Mary Lu Bilek is the fifth dean of CUNY School of Law and has a deep-rooted history with the law school. Dean Bilek first joined CUNY Law in 1985 as a faculty member and then served as academic dean to three of CUNY Law’s deans. She was interim dean during the 2005-06 academic year. During this time, she played a key leadership role in the law school’s ABA and AALS accreditations.
Dean Bilek’s commitment to CUNY Law’s values led to her leadership on initiatives promoting more student-centered instruction, developing and implementing CUNY Law’s innovative curriculum for practice, and spearheading significant programs—including Pipeline to Justice—and CUNY Law’s bar support program.
In 2012, Dean Bilek was appointed dean of the University of Massachusetts School of Law, the state’s only public law school. Under her leadership, UMass Law saw a 150% increase in applications, a rise in academic credentials, and a 10% increase of students of color in the entering class. The law school also launched the Justice Bridge Legal Center, a law incubator that supports graduates in solo practice serving clients of modest financial means.
Dean Bilek earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana and her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School. She practiced law for five years with the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison before first joining CUNY Law.
Dean Bilek serves as an ABA Site Visit Team member. She served on the ABA Special Committee on the Professional Education Continuum, and chaired the Section on Legal Education Diversity Committee. She presents regularly on issues related to the future of legal education, diversity in legal education, the bar examination, access to justice, legal incubators, and law pipeline programs. She was appointed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to serve on the statewide Access to Justice Commission and to the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation.
Dean Bilek is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), and serves on the Law School Admission Council Diversity Committee. She served on the Board of Directors of Fair Test (2012‐14), and was named a Top Woman of Law (2013) by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.