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R. Lawrence Dessem

School of Law


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R. Lawrence Dessem

After graduation from Harvard Law School, Professor Dessem served as law clerk for Judge William K. Thomas of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. He then served as Assistant General Counsel for the National Education Association (1978-1980) and trial attorney (1980-1984) and senior trial counsel (1984-1985) with the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice.

In 1985 Dessem joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee College of Law, serving as associate professor, professor, and, from 1993 to 1995, associate dean for academic affairs. From 1995 to 2002, Dessem served as professor and dean of the Mercer University School of Law, and then as dean and professor at the University of Missouri beginning in 2002. In 2012 Dessem stepped down as dean at the University of Missouri, returning to full-time faculty status at the MU Law School.

Professor Dessem is the author of “Pretrial Litigation: Law, Policy and Practice” (West, 5th ed. 2011), as well as articles in various law journals. He has been elected as a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, as well as to membership in the American Law Institute. Dessem has served on and chaired the faculty for the ABA New Deans Seminar and has served on the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools. He now serves on the Civil Procedure Drafting Committee for the National Conference of Bar Examiners, on the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Law School Teaching, and as a trustee of the American Inns of Court, the Law School Admission Council, and Macalester College.


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