Vice Dean, Director of the Externship Program and Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills
B.A., magna cum laude, Philosophy, 1989, University of California, Los Angeles; J.D., cum laude, 1992, Harvard University; Phi Beta Kappa; Member, California State Bar
Phone: (213) 738-6786
Appointed as Southwestern’s Vice Dean in 2012, Anahid Gharakhanian is responsible for the academic program, curriculum development and faculty-student relations, as well as implementation of faculty policies, including examinations and grades. She provides oversight for the General LLM Program, JD admissions, and institutional partnerships. She works closely with the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Administration on course scheduling and in the hiring, training, and overseeing adjunct faculty, and with other departments on a variety of matters such as student issues, exams, student affairs, and academic support.
"Law students are professionals-in-training. Legal writing and externship placements are great opportunities to start thinking like a lawyer and get a feel for the profession and are extremely helpful in transitioning to the practice of law."
Dean Gharakhanian is also the long-time director of the law school's Externship Program and has expanded the program to be one of the largest in the country. She has also taught in the legal writing program, and was instrumental in the redevelopment of Southwestern's groundbreaking Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills (LAWS) program, including bringing a professionalism focus to LAWS with such components as mindfulness training as well as court visits. Vice Dean Gharakhanian notes: "Law students are professionals-in-training. So we have to put them into simulated and real-world situations that require them to think like a lawyer and get a feel for the profession. Southwestern does that really well, and you can see it in the confidence and competence of our students." In addition to her teaching, she has greatly enjoyed other opportunities to work with Southwestern students, which over the years has included serving in such positions as the faculty advisor for the Armenian Law Students' Association and the PLEAS Program.
Dean Gharakhanian is also committed to pro bono work and civic activities. Most recently, she spearheaded the effort to establish the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship with the Ministry of Justice in Armenia to work on the development of the rule of law. She has also served as a temporary judge in Los Angeles Superior Court's Small Claims Court and has worked on a pro bono basis in the areas of domestic violence and other family law matters.
In recent areas, Dean Gharakhanian expanded her teaching focus, pursing an area of interest she's had since law school when she participated in Harvard's Prison Legal Assistance Project. In cooperation with a Lieutenant from the LA County Sheriff's Department, she developed a course in Correctional Education. So many Southwestern students are interested in the criminal justice system, and she believes that it is imperative that students also learn about the back end of the criminal justice system, following sentencing.
Upon graduation from law school, Dean Gharakhanian joined the firm of Chadbourne & Parke LLP in Los Angeles. During her six-year tenure there, she handled the pre-trial phases of a variety of civil litigation matters as well as arbitration proceedings. Subsequently, she was appointed vice president of e-commerce development for an online retailer. She has found that by sharing practical examples from her own experiences as well as continuously gathering and sharing feedback from externship supervisors, she is able to make the skills that she teaches much more relevant for her students.
Dean Gharakhanian is an active member of the Greater Los Angeles Consortium on Externships (GLACE), which includes the externship directors of Southwestern, Loyola, Chapman, Whittier, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, USC and UCLA law schools. She was one of the lead organizers and a presenter at the national GLACE Externships3 Conference in 2006, as well as for the GLACE Regional Externship Supervision Forums hosted at Southwestern in 2008 and 2014. She has also been a presenter in national Legal Writing Institute and Externship conferences, including the most recent 2014 Externships7 Conference. Dean Gharakhanian has also been active with the AALS Balance Section, currently serving on the Board.
ABA Standard 305's Guided Reflections: A Perfect Fit for Guided Fieldwork, 14 CLINICAL LAW REVIEW (2007)