Minnesota Law

Fall 2020
From The Dean

In Navigating Crises, Our Strength Is Our Community

Even in the midst of crisis, our strength is our strong community and our commitment to our values.

From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to the civil unrest that followed the police killing of another unarmed Black man in the Twin Cities area last May, it would have been impossible to predict at the start of the year where 2020 would take us. Yet the people of Minnesota Law have not only risen to the challenges brought by these events, they have found new opportunities to support each other and to contribute to communities and people in need.

Dean Garry W. Jenkins

Even in the midst of crisis, our strength is our strong community and our commitment to our values. Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni have come together to face the many challenges of these times head-on and to work toward solutions to position us well and make us better.

In addressing the public health crisis, we worked hard to keep our community safe while continuing to provide our world-class legal education. By using virtual events and new technologies, we found ways to bring our students together and continue our classes both in person and remotely. We also sought opportunities to help communities most impacted by the pandemic. These included contributions by our expert faculty (for example, Professor Susan Wolf’s work co-leading a statewide COVID ethics collaborative) and our Law School clinics in representing individuals and families in need (for example, Professor JaneAnne Murray’s Clemency Practicum advocating for compassionate release for prisoners).

The effects of the pandemic on the economy have also impacted Minnesota Law. Budget constraints and hiring uncertainty continue to affect our students and graduates, making the support of alumni more important than ever. Our Career Center is working tirelessly with students and employers (including many alumni employers) as they reimagine how job searches, recruitment, training, and mentorships might work in a virtual environment. By way of illustration, in this issue you will read about several students who had successful summer experiences working remotely for law firms, companies, and government agencies.

The civil unrest following the death of George Floyd presented a very different challenge. Yet our students rushed to put their skills to work, with more than 100 of them volunteering to staff a hotline for legal needs following the protests. Over the summer, our faculty found new ways to incorporate racial equity and justice issues more deeply into our traditional course offerings, and we added four new classes to our fall schedule.

Our alumni community also showed their commitment to racial justice, establishing a new scholarship fund at the Law School within weeks of Mr. Floyd’s death. To date, more than 280 individual gifts have been made to the fund, started by Catlan M. McCurdy ’11 and Sanjiv P. Laud ’12. At Minnesota Law, we will continue to engage all in our community as we lean into new opportunities to advance racial justice.

As we head into 2021 and continue to address the challenges and opportunities arising from these crises, I am extraordinarily grateful for the support of our alumni community. I wish everyone good health and safety.