Newton named dean of Notre Dame Law School

Author: Julie Hail Flory

Nell Jessup Newton

Nell Jessup Newton, most recently chancellor and dean of the Hastings College of the Law at the University of California, has been appointed as the new Joseph A. Matson Dean of the University of Notre Dame Law School by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president.

Newton succeeds Patricia A. O’Hara, who will be ending her tenure as dean after serving in that capacity for 10 years and will remain professor of law at Notre Dame.

“In Nell Newton, Notre Dame has gained a superb scholar, a proven academic leader, and a person deeply committed to the University’s mission,” Father Jenkins said. “She will help us continue and deepen education and research in our law school, and I am delighted to welcome her to Notre Dame.”

Notre Dame’s provost, Thomas G. Burish, said: “Dean Newton is an experienced, effective and admired leader who has an uncommonly broad and deep understanding of legal education. She has an untiring work ethic, a commitment to and appreciation of the special mission of Notre Dame, and a focused ambition to build on the Law School’s strong foundation to help it achieve even greater excellence.”

Newton, who also was appointed professor of law, will become dean on July 1.

“I am humbled and excited to have been chosen to lead the Notre Dame Law School and be part of the great intellectual tradition and mission of the University,” she said. “It is an honor to follow one of the great law deans, Patricia O’Hara, who has done so much for the law school during her tenure."

Newton’s scholarship focuses on American Indian law with an emphasis on tribal property and federal constitutional issues. She is the author of more than 50 articles on Indian legal issues, co-author of the third edition of the textbook “Cases and Materials on American Indian Law,” and serves as the editor-in-chief of “Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law.” Her law review articles have been reprinted in collections on race law, the law of reparations, and the philosophy of law. She is also an associate justice of the Yurok Tribal Supreme Court.

A member of the Hastings faculty since 2006, Newton previously served as dean of the law schools at the University of Connecticut and the University of Denver and taught at American University and Catholic University of America law schools.

Newton earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in humanities with an emphasis on ancient Greek, and her law degree from UC Hastings, where she served as a member of the Thurston Society and the Order of the Coif and as managing editor of the Hastings Law Journal. She is active in scholarly and educational organizations including the American Association of Law Schools, the Law & Society Association, and the American Bar Association and is a life fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Connecticut Bar Foundation.