Steven Lubet Steps Down as Director of Bartlit Center


Faculty Bluhm Legal Clinic
CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 20: Steven Lubet, Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Memorial Professor of Law, photographed for Northwestern Law on Friday, February 20, 2015 in the Bluhm Legal Clinic on the Chicago campus of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Randy Belice

Steven Lubet, Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Memorial Professor of Law, will step down as director of the Fred Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy effective August 31, 2021. Lubet has been the leader of the program since 1988. He will stay on as a member of the clinical and research faculty.

“It has been an honor to direct the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy, and to work with so many outstanding students, lawyers, and judges,” says Lubet. “We have built a community of advocate-scholars committed to the highest ideal of the legal profession – the zealous and ethical representation of clients at trial.” The Bartlit Center Trial Teams have won five national championships and numerous other championships in both regional and invitational competitions throughout the years under Lubet’s directorship. “Championships regularly happen, but that is not the point of what we do. We are proud of our students, teachers, and coaches because of their educational accomplishments, in competitions or in class. I treasure every student and every adjunct, in every course, with whom I have worked over these years.”

“Steve is a true leader in the Trial Advocacy space and his impact on the Law School is beyond measure,” Interim Dean Jim Speta says. “During [his] time, the Center has prepared hundreds of law students to become confident, skilled, and effective litigators. We are fortunate that he will remain on the faculty, and we look forward to his continued guidance as we plan for the Bartlit Center’s next phase.”

Lubet’s colleagues in the Bluhm Legal Clinic shared their admiration for his selfless dedication to his students and fellow faculty. “With Professor Steve Lubet stepping down as the director of the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law is losing a scholar and a mensch,” says Julie BiehI, clinical professor of law and assistant dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic. “I have known him for almost forty years, first as a student, and later as a colleague and friend, and I can say with confidence that the number of practitioners whom he has impacted through his teaching and writing is probably beyond measure. He has always been a clear-headed and lucid thinker and writer who has never been afraid to speak plainly and honestly about injustices, far and wide. He has also been a mentor to countless young law students and lawyers, and while his retirement is well-earned, his shoes will be very hard to fill.”

Says Steve Drizin, William M. Trumbull Clinical Professor of Law and co-director of the Center on Wrongful Conviction: “When my son, Jeremy Levine-Drizin (’21), came to Northwestern, he asked me ‘what courses do I need to take to become a great trial lawyer?’ I said, ‘that’s easy — you have to take Professor Lubet’s and Professor Burns’ Trial Advocacy class. Jeremy did, and like thousands of Northwestern Law students before him, he has become much more confident and capable in his trial skills. I can’t wait to see him put his newfound skills into action. And when I do, I’ll be thinking of and thankful to Steve.”

Robert Burns, William W. Gurley Memorial Professor of Law, has been working side-by-side with Lubet at the Barlit Center for much of Lubet’s time as director. “He has created and nurtured a place of real excellence,” Burns says. “The Bartlit Center creates the foundation for most students for their later work in the Bluhm Legal Clinic and beyond. Steve likes to say, ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect.  It makes permanent.’  Steve’s efforts have provided a strong foundation that reflects the best thinking on effective and ethical trial practice.  It has been a benefit of inestimable value to his students.”

Class of 1967 James B. Haddad Professor of Law Tom Geragthy, the former director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic, notes that the community at the Clinic will especially miss Lubet’s guidance. “We turn to Steve for advice on a range of issues including trial strategy, evidence, ethics, and problems of the day that require wisdom and good judgment to resolve,” says Geragthy. “Even after he steps down as Director of the Bartlit Center, I know that he will continue in the Law School as a beloved teacher and colleague.”

Robin Walker Sterling, director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic and associate dean for clinical education, credits Lubet’s work as inspiration in crafting her own curriculum. “Professor Lubet has been a giant in Trial Advocacy for decades. His Modern Trial Advocacy: Analysis and Practice was the Bible for my experiential classes in law school, and of course, when it came time for me to design my own syllabus, MTA was one of my course textbooks,” she says. “Since I have joined Northwestern’s faculty, he has been a lovely, encouraging, and truly supportive colleague. I am so happy that he will continue to teach classes, and I look forward to reading future writings in the learned and eloquent voice we have come to expect whenever we pick up something with a Steve Lubet byline.”