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The University of Alabama

Brandon Named Dean of UA School of Law


Dr. Mark E. Brandon

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A constitutional law expert with extensive experience in both academia and private and public law practice will soon return to his University of Alabama alma mater to lead the UA School of Law.

Dr. Mark E. Brandon, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University since 2001, has been named dean of the UA School of Law, said Dr. Joe Benson, UA’s interim provost. Brandon’s appointment is effective July 1.  He will succeed William Brewbaker, the William Alfred Rose Professor of Law at UA, who has served as interim dean since July 2013.

“Dr. Brandon has gained a wealth of experience from many of the top universities in our nation, and we’re pleased to welcome him back to lead The University of Alabama School of Law,” said Benson. “He has a remarkable vision and outstanding leadership qualities honed over his 30-plus years of service. We look forward to the new heights our law school faculty, staff and students will attain with his guidance.”

During his more than a dozen years on the faculty of the Vanderbilt University Law School, Brandon served stints as the director of the school’s program in constitutional law and theory and co-director of its program in law and government. He was the FedEx Research Professor of Law in 2005-06. Since 2004, he also held a secondary appointment in the department of political science at Vanderbilt.

“I couldn’t be happier to be coming home to Alabama to serve as dean of the School of Law,” said Brandon. “I’m grateful to everyone involved – from the president and provost of the University, to the faculty, staff and students at the Law School.

“The University of Alabama School of Law has long been an excellent place to study law,” Brandon said. “Thanks to gifted leadership in recent years, it has built a terrific faculty, a talented student body, a broad and deep curriculum and a superb physical facility. It has loyal and generous alumni. Its relationship with the University is extraordinary, and its role in the state is unique. In short, the School of Law is a special place, with enormous strengths and still growing potential. I’m delighted and honored to be part of it.”

Brandon, who grew up in Birmingham, earned his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Montevallo. He earned a Juris Doctor from the UA School of Law in 1978, a Master of Arts in political science from The University of Michigan in 1986 and a doctorate in politics from Princeton University in 1992.

After earning his UA law degree, Brandon served as an assistant attorney general for the state of Alabama from 1978-1980. He was then a staff attorney and consumer unit coordinator for Legal Services Corp. before becoming a partner with Cohen and Brandon, Attorneys at Law in Birmingham in 1981 and an associate with Davis and Fajen, P.C., Attorneys at Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1985.

Later, he served on the political science faculties at both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Michigan, receiving tenure and a promotion to associate professor at Michigan in 2000, before accepting the position with Vanderbilt.

He also served in various visiting academic positions including as a senior research scholar in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton in 2008-2009, and, in 2004, as the Frank B. Spain Chair in Law at UA.

He received multiple teaching awards while at the University of Michigan.

He has authored two books, “Free in the World: American Slavery and Constitutional Failure,” published in 1998 by Princeton University Press, and “States of Union: Family and Change in the American Constitutional Order,” published in 2013 by University Press of Kansas. The latter book is a finalist for the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award.

He has also authored multiple journal articles and book chapters and presented dozens of papers and invited lectures. He’s a member of the Alabama State Bar and the State Bar of Michigan and active in various professional legal organizations.

“I’d like to thank Professor Brewbaker for his leadership and service over the last year while our search for a permanent dean was under way,” Benson said. Brewbaker was named interim dean following the retirement of Ken Randall who served as dean of the UA School of Law for some 20 years.

One of America’s leading public law schools, and the “#1 Best Value Law School” in the nation according to the National Jurist for two years in a row (2012 and 2013), The University of Alabama School of Law offers a challenging curriculum with more than 150 electives, several dual enrollment opportunities, Master of Laws degrees, and a J.S.D. With a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately 11:1, the Law School offers students a rigorous, hands-on learning experience, with strong student engagement in clinical programs, law review, moot court, and trial advocacy.

Within nine months of graduation, 92% of the class of 2012 was employed in J.D.-required or –preferred positions or attending graduate school. The Alabama bar passage rate for the Class of 2013 is 97.8%. 2013 marks the fifth consecutive year that 10 or more Alabama Law graduates have been placed in federal clerkships.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.