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For the past fifteen years, David Van Zandt has called Chicago proper home. He’s also proudly led one of the most distinguished and highest ranked law schools in the country. In a matter of days, however, he and his family will relocate to the northeast as he begins this next chapter of his legal education career. The announcement came in August as he announced his decision was ''bittersweet'', though both he and his wife were looking forward to these new challenges.
Dean Van Zandt graduated from Princeton University, AB summa cum laude and then attended Yale University where he received his JD. Completing his educational trifecta at London School of Economics and Political Science, where he earned his PhD, Dean Van Zandt then returned to the U.S. and began his teaching career as a law professor at Northwestern University. He was a law clerk for Judge Harry Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court in the early 1980s and Judge Pierre Leval later. He has also served as a Sociology lecturer and is a respected author of several works, including Globalization and the Business of Law: Lessons for Legal Education, published in the Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business.
He also has several areas of expertise, including international business transactions, jurisprudence and social science. It must also be noted that under Van Zandt’s leadership is his success in establishing a three year fully integrated program that has become the largest and easily recognized program of its kind.
Dean Van Zandt is credited for the progressive programs currently at the law school. It is now more diverse and skilled as a result of the opportunities created. With such powerful leadership efforts and an unwavering focus to his student body, it’s easy to understand why Northwestern Law, as a whole, is as bittersweet about his departure as he is. Now though, it’s time for new challenges.
This new challenge, of course, is his being named The New School’s eighth president. He’s certainly looking forward to these changes, though he admits it will be quite an adjustment after having been in his current position for more than a decade. David Lat, writer for Above the Law, calls Van Zandt an ''innovator in legal education...a great guy...a beloved figure''. Those who know him best insist his personal self is as vibrant and kind as the ones he shows law students each and every day.
To learn more about Dean Van Zandt and what prompted his decision to leave the Chicago area law school, be sure to visit the Northwestern University School of Law site at Law.NorthWestern.com.