Washington — University of the District of Columbia President Ronald Mason Jr. today announced the selection of Renée McDonald Hutchins to serve as Dean of the David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law), the District’s only public law school and home to a nationally ranked clinical program. Upon approval by the University Board of Trustees, Hutchins is expected to begin her term on April 17.
Hutchins, who was chosen through a national search, will bring to UDC Law a wealth of experience at the leading edge of clinical legal education and scholarship in a public law school setting. Since 2004, Hutchins has been on the faculty at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, serving as the Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law, co-director of the school’s nationally recognized Clinical Law Program, and founding director of the Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic. She has also served in the Lawyering Program at New York University’s School of Law, and as Visiting Professor of Law and Acting Director of the Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction Services Clinic at George Washington University’s Law School.
“Renée is a perfect match with UDC Law’s distinctive mission, as one of the nation’s few historically black law schools, to diversify the legal profession and provide critical legal services to low-income Washingtonians,” said President Mason, who is himself an attorney. “Renée has a remarkable record as a scholar and is an accomplished administrator. She is a proven leader in clinical legal education and academic excellence across the law school curriculum. She combines the analytical rigor of traditional doctrinal education with the kind of superlative hands-on training offered by UDC Law’s robust set of clinical and experiential programs.”
Shelley Broderick, who stepped down as UDC Law Dean last year after 20 years in the position, notes: “Renée’s talent and passion for social justice shine through in everything she does.”
In addition to her clinical teaching, Hutchins has taught many traditional courses and seminars, and has created innovative studies as well. In the wake of Freddie Gray’s death while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department in April 2015, Hutchins worked with colleagues to create “Freddie Gray’s Baltimore,” an innovative eight-week practicum that brought law school professors, elected officials, and civic leaders together with law students to explore the broader historic context that created the West Baltimore community where Gray lived and died.
“Throughout her fourteen years on the faculty and as Co-Director of the Clinical Law Program here at Maryland Carey Law, Renée’s unwavering commitment to engaged legal education, her constant quest for justice, her groundbreaking scholarship, and her skillful leadership exemplified the very best in legal education,” said Co-Director of the Clinical Law Program at Maryland Carey Law Michael Pinard. “She will be a terrific dean.”
Hutchins, who is an active litigator, is widely recognized as an expert on the Fourth Amendment and criminal appellate practice. Her legal scholarship, which sits at the intersection of criminal procedure and social science, has been published in high-impact journals such as the UCLA Law Review and NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy.
She has authored two casebooks, and has written extensively on the law of racial profiling and stop and frisk. She has a long record of supporting faculty scholarship, and was a founding member of the Mid-Atlantic Criminal Law Research Collective in 2006.
In 2017, Hutchins was elected to serve as a member of the prestigious American Law Institute, a national association of distinguished lawyers, judges, and academics that works to clarify and improve the law through the publication of Restatements of the Law and Model Codes. She is currently serving her third four-year term on Maryland’s Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission, and is a former board member of the Judicial Institute of Maryland.
As a member of the Association of American Law Schools Standing Committee on Clinical Legal Education and a past board member of the Clinical Legal Education Association, Hutchins has advanced standards for clinical legal excellence and promoted the importance of the clinical model in achieving access to justice.
Throughout her academic career, Hutchins also has served as an officer and board member for a variety of nonprofit organizations engaged in public interest practice. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, and is a former member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland’s Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities.
She is a frequent commentator for local and national media on issues ranging from post-conviction relief to the constitutional dimensions of criminal procedure.
Hutchins graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Mathematics from Spelman College, America’s oldest historically black liberal arts college for women. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was Chair of the Moot Court Board of Directors. Hutchins clerked for the Hon. Nathaniel R. Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, who directed litigation for the NAACP as its General Counsel from 1969 to 1979.
Hutchins joined the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City in 1994 to represent indigent defendants in the appeal of their criminal convictions before the state courts. She briefed and conducted oral argument on numerous consequential challenges to the ever-expanding scope of state felony prosecutions, including before the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. She then served the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, where she represented clients on death row in federal habeas litigation and criminal appeals as the organization’s National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Death Penalty Counsel.
Hutchins moved to Washington, D.C., in 1997 to work as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. She served as a trial attorney in the Criminal Enforcement Section of the department’s Tax Division as well as a special assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Her work with the Department of Justice brought her to the attention of Sills Cummis & Gross, where she became a Senior Associate in the firm’s white-collar criminal defense and general civil litigation practice in 2000.
“UDC Law is well known for its impact not only as the progenitor of modern clinical legal education as we know it, but also for the unparalleled level of legal services it offers to the community. Hutchins possesses exactly the skill set we need,” said Professor of Law and Acting Dean John C. Brittain, a distinguished civil rights litigator who ably helmed UDC Law during its dean search.