Laura Rosenbury
Laura Rosenbury
Vikram Amar
Vikram Amar
Robert Ahdieh
Robert Ahdieh

Three law professors with Ivy League pedigrees are finalists for the next deanship at the University of Illinois College of Law.

They are Robert Ahdieh of Emory University School of Law, Vikram Amar of the University of California Davis School of Law and Laura Rosenbury of Washington University Law School.

Not counting interim deans, the new head administrator will be the 13th in the school’s 118-year history. The previous dean, Bruce P. Smith, resigned May 1, 2014, and returned to the school as a professor.

Ahdieh joined Emory in Atlanta in 2000 and has served as the law school’s vice dean since 2011. He was a visiting law professor at U. of I. in the spring of 2008 for a short course on federalism and American corporate law.

Other areas of practice and instruction include contracts, comparative law, emerging markets law, international trade law and Russian law.

Ahdieh said he’s seeking the chance to “be on the front lines of advancing human knowledge and of educating the next generation of lawyers and leaders,” which he called “the two missions of a great law school.”

After earning his J.D. in 1997 at Yale Law School, Ahdieh clerked for James R. Browning at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and spent three years as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice before beginning his teaching career at Emory.

Along with U. of I., Ahdieh’s career as a visiting law professor has included time at Georgetown, Columbia and Princeton.

In describing his approach to school leadership, Ahdieh said that he doesn’t have “much of the Al Haig gene,” referring to the famous moment in 1981 when Secretary of State Alexander Haig attempted to assert control of the White House following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

“I don’t get that much pleasure from being in charge or running something,” Ahdieh said. “But I do get a lot of pleasure and utility from helping an institution identify and achieve its goals.”

When considering any administrative position, Ahdieh is interested in the institution’s capacity and desire to “get where it wants to get.”

“It’s still early going, but the potential that both of those things are true at Illinois makes it an attractive opportunity,” he said.

Amar is in his second period of service at UC Davis, located 15 miles west of Sacramento. His first ran from 1993 to 1998. He then spent nine years at the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco and returned to UC Davis in 2007 as a professor of writing, constitutional law, civil and criminal procedure, remedies and local government.

He was named associate dean in 2008.

After earning his J.D. at Yale in 1988, Amar spent one year clerking for William A. Norris of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and another year for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun.

He then spent four years as an associate at the northern California offices of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, handling complex civil litigation and white-collar criminal litigation.

Amar declined to comment.

Rosenbury began her teaching career in 2001 as an adjunct associate professor at Fordham University School of Law in New York. She joined the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis as a full-time professor in 2002.

Her areas of instruction are employment discrimination, family law, feminist legal theory, trusts and estates, property and public law theory.

Prior to taking the full-time position in St. Louis, she was in the litigation department at Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP, first from 1998 to 1999 and then from 2000 to 2002. In between, she clerked for then-U.S. District Court Judge Carol Bagley Amon in New York from 1997 to 1998 and for Dennis Jacobs of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from 1999 to 2000.

Speaking about the potential of becoming the next dean, Rosenbury said U. of I. law has “one of the most undervalued faculties in the nation.”

Her teaching career has also included visiting professorships at Stanford Law School, University of Chicago Law School, U. of I. in the spring of 2010 and her alma mater Harvard Law School, where she earned her J.D. in 1997.

Both Rosenbury and Ahdieh are being considered for other deanships — Rosenbury with University of Florida Levin College of Law, Ahdieh with University of North Carolina School of Law.

All three candidates have completed their two-day visits to the school, meeting with a host of university and college leaders — including the provost’s office and the current dean — along with students.

The dean search is being handled by a 12-person committee, led by Ed Feser, dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts.

Feser could not be reached for comment.

The new law dean will be one of two new full-time heads of an Illinois law school in the 2015-16 school year.

DePaul University College of Law hired Jennifer L. Rosato Perea of Northern Illinois University College of Law last month. She starts July 1.

NIU is searching for an interim dean for the next school year.

Though no start date has been set for U. of I.’s position, John D. Colombo’s contract as interim dean expires May 30. He will resume teaching in the fall.