B.A., The College of William & Mary; M.A., The College of William & Mary; J.D., Vanderbilt University School of Law
Dean Darby Dickerson joined Southwestern as its 12th Dean and second female dean in July 2021. Dean Dickerson has extensive experience in leadership, teaching, scholarship, community service, and philanthropy.
Executive/Legal Education Experience:
As one of the longest-serving deans in the United States, Dean Dickerson has served as the inaugural dean at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, as Dean/CEO of The John Marshall Law (which she helped to merge into the University of Illinois Chicago), as Dean and the W. Frank Newton Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law, and as Interim Dean then Dean and Vice President of Stetson University College of Law.
She started her full-time academic career at Stetson, joining the faculty in 1995. At Stetson, she also served in a wide variety of other administrative roles, including Vice Dean, Associate Dean, Director of Legal Research & Writing, Moot Court Board Director, and Law Review Advisor.
Over the years, she has taught Legal Research and Writing, Contract Drafting and Review, Torts, ADR, Arbitration, and Election Law. She has supervised various externships, including creating a full-time Regional Externship Program at Texas Tech, and served as the faculty advisor or coach for law reviews and moot court boards and teams.
Her scholarship, which includes two books, several book chapters, and dozens of articles, focuses on legal writing, drafting, and editing; legal education; higher education; and pretrial civil litigation practice.
“We live in challenging times, but with challenge, there is always opportunity. And Southwestern is a place of incredible opportunity.”
~Darby Dickerson (Southwestern's President/Dean)
Leadership and Affiliations:
A nationally known leader in legal education, Dickerson is active in the Association of American Law Schools. In addition to serving as President in 2020, she is currently the AALS representative to the ABA House of Delegates and Chair of the AALS Fellows. She served two terms on the Executive Committee, one term on the Membership Review Committee, and has chaired various committees, including Nominations, and Audit & Investment. She also has served as Chair of several AALS sections, including the Section for the Law School Dean and the Section on Institutional Advancement. She chaired the AALS Deans Forum Steering Committee during 2019 and also helped found and moderate the AALS “Faculty Focus” series.
She is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, a Past President and current Board Member of Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers, and a former Director of the Association of Legal Writing Directors. She is active in the American Inns of Court, having been part of five Inns: The Mac Taylor Inn in Dallas, the Ferguson-White Inn of Court in Tampa (where she served on the Executive Committee and as President), the Texas Tech University School of Law Inn of Court in Lubbock (where she was a founding member and on the Executive Committee), the Chicago Inn of Court, and the Southwestern Law School Inn of Court (also serving on the Executive Committee). She has also been active in bar activities at the local, state, and national levels.
She serves on the Regional Board of the Los Angeles Red Cross and also has served as President of the Tampa Bay Chapter and on the board of the High Plains Chapter (Lubbock, Texas). She is a member of the Red Cross Tiffany Circle.
Since 2018, she has served as a volunteer microfinance loan editor for Kiva.org. She’s also participated as a “Big” in Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Education, Early Practice, and Awards:
Dickerson received her B.A. and M.A. from The College of William & Mary, and her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. Following law school, she clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and then practiced commercial litigation with the firm now known as Locke Lord in Dallas, Texas.
In 2021, she completed a Master Online Teacher certificate through the University of Illinois Springfield, where she is also pursuing a Master Online Leadership and Advocacy certificate, and Arizona State University Lodestar Center’s Executive Nonprofit Management certificate.
In 1995, she was named both Outstanding Young Lawyer in Dallas and Outstanding Director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. In January 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the Darby Dickerson Award for Revolutionary Change in Legal Writing, named by the Association of Legal Writing Directors to honor her contributions to legal writing. In 2018, she received the AALS Section of Legal Writing, Research, and Reasoning’s lifetime achievement award. She has also received a variety of other awards for her professional, charitable, and community service.