Mary Elizabeth Magill named dean of Stanford Law School

Courtesy of the University of Virginia Mary Elizabeth Magill portrait

Mary Elizabeth Magill will assume her position as dean of the Stanford Law School on Sept. 1.

Mary Elizabeth Magill, vice dean of the University of Virginia School of Law and a scholar of administrative and constitutional law, has been named dean of the Stanford University Law School, Provost John Etchemendy announced today.

"Everyone who knows Liz Magill is impressed by her creative and insightful approach to problems and her skill at engaging a community in their solution," Etchemendy said. "At a time when law schools must adapt to fundamental changes in the legal profession, it is hard to imagine finding a more capable dean to lead the school and the legal academy into the future."

Magill, who is the Joseph Weintraub-Bank of America Distinguished Professor of Law and the Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor at Virginia, will assume her new position Sept. 1. She will succeed Larry Kramer, who has served as dean since 2004. Kramer will depart Stanford on Aug. 31 to head the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

"Liz will bring to her deanship an enthusiasm that inspires students and colleagues and a capacity to help everyone around her realize their academic and professional ambitions, whatever those may be," Kramer said.  "On top of that, she perfectly fits Stanford Law School's unique commitment to interdisciplinary work and its embrace of innovative change in legal education."

"We are thrilled to have found someone who will be a worthy successor to Larry Kramer," said Law Professor Mark Kelman, who chaired the search committee. "She is not just a superb scholar with an expansive and creative vision for the future of legal education and the profession, she is someone who will connect instantly and deeply with faculty, students, staff, alumni and the broader university community."

At Stanford, Magill will oversee 650 students and 55 faculty at one of the nation's leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision-makers in law, politics, business and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation's press as legal and policy experts. The school has also established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service. 

Stanford Law School's J.D. program preserves the essential components of a traditional legal curriculum while also enabling law students to understand their future clients' needs through a broad selection of courses and joint degree programs coordinated with Stanford's other top-rated graduate programs and departments. Students develop problem-solving skills through multidisciplinary project courses which present real-world business and policy problems and they are exposed to professional practice through full-time work in clinics that offer experience in a wide range of practice areas.

"Stanford Law School is an extraordinary law school," Magill said. "It has had a remarkable series of leaders and, as a result, is today the most innovative law school in the country.  I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as its next dean. I look forward to working with Stanford faculty, staff, students and alumni to advance and build upon that tradition of excellence and innovation.  I am grateful to President Hennessy and Provost Etchemendy for giving me this opportunity." 

As vice dean at the University of Virginia School of Law since 2009, Magill oversees the school's curriculum, its registrar and dean of students. As second to the dean, she has been responsible for recruiting faculty, mentoring junior faculty and promoting intellectual life at the school.

"Liz will bring impeccable judgment, grace and level-headedness to the deanship.  Her style is inclusive and collegial, but decisive," said Paul Mahoney, dean of the University of Virginia School of Law.

An award-winning scholar, Magill writes in the areas of administrative law and constitutional structure. Her scholarship pays close attention to the complex relationship between legal doctrine and the behavior of institutional actors such as agencies, courts, Congress and the president, as well as the private bar.  Her work sheds light on questions of institutional design, such as who ought to enforce various legal rights and restrictions, and explores how constitutional values about the structure of government play out in the modern administrative state. Her work has been published in edited volumes and a variety of leading law reviews. 

On the faculty at Virginia since 1997, Magill teaches administrative law, constitutional law, food and drug law, and seminars in constitutional structure and administrative law. She was a fellow in the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University, visited Harvard Law School, served as the Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge University, was elected to the American Law Institute in 2010 and is the immediate past chair of the Administrative Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools.

Magill earned a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University in 1988. She earned her J.D.  from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. Magill, a native of Fargo, N.D., served as a senior legislative assistant for energy and natural resources for Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. After earning her law degree, Magill clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the Fourth Circuit and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Following her clerkship with Justice Ginsburg, she joined the faculty at Virginia. Magill is married to Leon Francis Szeptycki, who currently directs Virginia Law's Environmental Law and Conservation Clinic. They have two children, ages 14 and 11.

Kate Chesley, University Communications: (650) 725-3697,

Judith Romero, School of Law Communications: (650) 723-2232,