When Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell of Case Western Reserve University School of Law announced earlier this week that he was taking a temporary leave of absence, we offered two theories about why. The first was that the university wanted to remove him from his post so it could conduct an independent investigation of the allegations made against him in a lawsuit by Professor Raymond Ku. The second was that Dean Mitchell wanted to devote his full time and energy to fighting Professor Ku’s lawsuit, which claims that the dean retaliated against Professor Ku after Ku reported alleged sexual harassment by the dean to university officials.
Of these two theories, the second is probably closer to the truth. Through his lawyers, Dean Mitchell is fighting back — hard — and the university seems to be supporting him all the way.
Since we’ve devoted extensive coverage to the allegations of the lawsuit against Dean Mitchell, let’s now hear the arguments defending him (and attacking Professor Ku). Some of them have been made by Dean Mitchell’s lawyers and the university, and some come from Case Western students and faculty members with whom we have communicated. They paint a most interesting picture….
(Please note the UPDATE added to the end of this post, a message just sent out to Case alumni by President Barbara R. Snyder.)
Dean Mitchell and the university haven’t commented much on the allegations of Professor Raymond Ku’s complaint (which was recently amended to add some juicier allegations). The university did issue a statement denying that retaliation occurred, and the dean told the Case community to keep calm and carry on.
To make that process easier, he’s stepping away from his deanly duties for a time. Let’s check out his announcement….
(Please note the UPDATE added at the end of this post.)
Case Western is a prominent and well-ranked law school, #68 in the latest U.S. News rankings. It didn’t make the ATL Law School rankings, which stop at the top 50, but Case Western alumni give their alma mater a solid B-plus, as you can see from the school’s ATL Career Center profile.
But Mitchell’s fame comes less from Case Western and more from his national profile as a defender of legal education. Last year, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, Law School Is Worth the Money, that went viral.
Critics of Mitchell’s piece, including my colleague Elie Mystal, accused the dean of screwing over his students. Case Western charges tuition of almost $50,000, but less than 50 percent of its graduates secure full-time, long-term employment as lawyers, according to Law School Transparency.
Today Dean Mitchell is back in the news. A lawsuit filed this morning alleges that he screws his students more literally….
(See the UPDATE added below for the university’s response to the complaint.)
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