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Fall 2021 Dean's Message

Dear alumni and friends:

My first year as dean has been one for the record books. But in the midst of a global pandemic, social unrest in support of racial justice, a divisive election, historic wildfires, an ice storm, and a record-shattering heatwave — did I miss anything? — I have been consistently impressed by our students, faculty and staff — and you, our alumni and friends.

When we needed you most, you responded by helping us close one of the largest fundraising years in Willamette's history. Our students benefited from engaging with you at orientation, learning from you in your role as attorney-mentors, and holding helpful discussions during Career Conversations. Thank you.

Over the past year, we have worked to increase our visibility throughout the legal landscape. We hosted a virtual Willamette Law Review Symposium on housing equity, bringing in over 300 national and international guests. We also celebrated the 30-year anniversary of our Attorney-Mentor program.

We were at the forefront of licensure conversations culminating in the Oregon Supreme Court’s historic decision granting diploma privilege to the Class of 2020. Afterward, I worked with graduates to form a Racial Justice Task Force reviewing the role of implicit bias in criminal jury selection, and drafting recommendations for reform. As I watched them assemble the report, I couldn’t help but think it had a stronger correlation to the practice of law than simply studying for the bar. Collectively, their work aligns with my belief that there are valid alternatives to the bar, and I hope that our institution will continue to lead in that national discussion.

Willamette Law has also been working to address access and transparency issues in law school admissions by developing direct admission programs with a number of universities. We’ve also made great strides in strengthening our faculty through strategic advancements and hiring professors with strong backgrounds in experiential legal education. To name just two, we are proud to add Professors Susan Cook and Sarah Matsumoto to the full-time faculty. Please join me in welcoming them to Salem.

I have deeply appreciated the time many of you have taken to express support for us, interest in my vision and the direction of our school, and your insights into how we can evolve to provide a leading experiential legal education.

I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming reception and to your continued engagement with Willamette Law. In the interim, I’m particularly excited for you to read in this issue about the launch of our Signature Strengths Initiative, which is designed to highlight the College’s unique, community-focused and student-centric approach to legal education. You’ll also read stories about the resilience of our on-campus community and the amazing work of our alumni.

Until next time, I hope you and yours are staying healthy.



Brian Gallini
Dean & Professor of Law

Brian Gallini

Willamette University

Alumni Engagement

College of Law
245 Winter Street SE
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
(503) 370-6992