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University of North Dakota's Official News Source

McGinniss named Law School dean

Associate professor at UND’s School of Law since 2010 chosen to lead after internal search

Michael McGinniss, associate professor of law at UND, has been named dean of the School of Law. Photo by Rob Carolin/School of Law.
Michael McGinniss, associate professor of law at UND, has been named dean of the School of Law. Photo by Rob Carolin/School of Law.

Michael McGinniss, associate professor of law at UND, has been named dean of the School of Law by Provost Tom DiLorenzo.

“It was clear from the beginning of our renewed search for the next dean of the UND Law School that there was strong support for Professor McGinniss, and after careful review and after conducting the interview process, I can see why,” DiLorenzo said. “I very much look forward to working with Mike on cementing the school’s strength and exploring innovative ideas to keep magnifying its impact across North Dakota and beyond.”

“There are many, many people across the state who love this law school, and the Provost and I do, too,” said UND President Mark Kennedy. “Professor McGinniss’ devotion to the Law School stands out as well. He has the capability, the will and the passion to continue to make this School a pillar of excellence and move it into an exciting future. He is fully committed to maintaining the Law School’s status as a valuable source of legal talent for the state and a point of pride for the University.”

Committed to students

“I am humbled and honored by this opportunity to serve and lead our UND School of Law,” said McGinniss. “I am strongly committed to our culture of caring about students and their success, and I am very excited about our future and the great things we can do here together, with the help of our alums and our bench and bar, for the good of our students and our state.”

McGinniss joined the UND faculty in 2010. He teaches courses on professional responsibility, evidence, conflict of laws, remedies and legal ethics. A popular teacher, he has served as the faculty advisor for the North Dakota Law Review for the past seven years, and students have chosen him to hood them at spring commencement since 2012. He has received the J. Philip Johnson Faculty Fellow Award at the School annually, and has received faculty achievement and other awards.

“Students place confidence in us to care about their learning and to devote ourselves to teaching them effectively, both in and out of the classroom,” McGinniss said. “I have been privileged to have countless conversations with them, and the relationships I have formed with our students and graduates have meant the world to me.”

McGinniss has also been active in service to the North Dakota legal community. He is serving his third term as a member of the North Dakota Joint Committee on Attorney Standards, which he currently chairs. He has regularly shared his expertise in professional responsibility and lawyer discipline by participating in trainings and meetings with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of North Dakota. He also serves as the President of the Randy H. Lee American Inn of Court in Grand Forks, and is a member of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies.

Research and scholarship

His research and scholarship interests have focused on questions concerning the professional, ethical, and moral responsibilities of lawyers. His most recent law review article, Expressing Conscience with Candor: Saint Thomas More and First Freedoms in the Legal Profession, was published this year in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Harvard Law’s top-ranked specialty journal. Among his other publications are a 2018 book chapter for Oxford University Press and A Tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia, which he authored in 2016 for the North Dakota Law Review.

His national reputation and recognition as a scholar is reflected by his 2017 election as a member of the American Law Institute, which is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law.

McGinniss earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Washington College, and graduated third in his class at the College of William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law. He served as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Delaware, then worked at a law firm in Delaware, where he focused on intellectual property litigation. In 1998, the Supreme Court of Delaware appointed him to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, where he spent 12 years. He is a member of the bars of Delaware, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, and the United States Supreme Court.

“From the time I joined our faculty, I have considered it to be my responsibility to serve our North Dakota legal community and act as an ambassador for the UND School of Law,” McGinniss said. “I have had opportunities to interact with and learn from some of the best lawyers and judges in North Dakota.”