Wednesday, November 28, 2012
As Michael previously mentioned, on Tuesday the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, made an important announcement:
After an 18-month-long national search, The Catholic University of America has named Daniel F. Attridge of the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP as dean of the Columbus School of Law. The managing partner of Kirkland's Washington, D.C., office since 1998 and a partner in the firm since 1985…
As we all know, this is a critical point in time for legal education. Such an appointment, in my view, is an excellent one for Catholic University for the objective reasons mentioned both in the announcement and the news coverage. It is also exciting for the more intangible reasons important to a law school that is interested both in academic excellence, as well as mission.
At various times here at MOJ we have discussed, and no doubt will continue to do so, the meaning, purpose, and value of an authentically Catholic law school. Within that context, there is some agreement that a law school in the Catholic intellectual tradition is one which reflects the highest academic and professional standards, as well as a commitment to something more profound. In the words of Judge Noonan in his 1992 Essay, A Catholic Law School, it "encourage[es] such a fusion of the responsibilities of the lawyer and the love of Christ."
In my view, the selection of Mr. Attridge reflects that wonderful combination that separates the Catholic law school from the secular institution. Not only does he have a record of significant distinction in the profession, as objectively indicated in the building of Kirkland into a firm with a global reputation for excellence. He also brings a commitment to certain "core values" of education and faith. Thus, he demonstrates that such achievements – such "responsibilities of the lawyer," need not be separate from the commitment to something greater. For, again in the words of Judge Noonan, "a Catholic law school . . . must indeed be aware of its roots in faith if it is to be aware of its own vocation."