UW News

July 5, 2022

Tamara F. Lawson named dean of the School of Law

UW News

Tamara F. Lawson has been named to the next Toni Rembe Endowed Deanship of the University of Washington’s School of Law, Provost Mark A. Richards announced today. Her appointment, set to begin Aug. 16, is subject to approval by the UW Board of Regents.

Lawson will replace UW Professor Elizabeth Porter, who has served as interim dean since the beginning of the calendar year.

Lawson comes to the UW from her position as dean and professor at St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami. Prior to becoming dean, she was the associate dean for academic affairs and associate dean for faculty development. She is the chair of the Law Professors Division of the National Bar Association and a board member of the Law School Admission Council. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Governors for the Society of American Law Teachers.

“Dean Lawson brings a wealth of experience and expertise in enrollment and student success, financial management, fundraising, and diversity and inclusion in the field of law, as well as impressive scholarship in criminal law,” Richards said. “We expect that, under Dean Lawson’s leadership, the UW School of Law will be strengthened in each of these areas.”

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Tamara F. Lawson has been named to the next Toni Rembe Endowed Deanship of the University of Washington’s School of Law.

As one of the nation’s oldest and leading public law schools, the UW School of Law melds a traditional focus on the rule of law with a modern approach to solving problems and advancing social justice. Students are actively encouraged to explore their passions and equip themselves with the intellectual tools and hands-on legal experience they need to be practice-ready attorneys able to work in any field they choose.

“I’m inspired by UW Law’s commitment to academic excellence while rooted in its core values of access to justice and public service,” Lawson said. “I’m thrilled to join the law school community to partner with the exceptional faculty, staff, students and alumni to realize our shared vision to be the best public law school measured by global impact.”

As administrative, financial and academic officer at St. Thomas University College of Law, Lawson’s areas of responsibility include development, budget, leadership of academic programs, bar passage initiatives, personnel management, alumni relations and external affairs. Under her leadership, the College increased enrollment by 38% — to 769 students — while raising entering credentials.

Lawson also has managed a successful American Bar Association (ABA) and American Association of Law Schools (AALS) site visit and accreditation process. She has chaired multiple sections of AALS, including Evidence, Law and Humanities, and Women in Legal Education, as well as being appointed to the AALS Deans Steering Committee. As associate dean, Lawson led the faculty, unanimously, to reform the College’s entire curriculum for the three-year J.D. program.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawson guided law faculty efforts to move teaching and learning online, which continued into summer 2020 and attracted record enrollment that generated more than $1 million in additional tuition revenue compared to the previous summer.

Lawson brings demonstrated financial and fundraising experience to the UW. She secured a $10 million gift commitment, the largest in the University of St. Thomas’ history, and turned a budget deficit into a substantial surplus. Additionally, she founded the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice, which she launched with a $1 million leadership grant from Truist Financial. The pro bono service program provides 20,000 service hours each year.

Throughout her administrative career, Lawson has been engaged in teaching, scholarship and service. Recognized twice as Professor of the Year, she has taught courses in criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence, in addition to a seminar on race and the law. She also continues to publish regularly and provides implicit bias training to prosecutors, in addition to working as the reporter for the ABA’s National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws.

Prior to her academic career, Lawson served as deputy district attorney at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas. As a criminal prosecutor, she worked in the Special Victims Unit for Domestic Violence, arguing multiple cases before the Nevada Supreme Court.

Lawson earned her Master of Laws with Distinction from Georgetown Law, her Juris Doctor from University of San Francisco School of Law, and her bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College in California.