As we reported briefly in the summer magazine, Professor Rachel Van Cleave began her year as interim dean of the School of Law in August. A Fulbright scholar, GGU law professor since 2004 and GGU Law Associate Dean of Academic Affairs since 2008, Van Cleave brings extensive experience as an international scholar, professor and law school leader to her new role.

“Rachel has been an outstanding administrator and professor,” says University President Dan Angel. “Her ability to augment the substance of our work with the innovative leadership needed in the 21st century bodes exceptionally well for our law students.”

Dean Van Cleave earned her BA at Stanford and JD at UC Hastings College of the Law. She clerked at Baker and McKenzie, and after graduation served as a clerk for Judge Sam Johnson, US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In addition to early roles as a legal research and writing instructor at Santa Clara and a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School, where she also earned her JSM, Van Cleave was a visiting professor at the University of Richmond School of Law and UC Hastings College of the Law.

In 1995, Van Cleave received a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research at the Italian Constitutional Court on changes to the Italian criminal justice system, and later returned to Italy to research reforms in Italian rape law. She has published 15 law review articles and four book chapters. In addition to her scholarly acumen, Van Cleave has spearheaded recent curricular reforms to provide GGU Law students with even more skills training.




What is the most valuable lesson you want students to learn?

It is critical for students to learn how to teach themselves. This is one of the best ways students can prepare themselves for areas of practice that have yet to be developed in the shifting legal market. GGU Law offers a curriculum that ensures students have both foundational and advanced skills, but all future lawyers will be well-served if they are able to teach themselves new areas of law.

What’s your best tip for GGU Law students?

In addition to learning how to teach themselves, I encourage students to pursue three to five employment experiences while in law school, whether through one of our clinics, our externship program, our pro bono program or as paid employment. When students have opportunities to apply the law, they deepen their understanding of the law; this, in turn, enriches their legal education and best prepares them for practice.


By Lisa Lomba


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