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Washington and Lee School of Law dean named AALS president-elect


Washington and Lee University School of Law Dean and Professor Melanie D. Wilson has been chosen as the 2023 president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools, or AALS.

The AALS announced that its house of representatives voted to accept Wilson’s nomination in a Jan. 7 press release. Wilson will take over as president after current president Mark Alexander’s term expires. Alexander is currently dean and professor of law at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.

“I am deeply honored to serve as President-elect of this distinguished and influential organization,” Wilson said via release.

“I look forward to Dean Alexander’s leadership as President and to working with other members of the Executive Committee and with AALS staff in pursuit of the AALS mission of advancing excellence in legal education.”

The AALS, founded in 1900, is a nonprofit association of 176 member and 19 fee-paid law schools. Per the association’s website, its mission is “to uphold and advance excellence in legal education,” which it supports by promoting specific core values and seeking to improve the profession.

Five of Virginia’s eight law schools are AALS members.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Wilson was named dean of the Washington and Lee University School of Law in 2022, succeeding former dean Brant Hellwig who stepped down from the role in 2021. In addition, Wilson holds the Roy L. Steinheimer J. Professorship of Law at Washington and Lee. She primarily teaches about criminal procedure, with a focus on the Fourth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment and prosecutors.

Prior to joining Washington and Lee, Wilson was dean of the University of Tennessee College of Law for five years before returning to fulltime teaching. She arrived at Tennessee after eight years at the University of Kansas, where she received the Howard M. and Susan Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011.

Before entering academia, Wilson clerked for U.S. District Judge Richard Freeman in the North District of Georgia and practiced law for 13 years in the public and private sectors, including six years as an assistant United States attorney and four years as an assistant attorney general in Georgia.