ILNews

New Maurer dean to create buzz about school

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

It would be an understatement to say Austen Parrish, the incoming dean of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, has big shoes to fill.

He follows the leadership of former long-time dean Lauren Robel, now IU Bloomington provost, and interim dean Hannah Buxbaum. Moreover, he will be moving from a small, independent law school to a Big Ten university that has a number of campuses throughout Indiana and another law school in Indianapolis.
 

parrish Parrish

Yet, in the field of candidates who applied for the IU Maurer position, search committee members said Parrish stood out because of his energy and enthusiasm to meet the challenges ahead. Colleagues in academia praised his scholarship as well as his administrative skills, calling particular attention to his vision, creativity, intellect and ability to build relationships.

John Applegate, IU executive vice president for University Academic Affairs and chair of the search committee, said Parrish is going to fit in well at IU Maurer.

“He is enthusiastic about looking change in the face and figuring out a way that we can still provide a superb education in a new environment,” Applegate said, describing Parrish as someone who exhibits the full range of the good that a legal education can do.

Parrish is coming to Bloomington from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. In addition to being a professor of law, he served as the school’s vice dean from 2008 to 2012 and was responsible for the overall academic program. From July 2012 to November 2013, Parrish was interim dean.

During his tenure in the dean’s office, Parrish oversaw the construction of a $20 million student-housing complex, established connections with local and international universities, and guided the school’s capital campaign from its silent phase to its public mode.

Parrish will officially begin his duties at IU Maurer Jan. 6.

In the short term, he wants to enhance the Bloomington law school’s ability to shoulder the dramatic decline in applications that law schools around the country have been recording. He credited Robel with positioning IU Maurer in a wise way that insulated it from the crisis in legal education, and he intends to strengthen that position by focusing on incoming and outgoing students.

He wants to create pipelines with the top U.S. undergraduate institutions so the Bloomington law school can have a consistent pool of candidates. Also, he plans to create relationships with law firms, especially those in major metropolitan areas like Chicago; Washington, D.C.; New York and Los Angeles, to give graduates greater opportunities for jobs.

Parrish viewed the drop in people studying to become lawyers as cyclical. In his conversations with undergraduates, he has heard them acknowledge their bachelor’s degrees are not getting them where they want to be and they see law school as a way to improve their situation.

 “I think ambitious, smart, intelligent people still want to go to law school and they’re still going to go to law school,” Parrish said.

Although Southwestern Law School, a private ABA-accredited institution that is not a part of any college or university, is markedly different from IU Maurer School of Law, Applegate does not anticipate Parrish will have any difficultly implementing his goals. Parrish will have opportunities rather than challenges, Applegate said, because IU has resources that Southwestern does not have.

While in California, Parrish reached out to undergraduate schools and graduate departments at universities to try to make the connections that are already available at IU. The law school in Bloomington is deeply embedded in the campus and has collaborations and relationships with other academic disciplines at the university, Applegate said.

Faculty and staff at IU Maurer are equally excited to have a new dean in place, Applegate said. They are eager to seriously examine the legal education landscape and begin to plan for the future.

Parrish sees similarities between Southwestern and IU Maurer in their approaches to teaching students. The curriculums at both law schools include professional competency concepts along with legal analysis and doctrine.

Traditionally, Parrish said, the career path for lawyers has been seen as graduating from law school, clerking for a judge or joining a large law firm then, as he put it, “ruling the world.” However, he said, that is misleading because only a small number of graduates follow that track. Instead, lawyers today have to be entrepreneurial and have to know more than just how to think about the law.

IU Maurer faculty, Parrish said, have been doing good things to teach students about the law as well as preparing them to be good lawyers. Long-term, he wants to expand and bring more attention to the school’s extraordinary law centers, such as the centers for cybersecurity and intellectual property, and he wants to build on the foreign studies program.

His first order of business will be to meet with each faculty member individually and build a consensus as to the direction of the school. He said he wants to create a buzz about what is happening at IU Maurer that is not happening elsewhere.

His sense is the law school has had a greater impact on the Midwestern legal community than other schools and he wants to tell the narrative of the institution by showing all the different activities and accomplishments of the graduates.

Lisa McKinney, past president of the IU Maurer alumni board of directors and member of the search committee, said the school’s graduates are ready for the next step.

“I think there is a strong core of alumni who want to give back, want to help students coming out of the school,” said McKinney, a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP in Indianapolis. “If (Parrish) reaches out and talks about his vision for the school, I think there’s going to be a lot of enthusiasm coming back at him.”

The leadership of Robel and Buxbaum has created a lot of excitement among the alumni, she said. But the alums are an incredible resource that could be tapped more not only for support of the school, but also to provide assistance to the students.

Before coming to Bloomington, Parrish was familiar with the law school. Both Southwestern and IU Maurer were among the schools that participated in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s consortium on the future of legal education.

Also, Parrish knew Buxbaum, having appeared at academic conferences with her. In fact, when he first heard of the opening at IU Maurer, he did not bother to apply because he was certain she would be selected as the next dean. However, he said once the two had a conversation and Buxbaum made it clear she was not seeking the position, he decided to apply.

Parrish, a native of Canada, earned a bachelor of arts in political science and economics from the University of Washington and a law degree from Columbia University.

He is an expert in transnational litigation and a leading scholar on issues related to cross-border disputes. Prior to entering academia, he practiced complex business litigation at O’Melveny & Myers, a global law firm based in Los Angeles.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

ADVERTISEMENT