Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

Dean Bryant Garth Announces Plans to Step Down Following Seven Years in the Post June 08, 2012
Dean Bryant Garth Announces Plans to Step Down Following Seven Years in the Post

Dean Bryant G. Garth, Dean and Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern, has announced that he intends to step down effective July 1, 2012, at the conclusion of seven years in the post. Under Dean Garth's leadership, Southwestern has advanced at an accelerated pace in virtually all areas, including curricular innovations, student services, faculty and staff development, fund raising, diversity, academic support, reputation with legal education and the profession, and campus enhancement and expansion. He is one of the leading international scholars on the legal profession, dispute resolution, globalization and the rule of law.

Dean Garth announced his decision to the Southwestern community in May. The Board of Trustees has appointed Vice Dean Austen Parrish, a member of the Southwestern faculty since 2002, as Interim Dean and Chief Executive Officer (click here for more information) and is beginning the process of coordinating a formal dean search.

"Bryant Garth has been an inspiring and tireless leader who spearheaded historic initiatives in many important areas - from partnerships with world renowned academic institutions to the construction of the law school's first on-campus student housing complex," said Tom Hoberman, chair of Southwestern's Board of Trustees. "He is a true treasure, and every aspect of Southwestern has been enriched by his commitment and leadership. His spirit will never leave our halls."

Justice Arleigh Woods, an alumna and longtime member and former chair of the Board, concurred. "We are very grateful for Bryant's extraordinary dedication to Southwestern over these past seven years and the tremendous enthusiasm and pride he has instilled in all of the law school's constituencies," she said. "We fervently hope that after his sabbatical he will continue to participate in Southwestern's development as he devotes more time to his scholarly pursuits."

"Southwestern is an inspiring, vibrant, collaborative community of dedicated legal scholars and students with an exceptionally dedicated staff," Dean Garth said. "I feel very privileged to have served as dean during this momentous time in the law school's history. My years here have been some of the most satisfying and exciting of my career, and I want to thank all the members of the Southwestern family for so enthusiastically embracing and contributing to our commitment to excellence and innovation."

He explained that he has had the desire to return full-time to his research and scholarship, and his decision to step down at this time reflected his confidence that "Southwestern is in very solid shape and on a nice trajectory, with an excellent, committed faculty and staff and exciting new developments in the academic program, campus expansion, and institutional partnerships." He will take a year's sabbatical commencing in July.

Among the numerous accomplishments that marked Dean Garth's tenure are:

  • recruiting an impressive cadre of young rising stars and nationally recognized senior scholars to the faculty;
  • significantly increasing scholarship and grant support for entering and continuing students;
  • creating an open, supportive student-centered environment that significantly increased student satisfaction levels in relationships with faculty, staff and fellow students as well as overall experience
  • establishing three new clinics for Children's Rights, Immigration Law and Street Law;
  • creating unique partnerships with the internationally recognized Drucker Graduate School of Management of Claremont Graduate University and the Pardee RAND Graduate School for concurrent degree and certificate programs;
  • expanding resources and emphasis in the academic support program and public service program;
  • expanding support for faculty scholarship and interdisciplinary research;
  • advancing the entertainment law program through innovations such as the first online LL.M. in entertainment and media law;
  • creating the first three track first-year legal research and writing program to provide students with a choice of an appellate, negotiation or trial advocacy focus;
  • revamping and expanding the upper division curriculum with major capstone courses, intersessions and mini-course offerings;
  • taking a national leadership role in curriculum reform;
  • building the school's first on-campus student housing complex;
  • doubling the alumni participation rate in annual donations;
  • hosting more than 40 annual alumni events throughout the country; and
  • initiating a successful capital campaign supporting faculty chairs, student support and campus expansion, among many other advancements.

Professor Arthur McEvoy, who was the J. Willard Hurst Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin School of Law when Dean Garth recruited him to the Southwestern faculty, said, "Bryant did wonderful things for the Southwestern community during his time here, as he has for me personally over the many years that I have known him. He is a gifted, world-renowned scholar and a wonderful mentor to faculty at all levels. The man walks in grace; he is the best boss I ever had.  We were lucky to have him and I will miss him greatly."

Chrystal Chen, who just completed her second year at Southwestern, echoed the sentiments of many of her fellow students. "What stands out the most to me about Dean Garth's leadership is his commitment to the student body. He has always displayed a genuine interest in the achievements of the students and their experiences at Southwestern," she said. "The accessibility and helpfulness that I have also experienced with all the faculty and staff is my favorite aspect of Southwestern. To me, Dean Garth has created an extremely positive and supportive community environment that I did not expect from a law school."

Third-year student Timothy Sutton said, "Dean Garth always had a warmth in his smile that put a room at ease. He really gave you his full attention and spoke honestly and sincerely. I never felt that he treated his position like a job because you could see it was his passion to educate students."

An internationally recognized scholar, law professor and experienced dean, Bryant Garth was appointed the tenth Dean of Southwestern in July 2005. A graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Journal of International Studies, Dean Garth also holds a Ph.D. (European Doctorate of Law) from the European University Institute in Florence.

After serving as a judicial clerk to Judge Robert Peckman of the Federal District Court, Northern District of California, Dean Garth joined the faculty of Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, in 1979 and served as Dean there from 1986 to 1990. He was appointed in 1990 as the Executive Director of the American Bar Foundation, the independent nonprofit research center established by the American Bar Association for the empirical study of law, legal institutions and legal processes. Under his guidance over the next 14 years, the Foundation became a preeminent resource for lawyers, scholars, legal educators, and policy makers throughout the world. He was then recruited to the dean's post at Southwestern.

Dean Garth is co-editor of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Journal of Legal Education and the author, co-author or editor of 20 books and 107 articles. He has served as a consultant to such entities as the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development and major philanthropic foundations and has addressed hundreds of forums across the U.S. as well as more than a dozen foreign countries. He currently chairs the Advisory Board of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement and serves on the Executive Coordinating Committee of the pioneering "After the J.D." study of lawyer careers.