Professor LeRoy Pernell was named interim dean of the Florida A&M University College of Law on May 2, 2017. Previously serving as dean from January 2008 through June 2015, Pernell is credited with providing the stability that led to the law school acquiring full accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2009 and full reaccreditation in 2014. He also led efforts to advance the law school’s Academic Success and Bar Preparation Program, resulting in continual improvement in the first-time passage rate on the Florida Bar exam.
Because of his leadership, in 2017 the College of Law was nationally recognized as an “outperformer” on the Bar Exam by PreLaw magazine. The top five ranking was derived from predictions of bar exam results, based on LSAT scores of the 2013 and 2014 entering class. Also under Pernell’s leadership, the College of Law was consistently ranked in the top five for diversity by US News & World Report, and achieved the number one ranking on several occasions.
The College was further heralded for diversity by the National Jurist magazine and “On Being A Black Lawyer” — where the College was also named a Best Bargain for Black and Latina/o students. The school was also ranked and recognized for its Clinical opportunities and jobs in Government with Pernell at the helm.
Upon returning to the faculty in August 2015, Pernell received recognition by then Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who praised Pernell for his leadership and vision during his tenure as dean of the FAMU College of Law. In addition, the City of Orlando recognized Pernell with a Proclamation signed by Mayor Buddy Dyer and all City Commissioners, recognizing August 26, 2016 as “LeRoy Pernell Day.”
Pernell received Franklin & Marshall College’s prestigious Alumni Citation award in June 2011. Part of the Franklin & Marshall Society of Distinguished Alumni, recipients of the Alumni Citation are distinguished in a particular profession, have provided dedicated leadership and service in the community, and have established an exemplary record of accomplishments in a specific field or endeavor. Prior to Pernell’s selection, there had been 51 recipients of the Alumni Citation award since the inception in 1966. The distinguished list includes Roy Scheider, known for his role as Chief Martin Brody in the “Jaws” movie franchise; Congressman William H. Gray, III, (D) Pennsylvania, 1979-1991; and Vice Admiral James A. Zimble, M.D., United States Navy (Retired).
In March 2011, he provided comments during a Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Press Briefing in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The briefing was held during the organization’s 12th Annual Member Universities Professional Institute (MUPI) Conference where the focus was how to counter the attack on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He provided comments on current programs and initiatives at the College of Law, discussed why HBCUs are relevant today, and presented a historical overview of the College of Law. He also provided opening remarks for the Conference and was a participant in a session titled “Leadership Summit”. The Leadership Summit addressed the major challenges facing HBCUs and how TMCF can better assist them with finding solutions.
Pernell received a special award for his work as an advocate, academician, leader and dean, during the Third National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference in 2010, a monumental event which occurs only once every five years. He has written law review articles in the areas of criminal procedure, juvenile justice, personal injury and sports law, and authored the Civil Procedure Forms Supplement for West Ohio Practice from 1978 to 1986. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and past trustee of the Law School Admissions Council.
Prior to joining FAMU, Pernell spent 10 years as law dean at Northern Illinois University (NIU). Under his leadership, the NIU law school was recognized nationally for its diversity efforts. He also oversaw the expansion of technology into the classroom, the establishment of the clinical educational program and the opening of the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford, Illinois
Pernell served as Vice Provost of the Office of Minority Affairs at The Ohio State University (OSU) from 1994 to 1997. He also served as professor at The OSU College of Law from 1975 until leaving for NIU. While at OSU, he was the director of the Council on Legal Education Opportunities (CLEO) Regional Summer Institute and in 1988, a visiting scholar at Columbia University.
Pernell earned his bachelor’s degree in government from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1971, and received his Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University College of Law in 1974. He was of counsel with the firm Otto Beatty & Associates in Columbus Ohio.
In 1992, U.S. Congressman John Conyers (Michigan) appointed him as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Criminal Justice Brain Trust’s subcommittee on Juvenile Justice. He also served as a member of the Ohio Governor’s Commission on African American Males and the Governor’s Council on Juvenile Justice. He has also testified before the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.