Study of the American Law School Dean

Examining the career pathways of law school deans, and the challenges encountered and solutions adopted by this important population.

The path to becoming a law school dean is often not linear, nor is the experience of being a dean consistent across institutions. Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has engaged NORC to conduct a survey of current and former law school deans (within the last 10 years) to gather useful data to better understand:

  • Assess the career pathways for law school deans,
  • How deans and former deans have made their vocational decisions and what influences shaped their career trajectory, and
  • Capture the scope of challenges facing deans beyond student enrollment declines of the last decade.1

Current deans and former deans from AALS member and fee-paid law schools will be invited to participate in the survey to ascertain their educational and career background. Current deans will be asked to reflect on their duties and aspects of their current position; former deans will provide valuable perspective about their experiences as law school leaders. The results of this survey will allow AALS to consider what it means to become and serve as a dean. Findings will inform future law students, other deans, and law schools about the responsibilities and associated challenges of being a dean.

Survey data collection will launch in February 2021. Using a high-level summary report of the results provided by NORC, AALS will prepare a final report for distribution throughout the legal academy. 


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