Suffolk University Law School Dean Camille Nelson, whose visionary leadership has led to cutting-edge programs that prepare today’s graduates for professional success, announced that she will step down as dean when her five-year term concludes at the end of the 2014–2015 academic year.
Under Nelson’s leadership, Suffolk Law has moved forward in preparing students to practice law in a rapidly evolving legal marketplace. Her forward-looking strategy led to the launch of the Law School’s Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation and the country’s first law technology academic concentration. The American Bar Association’s eLawyering Taskforce this year recognized the Law School’s law technology program among 10 top programs in the nation.
As Dean of the Law School, Nelson has put a sharp focus on addressing the “justice gap,” or the crisis of access to legal services for a high percentage of Americans who can’t afford them. Under her leadership, the Law School recently launched a first-of-its kind Accelerator to Practice program—a comprehensive, three-year course of study and practice designed to prepare graduates to join or start sustainable law practices serving average-income individuals and families.
“While we have had little more than a month to work together, it is clear to me why Dean Nelson is so highly regarded by her colleagues, her staff, her faculty and her students,” said Suffolk University President Norman R. Smith. “She is first-rate in every way and her distinguished career to date is sure to be eclipsed by the achievements and successes that are ahead for her. Suffolk Law School has been very fortunate to have been the recipient of her visionary and exemplary leadership. I look forward to being in Camille’s company during her well-earned victory-lap year.”
During her tenure as dean, Nelson has improved scholarship and teaching excellence. The 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings rate Suffolk Law among the nation’s best in four significant areas – Clinical Programs, Intellectual Property, Dispute Resolution and Legal Writing.
The University will conduct a national search for its next dean.
As she continues as dean for the remainder of the academic year, Nelson, the Law School’s 12th dean, said she plans to work to ensure a smooth transition. She said the timing is right for her to pursue other opportunities.
“It has been my great pleasure and honor to serve this community as dean of Suffolk University Law School,” said Nelson. “I am proud that we have come together and worked hard in support of our students and alumni during what is a very challenging time in legal education. Together we have achieved significant accomplishments over the last five years and it has been my privilege to be a part of this community.”
Nelson has increased student, faculty and administrator diversity at the law school. Further to a successful Law School Admission Council grant application, she implemented a diversity pipeline program, DiscoverLaw.org Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program, to encourage undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to pursue a law degree.
Nelson’s professional accomplishments include:
• Named to the Power 100 list of the most influential black lawyers in the country for three years straight.
• Elected the 2014-15 co-president of the chief leadership body for law school deans, the American Association of Law Schools Law School Deans Section.
• Appointed to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Judicial Nominations for federal district court judicial vacancies.
• Honored as one of the “Top Women of Law” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Following her undergraduate education at the University of Toronto, Nelson received her law degree from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law and went on to receive a Master of Laws from Columbia Law School in New York.