Professor S. Todd Brown will guide UB School of Law forward through a period of transition. Brown has served as the school’s vice dean for academic affairs since 2016. Effective July 1, he serves as interim dean of the law school as a national search for a permanent dean is expected to commence this fall.
He takes the helm as Aviva Abramovsky, dean of the law school since 2017, returns to the faculty. Under her leadership, Abramovsky made great strides in expanding the law school’s academic programs and increasing student services. She oversaw the implementation of a new bachelor’s in law program and a Doctor of Juridical Science degree; the expansion of clinic and other experiential learning opportunities; and the establishment of two new interdisciplinary centers - the UB Center for the Advancement of Sport and the Entrepreneurship Law Center.
Interim Dean Brown, who joined the law school faculty in 2009, earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School and an LL.M. from Temple University. He is an expert on bankruptcy trusts, Chapter 11, complex litigation, and mass torts. Before entering academia, he was the managing partner of a small business and he practiced with the law firms Jones Day in Washington, D.C., and WilmerHale in D.C. and Cleveland.
We asked him to reflect on the law school and the future of the legal profession.
What attracted you to the idea of serving as the law school’s interim dean?
I’ve served as vice dean for academic affairs under two deans, so I am quite familiar with our strategic direction and the initiatives that have been put in place over the past several years. I’ve been a part of implementing many, if not most of them. This position provides me with an opportunity to further our efforts to move our school forward and continue to serve our students, faculty and staff.
As you settle into that role, what do you see as UB Law’s greatest strengths?
Our greatest strength is undoubtedly our community—our dedicated faculty and staff and our alumni and the members of the local bar who care deeply about our school and our students and who want to help us succeed. We have an outstanding relationship with the community, and I’m excited to build on those partnerships.
What challenges do you anticipate in the near horizon, and then further down the road?
Legal education continues to be in transition. All law schools are adapting to rapidly changing technology and how legal services are delivered, and consequently, the way we think about the law and how it affects our lives. As those changes rapidly accelerate, we cannot be complacent. We have to stay ahead of them and equip our students to be responsive and agile as they enter the legal profession.
What do you hope to accomplish in this interim period?
It’s important that we continue to look ahead rather than focus solely on the immediate. I intend to maintain our emphasis on improving student outcomes so that our graduates are prepared to launch successful legal careers and reinforce the law school’s commitment to helping our community move forward.
What’s your broader vision for the law school?
Over the past several years, the law school has advanced its metrics in critical areas. Our alumni are more active and engaged than ever, and our faculty productivity has reached new heights. Since 2022, our faculty have published 15 books and dozens of articles and book chapters. They are frequently quoted in the media as industry experts on some of the most pressing and cutting-edge issues of our time. We need to raise the visibility of these accomplishments and emphasize the law school’s vital role in addressing local, national and global issues.
What are you most looking forward to during this next chapter for the law school?
I look forward to working with our people in a capacity beyond academic affairs. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with fantastic individuals—the many lawyers and judges who teach our students or provide other support. Who wouldn’t want to expand those relationships and engage with them in new ways? That’s an exciting part of the job.