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Spieler to conclude service as School of Law’s dean

Photo by David Leifer.

Emily Spieler, who has served as the School of Law’s dean since 2002, has decided to step down from her position at the end of the academic year.

The Edwin W. Hadley Professor of Law, Spieler has brought about transformative change at the School of Law, recruiting outstanding faculty, building innovative interdisciplinary programs, globalizing education and research, enhancing experiential education and advocating for the importance of law, policy and justice across all of Northeastern’s endeavors.

“It has been a privilege to serve as the dean at Northeastern,” Spieler said. “I came here because I was attracted to the history and values of this law school, particularly our commitment to education that emphasizes experiential education and the role of law in advancing the public good. I continue to believe that these principles are essential to educating great lawyers, to doing research that matters and to addressing the challenges of the world.”

To build the school’s international reach, Spieler has hired faculty who focus on international and immigration law and human rights, expanded the international law curriculum, increased the school’s network of international and domestic co-op employers, raised funds to support students pursuing international experiential learning opportunities, and worked with faculty to found the Program on Human Rights in the Global Economy (now supported by the Ford Foundation). At the end of the 2011–2012 academic year, the school will also launch its first graduate law degree program — an LLM for international students.

During Spieler’s tenure, the quality of admitted students dramatically increased. This year, the school welcomes its most accomplished and diverse student body ever.

“Under her leadership, the law school has attained national and international recognition for its signature strengths in public interest law and experiential legal education,” said Provost Stephen Director in a message to faculty. “She will leave the law school a significantly stronger and more vital institution.”

As dean, Spieler maintained a strong focus on providing the best in experiential education among law schools, anchored in Northeastern’s signature co-op program. In particular, the school extended co-op opportunities outside the United States in international law, human rights and other areas of law.

Understanding that the world’s problems can only be solved through interdisciplinary collaboration, Spieler successfully recruited joint faculty with the College of Business Administration and the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. She also built strategic alliances with other higher education institutions, developing dual-degree programs with Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Vermont Law School, and strengthening the JD/Master of Public Health program with Tufts University School of Medicine. 

These partnerships have enabled Northeastern students to pursue joint degrees in law and public health, environmental law and policy and sustainable development, as well as the soon-to-be-launched dual degree in music industry leadership, in cooperation with Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design. The school also has a number of other joint degree programs within the University.

Spieler also enhanced the law school’s leadership in public service and public interest law. She supported faculty efforts to build new programs such as the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project and sustain existing programs like the Domestic Violence Institute and the Public Health Advocacy Institute, and led other law school deans to support efforts to expand access to justice both in Massachusetts and nationally.

The School of Law was named the top public interest law school in 2008 by The National Jurist and preLaw Magazine, and was recently chosen to receive the Boston Bar Association’s Beacon Award that recognizes “leadership in diversity and inclusion.” 

Under Spieler’s leadership, the School of Law has gone through a physical transformation as well. New facilities are now equipped with state-of-the-art classrooms, clinics and academic and social gathering places for students and faculty.

Provost Director will convene a search committee to conduct a national search for a new dean of the School of Law.