From the Dean

Fall 2021

Dean Kerry Abrams
Dean Kerry Abrams

Dear Friends: 

One of the great strengths of Duke Law School’s faculty is how adaptable they are to changes in their fields of study and society more broadly. Consider how our criminal law scholars have turned their attention to the root causes of wrongful convictions and mass incarceration or how health law scholars have delved into ethical questions surrounding the emergence of artificial intelligence and big data.

The cover story in this issue of Duke Law Magazine looks at a significant development in corporate law — the increasing focus of investors and regulators on the environmental, social, and governance attributes of corporations — and the leading-edge work that our corporate law faculty are doing on this topic. Twenty years ago, few in the academy were studying firms from this perspective, but with activists demanding both transparency and change, the ESG movement is gaining ground in boardrooms, law firms, and yes, legal scholarship. Our scholars are looking at it from an array of viewpoints and methodologies and drawing different conclusions about its impact. Whether ESG is a new concept for you or something you are dealing with in your practice on a daily basis, I think you’ll be interested in their insights. 

After more than a year of teaching and learning and meeting remotely, the energy in the Law School this fall has been palpable. 

Also in this issue are profiles of James Bergin LLM ’93, who as a top lawyer at Johnson & Johnson has been helping to get COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the globe, and Gabe Carillo JD/MD ’23, who is pursuing his passion for helping people by earning degrees in both law and medicine, as well as excerpts of my recent conversation with Andrea Nelson Meigs ’94, who followed a childhood love of acting into a career as a top talent agent in Hollywood. 

We also pay tribute to two cherished colleagues who we lost over the summer. Professor Mat McCubbins, a renowned scholar and beloved mentor, died July 1 after a lengthy illness, and former Dean Paul Carrington, who transformed the Law School in the late 1970s and 1980s and whose legacy lives on in so much of what we do, passed away Aug. 24. They will both be dearly missed. 

As we approach the end of the fall semester, I am proud of how our entire community has adapted to the challenge of returning to campus. After more than a year of teaching and learning and meeting remotely, the energy in the Law School this fall has been palpable. Our clinics and pro bono projects have been serving clients, faculty have been holding vibrant scholarly workshops, and alumni have returned to speak in classes and at well-attended lunchtime events. We’ve added stellar scholars, teachers, and leaders to our faculty in Emilie Aguirre, Shitong Qiao, Alex Zhang, and Sarah Bloom Raskin. We were even able to welcome back members of the class of 2020, who weren’t able to have a graduation ceremony due to the pandemic, for a special celebration of their achievements. It was such a thrill to see them back at Duke again and finally get to congratulate them in person.

In the coming season of celebration, I wish you and your loved ones the best. Thank you for your continued friendship and support.

Kerry Abrams
James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean and Professor of Law

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Magazine Cover, Fall 2021

Fall 2021
Volume 40 No. 2