Dean Blake Morant broadens Wake Forest Law’s national reputation, increases student opportunities

Dean Blake Morant cares about the students at Wake Forest Law.

On a personal level and without pretension, he cares, about their studies, their lives and their careers as lawyers — or whatever path they choose.

The students say that. They say it a lot.

“He immediately took a personal interest in my schooling and my post-law school career,” says Lee Denton (’14), Wake Forest Law Review editor. “I approached him shortly after an assembly that he had conducted and asked him to speak with me about an upcoming interview that I had. He was actually willing to walk out of the assembly to help out (I didn’t ask him to). The next time I saw him was a day or two after I had the interview and was offered the job.

“Dean Morant immediately asked me about the interview. It was obvious how happy he was that I had gotten the job.  Professors began approaching me a few days later to congratulate me, because Dean Morant had been excited enough that he proactively told some of the faculty that I had gotten the job I had applied for.”

“By personally going out of his way to help me out, he showed me that the students here at Wake Forest really are his priority.”

The future success of Wake Forest Law students is the impetus behind Dean Morant’s two recent national appointments: president-elect of the American Association of Law Schools and The Federal Judicial Center Foundation Board.

Most recently, Dean Morant was appointed to the Federal Judicial Center Foundation Board by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Morant’s five-year term began Oct. 24, 2013.

“I think both appointments provide Wake Forest Law students with greater, institutional acclaim,” said Morant, who serves as a member of the AALS Executive Committee.

“The position of president-elect of AALS, which entails more interface in Washington, D.C., and law schools nationally, will provide opportunities for greater interface with our D.C. Program and foster exchanges with institutions more broadly. The Federal Judicial Center Foundation Board provides less direct effect, but will enable us to establish contacts with the judiciary that could lead to programs hosted at the campus and an expanded network for students.”

Morant now received his bachelor of arts degree with high distinction and Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of Virginia (1975) and his J.D. three years later, also from the University of Virginia.  He was a Ribble-Kennedy and Earl Warren scholar at the School of Law.  He has published extensively on topics including contract theory, media law, and administrative law and was the first American to deliver the Annual Thomas More Commemorative Lecture at St. Dunstan’s Church, Canterbury, England.

From 1979 to 1985 he served as a member of the U.S. Army JAG Corps, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster.

Morant first taught as an adjunct professor at American University Washington College of Law, while he was practicing law at Braude, Marguiles, Sacks and Rephan.  He began full-time teaching at the University of Toledo College of Law, where he was given five awards for outstanding teaching and established himself as a scholar.  He moved to Washington and Lee in 1997 where he served as a Roy L. Steinheimer, Jr. Professor of Law and as director of the Frances Lewis Law Center.  He then became Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  Wake Forest identified Morant as a faculty member with a record of excellence in teaching, research and service to assume the deanship in 2007.  Morant’s academic career has included visiting professorships at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Alabama School of Law, where he occupied the John S. Stone Visiting Chair.  In 2001, he was a Visiting Fellow at University College, Oxford University.  His teaching and writing have focused on contract theory, media and first amendment law, and administrative law.

Michael Miranda (’13) commented on the role that Dean Morant had as a mentor during Miranda’s Wake Forest Law education.

“Since my first week of class, I have considered Dean Morant to be one of my mentors.  Beginning with his opening remarks to the class during our orientation week, Dean Morant has always stressed that he is here for the students. When I learned that he was a former Army JAG officer, I took the opportunity to introduce myself and explain that I was excited to be coming to Wake Forest from the Army.  The Dean proceeded to speak with me for several minutes, welcoming me to the school, discussing the military, and inviting me to visit with him whenever I wished.  Those were not empty words; over the next three years, I regularly met with the Dean both formally and informally to discuss my law school classes, various VALOR initiatives, and my potential career options.”

Morant has been active in the AALS throughout his teaching career.  He will soon complete two years of service on the AALS Executive Committee.  His other AALS service includes the Committee on Libraries and Technology (2011-13) and the Advisory Committee on ABA Accreditation Standards.  He served on the AALS Nominating Committee (2009), the Professional Development Committee (2005-2007), and the Journal of Legal Education Editorial Board (2000-2002).  He has served on two Planning Committees as well, one for the AALS Workshop on Family Law and Family Courts in a Time of Change (2007) and another more directly in his field of expertise for the Conference on Exploring the Boundaries of Contract Law (2004).  Dean Morant is a frequent speaker at AALS programs, most recently at the Faculty Recruitment Conference and the Workshop for New Law School Teachers.

Miranda also commented: “The support, mentorship, and advice that I received from Dean Morant over those three years ensured that I left Wake Forest with an education, not just a degree.  As I tried to chart a future career path, Dean Morant’s guidance and willingness to share his personal experiences allowed me to fully appreciate my options and commit to the JAG Corps with no reservations.  Having such available access to a mentor whom I greatly respect, both as a person and as a professional, was an invaluable part of my Wake Forest experience — one of the ones that I cherish the most.”

In addition to his work with the AALS, Dean Morant’s professional service includes: Co-Chairing the ABA Deans Workshop (2011), and Chairing the ABA Section on Legal Education’s Committee on Diversity.  He was a member of the Virginia Supreme Court’s Task Force, which did a study of gender bias in the courts.  He recently served as Vice President of the North Carolina Bar Association.

Morant was inducted into the Raven Society, an award bestowed by the University of Virginia alumni.  In 2010, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Pepperdine University and was honored with the 2010 John R. Kramer Outstanding Law School Dean Award from Equal Justice Works.  Last year, Dean Morant was honored by the Judge Advocates Association and Foundation with the Chief Justice John Marshall Life Achievement Award.

Denton added, “If a student graduates from Wake Forest School of Law without getting to know Dean Morant, they’ve missed out on a fantastic opportunity to make a generous, humble, and inspiring friend.”