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Dean O’Brien receives ABA’s Kutak Award

(Boston, 7/17/14) New England Law | Boston: The American Bar Association has honored New England Law | Boston Dean John F. O’Brien with the Robert J. Kutak Award, given annually to an individual who has contributed significantly toward increased cooperation among legal education, the practicing bar, and the judiciary.

Dean John F. O'Brien
Dean John F. O'Brien

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and Kutak Rock LLP, a national law firm, established the award in 1984, and most recipients have been members of the Section and active participants in its work.

“For nearly three decades, Dean O’Brien has been a valued and influential leader both here at New England Law and nationally in the field of legal education,” said Martin C. Foster ’80, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “Building bridges among legal education, the profession, and the courts, he has helped break new ground and fostered stronger bonds within the legal community. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire New England Law community, I congratulate Dean O’Brien on this well-deserved award.”

Dean O’Brien has been dean of New England Law since 1988 and has the longest continuous service at a single institution of any law school dean in the country. In 2012, he was named one of the most influential people in legal education in a nationwide survey conducted by the National Jurist.

A native of Staten Island, New York, Dean O’Brien received a B.A. in 1973 from Manhattan College; a J.D. in 1977 from New England Law, where he graduated first in his class; and an LL.M. in taxation in 1980 from Boston University School of Law. From 1977 to 1985, he was a senior attorney in the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, heading the northeast region’s tax shelter program.

He joined the New England Law faculty in 1985, teaching Constitutional Law and Federal Income Taxation, and served as associate dean for two years before being named dean. Currently, he teaches Personal Income Tax and in the past has also taught Taxation of Business Entities and Legal Research and Writing. Under Dean O’Brien’s leadership, the law school achieved membership in the Association of American Law Schools.

Dean O’Brien has fostered collaboration among the bench, bar, and legal academy in many ways. New England Law is recognized nationally for attracting a broad range of distinguished visitors, including Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr., and Associate Justices Harry Blackmun, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas; Dr. Hans Blix; Attorney General Janet Reno; and United States Senator John F. Kerry. Several of the justices have taught classes at New England Law.

Under his leadership, New England Law established and operates three centers that allow students to work with faculty to provide public service and collaborate with local bar associations and agencies. To promote connections between the bar and the academy, New England Law also sponsors memberships for its students in the Boston Bar Association.

New England Law was founded in 1908 to provide opportunities in law to women who were largely excluded from the profession at the time. Under Dean O’Brien’s leadership, the school has expanded its historic mission of providing opportunities to diverse populations and collaborates closely with the Boston Lawyers Group, which is dedicated to identifying, recruiting, and advancing attorneys of color. 

Dean O’Brien will be honored at a special reception during the ABA annual meeting in Boston in August.



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