Law school dean named one of the country’s most influential people in legal education

Michael Hunter Schwartz

Michael Hunter Schwartz

Michael Hunter Schwartz, dean of the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, was recognized as one of the Top 10 most influential people in legal education by National Jurist Magazine last week, ranked at No. 9. He first appeared on the list as No. 13 in 2014, maintained his position amongst the top 15 in 2015 and rose to No. 9 in 2016. 

“I am deeply honored to have been recognized as one of the most influential people in legal education once again and to be recognized among such accomplished and dedicated colleagues,” Schwartz said. “I choose to believe that the ranking is a reflection of my passion for student success and improving the law school experience, passions which have been supported by the faculty, staff and administration at McGeorge School of Law.” 

The list was announced at a reception Jan. 4, 2024, in Washington, D.C. during the Association of American Law Schools’ Annual Meeting. Schwartz’s ranking was announced to a standing ovation. 

The list ranks individuals who are “major forces in shaping legal education.” National Jurist’s editorial team asks several hundred people in legal education, including every law school dean across the country, to rate each nominee for the list. In terms of law deans who made the list, Schwartz ranks No. 5. He is also the third-highest ranked dean of an ABA-accredited law school in California.

As the tenth dean of McGeorge School of Law, Schwartz has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advancing legal education through his remarkable contributions to teaching, learning and curriculum design. Schwartz has served as the dean of McGeorge School of Law since 2017. 

“Dean Schwartz's passion, dedication and vision have significantly impacted the landscape of legal education, inspiring positive change for current and future generations,” said President Christopher Callahan.

During Schwartz’s tenure, he has overseen the law school’s highest bar pass rate in 25 years, the highest U.S. News & World Report job placement rate in the history of McGeorge, and one of the 15 largest gifts in the history of U.S. legal education. 

He also oversaw the creation of an Honors Accelerated JD Degree, the creation of three online MSL degrees and an online LLM degree, a law-focused undergraduate study abroad program, the Sacramento Legal Employers Diversity Collective and an experiential alumni mentoring program for first-year law students.

Schwartz's impact is far-reaching, evident in his extensive literary contributions, including seven books and numerous law review papers, book chapters and shorter works. Among his groundbreaking works are "What the Best Law Teachers Do" and the Context and Practice Casebook series, an innovative textbook series he designed to modernize law school education materials.

“Our dean is a true superstar,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Experiential Learning Mary-Beth Moylan. “He serves as a model for the faculty in all aspects of our jobs.

“He is an engaged scholar who has kept pace with projects while excelling in his administrative role; he is a fully committed teacher who has taught a class consistently through his tenure as dean; and he is a dedicated colleague who sees the best in all of us and helps us to shine in our own positions. We are lucky to have him leading the law school.”

Schwartz is a national leader in law school teaching and learning. He has delivered more than 230 professional presentations about law school teaching, including conducting training programs for law professors at dozens of law schools throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Paula Manning, an associate dean and professor of law at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, said Schwartz is very deserving of the recognition. Manning and Schwartz co-authored the book “Expert Learning for Law Students,” a highly regarded law school success text.

“I am thrilled to see Mike being recognized for his considerable contributions and achievements. Surely countless students and colleagues join me in thanking him for his vision and passion for improving legal education and the lives of law students and in offering heart-felt congratulations for this well-deserved honor,” Manning said.