IU Maurer dean Parrish leaving to lead UC-Irvine law school

Austen Parrish, dean of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and one of the 25 longest-serving law school deans in the country, will be stepping down from the Bloomington institution to become dean of University of California, Irvine School of Law in Irvine, California.

Austen Parrish

The Irvine school posted the announcement of the appointment on its website Thursday, calling Parrish a “respected scholar, gifted classroom teacher and admired legal academy leader.” He will assume his new post Aug. 3.

“With his clear vision, proven leadership and stellar accomplishments, Austen Parrish is the right person to guide UCI Law to greater heights, and we are excited he will be joining UCI,” UC-Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman said in a statement.

Parrish became dean of IU Maurer in 2014, following Lauren Robel, who led the law school from 2003 to 2011, when she was appointed university provost. He arrived in Bloomington from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, where he had been serving as interim dean and CEO.

According to the blog “Rosenblatt’s Deans Database,” Parrish has served at IU Maurer for 8.28 years, which places him as the 24th longest serving law school dean in the country.

He is credited with launching a far-reaching strategic plan at the Bloomington law school, growing its research centers, establishing new clinics and public service initiatives, expanding interdisciplinary degrees, and fostering diversity and inclusion. Also, early in his tenure when many were questioning the cost and value of a law degree, he built pipeline programs with colleges and universities across the state and the country to build interest in legal careers and recruit top talent to study at IU Maurer.

Speaking to Indiana Lawyer, Parrish deflected the praise.

“I had the good fortune to follow just an absolutely fabulous team and then to have the support of an amazing provost for nine years,” Parrish said, referring to Robel. “That certainly made my job easier.”

Parrish will be just the third dean to lead the UC-Irvine School of Law, which first enrolled students in 2009. Founded by Erwin Chemerinsky, UCI Law was ranked 37 in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Law Schools list. Of its 2020 graduates, 72.7% were employed 10 months after graduation, and the weighted average first-time bar passage rate for the 2020 class was 86.6%.

“Former dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Song Richardson have set a very high bar for leadership at UCI Law, and to be selected to follow in their footsteps is an honor,” Parrish said in a statement released through UCI. “This is a thrilling time to lead this simply extraordinary school and to help further its reputation as an eminent and innovative academic community.”

Parrish, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics at the University of Washington and a law degree at Columbia University. His wife, Leslie, is a senior attorney at Indiana Legal Services’ low-income taxpayer clinic.

For more on this story, pick up the April 13, 2022, issue of Indiana Lawyer.

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