week of a new law school dean at Catholic University of America merits some attention because of his background.
Daniel F. Attridge in July will become dean of Columbus School of Law at Catholic University, recruited from his position as managing partner of the Washington law office of Kirkland & Ellis.
Apparently it is somewhat unusual to make the jump from top of a law firm to top of a law school. But in a time of growing uncertainty about the job market for the legal profession — and, therefore, uncertainty about enrollment trends in the nation’s law schools — Catholic University President John Garvey turned to Attridge for fresh leadership.
“As a former law school dean, I know it is rare (and in these times, wise) to recruit a highly-experienced practitioner and a senior partner of one of America’s most distinguished law firms to lead a law school,” Garvey said in a statement. “Our students and faculty will benefit immeasurably from Mr. Attridge’s decades of experience, his prominence in the profession, and his impressive administrative skills.”
Attridge holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Georgetown University.
The National Law Journal reported: “Attridge’s appointment could signal an increased willingness among university and law school leaders to look beyond the scope of academia, politics and the bench for dean candidates, particularly at a time when the traditional law school business model is under enormous pressure.”