Erika Chamberlain steps down as dean of Western Law

Andrew Botterell will assume the role of acting dean starting July 1

Erika Chamberlain steps down as dean of Western Law

Dean Erika Chamberlain has announced her decision to step down as dean of the Faculty of Law at Western University by the end of June, marking the end of a seven-year tenure.

Chamberlain cited a mix of personal and professional reasons for her departure, stating, “While I have a range of personal and professional reasons for this decision, it has not been an easy one to make. I have loved my time as Dean, and I have been fortunate to work with so many dedicated colleagues, students, and alumni. I am proud of what we have achieved together.”

Under Chamberlain’s leadership, Western Law introduced a variety of new opportunities for student engagement, including the Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Clinic, externship programs, and numerous research projects. New programming in professionalism, student wellness support, and enhanced Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (EDID) initiatives have also been established during her tenure.

Furthermore, during Chamberlain’s tenure, the Summer After 1L (SA1L) program was launched. This initiative guarantees students ten weeks of paid legal experience through various placements. “This is a great opportunity for our students to gain new skills and experience while providing support to underserved communities,” Chamberlain said in a statement.

Chamberlain also expressed pride in overseeing an extensive period of faculty renewal, with 17 of the current 39 full-time faculty members appointed during her term. This includes the law school's first Canada research chair and two endowed chairs.

Reflecting on the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, Chamberlain praised the Western Law community’s resilience in providing extensive in-person programming during the 2020-21 academic year. “Western Law rose to the occasion, providing the most extensive in-person programming of any Canadian law school in 2020-21. This was only possible due to the dedication and hard work of every member of our community. I believe that our students greatly benefited from the chance to personally interact with each other and with their professors during that critical first year of law school,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain also commended the maturity, energy, and community concern student leaders showed and expressed gratitude toward the Western Law alumni. She highlighted their contributions to the bench, leadership roles, and various sectors, coupled with their generosity towards the law school.

Looking ahead, the university will soon begin the search for a new dean. In the interim, Professor Andrew Botterell, currently serving as associate dean (academic), will assume the role of acting dean starting July 1. Chamberlain expressed confidence in Botterell’s ability to lead Western Law forward, given his extensive experience in academic leadership.

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