When Wendy Perdue takes the reins as dean of the School of Law on July 1, she hopes to continue the trajectory of high-level scholarship that has long been a part of the University of Richmond’s legal education, while creating a generation of nimble lawyers with a multidisciplinary perspective.

Perdue brings to Richmond a strong record of academic leadership and nationally recognized scholarship, including service in the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and the Order of the Coif — organizations aimed at improving legal education standards and practices. In her nearly 30 years at Georgetown University Law Center, she has held increasing responsibilities. She became the school’s associate dean for research in 1998, then associate dean for the J.D. program from 1999–04. In 2005, she was appointed associate dean for graduate law programs, adding responsibility for the J.D. program again last year.

Perdue holds a J.D. from Duke Law School, where she served on the board of visitors and the editorial board of the "Journal of Legal Education," and a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College.

Perdue sat down to talk about what excites her about the move to Richmond and her vision for the future of law education at the University and beyond.

You’ve been at Georgetown almost 30 years. What made you decide to come to the University of Richmond?

It’s a very exciting opportunity. I was impressed with the energy and commitment to institution building that I saw at every level at Richmond. The faculty includes people who are great scholars in their own right, but are also committed to the scholarship of their colleagues. The University has a dynamic president who is committed to both academic excellence and reflective engagement with the broader community.

And frankly, the small size is an attraction for me. I think in today’s world, smaller schools are a little more nimble in responding to changes in the legal market. Law is increasingly interdisciplinary, and it’s important for lawyers to be familiar with a variety of fields. There will be more lawyers in corporations and inside organizations doing a combination of law and broader consulting. We’re just beginning to get a sense of what that may mean for law education, but I think there will be demands for young lawyers who are better able to problem solve and collaborate not only with other lawyers, but with people outside of the legal field. I think partnering with Richmond’s business and leadership schools in particular will offer students some unique learning opportunities.

What is your vision for the School of Law?

The Richmond law school combines scholarship and teaching at the highest levels with a commitment to community engagement and interdisciplinary study. It is developing an increasingly national profile, and I expect that trend to continue and accelerate over the next few years. I want it to be a place that not only trains superb lawyers, but is also a platform for scholarship at a national level.

What role do you see the city playing in legal education?

Richmond is a terrific location for a law school. There are federal courts, there’s the state government and state courts, there’s the Federal Reserve — it’s really a hub of activity that gives students and faculty a great opportunity to engage with the community, including the legal community.

Can you tell us about your involvement in professional organizations for legal educators?

The one I’ve been the most involved in is the Association of American Law Schools, or AALS, which is focused on scholarship and excellence in legal education. I chaired the membership review committee for three years. Every seven years, we reviewed law schools that were being re-accredited and made an assessment of whether the school was still in compliance with the core principles of the AALS. It also served as a peer-review process for schools to help them improve.

As someone on the committee and as an administrator, it’s a great opportunity to see lots of law schools and how they achieve their missions. It gives you a great look at what’s going on in legal education. Other schools are always doing interesting things, and I’ve found I always learn from them. We don’t have to reinvent everything, so it’s enormously valuable to see what’s going on elsewhere.

What do you like to do when you’re not in your office or the classroom?

I’m married and my husband is also a lawyer. I have two grown sons — one is a third-year law student at Yale and the other is a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English on a tiny desert island in Micronesia. I also like to run – or at least jog. Last year I did my first half marathon, but I haven’t worked my way up to a full one yet. I’m hoping for some jogs around the lake in Richmond!