The University of Arkansas at Little Rock W. H. Bowen School of Law has hired a new dean who will start this summer.
Theresa Beiner, a professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs at the school, will begin July 1 and be paid a $240,000 annual salary, an increase of nearly $100,000.
Beiner succeeds John DiPippa, a former dean who is serving in an interim position until June 30. DiPippa stepped in after the resignation of Michael Hunter Schwartz.
Beiner is the first female full-time dean of the law school. Paula Casey was interim dean of the law school in 2012.
As dean, Beiner will oversee the beginning of a new law program designed to serve rural Arkansas and continue work on new initiatives to expand clinical and training opportunities for students.
She'll also lead a class of many -- 31 percent this year -- first-generation college students as they pursue continuing education in law school, one of the reasons Beiner, a New Jersey native, has stuck around at the school since 1994.
She said the Bowen school provides an opportunity for those students and graduates students with little debt compared with law schools across the nation.
"It's really enjoyable to watch students develop and just become phenomenal lawyers," Beiner said.
Beiner was chosen over three other candidates who interviewed with students and faculty, Provost Velmer Burton said. Burton would not identify the three other candidates but said Beiner was the only one of the four who currently works at the law school.
Burton said Beiner stood out among the candidates in her reception from students and faculty and noted her teaching ability and articles published in elite law journals.
"It all matched up well," he said.
Beiner said she is excited about the programs the school has recently undertaken. This spring, the school will graduate its first students to go through the requirements of shadowing an attorney or holding an externship in law.
In the fall, she said she hopes the school will begin its Access to Justice program, assisting two graduates who go to rural Arkansas to practice law where attorneys are in short supply. She hopes to eventually expand that program to six graduates.
Depending on the year, Beiner noted, Arkansas has the lowest or second-lowest number of attorneys per capita.
Beiner said she hoped to do more targeted solicitation of funds for scholarships to keep the school as one of the most affordable in the country.
She is also interested in starting a clinic to provide legal services to veterans.
Beiner earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, with highest distinction, from the University of Virginia in 1986. Three years later, she obtained her juris doctor from Northwestern University School of Law.
Beiner was a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois for a year and then spent four years practicing civil litigation as an associate at Howard Rice Nemerovski Candy Falk and Rabkin (now called Arnold and Porter) in San Francisco.
She arrived at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1994 as an assistant professor and has spent two semesters as a visiting professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Beiner became associate professor of law in 1998 and professor of law in 2001. Since 2005, she has been the Nadine H. Baum Distinguished Professor of Law.
Beiner has been a board member of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families since 2007 and a board member of the Arkansas Public Law Center since 2010 and is a past board member of the ACLU of Arkansas and the Arkansas Association of Woman Lawyers. Since 2008, she has served as the state's delegate to the Infinity Project, which works to appoint female judges in the 8th Circuit.
Beiner also has served on numerous committees within the school of law.
In 2003, she received the school's Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching. In 1998, 2005 and 2009, Beiner received the school's Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship.
Metro on 12/16/2017
Print Headline: UALR gets new law school dean