Legal Education Rising to the Challenges of Today and Tomorrow
At Minnesota Law, we educate resilient and collaborative lawyer-leaders capable of tackling important issues throughout their legal careers. In a rapidly changing world with capacious career paths, this means providing students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a variety of traditional and new contexts. It also requires helping students develop flexibility and dexterity in navigating their careers in evolving settings.
As we make our way toward the close of a semester we will never forget, the COVID-19 pandemic has put our own adaptive skills and principles to the test. I am pleased to report that the Minnesota Law community is rising to the challenges posed with ingenuity and enthusiasm. I am so proud of our faculty, staff, and students.
In a short span of time, the faculty adjusted to new remote-
learning technology, while still maintaining a vibrant learning experience during difficult circumstances. Some are already finding ways to incorporate the COVID-19 crisis into learning experiences or to offer their expertise to address important issues; examples include Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin’s work (with two of her students) on a “Civic Freedom Tracker” that traces worldwide governmental responses to the COVID-19 crisis and Professor Susan Wolf spearheading the statewide Minnesota COVID-19 Ethics Collaborative (see stories on pages 6 and 9), to cite just two of many.Meanwhile, the Law School staff has worked tirelessly to ensure continuity of our operations, from our clinics—still handling client work—to moving speaker events online and finding virtual ways to celebrate commencement. It has been wonderful to hear about Zoom meetings, phone calls, and emails exchanged between staff and students across the country and around the world!
Most important, I have been heartened by the resilience of our students, who have enthusiastically participated in their online classes, transitioned their student organization events online, and found new ways to remain connected while adhering to the principles of social separation necessitated by the pandemic. While we are continuing the important work of Minnesota Law remotely, we eagerly anticipate a return to Mondale Hall.
The unexpected challenges we’ve faced this year remind us of the importance of identifying and cultivating opportunities in new situations. These ideas are nothing new at Minnesota Law. In the cover story of this magazine, for example, you will read about some of the many ways our alumni have used their education to support emerging legal areas or new areas of business. You will also read about how Minnesota Law faculty are educating students with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in these new and developing areas.
We are deeply grateful for the ways in which the Minnesota Law community has come together to support our mission during these trying times. Thank you for your continued support and engagement. As you well know, our true strength here at Minnesota Law is our community. I am not surprised, but touched and gratified, that the current crisis has served to bring us closer together.
Garry W. Jenkins
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law