Legal Education in a Post-COVID World

Willamette Law and Penn State Law School Logos

On January 21, 2022, from 6:00-7:30 ET/3:00-4:30 PT, Willamette University College of Law and Penn State Dickinson Law are excited to co-host a presentation on legal education in a post-COVID world. We welcome all faculty, staff and students.

Speakers will present empirical research on the impact of the pandemic on students and faculty, as well as speak to personal experiences navigating COVID. This research and experience will guide the breakout discussions that follow the presentations. Speakers and participants will discuss the following questions and then come back together to identify deliverables from the discussions.

  • For faculty, students and staff, how do we communicate that we are doing equity when equity requires different responses to different challenges?
  • For students, there has been a very real and significant loss of intangible connection where peer-to-peer learning happens. How do we make sure we address the impact on those kinds of learning?
  • And, finally, for all of us, which forced innovations due to the pandemic should we continue to maintain inclusivity? Are there others we should discard?  What do we carry forward with us and what do we let go of?

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Presentation Schedule

January 21 2022 (6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST) 


6:00 pm EST: Introduction & Welcome

Dean Danielle Conway & Dean Brian Gallini

6:05 pm - 6:45 pm EST: Panelist Presentations

Drawing from newly released data by the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), LSSSE Project Manager Dr. Chad Christensen will discuss the impact of COVID disruption on law students and legal education more generally.  


Dean Danielle M. Conway will provide insights from her experience as a dean navigating the challenges of COVID while also working to build an antiracist law school. Dean Conway has recently written on the precarity of leadership (forthcoming) and is a co-author of the forthcoming article, Building an Antiracist Law School: Inclusivity in Admissions and Retention of Diverse Students--Leadership Determines DEI Success.


With empirical data from the “Pandemic Effects on Legal Academy” (PELA) project, Professor Meera E. Deo will present quantitative and qualitative findings on how the pandemic has affected retention and mental health of law faculty, particularly junior faculty, faculty of color, caregivers, and women faculty. Professor Deo’s article, Investigating Pandemic Effects on Legal Academia, outlines the PELA study and the guiding research questions and hypotheses.


Professor Jessica M. Erickson publicly shared her powerful and representative experience as an associate dean, professor, wife and mom navigating the challenges of the pandemic. She will speak to this experience and the response that she received. 


Professor Rachel F. Moran will moderate the panel, drawing from her extensive experience as a student, faculty member, center director, and dean.


6:50 - 7:10 pm EST: Breakout Discussions 

Groups 1 & 2 (moderated by Deans Conway & Gallini)

How do we communicate our equity work when equity sometimes requires different responses to different challenges? 


Groups 3 & 4 (moderated by Dr. Christensen & Professor Moran)

Students lost a tangible connection with one another last academic year and therefore lost opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. Moving forward, how do we make sure to address the impact that had on student learning? 


Groups 5 & 6 (moderated by Professors Deo & Erickson)

What innovations that arose during the pandemic should we continue?  Could any of those innovations enhance future opportunities for inclusivity? Are there forced pandemic innovations that we should let go of? What is the process by which we weigh what to keep and what to eliminate? 


7:10 - 7:30 pm EST: Deliverables from the breakout sessions (moderated by Dean Gallini) 


Speaker & Moderator Bios

Chad ChristensenDr. Chad Christensen

Dr. Chad Christensen is LSSSE’s Project Manager. In this role, he leads daily operations and works closely with law schools to encourage exploration and use of LSSSE results. Prior to joining LSSSE, Dr. Christensen devoted more than a decade to student affairs working as a strategic manager for graduate and professional degree programs. During that time he focused on enrollment management, professional student engagement and success, and organizational strategy. Dr. Christensen earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University and a M.A. in English from the University of North Florida.


Danielle ConwayDean Danielle M. Conway

Danielle M. Conway is the Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law at Penn State Dickinson Law. A leading expert in procurement law, entrepreneurship, intellectual property law, and licensing intellectual property, Dean Conway joined Dickinson Law after serving for four years as dean of the University of Maine School of Law and 14 years on the faculty of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, William S. Richardson School of Law, where she was the inaugural Michael J. Marks Distinguished Professor of Business Law.

Prior to her deanships, Dean Conway was a member of the faculties at the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She also served as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Australia and later as Chair in Law at LaTrobe University, Faculty of Law & Management in Australia. Dean Conway is the author or editor of six books and casebooks as well as numerous book chapters, articles, and essays. Her scholarly agenda and speeches have focused on, among other areas, advocating for public education and for actualizing the rights of marginalized groups, including Indigenous Peoples, minoritized people, and members of rural communities. Dean Conway’s most recent publication focuses on different aspects of building an antiracist law school, legal academy, and legal profession through leadership, vision priorities, and transformational diversity, equity, and inclusion-focused admissions and faculty and staff recruitment and retention.

Dean Conway is the co-recipient of the inaugural Association of American Law Schools’ (AALS) Impact Award, which honors individuals who have had a significant, positive impact on legal education or the legal profession. Dean Conway received this recognition for her work in establishing the Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project. Launched in June 2020, the project is a webpage for law deans, faculty and staff, and the public that contains resources and information related to addressing racism in law and legal education. Dean Conway also serves as one of three co-chairs of the Select Penn State Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias, and Community Safety.

Dean Conway earned her bachelor’s degree from New York University Stern School of Business, double majoring in finance and international business. She earned her J.D. degree, with honors, from the Howard University School of Law, where she graded on to the Howard Law Journal and served on the leadership board of the National Moot Court Team. She holds dual LL.M. degrees in Government Procurement Law and Environmental Law from the George Washington University Law School. She has been admitted to the bars in the District of Columbia, Hawai'i, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Dean Conway has been a member of the American Law Institute since 2004. She is an appointed member of the AALS Executive Committee, appointed to the Board of Directors of AccessLex Institute, and an appointed member of both the Pennsylvania Bar Association COVID-19 Task Force and the Joint Task Force on Continuity of Legal Services. In 2016, Dean Conway retired from the U.S. Army in the rank of lieutenant colonel after 27 years of combined active, reserve, and national guard service.


Meera DeoProfessor Meera E. Deo

Meera E. Deo is a national expert on legal education, racial representation, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is also Director of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), which houses the largest repository of law student data and is based at Indiana University-Bloomington. Before joining Southwestern, she was a tenured Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Professor Deo has also held previous visiting positions at Berkeley Law, UC Irvine School of Law, UCLA School of Law, UC Davis School of Law, and New College of Florida. She teaches Civil Procedure, Evidence, Law & Society, and Race & Law. Her research utilizes empirical methods to interrogate institutional diversity, affirmative action, and Critical Race Theory. Professor Deo's scholarship has been widely published in law reviews and peer-review journals and cited in numerous amicus briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2020, she was elected to the American Law Institute.

Professor Deo’s book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia (Stanford University Press, 2019), draws from her innovative Diversity in Legal Academia project, the first national empirical study of law faculty utilizing an intersectional framework. The book examines how race and gender affect interactions with faculty and students, tenure and promotion, work/life balance, institutional support, and other aspects of the personal and professional lives of law faculty. Professor Deo’s sobering findings expose ongoing raceXgender inequities. She also proposes structural solutions to improve legal education.

In her ongoing empirical study, Pandemic Effects on Legal Academia, Professor Deo builds on findings from the book to analyze how the global pandemic affects scholarly productivity and the career success of vulnerable faculty, including caregivers, women of color, and untenured professors. Another research trajectory traces the evolution of affirmative action jurisprudence, utilizing data from LSSSE to propose improvements to law student recruitment and retention. Her theory-based scholarship also contributes to conversations involving antiracist language, intersectional inclusion, and raceXgender bias.

Professor Deo graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School before designing an Interdisciplinary Studies major in Comparative Cultures and earning a degree with High Honors from UC Berkeley. While a University of Michigan law student, she joined the landmark case of Grutter v. Bollinger as an Intervening-Defendant, working with the legal team as a student and attorney to support integration and affirmative action from discovery proceedings through trial, and ultimately at the U.S. Supreme Court. She practiced Civil Rights, Cyberspace, and First Amendment litigation with the ACLU National Legal Department in New York City as the William J. Brennan First Amendment Fellow. She then practiced law with a focus on policy and advocacy efforts as Director of the Breast Cancer Legal Project and Staff Attorney for Women’s Health at the California Women's Law Center in Los Angeles.

After practicing law, Professor Deo entered graduate school at UCLA to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology. Her dissertation focused on the social capital benefits of membership in various student organizations, highlighting how peer mentorship, academic support, and a sense of belonging are critical to the success of law students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. The National Science Foundation (NSF), Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship, AccessLex Institute, Wolters Kluwer, and other local and national sponsors have supported her groundbreaking research. The Coalition for Asian Pacific American Law Faculty awarded her their 2018 Eric K. Yamamoto Award for demonstrating “outstanding promise.” She was a 2019 Scholar-in-Residence at Berkeley Law’s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice. She was also the William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law at the American Bar Foundation for the 2020-2021 academic year. Professor Deo has served as a Senate-appointed Member of the California Commission on Access to Justice, an empirical research consultant to both the ACLU of Southern California and the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), and Chair of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Law and the Social Sciences.


Jessica EricksonProfessor Jessica M. Erickson

Professor Jessica Erickson is a Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law. She teaches and writes in the areas of corporate and securities litigation. Her scholarship has appeared in the Vanderbilt Law Review, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Notre Dame Law Review, the Boston University Law Review, William and Mary Law Review, and Iowa Law Review, among other venues. From 2015-2021, she was Associate Dean for Faculty Development where she oversaw faculty programming, mentored junior faculty members, and advised the dean. She also founded and now directs the Richmond Law & Business Forum, a new program at Richmond Law that helps students learn about business law practice and connect with business lawyers.

Prior to joining the Richmond Law faculty in 2007, Professor Erickson practiced corporate and securities law at Hunton & Williams LLP, where her practice included securities class actions, derivative suits, internal investigations, and mergers and acquisitions.


Brian GalliniDean Brian R. Gallini

Brian Gallini is Dean and Professor of Law at the College of Law. Dean Gallini joined the Willamette University College of Law in 2020.

Dean Gallini previously served in a variety of administrative roles while on the faculty at the University of Arkansas School of Law teaching courses in criminal law and procedure. Among his administrative leadership appointments, he served as director of distance learning initiatives, senior associate dean for faculty and associate dean for research and faculty development.

Dean Gallini is a leading scholar in criminal law and has developed seminars, taught overseas, and is regularly interviewed by local, state, national, and international media outlets to provide expert legal commentary. His scholarship focuses on law enforcement discretion issues in the context of interrogation methods, consent searches, and profiling. His work has been published in some of the nation’s top law journals, including the Washington Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, the George Mason Law Review--among others. That work is regularly cited by courts, recognized in legal blogs, and discussed in the media. His expert commentary has appeared in worldwide media outlets like ABC News, the Associated Press, the L.A. Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He is also the two-time winner of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Call-for-Papers competition and, in 2017, was named the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award Winner.

Dean Gallini serves on ABA site-inspection teams, as an AccessLex liaison regarding student service initiatives, and remains active in a number of Association of American Law Schools and Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) committees.

Outside of academia, Dean Gallini served for more than a decade as the head coach for two men’s college ice hockey teams, compiling more than two-hundred wins during separate tenures with the University of Pennsylvania (2006-08) and Arkansas (2009-18). While coaching at Arkansas, he amassed five conference titles, three appearances at the Division III National Tournament, and was voted the 2013-14 SECHC Coach of the Year. Dean Gallini lives in Salem with his wife Beth and their two sons—Braxton and Caden.


Rachel MoranProfessor Rachel F. Moran

Rachel F. Moran is a Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI Law. Prior to her appointment, she was the Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law and Dean Emerita at UCLA Law. Before that, Prof. Moran was the Robert D. and Leslie-Kay Raven Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law. She also was a founding faculty member of UCI Law from July 2008 to June 2010.

Prof. Moran’s expertise includes educational policy-making and the law, Latino-related law and policy, race and the law, legal education and the legal profession, and torts. She has been a visiting law professor at Fordham University, Harvard University, New York University, Stanford University, UCLA, the University of Miami and the University of Texas.

In 2011, she was selected by President Obama to serve on the Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise. Prof. Moran also has previously served as President and Executive Committee member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). In 2015, she became the inaugural Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law at the American Bar Foundation. She is a member of the American Bar Foundation and the American Law Institute, and she is a Fellow of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles. Prof. Moran has been inducted into the Chancery Club of Los Angeles and the Lincoln Club, and she was elected to the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Board of Governors. Prof. Moran received her A.B. in psychology from Stanford University and her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Throughout her career, Prof. Moran's work has focused on sources of inequality and sites of opportunity. Her book on "Interracial Intimacy: The Regulation of Race and Romance" explored the role of family and private life in producing racial stratification and separation. Her extensive and ongoing research on educational access and equity evaluates how public schools shape the lives of the nation's most vulnerable students, whether they are children of color, live in poverty, are undocumented, or speak a language other than English. Prof. Moran's current project on "The Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility" explores how law and policy will affect the mobility and opportunity of the country's burgeoning Latino population in four key areas: immigration, education, economic participation, and civic and political engagement.


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