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American Law School Dean Study

Image series set at in a legal office with lawyers and clients.
Examining the career pathways of law school deans, challenges encountered, and solutions adopted
  • Client
    Association of American Law Schools
  • Dates
    2020 - 2021

A law school group needed insights into the process of becoming and serving as a dean.

The path to becoming a law school dean is often not linear, and the experience of being a dean can vary considerably across institutions. The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) sought insights into:

  • the career pathways for law school deans
  • how deans make their vocational decisions and what influences their career trajectory
  • the scope of challenges facing deans beyond the enrollment declines of the last decade.

NORC surveyed current and former law school deans.

AALS engaged NORC at the University of Chicago to survey current and former law school deans in the late winter and spring of 2021. Current deans were asked to reflect on their duties and various aspects of their current position. Former deans provided valuable perspective about their experiences as law school leaders. 

Law schools’ stakeholders gained greater understanding of the role of dean.

The results of this survey allowed AALS to consider what it means to become and serve as a dean. The findings also inform future law students, other deans, and law schools about the responsibilities and associated challenges of being a dean.

Project Director

Senior Research Director

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