For a quarter century, Widener Law Harrisburg has built a solid reputation and unique identity in the Commonwealth and beyond with outstanding programs in government, environmental and business law, and the incomparable access students have to dedicated faculty. Today, Widener University announced that Widener Law Harrisburg will stand on that reputation and those strengths as its own law school.
The university today announced the American Bar Association has approved its application to split its School of Law, which has campuses in Harrisburg, Pa. and Wilmington, Del., into separate law schools that will operate independently of each other, but remain part of the university.
Christian A. Johnson will serve as dean of Widener University Commonwealth Law School, the name for the school in Harrisburg, Pa. The change in status and the new name will take effect July 1, the day Johnson begins his tenure as dean.
“This is an exciting time for Widener University and its law schools,” University President James T. Harris III said. “The campuses have grown with their own unique identities, and are ready to stand apart from each another and showcase their strengths and individuality. Christian Johnson is an outstanding leader, and I am confident he will help provide a world-class legal education that graduates practice-ready lawyers and supports Widener’s commitment to the communities we serve.”
Widener University Commonwealth Law School was chosen for Harrisburg as a reflection of Pennsylvania’s status as one of only four commonwealths. The university community liked the name for its sense of history, distinction and its allusion to state government. It also complements Widener’s strong program in government law, which is a key component to the Harrisburg location’s identity.
Johnson, is the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair in Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, where he has been on the faculty since 2008. He teaches and writes in the areas of business, banking and tax law.
Johnson earned his law degree at Columbia University School of Law where he was executive editor of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Utah.
“It is an absolute privilege for me to serve as dean of Widener Law Commonwealth. The school plays such an important role for Pennsylvania’s capital with its programs, lectures and signature Law & Government Institute,” Johnson said. “I look forward to sharing my vision for legal education with the school, including the importance of globalization and the need to balance legal theory with an education that prepares students for the practice of law. I am anxious to build on the positive relationships Widener has with the community and its many constituencies.”
Widener University opened the law school campus in Harrisburg in 1989 and this year is celebrating 25 years of service the Commonwealth and beyond. The location is home to more than 240 law students pursuing Juris Doctor degrees in a three-year, full-time program, or part time in Widener’s four-year, extended division.