Law School Leadership

Nell Jessup Newton, Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law


Nell Jessup Newton became Notre Dame Law School’s tenth dean in July 2009. She has been a leader in legal education for twelve years, having served on a number of committees examining legal education issues for the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the Law School Admission Council. Presently, she is the chair-elect of the NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education. She is a prominent scholar of Indian Law and the editor in chief of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the only treatise on the subject.

Under her direction, Notre Dame has increased the size of the Law School faculty through lateral and entry-level hires and has built curricular strengths in business and international law as well as intellectual property. The Law School also launched an Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic that has been certified by the U.S.P.T.O. for patent and trademark cases and introduced six new programs of study that allow students to develop an expertise in special areas of law and policy.

She also oversaw the development of five new interdisciplinary programs that enrich the study of law by incorporating insights from other disciplines, and won approval for additional degree options that include a new LLM for foreign lawyers interested in U.S. legal studies, a three-year JD/MBA dual degree, and a Master of Science in Patent Law.

Internationally, Dean Newton worked with the Law School’s London Law Centre to open the school’s London program to students interested in spending a single semester in the UK as well as to those who are able to participate in full-year and summer programs. As part of an expansion of the international curriculum that includes a program of study in global law, the law school has also entered into student exchange programs in partnership with the Peking and Tsinghua University law schools in China, the Pontifical University of Chile, and Bocconi University in Italy.

During her tenure, the Law School doubled externship offerings and developed a successful Chicago externship program based in the Law School’s facility in the Loop, Notre Dame Law in Chicago. The program enables students to live, work, and study in Chicago. On the administrative side, Dean Newton has worked to expand the Career Development Office to help students better plan and achieve their career goals, and worked with the school’s Law Advisory Council to increase the school’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program by more than 500 percent while also increasing student fellowship awards.

An experienced professor of law, Dean Newton continues to teach first-year contracts whenever her schedule allows.