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‘The support needs to be there’

New UW School of Law Dean Tamara Lawson outlines path to continued success

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New UW School of Law Dean Tamara Lawson outlines path to continued success

Coming off of recent school rankings in which U.S. News & World Report ranked UW sixth among the Best Global Universities and UW School of Law 49th out of 192 peer institutions, UW has much to celebrate academically. Within this, new Toni Rembe Dean of UW’s School of Law Tamara Lawson began her role this past August.

Lawson comes into the position with the responsibility of managing and strengthening an already impressive program, yet her role does not end there. Lawson is tasked with not only improving the program, but ensuring that School of Law graduates are adequately equipped to make a positive impact on the world.

Lawson brings a unique skillset to the table. She arrived in Seattle after 18 years at St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami, where she held several positions, including dean, associate dean for academic affairs, associate dean for faculty development, and professor of law. 

Lawson was also the founding dean of the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice and is credited with impressive fundraising and notable enrollment increases under her leadership. Lawson identified fundraising as a vital component in ensuring a positive student experience and a strong program.

“In addition to giving someone the opportunity of admission into the law school, the support needs to be there,” Lawson said. “Particularly when we are talking about serving non-profit organizations and underrepresented members of the community. We want to make sure we are giving everyone that same access and opportunity to serve in that way irrespective of their own intergenerational or personal wealth and that their debt is not at a point where they cannot do some of these jobs.” 

Lawson is a self-described entrepreneurial dean. Coming from a line of family business owners, she identifies as data-driven and goal-oriented. This interdisciplinary way of thinking sets her apart by allowing her to identify fundraising as a vehicle both for attracting the most qualified students and producing graduates who wish to serve the community.

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“We already have a lot of excellence at our law school but every student matters,” Lawson said. She hopes that this mantra — “every student matters” — will be her legacy. 

As Lawson sets to work in her new role, her aim is to create a program that will be the best both nationally and globally, a program that will produce well-prepared, agile, culturally competent, and satisfied alumni who go forth to serve and better their communities.

The phrase “listen to hear, not just to respond,” reflects Lawson’s virtues and values, both as a leader and a human.

“We must be open to listening to each other just as much as we are open to telling each other what we think,” Lawson said.

Reach contributing writer Sofia Schwarzwalder at Twitter: @schwaarzy

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