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From the Chair: A Farewell Thank You

   Honorable Scott Bales

Honorable Scott Bales

Honorable Scott Bales
Chief Justice (Retired)
Arizona Supreme Court
2020-2021 Council Chair

In my last column as Chair, I want to thank many people for their contributions to the work of the Council and to legal education more broadly.  I am grateful to have worked together over a year that presented not only unexpected challenges, but also important opportunities for improvement.

Our staff had major leadership changes, with Bill Adams completing his first year as Managing Director, Stephanie Giggetts becoming Deputy Managing Director, and Kirsten Winek becoming Accreditation Counsel.  They have consistently shown great dedication, knowledge, and judgment in their work, and in so doing are reflective of the entire Section staff.  The eighteen full-time staff members impressively support the Section – one of the ABA’s largest with some 14,000 members - and the Council as the accreditor for 199 ABA-approved law schools.

Several Council members will be completing their terms.  Collectively, they have provided decades of invaluable volunteer service.  Immediate Past Chair Diane Bosse served on the Council and as the Chair and a member of the Accreditation Committee.  Council member Pamela Lysaght for many years chaired the Standards Committee and also formerly served on the Accreditation Committee.  Rebecca Hanner White served on the Council after chairing and serving on the Accreditation Committee.  Antonio García-Padilla, who also once served on the Accreditation Committee, will leave the Council but become one of its representatives to the ABA House of Delegates, replacing Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. in that role.  Judge Oliver not only has been a great representative for the Section but also has served on the Accreditation Committee, the Standards Committee, and many site visit teams.  Also leaving the Council are Missouri Supreme Court Justice Mary Russell, whose many contributions include service on the Standards Committee, and Eduardo Peñalver, who this summer became the President of Seattle University.  As I mentioned in my previous column, Anders Miller, our Law Student member, has graduated and we all wish him well in his legal career.  These individuals are inspiring for their commitment to legal education and the profession, and it is an honor to know them as colleagues and friends.

The Council’s work also importantly depends on volunteer efforts by hundreds of people outside the Council, many of whom are Section members.  Our site evaluation teams include law school faculty, administrators, practicing lawyers, and judges in the periodic review of approved law schools.  Others importantly contribute to the on-going review and revision of the Standards by, for example, participating in roundtable discussions or providing written comments.  And others help with Section programs and publications.  Serving as Chair has helped me better appreciate the broad support within the Section and the legal community for improving legal education.

Working with Leo Martinez, our next Section Chair, has been another highlight of my tenure.  I, other Council members, and staff have benefitted from his wisdom, experience, and unflappable nature.  Professor Martinez, Dean Emeritus at UC Hastings College of the Law, has served on the Council, chaired dozens of site visits, served on the ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Education, and been president of the American Association of Law Schools.  He will provide great leadership in his role as Chair.

Finally, I want to again acknowledge the efforts by law students, faculty, and law school administrators in responding to the worldwide pandemic and other upheavals over the last year.  Our legal education system continues to successfully prepare new generations of lawyers for entry into the profession, at a time when our nation vitally needs to reaffirm our commitment to democracy and equal justice under law.  Thanks to all who are working towards these goals.

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