UALR starting law dean search

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock search committee that will help find a new law school dean will be led by a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Paula Casey, 71, professor emeritus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, serving from 1993–2000, will be chairperson of the dean’s search committee. Former President Bill Clinton appointed Casey to the U.S. attorney’s office in 1993.

Before her federal appointment, Casey taught law school classes at UALR from 1979-1993. From 1986 to 1991, she was the associate dean of the law school. She rejoined the Bowen faculty in 2001. In 2012, Casey was named the interim dean of Bowen law school, becoming the first woman in that job. She retired from the university in 2016.

“I am honored to be leading the search to fill this vital leadership role for the Bowen School of Law,” Casey said in a statement Monday. “Bowen, with its talented and dedicated faculty, offers a strong doctrinal education and a broad array of clinical offerings. The dean is tasked with a critical job of educating the next generation of legal minds as well as guiding our extensive clinics that help so many Arkansans in need of legal advice.”

Arkansas has two law schools, one at UALR and the other at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Both are looking for new law school deans.

Cynthia Nance, who has been leading the UA-Fayetteville School of Law temporarily since July 1, accepted the temporary appointment after Alena Allen stepped down as the Fayetteville law school’s interim leader.

Nance is dean emeritus and the Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law at the U of A School of Law, previously serving as the Fayetteville campus’ law dean from 2006-11.

In the case of the Bowen law school search committee in Little Rock, UALR members are:

• Anastasia Boles, professor of law.

• Terrence Cain, professor of law.

• Rebecca Feldmann, director of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic.

• Shanna Fitzgerald, budget director.

• Rejena Grotjohn, assistant dean for student affairs and diversity initiatives.

• Wanda Hoover, assistant dean for external relations.

• Almas Khan, assistant professor of law.

• Joni Lee, vice chancellor for university affairs.

• Melissa Serfass, professor of law librarianship.

• Kelly Terry, associate dean for experiential learning and clinical programs.

Community search committee members are:

• Mark Hayes, executive director of Arkansas Municipal League.

• Michelle Ator, partner at Friday, Eldredge and Clark.

• U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe.

• Tasha Taylor, partner at Taylor and Taylor Law Firm.

Theresa Beiner, the first non-interim female dean at the UALR law school, told university administrators over the summer about her intention to step down as dean. She will leave the dean’s job effective July 1, 2023, and return to a faculty position, according to UALR.

Beiner, 58, originally joined the Bowen School in 1994. She became dean in 2018, planning to serve for about five years.

The UALR law school has an estimated enrollment of 442 students. In 2022, there were 147 first-year law students and four Master of Studies in Law students.

UALR officials said they aim to have a new dean start in the summer of 2023.