Monday, January 5, 2015

Matthew Diller appointed Dean of Fordham Law School

As a fellow Legal Services alum I am personally delighted with Matt Diller's return to Fordham.  I knew him as Associate Dean.  He is smart, personable, calm, and dedicated to the public interest.  He is the personification of Fordham's maxim `in service to others' - gwc

from Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
President of Fordham University
January 5, 2015

Dear Members of the Fordham Community:

I am delighted to announce that Matthew Diller has been selected as the dean of Fordham School of Law, after an extensive national search. He has been dean and professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, since 2009. As some of you may know, he was previously a longtime member of the Fordham Law faculty and served as the school’s associate dean for academic affairs from 2003 to 2008. His new appointment is effective for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Dean Diller possesses a rare combination of vision, practicality, experience, integrity, and a deep (and proven) commitment to justice and the service of others that makes him the ideal dean to lead Fordham Law School into the future. In our conversations with Dean Diller, both Dr. Freedman and I came to the conclusion that he is, and will remain, a fierce advocate for the Law School.

I would like to note here the debt of gratitude the University owes to Michael M. Martin, who has served as the dean of Fordham Law since 2011. Under his tenure the Law School completed its fundraising campaign and moved into a new state-of-the-art building at the Lincoln Center campus. He has seen the Law School through tremendous upheavals in the legal profession and legal education while ensuring that a Fordham Law education retained its integrity and focus on ethics and service. Dean Martin will return to the Law faculty in 2015. I know the Law School and the University communities are thankful for his steady leadership and unstinting devotion.

Matthew Diller brings to the post his experience as a sitting dean of a law school. During his tenure at Cardozo, he initiated many new programs designed to better prepare graduates for practice in the new environment, strengthened the clinical and experiential programs, and collaborated effectively with the alumni leadership and the Yeshiva University community. He has built strong ties to the profession through activity on boards of major public interest law organizations, including his current service on the board of the Legal Aid Society, and past service with Legal Services NYC, and the National Center for Law & Economic Justice. He is also a member of the executive committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and a member of the Chief Judge’s Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York, and chair of the task force's committee on legal education.

Dean Diller’s whole career has been devoted to public service and education, and he has a deep commitment to social justice issues. He is a leading expert on poverty and law with extensive scholarship on public benefit programs, public interest lawyering, and disability and law. He was the 2013 winner of the AALS Deborah Rhode Award for outstanding contribution to furthering pro bono and public service opportunities in law schools. 

In Dean Diller we have someone who has met many of the challenges facing legal education in the current climate and who has built a reputation as a strong fundraiser. He has worked tirelessly for Cardozo's advancement and to solidify its position in a very difficult environment, one which all law schools face, and in the process built a reputation as a skilled and strategic administrator. Furthermore, he is a consensus builder who can bring people together to move an institution forward.

Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, said, “He is one of the truly exceptional deans in our state and in the country. … Matt is a great thinker and an example of someone who understands what being a lawyer is all about. He is writing the script of what deans should be doing today.”

As a result of his 16 years as a member of the Fordham Law School faculty, Dean Diller has a deep understanding of—and commitment to—the unique culture of the Law School. He was a revered leader, colleague, and teacher—as a professor, as associate dean for academics, as co-director of the Stein Center, and as faculty advisor to the Fordham Urban Law Journal. Dean Diller was awarded the Dean's Medal of Achievement in 2009 and the Urban Law Journal's Louis Lekfowitz Award. He served on the building committee working with the Pei Cobb Freed team in the new Law School’s early planning stages. He has likewise worked closely with Fordham Law's alumni leadership.

Dean Diller received his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in European History from Harvard College in 1981 and his J.D., also magna cum laude, in 1985 from Harvard Law, where he was an editor at the Harvard Law Review. He clerked for the late Honorable Walter R. Mansfield on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and before coming to Fordham, he was a scholar in residence at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law and a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Civil Appeals and Law Reform Unit in New York City.

I cannot end without thanking the search committee and its chair, John D. Feerick, former dean of Fordham Law. Their diligence and hard work brought the search to a timely and highly satisfactory conclusion. Dean Feerick’s long experience and thoughtful leadership helped ensure a fair and effective process and an outstanding slate of candidates from which to choose. Once again the University and Fordham Law are in his debt.

I know you all join me in welcoming Dean Diller back to Fordham, and in wishing him the best of luck in his new position.


Joseph M. McShane, S.J.

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