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Hari M. Osofsky named dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

hari osofsky
Hari Osofsky has focused on building legal and international affairs education.

Hari M. Osofsky, dean of Penn State Law and the Penn State School of International Affairs and Distinguished Professor of Law, professor of international affairs and professor of geography, has been appointed dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, effective Aug. 1. She is also appointed the Myra and James Bradwell Professor.

“I am thrilled to welcome Hari Osofsky into the Northwestern University community,” Provost Kathleen Hagerty said. “Her dynamic experience as a leader, scholar and mentor further strengthens Northwestern Pritzker Law’s national reputation for excellence and innovation at a time when we are reimagining our approaches to society’s injustices.”

A leading scholar of and contributor to public policy work on energy transition and climate change, Osofsky succeeds Kimberly Yuracko, the Judd and Mary Morris Leighton Professor of Law at the Law School, who was appointed dean in 2018 and later transitioned into a role in the Provost’s Office. James Speta, Elizabeth Froehling Horner Professor of Law at the Law School, has been serving as interim dean since July 2020.

Osofsky’s leadership has focused on collaboratively building legal and international affairs education for a changing society, including initiatives in mentoring, technology and innovation, interdisciplinary and international partnerships, and diversity, equity and inclusion. The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Legal Technology Resource Center recognized her as one of the top 2019 Women of Legal-Tech. She also has been involved in national efforts to encourage more women and people of color to consider law school and university leadership.

“I am extremely honored to be joining the Northwestern Pritzker Law community as its next dean,” Osofsky said. “This Law School has long been a leader in innovation, interdisciplinarity and experiential education, and has been doing important work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We are at a moment of change in our society and the legal profession, which has been accelerated by the intersectional crises of this past year. I am excited to collaborate with our faculty, staff, students and alumni across the University and nationally and internationally to build an ambitious future grounded in the Law School’s strengths to make a difference.”

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We are at a moment of change in our society and the legal profession, which has been accelerated by the intersectional crises of this past year.

Hari Osofsky

Osofsky has worked collaboratively to advance concrete actions on diversity, equity and inclusion at Penn State Law and the Penn State School of International Affairs. These include an anti-racism statement joined by more than 500 students, faculty, staff and alumni; new diversity scholarships; a new concentration in Race, Law and Equity; and the soon-to-launch Anuncia Donecia Songsong Manglona Lab focused on gender and economic equity. Under her leadership, Penn State Law also established an associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion.

In addition, Osofsky organizes a monthly national meeting among law deans on technology and innovation. She is partnering with more than 50 law schools and the ABA as an advisory committee member of ABA Legal Education Police Practices Consortium and building a collaboration among national law deans and professional organizations and Penn State leaders on rule of law and racial equity with a focus on expanding civic education.

Osofsky’s more than 50 publications focus on improving governance and addressing injustice in energy and climate change regulation. Her scholarship includes books with Cambridge University Press on climate change litigation, textbooks on both energy and climate change law, and articles in leading law and geography journals. Osofsky’s Emory Law Journal article, “Energy Partisanship,” was awarded the 2018 Morrison Prize, which recognizes the most impactful sustainability-related legal academic article published in North America during the previous year. 

Osofsky has collaborated extensively with business, government and nonprofit leaders to make bipartisan progress on climate, energy and equity issues through her leadership roles and teaching. Her professional leadership roles have included, among others, serving as president of the Association for Law, Property, and Society; chair of the American Association of Law School’s Sections on Property and on International Law; and a member of the Dean’s Steering Committee of the American Association of Law Schools, Executive Council of the American Society of International Law and the International Law Association’s Committee on the Legal Principles of Climate Change. She also is a member of the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers and the editorial board of “Climate Law.” 

Her leadership and mentorship work were recognized by the Association for Law, Property, and Society’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award and the University of Minnesota 2015 Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award.

“Northwestern Law has been a pacesetter in legal education and at the forefront of efforts to achieve greater justice and equity throughout our nation,” President Morton Schapiro said. “I am delighted that Hari Osofsky will take the reins of leadership and work with our students, faculty and alumni to ensure that our legal system works for every member of our society.”

Osofsky earned bachelor’s degrees with distinction in philosophy and studies in the environment from Yale University; a law degree from Yale Law School; and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Oregon. She clerked for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to joining the Pennsylvania State University, Osofsky served on the faculties of University of Minnesota Law School, Washington and Lee University School of Law, the University of Oregon School of Law and Whittier Law School.

Osofsky is married to Josh Gitelson, who is an attorney specializing in family law. They have two children: a son Oz, aged 17, and a daughter Scarlet, aged 12.

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