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Mary Lu Bilek is the fifth dean of CUNY School of Law and has a deep-rooted history with the law school. Dean Bilek first joined CUNY Law in 1985 as a faculty member and then served as academic dean to three of CUNY Law’s deans. She was interim dean during the 2005-06 academic year. During this time, she played a key leadership role in the law school’s ABA and AALS accreditations.
Dean Bilek’s commitment to CUNY Law’s values led to her leadership on initiatives promoting more student-centered instruction, developing and implementing CUNY Law’s innovative curriculum for practice, and spearheading significant programs—including Pipeline to Justice—and CUNY Law’s bar support program.
In 2012, Dean Bilek was appointed dean of the University of Massachusetts School of Law, charged to lead the state’s only public law school to full accreditation. Under her leadership, UMass Law saw a 150% increase in applications, a rise in academic credentials, and a 10% increase of students of color in the entering class. The law school also launched the Justice Bridge Legal Center, a law incubator that supports graduates in solo practice serving clients of modest financial means.
Dean Bilek earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana and her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School. She practiced law for five years with the firm Paul, Weiss before first joining CUNY Law.
Dean Bilek has served as an ABA Site Visit Team member. She served on the ABA Special Committee on the Professional Education Continuum, and chaired the Section on Legal Education Diversity Committee. She co-authored Twenty Years After the MacCrate Report: A Review of the Current State of the Legal Education Continuum and the Challenges Facing the Academy, Bar and Judiciary in 2013. She presents regularly on issues related to the future of legal education, diversity in legal education, the bar examination, access to justice, legal incubators, and legal pipeline programs.
Dean Bilek serves on the boards of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and Society of American Law Teachers. She is a member of the Council on the Profession and Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the Diversity Committee at the Law School Admission Council. She served on the Board of Directors of Fair Test, and was named a Top Woman of Law (2013) by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and one of the “Most Influential People in Legal Education” by The National Jurist (Winter 2017).