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Dean’s Message

Two events, just days apart, capture for me what makes Tulane Law School so truly extraordinary.

The first was a ceremony in the elegant courtroom of the Louisiana Supreme Court on Royal Street in the French Quarter. There, students enrolled in the Law School’s five in-house litigation clinics gathered excitedly to take an oath of professionalism before shouldering the heavy responsibilities of representing real clients in high-stakes controversies.

The second came days later, 1,600 miles to the south, in Panama City, Panama. There, Professors Martin Davies and Robert Force led a day-long seminar for Panamanian lawyers on the latest developments in maritime law. Afterward, we hosted a reception for our 125 Tulane Law alumni in Panama, an enormously impressive group that includes Cabinet ministers, Supreme Court justices, diplomats, and a significant share of the country’s leading lawyers.

In almost any week, one can find a similar juxtaposition of events reflecting Tulane Law School’s distinctive identity as a law school that is at once both global and grounded. For more than a century, Tulane has helped to lead American legal education in its engagement with the rest of the world. Comparative legal study, built on the natural foundation of Louisiana’s distinctive civil-law heritage, has always been part of Tulane’s lifeblood and continues to enrich and distinguish our faculty and students. In preparing lawyers for today’s increasingly transnational practice environment, few law schools rival Tulane’s depth and sophistication.

Yet, Tulane is also a law school deeply grounded in its own community—indelibly and passionately connected to its home in New Orleans, to the practice of law, and to the ideal of making a difference in the lives of its neighbors. The first law school in the nation to require pro bono service as an essential part of its educational program, our students pour themselves into a range of innovative service activities throughout the Gulf Coast region and beyond, routinely exceeding their modest service obligation many times over.

In recent years, we’ve significantly broadened opportunities for service and skills training.  Through our externship program, Tulane students are able to work anywhere in the world in governmental, public-interest, and in-house corporate settings for academic credit.  Each summer, more than 100 Tulane law students fan out to field placements across the globe, from Treme to Tanzania, where they gain practical legal experience while helping meet urgent needs for legal service.

This commitment to broad-minded academic engagement and community service is not only a powerful preparation for leadership, it also reflects our values as a community.  At Tulane, we pride ourselves—faculty and students alike—on a rigorous engagement with the rest of the world, but also on our commitment to caring for and supporting one another and to improving the lives of others through the law.

In a setting as uniquely vibrant as New Orleans, and with a world-class academic program as globally connected as Tulane’s, I am convinced there is no more exciting place to study law. I encourage you to visit our campus and see for yourself!

Sally Brown Richardson
Interim Dean and A.D. Freeman Professor of Civil Law