Michael Cahill Named Co-dean of Rutgers Law School in Camden

Michael T. Cahill, a criminal law scholar and an experienced law school administrator committed to promoting affordability, public engagement, and student success, was named today as the first permanent co-dean of the Rutgers Law School location in Camden by Phoebe A. Haddon, chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden.  The appointment takes effect on July 1.

Cahill will join Ronald Chen as co-deans of Rutgers Law School, New Jersey’s only public law school.  In July 2015, the American Bar Association approved the unification of Rutgers’ two legacy law schools to become one Rutgers Law School with locations in Camden and Newark. Chen serves as co-dean in residence at the Rutgers University–Newark campus.

As co-deans, Cahill and Chen will supervise the academic and administrative operations of Rutgers Law School, which has approximately 1,100 students, 120 full-time faculty, and 20,000 alumni nationwide.

“Prof. Cahill is an exceptional administrator and scholar, and an energetic visionary regarding the future of legal education in America. He is the right leader to help establish and advance Rutgers Law School to its rightful place as a national center for legal education in New Jersey and across the nation,” says Phoebe A. Haddon, chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden.  “His scholarship in the area of criminal law is respected widely by legal scholars and practitioners alike, and his commitment to the success of law students – throughout their time in law school and then as they launch their careers – reflects our own institutional core value of student success.”

Cahill, 44, currently is a professor at Brooklyn Law School, where he served as associate dean for academic affairs from 2010 to 2013 and as vice dean from 2013 to 2015. As an administrator, he helped formulate and implement multiple nationally recognized initiatives designed to make legal education more affordable, including increased need-based and diversity-oriented scholarships; a 15 percent across-the-board tuition reduction; and the “Bridge to Success” program, introduced in 2015, which offers to repay 15 percent of total tuition costs to those students who do not secure full-time employment within nine months after graduation.

“Rutgers Law School represents one of the most exciting opportunities in American legal education,” says Cahill.  “Its unification into a single institution will stimulate significant internal and external change, and reflects a commitment to dynamism, innovation, and evolution.  Rutgers is blessed with a truly impressive faculty that has earned the respect of legal scholars and practitioners around the world, and its programs attract top-flight, dedicated students to study law in New Jersey. In particular, Rutgers Law’s clinical and pro bono programs provide students with hands-on legal experience while also helping families in our host communities.

“Rutgers is an outstanding public law school, offering as strong a combination of quality and value as one can find, and I am committed to making sure that it continues to launch students into careers that will be rewarding for them and also rewarding for the society at large,” continues Cahill. “At Rutgers Law, I will continue to work to make legal education more affordable and more equitable, so that it can both attract a diverse array of talented students and enable them to pursue a diverse array of career opportunities.”

Cahill’s scholarship focuses on substantive criminal law, seeking to translate moral theory and principles into workable real-world legal systems, institutions, and rules.  He is the coauthor of three books: Law Without Justice:  Why Criminal Law Doesn’t Give People What They Deserve (Oxford University Press, 2006), Criminal Law:  Case Studies and Controversies, (Wolters Kluwer, 4th ed., 2016), and Criminal Law (Aspen Treatise Series, 2nd ed., 2012).  He also has published numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly and legal journals.

Previously, Cahill had been engaged in legal reform efforts, working on projects to rewrite the Illinois and Kentucky criminal codes in his roles as staff director of the Illinois Criminal Code Rewrite and Reform Commission and as a consultant for the Penal Code Reform Project for the Kentucky Criminal Justice Council.  Prior to that, he served as a clerk for the Honorable James B. Loken on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

“Michael Cahill’s multidimensional experience is precisely what Rutgers Law School needs in a co-dean,” says Rutgers University–Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “His scholarship, practice, leadership in legal education, and deep engagement with the impact of law in the lives of communities like Newark and Camden sharply reflect the strengths of our law school.  Combined with the collaborative character of his experience in law school administration, he is ideally suited to partner with Newark Co-dean Ron Chen in leveraging those strengths.”

Cahill is a 1999 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude and served as note editor of the Michigan Law Review.  He earned his master of public policy degree from the University of Michigan School of Public Policy in 1999 and received his bachelor’s degree with distinction in ethics, politics, and economics from Yale University in 1993.

Rutgers Law Co-dean Ronald Chen is eager to collaborate with Cahill during a transformative time at Rutgers Law.  “I am thrilled that Michael and I will be partners as we position Rutgers to make a unique impact on the national legal landscape,” says Chen, a 1983 Rutgers Law graduate. “Not only will Rutgers Law School continue to further the missions of Rutgers University–Newark, Rutgers University–Camden, and the entire Rutgers system, it will serve New Jersey as its public law school.”

“It is with great pride, respect, and gratitude for his invaluable service to Brooklyn Law School that I acknowledge how enormously qualified our brilliant friend and colleague Michael Cahill is to serve as the new Co-dean of Rutgers Law School,” said Nick Allard, president and dean of Brooklyn Law School. “Michael possesses an enormous capacity for hard work, a steady temperament, and a knack for leadership built on the respect and trust of his peers and constituencies that will serve him well in his new role. I cannot imagine anyone better prepared, and Rutgers is enormously fortunate to have him. On behalf of the Brooklyn Law School community, we congratulate Michael in this exciting new chapter in his career.”

Cahill notes that this new position represents a homecoming of sorts:  he grew up in Pompton Plains, where his parents, Patricia and Lee Cahill, still reside.

Currently, Cahill and his wife, Rosalyn Scaff, reside in Brooklyn with their son, Rowan, 11, and their daughter, Tessa, 9.

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