Luke Bierman named dean of Elon University School of Law

Elon University has named Luke Bierman, a highly accomplished attorney, legal scholar and teacher, and national leader in experiential legal education, to be the next dean of Elon University School of Law. 

Bierman will join Elon Law as dean and professor of law on June 1, succeeding George Johnson, who is stepping down as dean after five years of service and will continue to serve as a full-time Elon Law faculty member.

Bierman is currently associate dean for experiential education and distinguished professor of the practice of law at Northeastern University School of Law. Bierman previously served as general counsel for the Office of the New York State Comptroller from 2007 to 2010, was executive director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University where he held the rank of associate professor of political science, founded the Justice Center and directed the Judicial Division at the American Bar Association, and served as chief attorney for the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court in Albany where he also clerked for the court’s presiding justice and an associate justice.

“We are very pleased to welcome Luke Bierman back to North Carolina to lead Elon University School of Law and to shape the future of Elon’s nationally recognized program of engaged legal education,” said Leo M. Lambert, Elon University president. “Professor Bierman’s record of innovation in legal education, his depth of executive experience in the practice of law and his accomplishments in forming and managing strategic partnerships that link higher education with the public, private and nonprofit sectors make him the ideal person to lead Elon Law.”

Bierman joins Elon Law as it pursues goals of finalizing and implementing a new strategic plan, growing its business law, trial and appellate advocacy and public interest law programs, pursuing new academic partnerships with area universities to allow students to earn both undergraduate and law degrees in six years, creating flexible programs to allow non-traditional students to earn law degrees and certifications, and envisioning programs that will take advantage of new property acquisitions for the school’s downtown Greensboro, N.C., campus. 

“Elon Law has been an innovative leader since its founding in 2006,” Bierman said. “I am delighted to join the talented faculty and staff who have built an exceptional law school that is receiving recognition across the country for its highly personalized, experiential approach to legal education. With an entrepreneurial spirit, along with strong partnerships with the legal, business and public service communities, Elon Law is uniquely suited to redefine legal education in a time of unprecedented change, meeting the urgent need by all of those in our society for ethical lawyer-leaders.”

Bierman earned his master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the State University of New York at Albany, a juris doctor degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary, where he was a member of the William and Mary Law Review, and a bachelor’s degree with high honors in social sciences, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Colgate University.

Steven House, Elon University provost and vice president for academic affairs, said Bierman will continue the strong tradition of leadership at Elon Law and build on the foundation established by deans George Johnson and Leary Davis.

“We have enjoyed visionary and energetic leadership by our two previous Elon Law deans, and we look forward to welcoming Dean Bierman this spring and to honoring George Johnson for the leadership he has provided during a critical period of development for Elon’s law school,” House said. 


Legal education

In addition to managing the experiential learning programs at Northeastern University School of Law, Bierman is founding faculty director of the Legal Innovation Lab and principal researcher of the Outcome Assessment Project at Northeastern Law. He has taught at Albany Law School, where he was a Fellow in Government Law and Policy at the Government Law Center, and at North Carolina State University, Northwestern University School of Law, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Trinity College and the University at Albany. In his various teaching positions, Bierman has taught the following courses: Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Federal Practice, Government Ethics, Law and Legal Process, Law and Regulation, Legal Skills in Social Context, Pathway to Practice, Public Law, Public Policy, State Constitutional Law and U.S. Supreme Court.

New York State Comptroller’s Office

As general counsel in the Office of the New York State Comptroller, Bierman was responsible for all issues regarding the constitutional, statutory and administrative responsibilities of the New York State Comptroller, who is one of four state-wide elected officials and who is the state’s chief fiscal officer and sole trustee of the state’s pension fund. He managed an 85-person legal services staff, including 55 lawyers, plus 25 retained outside law firms for securities litigation and transactional matters. Bierman oversaw a full range of legal issues affecting investment of a $130 billion state pension fund and oversight of a $130 billion state budget. In addition, Bierman was responsible for the Comptroller’s initiatives in ethics and law and policy. During his time with the Comptroller’s office, Bierman served on the board of directors of the Council of Institutional Investors where he co-chaired the board’s policy committee.

North Carolina State University

As executive director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University, Bierman convened business, government and higher education leaders to create strategic action plans to ensure that North Carolina remained a vibrant and dynamic place to live, work and play. He managed all aspects of the Institute’s mission to translate research into innovative public policy, including a $12 million development campaign. Bierman also held the rank of associate professor of political science and taught courses including Law and Film.

American Bar Association

As founding director of the Justice Center at the American Bar Association, Bierman managed initiatives for judicial system reform and organizational outreach, raised $2.5 million in grants and private contributions for programmatic activities and supervised up to 20 staff. At the ABA, Bierman also served as assistant to the president and director of the judicial division. 

New York courts and legal practice

Bierman served as chief attorney at the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, in Albany from 1990 to 1994. Following law school he served as law clerk to the Court’s Presiding Justice A. Franklin Mahoney, as well as Associate Justice Robert G. Main. His early legal practice experience includes service as a research attorney for the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly and as an associate in the law firm of Fitzpatrick, Trombley, Owens & Lahtinen, P.C., in Plattsburgh, N.Y. In addition, Bierman has provided professional consulting to several law firms, economic development and strategic planning agencies, regulatory bodies and foundations.

Scholarship and service

Bierman’s legal scholarship, focusing on judicial selection, justice system reform and state constitutional law, has been published in a variety of national law reviews. His legal analysis and commentary has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Albany Times-Union, National Public Radio, Raleigh News & Observer, WRAL-TV, UNC-TV and other national and regional news media. He has also served as an editor of professional law journals and authored articles about the judicial system for government-focused publications and regional news outlets.

Bierman is an advisory board member for Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, an initiative of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver. He has been a member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Working Group on Professionalism; the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Task Force on Code of Judicial Conduct; the Task Force on Town and Village Courts, Association of the Bar of the City of New York; and as a board of directors member for the Justice at Stake Campaign, Inc.; the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform; and the American Judicature Society. He has several years of experience providing lectures in programs for foreign judges, lawyers and court personnel.

Bierman has presented before committees of the North Carolina General Assembly and at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting, the American Constitution Society, the District of Columbia Bar Association, the Institutional Investor Educational Foundation’s Global Shareholder Activism Conference, the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, the National Association of Pension Plan Attorneys, the National Summit on the Future of Fiduciary Responsibility and the Stanford Law School Fiduciary College.

Bierman is admitted to practice law in New York State, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York and the Supreme Court of the United States. He is a member of the American Bar Association where he is currently appointed to the President’s Legal Access JobCorps Task Force and previously was a member of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Attorneys in Public Service. Bierman is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

What others are saying about Luke Bierman

Excerpts from Luke Bierman’s public commentary


Established in 2006, Elon University School of Law achieved full American Bar Association approval in 2011, in the earliest possible time period under ABA rules. Although one of the nation’s youngest law schools, Elon Law has already been recognized as one of the 20 most innovative law schools in the country (National Jurist, 2012), its leadership program has been recognized with the ABA’s prestigious annual award for excellence in legal professionalism education and the National Law Journal has featured Elon as one of five law schools “getting serious about business skills” in legal education (2013).

Elon is one of the few law schools in the country providing attorney mentors for students beginning in their first year of law school, a multi-year leadership development program for students and a working court within it facilities, the North Carolina Business Court, to enrich the school’s engaged learning environment. In 2013 Elon Law added to its already robust experiential education programming, establishing a Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic, an In-House Counsel Externship Program, a Semester-in-Practice Externship Program and a JD/MBA Program with the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business at Elon University.

With 39 faculty members and deans, 27 staff members and 292 students, Elon Law offers a 14-to-1 student-faculty ratio, with the majority of classes having fewer than 25 students. The Elon Law campus in downtown Greensboro, N.C., includes the main H. Michael Weaver building along with several adjacent buildings for legal clinics, student professional development and student organizations. The Elon University Law School Advisory Board is chaired by David Gergen, former adviser to four U.S. presidents, and includes three former chief justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court, a former president of the ABA and many accomplished jurists and attorneys.

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