McGeorge School of Law recently hired Valerie D. James as the new Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Diversity Initiatives. James joined McGeorge with 20 years of legal experience and over 13 years of higher education experience in admissions and student affairs. James’ first day was June 20.
“I found my passion for higher education administration after mentoring law students and knew guiding students and eliminating barriers to attending law school was something I felt strongly about. It is that passion to ensure fair access for all that motivates me to this day,” James said.
Prior to this position, James was the assistant dean of student affairs for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, where she led teams responsible for enrollment management, admissions, and student services. She was also the assistant dean for admissions and scholarships at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and at the University of North Texas Dallas School of Law.
James has been involved with concurrent law and graduate programs; diversity and inclusion initiatives; and strategic policy and operation administration for public education institutions, and she has also served as an adjunct professor teaching the following courses: freshman experience, academic success skills, and law experiential.
Career opportunities have brought James to the Golden State, and she’s excited to work in, “a beautiful state with such kind people.”
As a dean, James will be responsible for the creation and implementation of strategies for new student enrollment in the JD Program at McGeorge, as well as the oversight of the JD Admissions Office and merit scholarships for entering law students, and she will do so in coordination with the McGeorge teams serving the law school’s LLM, JSD, MSL, MPA, and MPP programs to create a cohesive student experience across McGeorge.
James’ many years of experience in higher education stems from wanting to make a difference and impacting the lives of others. To her, it is important to ensure everyone – including underserved communities – has access to legal services but also to a legal education.
In regards to her goals for McGeorge, James stated that she wanted to be a resource and advocate for students, staff, and faculty, striving to make a difference in supporting admissions and DEI initiatives. She hopes to epitomize the mission and values of McGeorge by recruiting and supporting a dynamic cohort of students each year.
“In all things, I want to ensure every student has an educational experience that is engaging and transformative, so they are prepared to make an impact in their community,” James said.
Her advice for applicants is that attending law school is a rigorous and all-inclusive experience, so it is important to choose wisely.
“For applicants, knowing what you want and need in a law school, including if the law school environment is engaging and inclusive, are key factors to consider when selecting the ‘right’ law program for you. Applicants often consider important factors like value, JD curriculum (academic, experiential and co-curricular components), faculty and teaching, and student engagement activities, but do not forget about the importance of campus culture and fit when making a decision of where to attend law school,” she explained.
She encourages current law students to always remember, “your ‘why’ — why you wanted to become a lawyer because this answer will motivate you during tough times as you journey from first-year to graduation and passing the bar.”
For more information about McGeorge of Law, visit our website.
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