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Dean Mary Lu Bilek Named One of Most Influential People in Legal Education

January 20, 2017

Dean Mary Lu Bilek has been named one of the “Most Influential People in Legal Education 2016” nationwide by National Jurist, a leading news source for law students.

“I am honored to be included on this list of legal education change agents, and look forward to working to forge stronger connections between legal education and the legal profession,” said Dean Bilek. “I’m proud to be dean of a law school dedicated to changing the landscape of legal education, the profession, and the justice system, and to creating more access, more diversity, and more equality in the operation of the law.”

Dean Bilek helped to develop CUNY Law’s innovative curriculum for practice and led it through the accreditation process in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 2006, she spearheaded the creation of the Pipeline to Justice at CUNY Law, a program that prepares underrepresented students to enter the legal profession.

In 2012, she took the helm at University of Massachusetts School of Law. Under her leadership, applications increased 150 percent, while they declined 20 percent nationally.  Among the innovations she brought to UMass Law are an increase in diversity, clinic or internship requirement for all students, a required legal research project serving the legal needs of community organizations and the launch of an incubator serving poor and modest means clients.

Dean Bilek has been vocal about the need for law schools to prepare students for practice, advocating for making experiential learning the center of the curriculum. She has been a leader in the national access to justice movement, advocating that the profession and legal educators must work together to discover new methods for the delivery of legal services to ensure that those threatened with foreclosure, eviction and loss of custody have access to lawyers they can afford.

“CUNY Law, which is uniquely committed to a passion for the law as a tool for public service, is extremely fortunate to have a leader with the vision and experience of Dean Bilek,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. “She inspires and motivates her students. She cares about them, and their success, deeply, in the process helping make the legal profession more principled, more diverse and of greater service to our communities. This is a well-deserved recognition and a clear sign that CUNY Law’s future is bright.”


About CUNY School of Law
Founded in 1983, CUNY School of Law is the premier public interest law school in the nation. The law school trains lawyers to serve the disempowered and to make a difference in their communities. A greater percentage of CUNY Law graduates choose careers in public interest and public service than any other law school in the nation. CUNY Law is ranked among the top 3 in the nation for its clinical programs and is one of the only law schools in the country to prepare students for practice through integrated instruction in theory, skills, and ethics.

Ivona Boroje, CUNY School of Law
(718) 340‐4170,


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