A “Scholar’s Scholar” Takes Over as New Dean of Yale Law School

In the wake of former Yale Law School dean Harold Hongju Koh’s appointment as legal advisor to the U.S. State Department, there was much speculation about the direction that Yale would go its search for a replacement and whether the school would step outside the law school community when making its choice. You could even say there were nervous faculty members and students, who feared a sea change of sorts at the most prestigious law school in the world.

They should worry no more, as Yale announced on Monday that current faculty member Robert Post has been named as the school’s 16th dean, according to the Hartford Courant.

Robert Post graduated from Yale Law, taught at Berkeley for 20 years, and returned to Yale as a professor in 2003, while squeezing in general counsel gigs at the American Association of University Professors and the Independent Panel on Redistricting (tasked by California governor Pete Wilson in 1991).

Perhaps more importantly, Post is widely regarded as a faculty favorite at Yale – a place where innovative ideas take a backseat to maintaining tradition and core values. In fact, one prominent professor, Akhil Amar, went so far as to gushingly call Post a “scholar’s scholar, a teacher’s teacher, and a lawyer’s lawyer.” High praise from a man that Legal Affairs recently named as one of the eight most influential legal academics in America.

Of particular interest to this blog is whether a new dean will mean changes to the Yale Law School admissions process. Yale is famous for its “Yale 250” short essay as well as for the fact that applications are sent out to and reviewed by faculty members rather than by an admissions committee. Not only that, but Yale Law is one of the only graduate programs of any kind to force students to answer questions on the application about whether they have received any sort of assistance with the LSAT or the admissions process (something that was added to their 2009 application and discussed on this blog in great detail). Any or all of these peculiarities could be subject to change during a regime change at the top, so stay tuned.

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