Ronald Weich, a prominent attorney who served in President Barack Obama’s administration and as chief counsel to Sens. Edward Kennedy and Harry Reid, will be the next dean of the Seton Hall School of Law, the university announced Tuesday.
Weich, who currently serves as the dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, will begin in the role July 1. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, which he attended after doing his undergraduate work at Columbia University and the London School of Economics.
Seton Hall University officials said the selection of Weich was based on his highly regarded body of work, scholarship and legal acumen — in practice, government service and as the dean of a law school, which the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools found to be “impressive” in its reaccreditation review.
His connections to Washington, D.C., are impressive, too.
Weich was appointed by Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in the Department of Justice, a post he held from 2009-12. His work in Washington, D.C., included several other prominent positions, including chief counsel to Kennedy and Reid.
Weich also served as a partner in the firm of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.
Seton Hall University interim Provost Erik Lillquist applauded the announcement.
“We are delighted to welcome Dean Weich to Seton Hall University,” he said. “He has cultivated an impressive legal career that includes well-regarded academic administration, high-level federal service and successful private practice.”
Kip Cornwell, who has been serving as interim dean of Seton Hall School of Law — and whose connection to the school goes back decades, also offered congratulations.
“Dean Weich’s qualifications, leadership experience and legal acumen are of the highest caliber,” he said. “He embodies the tradition of excellence at Seton Hall Law that has propelled our alumni to the highest levels of the bench and bar for over 70 years. I welcome him as our next dean with great enthusiasm as we begin to write our next chapter.”
Cornwell, who has worked at the law school for 30 years, will return to his role as a top professor.
Weich has served as head of the University of Baltimore School of Law since 2012. There, he led a faculty of 45 tenured and tenure-track professors, as well as many adjunct faculty members, teaching fellows and professors of practice. In addition, Weich has managed the school’s annual budget of roughly $22 million and led the development of a strategic plan that emphasizes admission standards, academic excellence, faculty scholarship and career development.
His deanship at Baltimore also spans a period of upheaval in American legal education. Declining enrollment nationwide and the coronavirus pandemic created extraordinary stressors that Baltimore Law successfully navigated under his leadership. He employed an approach that relied on preserving academic standards, prudent fiscal management, open and transparent communication and increasing external fundraising.
To that end, Baltimore School of Law obtained government and philanthropic funding for its human trafficking and pretrial justice clinics, as well as the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts. Most recently, Weich helped secure a $3 million gift to establish the Center for Criminal Justice Reform and a criminal defense and advocacy clinic.
Seton Hall School of Law is widely considered to be the top law school in the state. Lillquist is confident the school has found its next great leader.
“Dean Weich believes that law is more than a profession; it is a calling to help one’s neighbors,” he said. “He often tells prospective and new students that a law license is a mandate to help others through wise counseling, zealous advocacy and ethical leadership. His perspective and wide experience will certainly help advance Seton Hall Law among the nation’s best and most dynamic centers of legal education.”
The search committee was led by professor Paula Franzese and Tom Scrivo, from the class of 1989.