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School of Law Dean Maureen O’Rourke has just been named one of the nation’s top legal educators.
Earlier this month, the National Jurist, a trade magazine focusing on legal education, published its annual list of the 25 most influential people in legal education. The publication, citing a number of legal reforms that O’Rourke has spearheaded at the School of LAW, named her 23rd on a list that included deans from the University of Chicago Law School, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, and the University of Arkansas.
Each fall, the magazine reaches out to all US law schools for nominations, and then whittles the list down to 50 nominees. National Jurist editors, law school deans, and other prominent voices in legal education then vote to decide the top 25.
“Dean O’Rourke has modeled exceptional leadership and standards for legal scholarship at BU, and so we are pleased to see her receiving this level of national recognition,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer. “It is well deserved and speaks not only to her seminal work in commercial and intellectual property law, but to the reputation for impactful research BU LAW is rightfully gaining within the larger legal community.”
This is the first year O’Rourke has appeared on the list. “I was honored to be included among this group of people, many of whom I know and have admired for their intellectual and practical leadership in thinking about legal education,” O’Rourke says. “I think it’s important to emphasize that these aren’t my accomplishments; they reflect the efforts of an entire community—wonderful students and faculty and a university that is very supportive of its law school.”
The National Jurist applauded O’Rourke—who began as dean in 2006—for overseeing a number of innovative initiatives. Last year, she organized a retreat that brought together employers, alumni, and faculty to address such fundamental questions as what types of training today’s law students require, what employers are looking for in new hires, and what the legal employment market will look like in the near future. The findings revealed that law students need business skills and real-world lawyering experience.
Under O’Rourke’s leadership, the faculty has launched a mandatory course for first-year students called Lawyering Lab, which teaches them negotiating skills; a business literary course called Intro to Business Fundamentals, required for all JD students; and new graduate programs, including an Executive LLM in International Business Law, the Legal English Certificate Program, and an online version of the LLM in Taxation program. Beginning next fall, the school will offer an accelerated three-year JD/MBA dual degree as well, allowing students to earn both degrees in a shorter time and at a lower cost than if they were to pursue both degrees separately.
O’Rourke has increased career development support for students through the school’s Career Development & Public Service office, expanded opportunities for students to obtain practical skills in clinics and externships, begun new pro bono programs and spring break service trips, and increased financial aid support for students, which includes an enhanced loan repayment assistance program for young alumni pursuing careers in public interest law.
She has also supervised construction of the new 93,000- square-foot, state-of-the-art Sumner M. Redstone Building which opened last fall, and the current renovation of the existing LAW tower, which is expected to be completed this fall.
Prior to joining the faculty of LAW in 1993, O’Rourke worked at IBM Corporation, where she handled a variety of issues surrounding software licensing. Her primary academic interests focus on intellectual property law and other fields, such as contract and antitrust law. During the past five years, she has been a council member of the American Bar Association.