History of the School of Law

Wilmington University School of Law is a private, nonprofit law school, which is part of Wilmington University.  The School of Law was founded in October 2022, with the mission to provide affordable legal education. Our curriculum is practical, with an emphasis on preparing students for the bar exam and the practice of law. Our history is outlined below, and more information will be added as we add to our story.


First Law Classes Held

The first day and evening classes are held at the School of Law. The first day class is Torts, taught by Professor Patricia Wise to 11 students. The day students learn about intentional torts. Professor Veronica Finkelstein teaches nine students in the first evening class. Students are introduced to the American court system.  Back to timeline

First New Law Student Orientation

The School of Law welcomed its first class to orientation. Students were welcomed by law school staff and faculty. Special guest speakers included Dr. LaVerne Harmon, Wilmington University President; Hon. Joseph J. Farnan Jr., Wilmington University Board of Trustees Chairperson; and members of the School of Law Dean's Advisory Board, Kelly Farnan (Chairperson), Hon. Jan R. Jurden and Joseph R. Slights III.  Back to timeline


Introduction of First Group of Faculty

A press conference was held to announce the first group of faculty at the School of Law. Made up of distinguished practitioners, the faculty discussed the reasons they chose WilmU Law and their expectations for the new school.  Back to timeline


New Staff Join the School of Law

The School of Law welcomed four additional staff. Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Kim Gattuso, Associate Dean for Career Services Heather Karns, Library Director Harvey Morrell and Assistant to the Dean Taylor Warrington-Purcell continued the work to build the School of Law. Deans Gattuso and Karns began creating the externship and career services programs for the first class. Director Morrell designed the legal research program. Ms. Warrington-Purcell, drawing on her familiarity with Wilmington University, helped the staff navigate university processes.  Back to timeline

Law School Accepts Applications

Following the prior day's announcement of the new School of Law, the application for the first class was opened. By the end of the admissions cycle, the law school received 112 applications of which 43 were admitted. Applications were submitted by students from 16 different states.  Back to timeline

Announcement of the Formation of the School of Law

A press conference and gathering of distinguished members of the legal community was held to announce the formation of Wilmington University School of Law. At the press conference, President Harmon and Dean Closius described their vision for the new law school and discussed the ways in which WilmU Law will be different – student-oriented, practical teaching and preparation for the bar exam.  Back to timeline

First Staff Join the School of Law

The staff started the work of building the School of Law. Dean Phillip Closius, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Laurie Meehan and Associate Dean for Admissions Jeff Zavrotny were the first staff members. Over the course of the following year, they admitted the first class, designed the curriculum, created policies and interviewed candidates for faculty and staff positions.  Back to timeline

Board of Trustees Approve the School of Law

Members of the Board of Trustees had discussed the idea of opening a law school for years. More serious discussions began in 2021. The Board conducted intensive research on the multiple aspects of opening a law school including market analysis, the needs of the legal community, financial considerations and the mission of the law school. The board approves the school of law as the newest addition to Wilmington University's academic programs.  Back to timeline

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