Expert on legal writing, criminal law, and civil procedure also served as associate dean of academic affairs
WHITE PLAINS, May 21, 2008 – After a national search, Pace University has appointed Michelle S. Simon dean of its law school. A member of the faculty since 1985 and a full professor since 2003, Simon is an expert in legal writing, criminal law and civil procedure as well as a former practicing attorney. The appointment became effective May 18, 2008.
Simon has served as interim dean since June 4, 2007, when she succeeded Stephen J. Friedman, who became president of Pace University.
In announcing Simon’s selection, Friedman pointed out that Simon is the first dean of the 32-year-old school to be chosen from the faculty. “This is a reflection of the maturity of the law school and the high quality of its faculty,” he said. Friedman is a former SEC commissioner and senior partner in Debevoise Plimpton LLC.
Simon may represent another “first” as well – the first law school dean who started as a professor of legal writing. In recent years this essential part of legal practice has received increased emphasis in legal education. Before her appointment as interim dean, Simon had served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and, after returning to full-time teaching, was Director of the law school’s programs in legal writing and judicial studies. Pace is one of the few law schools where legal writing is taught by full-time, tenured faculty members. The school’s approach introduces students to the core skills of writing as lawyers in combination with the first-year course in criminal law.
Simon also has taken a leadership role in developing study techniques that have raised the rate at which full-time Pace Law graduates pass the New York State Bar Exam on their first try from 69 percent in 2001 to 87 percent in 2007.
Current expansion. The Pace Law School is now in the midst of expansion in several areas. Its enrollment is deliberately kept small, but has risen to about 800 since 2000. This spring it became only the third law school in the nation and the only one in the New York metropolitan area to offer a Master of Laws in Real Estate. Its extensive environmental law offerings, including a Master of Laws in Environmental Studies and an SJD in Environmental Law, consistently earn it rankings among the top three law schools in the nation. This spring, with a grant of $1 million from the famed mediator Theodore Kheel, the school established an institute on the mediation of environmental disputes.
Ovation. Friedman announced the appointment on Sunday at the law school’s graduation ceremonies, triggering a standing ovation for Simon from the faculty, staff and graduating class. To the crowd, Friedman expressed his “admiration” for Simon and praised her “superb leadership” during the interim year.
Later, Friedman added: “We conducted a very careful national search, and the other finalists were extremely strong. The law school community’s enthusiasm for Michelle Simon is a strong confirmation of her breadth in scholarship, teaching, and administration, all areas in which she sets high goals and earns the respect of colleagues, students, and the profession.”
Said Simon: “I am honored to serve as dean of a school of which I am tremendously proud and which places the highest priority on scholarship, teaching, and service to the community. Our dedicated faculty members, students, and alumni are an integral part in the life of Pace Law School and I am excited to work closely with them as we guide the school through its dynamic next stage.”
AIDS, urban planning and schools. In her 23 years on the faculty Simon has concentrated her teaching in legal writing, criminal law, and civil procedure. She has authored or co-authored 17 articles and book chapters on topics ranging from search and seizure procedures to sex offenses, legal issues in AIDS, and the legal autonomy of cities in urban planning.
She served as Pace Law School’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs from 2001 to 2006 and has chaired groups that strengthened academic standards and undertook a far-reaching self-study.
Known for her personal warmth, Simon is a recipient of two of the school’s top awards, the Richard L. Ottinger Award for Teaching Excellence, 2000-2001, and the President’s Award for Excellence, 2003-2004.
A cum laude anthropology major at the State University of New York at Albany, Simon earned her JD, also cum laude, from the Syracuse University College of Law in 1981, having served for two years on the law review, the last one as the senior lead articles editor.
After law school she clerked for Judge A. Simon Chrein, a United States Magistrate for the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She practiced for four years in the areas of product liability litigation and insurance defense as an associate at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker in New York City.
In addition to her work on national issues, Simon has stayed involved in local ones. A lifelong resident of Westchester County and a public school graduate, she has served for 11 years on the board of education of the Eastchester Union Free School district in Westchester County, the last two as president. She and her husband have three children.
Founded in 1976, Pace University School of Law has over 6,500 alumni throughout the country and the world. It offers full- and part-time day and evening JD programs on its White Plains, NY, campus. The School also offers the Master of Laws in Environmental Law, Real Estate Law, Comparative Legal Studies, and an SJD in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified University with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.
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