Following action of the Rutgers University Board of Governors at its June 12 meeting, David Lopez, Esq., has been appointed officially as the next Co-Dean of Rutgers Law School in Newark. Nationally recognized as a trial attorney known for his extensive civil rights work, Lopez was the longest-serving General Counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, serving from 2010 to 2016, after being twice nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate. He will succeed Co-Dean Ronald Chen, who is stepping down after five years to return to teaching at the law school full time.
Lopez has a rich and deep background in public interest law and using the legal system to champion the principles of opportunity and justice. He has also taught at Harvard Law School and Georgetown Law Center.
Emerging as a leading candidate following a national search co-chaired by Rutgers University – Newark College of Arts and Sciences Dean Jan Ellen Lewis and Rutgers Law School Professor Twila Perry, Lopez was recommended to the Board of Governors by Rutgers University – Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “It is hard to imagine a better match of a law school and a dean,” said Cantor. “Rutgers Law School in Newark is distinguished for its impact not only on diversifying the legal profession, but leveraging the law to achieve equality of opportunity in the public, private, and nonprofit spheres through collaboration with partners across those sectors. David brings to his new leadership role here a remarkable record as one of the nation’s top legal strategists and most accomplished advocates in pursuing precisely those goals. We are thrilled to welcome him!”
Cantor also warmly thanked outgoing Co-Dean Chen: “We couldn’t be more grateful to Ron for his thoughtful, dedicated, and tireless leadership and wise counsel in so many domains, from helping guide the merger of Rutgers’ law schools in Newark and Camden, to leading scholarly innovations such as the hiring of a social justice faculty cluster, to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the law school’s remarkable MSP program—from which Ron himself graduated and which he led earlier in his career—to bringing the law school’s expertise to bear on matters of local, state, and national importance such as advocating for undocumented students and their families. Ron is and will continue to be a treasured member of Rutgers Law School and Rutgers University – Newark.” Lopez will serve as the Co-Dean in Newark and will work collaboratively with Co-Dean Michael Cahill in Camden.
Lopez said, “I am honored to be entrusted with stewarding the next chapter of Rutgers Law’s outstanding tradition as a leader in public legal education. I deeply appreciate Dean Ron Chen’s contribution to this institution and know his shoes will be hard to fill. I am privileged to join a wonderful faculty and staff – a very special community dedicated to academic distinction and debate, diversity and opportunity, clinical and skills-based education, affordability, collegiality, and the principles of justice. I will put my heart and soul into working with Dean Cahill to offer Rutgers students a legal education recognized nationally for its excellence and leadership in all of these areas. Rutgers is rising!”
As General Counsel of the EEOC, Lopez led the litigation program for the nation’s primary administrative agency charged with enforcing federal employment anti-discrimination laws and oversaw 15 regional attorneys and a staff of more than 325 people. Prior to joining the EEOC, he was a senior trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division Employment Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. Previously, he was an associate with Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP in Washington D.C.
"From the outset, the search committee decided it was willing to consider candidates from outside academe if their experience and values meshed with the distinctive identity of the law school – and in David Lopez, we believe our wildest dreams have come true," said Jan Ellen Lewis, co-chair of the search committee and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences–Newark.
Lopez is currently a member of the firm of Outten & Golden (O&G), one of the leading law firms representing employees in employment discrimination and other matters, with offices in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. He will join Rutgers in mid-August.
Wayne Outten, O&G’s Managing Partner, noted, “While we will miss David, we know the Rutgers deanship is a great opportunity for him to advance the law in a different and meaningful way. As the original partner in our D.C. office, he helped establish our presence in that community and leaves behind a great team of lawyers. We are very pleased that he will continue with us as Of Counsel.”
Lopez is a widely sought-after speaker who has made more than 50 speeches and presentations before the American Bar Association, state and local, and various advocacy, non-governmental organizations and universities. Lopez also serves on the board of the ACLU-DC, the Impact Fund (an Oakland-based non-profit offering support to public interest lawyers and communities through training, co-counsel and grants to advance civil rights and social justice), and Towards Justice, a Denver-based non-profit dedicated to advancing economic justice and advocacy.
Lopez is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Attorneys. In 2014, The National Law Journal named him one of “America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsels.” Among the organizations that have recognized him for his work on social justice issues are: the International Religious Liberty Association, which gave him its National Religious Freedom Award, Liberty Magazine, the North American Religious Liberty Association, which cited his work on civil, religious, and employment rights; the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which gave him its Friend in Government Award in 2012, and the National Employment Law Project.
Lopez has been called a “Latino Luminary” by the magazine Diversity and the Bar and in 2011 Hispanic Business named him to its list of 100 “Influentials” in the Hispanic community. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.