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James Speta named interim dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Vice dean brings administrative experience and expertise in antitrust law and telecommunications to the role
James Speta has been a member of the law faculty since 1999.

James Speta, vice dean and Elizabeth Froehling Horner Professor of Law, has been named interim dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Interim Provost Kathleen Hagerty announced today (July 9).

Speta has been a member of the faculty since 1999. His research interests include telecommunications and Internet policy, antitrust, administrative law and market organization. 

Since 2010, Speta has held a number of key administrative positions at the Law School. In his current capacity as vice dean, Speta supports the Law School’s academic programs and its ambitious alumni relations and fundraising efforts.  

Speta has been particularly active furthering the Law School’s efforts internationally: developing partnerships, recruiting students and engaging with international alumni. Prior to his role as vice dean, he served as senior associate dean for academic affairs and international initiatives. Speta is also a member of the University’s Global Council and the Provost’s Advisory Council on Women Faculty.

The appointment is effective August 1. Speta will succeed Northwestern Law Dean Kimberly Yuracko, who will be transitioning on July 31 to a new role in the Office of the Provost as associate provost for academic projects.

Further announcements will be forthcoming about an international search that will be launched this summer for a permanent successor to Dean Yuracko.

“Jim Speta will bring a wealth of legal knowledge and Northwestern Law experience to the job of interim dean of the Law School, and I am very pleased he has agreed to serve in this new role,” said Hagerty. “Jim understands the challenges facing our students, faculty and staff in these uncertain economic times and how the legal profession is undergoing transformative change at this moment in history.

“I am confident Jim will be a pro-active partner in supporting our commitment to students, in particular, as the Law School and the University grapple with a cautious, phased return-to-campus in the midst of a pandemic,” she said. “I look forward to working with Jim to build on the progress Dean Yuracko has made on a range of issues of concern to the Law School community.”

A 1991 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Speta joined the Northwestern faculty following a one-year visit. He had previously clerked for Judge Harry T. Edwards on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and has practiced appellate, telecommunications and antitrust law with the Chicago firms of Sidley Austin and EimerStahl.

“I am honored to serve as interim dean of the Law School,” Speta said. “I’ve had the privilege of working with three prior deans – David Van Zandt, Daniel Rodriguez, and most recently, Kim Yuracko – and I am committed to carrying forth the tradition of excellence for which Northwestern Law is known. I am looking forward, in this new role, to working even more closely with our students, faculty, staff and alumni as we navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, continue to innovate in research and in legal education, and together build an inclusive community.”

Speta has written most frequently about nondiscrimination rules as applied to Internet companies, as well as the regulatory authority of the FCC over the Internet and other issues affecting the competitiveness of Internet markets. He is a co-author of a leading casebook on Internet and telecommunication regulation.  More recently, he has applied the lessons learned from deregulatory transitions to other markets, such as ridesharing and those affected as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Speta has taught more than a dozen different courses across the curriculum at the Law School, and has won 12 teaching awards, while also supporting and mentoring students. He and his wife, Denise Speta, live in Edgewater, and long bike rides have become one of his favorite pastimes.