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Simson Interview

Case Western Law Dean
Gary Simson to Resign

Posted by Janet Okoben/Plain Dealer Reporter October 15, 2008 14:17PM

Gary Simson

CLEVELAND -- The dean of the law school at Case Western Reserve University will step down at the end of the semester and will be replaced temporarily by local attorney Robert Rawson.

CWRU President Barbara Snyder announced the changes in an e-mail sent this afternoon to faculty, staff and students at the law school, saying that Gary Simson "has agreed to resign."

Simson came to the law school from Cornell University's law school in 2006 but had trouble winning the support of some important alumni early on, who questioned his priorities for the law school. He did have many supporters, as well, and tried to put increased focus on social justice law.

But Simson also took heat after students posted some of the lowest bar passage rates in the state. The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University has twice beaten CWRU graduates. Defenders of Simson say CWRU is a national law program and Ohio bar passage rate isn't the top priority for all students. But the difference in passage rates between CWRU and CSU had become particularly notable.

Results from the test given last February, the most recent available, showed only 75 percent of first-time test takers from CWRU passed the test. It was the second-lowest score of the state's nine law schools. At CSU, 95 percent of first-time test takers passed. Results of the bar exam given in July, when most law students take the test, are due on Oct. 31.

In the e-mail sent today, Snyder said Simson will remain on the law school faculty. His wife is also a faculty member at CWRU.

Snyder said a national search will be launched to find Simson's replacement, and she noted that Rawson has already said he does not wish to be a candidate. Rawson, a Princeton University graduate who has a law degree from Harvard, is a partner at the law firm of Jones Day.