Professor Robert Dinerstein Named Acting Dean of Washington College of Law

May 19, 2020

Professor Robert Dinerstein
Professor Robert Dinerstein

American University Provost Dan Myers announced today that he has appointed Professor Robert Dinerstein to serve as Acting Dean of American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) beginning August 1, 2020. Dinerstein will take over for Dean Camille Nelson, whose last day as dean will be July 31, 2020.

Dinerstein is professor of law and director of the Disability Rights Law Clinic (2005-present) at AUWCL, where he has taught since 1983. His previous positions include serving as the law school's associate dean for academic affairs from (1997-2004), associate dean for experiential education (2012-2018), and director of the law school’s #2 ranked Clinical Program (1988-96 and 2008-2018).

“Professor Robert Dinerstein is a longstanding leader in the university community, and we are fortunate to have him serve as acting dean of Washington College of Law,” said Provost Myers. “I want to thank the WCL faculty for their thoughtful contributions to the selection of the acting dean. Please join me in thanking Bob for his dedication to WCL and the AU community and welcoming him to this important role.”

“I am honored, and humbled, to have been appointed WCL’s acting dean effective August 1," said Professor Dinerstein. "I look forward to working with the university administration, WCL faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends of the law school to help us navigate our way through these extraordinary times.”

Dinerstein specializes in the fields of clinical legal education and disability law, especially mental disabilities law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, legal representation of clients with mental disabilities, and disability and international human rights. He has made numerous presentations on clinical legal education and disability law, among other topics, and has published a number of books, articles, chapters and other writing on these subjects.

Prior to joining AUWCL, Dinerstein worked as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, where he handled federal court cases on the rights of people in institutions for people with psychosocial disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities and juveniles. In addition to the Disability Rights Law Clinic, which he founded (and which handles special education, supported decision making, advance mental health directives, Titles I-III of the ADA, Medicaid waivers, and other cases), he has taught for many years a seminar on Disability and the Law and has taught Interviewing and Counseling, Legal Ethics, the Supervised Externship Seminar, and the Criminal Justice Clinic (which he directed from 1989-1996).

Dinerstein is actively involved in organizations related to legal education nationally. He was a member of the Council of the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (2006-2011), and previously was on the section’s Standards Review Committee, where he was vice chair. In addition, Dinerstein is currently president of the board of directors of the Equal Rights Center and a member of the board of New Hope Community, Inc. and has extensive past board service to numerous organizations in the areas of disability and mental health law. He is a former member of the D.C. Bar Board of Governors and served on President Clinton’s Presidential Committee on People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from 1994-2000.

Among his many awards and honors, Dinerstein has been named a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2016) and received the Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights (ABA, 2013); the William Pincus Award for his contributions to clinical legal education (AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, 2010); and American University Awards for Scholar-Teacher of the Year (2013), Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment (2009) and Faculty-Administrator Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community (2002).

Dinerstein has an A.B. from Cornell University and a JD from Yale Law School.

The next step in the search for a permanent successor to Dean Camille Nelson will be the formation of a search committee, which will commence shortly.