Emory Report
April 17, 2006
Volume 58, Number 27


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April 17, 2006
W&L’s Partlett to become law school dean, July 1

BY Elaine Justice

David Partlett, currently dean of the Washington and Lee (W&L) University Law School, has been named the next dean of Emory’s School of Law. Partlett is expected to begin his tenure July 1.

“This is a tremendous moment for the law school,” said Provost Earl Lewis. “The pool of candidates was rich and included many highly accomplished scholars. We are delighted to appoint someone of David Partlett’s caliber: a proven academic administrator, recognized scholar and person of high integrity.”

“David Partlett will be a wonderful addition to both the Emory community and the Atlanta and Georgia legal communities,” said Board of Trustees Chair Ben Johnson, a member of the search committee. “Not only is he steeped in the law with a broad legal perspective, but he also is a person of substantial personal magnetism and charm. He brings both a U.S. and global perspective to the law and legal education, and he has experience as a student, faculty member and dean at some of the nation’s very best law schools, which will be a substantial asset as he begins his work at Emory.”

“I am truly honored by this appointment,” Partlett said. “Emory University’s law school is one of America’s premier institutions and boasts an absolutely sterling faculty. I am thrilled to be joining the Emory community.”
Partlett, 58, has served as vice president, dean and professor of law at Washington and Lee since 2000. A native of Australia, he earned his L.L.B. degree from the University of Sydney School of Law in 1970, and a master of laws degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1974. He earned his doctor of judicial science degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1982.

From 1974–75, Partlett served in Australia as a senior legal officer for the commonwealth attorney-general in Canberra. He then served as principal law reform officer for the Australian Law Reform Commission before joining the faculty of the Australian National University in 1978. He was a member of the faculty there through 1987 and served as associate dean from 1982–85.

Prior to his tenure at W&L, Partlett was a visiting associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University during the 1987–88 academic year and subsequently joined the faculty full time. In Nashville, he served as a senior fellow in the Institute for Public Policy Studies and as acting dean of Vanderbilt’s law school in 1996–97.

Partlett is a member of the American Law Institute, the curriculum committee of the American Bar Association, American Society of Law and Medicine and Selden Society. He has taught courses on torts, judicial remedies and professional liability, and has authored books on torts, defamation and free speech, mental health, and medical malpractice.

Partlett is married to Nan Partlett, and the couple has two children.

Law Professor Frank Alexander has served as interim School of Law dean since last summer, when former dean Tom Arthur stepped down.

“David Partlett is a terrific find and a great selection from an unusually strong field of finalists,” said President Jim Wagner. “His experience and record of achievement, coupled with his enthusiasm and energy to join with our faculty, staff, and students in reaching the vision for the law school, is exciting. The strengths of the school as shepherded by Tom Arthur and Frank Alexander give a strong base upon which David can build further. We are truly fortunate to have him.”