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Welcome to Emory Law

Emory University School of Law |
Interim Dean
Judson Graves

Dear Students,

Welcome to a new academic year, the first of Emory Law’s second century!  Today, we greet returning students as well as new students from more than 32 states, the District of Columbia, and 29 countries who have come to pursue degrees at Emory Law.

On August 1, I began my tenure as interim dean for Emory Law.  I will be with you while the University provost conducts a search for our next dean.  As a proud alumnus of the Emory Law Class of 1975 (the very first class to utilize Gambrell Hall), I cannot say strongly enough what an honor it is for me to have been asked to serve at the law school I love.  While serving as an adjunct professor for several years, I developed meaningful relationships with many faculty, staff, other alumni, and, of course, great students.  I am thrilled to be a part of this community at this important time.

Last year Emory Law marked its centennial—a celebration of 100 years as an innovative institution that has adapted to address the changing needs of both the profession and our students.  We’ve also demonstrated our commitment to diversity and inclusion as we continue to seek the advancement of the rule of law here and abroad.

I am proud to let you know that earlier this month, the American Bar Association awarded Emory Law its National Achievement Award for Diversity, Law Student Division, for our spring Diversity Day “Real Talk with an Attorney” event, organized by student leaders of our Houses program.  In addition, I commend your engaged participation in our new Professionalism Inclusion modules each fall and spring.

These events stand among several important initiatives that Emory Law has launched to promote diversity and inclusion in our community, but we cannot pat ourselves on our backs and go to class today as usual in light of so many pressing issues facing our profession and our society as a whole.  In the words of our Welcome Week convocation speaker Aloke Chakravarty 97L, “The rule of law is only as good as the people who are sworn to protect it.”

In light of the tragic events of August 12 in Charlottesville, VA, I echo Emory President Claire Sterk’s statement to the entire Emory community reinforcing the core values of Emory and our commitment always to strive to be a place where we can hold difficult conversations respectfully.  The reprehensible and illegal action of some protestors in Charlottesville, as well as their rhetoric of hate, serve as a stark reminder of the vital importance of our deeply-held values here at Emory - of diversity, inclusion, and non-discrimination - as well as our recognition of the importance of preserving and encouraging open civil discourse in a free society. We must hold true to these values in these volatile times and remain mindful of the critical importance of lawyers and legal education in helping to frame that discourse.

Your decision to join the ranks of Emory Lawyers has never been more vital.  It is your deep and active engagement in this community that will launch Emory Law’s next 100 years in positive directions which will significantly impact our society and insure our continued success as a leading law school. 

Warm regards,

Dean Graves