Tamara Lawson ’92 named Dean of UW Law School

Tamara Lawson

Photo courtesy of University of Washington School of Law

August 29, 2022

Tamara Lawson ’92 has been named the new dean of University of Washington School of Law.

In an official announcement, UW Provost Mark Richards lauded Lawson for her deep and rich experience in “enrollment and student success, financial management, fundraising, and diversity and inclusion in the field of law, as well as impressive scholarship in criminal law.” Lawson started her new role as UW’s Toni Rembe Endowed Dean this month.

Lawson, a CMC government major, called the role a “perfect fit”—and "the right place at the right time.” She said that the institution’s strong commitment to excellence as well as diversity and equity was compelling to her. “I look forward to shepherding the law school and its excellent faculty into its next chapter of success,” she shared.

Lawson recently completed 18 years at the St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami, serving four years as dean. Under her leadership, the institution experienced record enrollment growth, including the largest and strongest incoming class in the law school’s history. She was also instrumental in its creation of the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice. Recognized twice as Professor of the Year, she taught courses in criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence, in addition to a seminar on race and the law.

Though she always wanted to be a lawyer, she said that CMC was “foundational” for her in developing her critical thinking skills and teaching her to engage with a diversity of viewpoints. “It was at CMC that we learned to argue with facts and research,” and that her education was “particularly rigorous.”

Active in professional circles, Lawson is the chair of the Law Professors Division of the National Bar Association and a board member of the Law School Admission Council. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Governors for the Society of American Law Teachers, provides implicit bias training to prosecutors, and contributed as the Reporter to the American Bar Association’s National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws. She has published regularly in scholarly journals.

Prior to her academic career, Lawson worked as deputy district attorney at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas. As a criminal prosecutor, she served in the Special Victims Unit for Domestic Violence, arguing multiple cases before the Nevada Supreme Court.

Lawson earned her Master of Laws with Distinction from Georgetown Law, and her law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

She offered that it’s a fascinating time for anyone contemplating the study of law. “In real time, students can play a role in constitutional rights in myriad cases. They can be well trained to represent clients in various ways as we confront the practical side of what our founding fathers penned so many years ago,” said Lawson.

As for her cross country move—she says she’s energized by it. “Miami and Seattle are both gateway cities…and vibrant in different ways.” A California native, she’s pleased to be back on the West Coast.

Lawson made her final plug for her CMC education as she considered the economic underpinnings of her education here. “It got me ready not only to be a lawyer but to lead a business enterprise, because that is part of my role as dean at a law school. And I enjoy that just as much!”

Sarah Kidwell

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