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Mississippi College School of Law’s former ‘Interim’ Dean Transitions into Full Leadership Role

Dr. John P. Anderson, new dean of the Mississippi College School of Law, said the law school’s success is built on deep and abiding relationships between faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
Dr. John P. Anderson, new dean of the Mississippi College School of Law, said the law school’s success is built on deep and abiding relationships between faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

The Board of Trustees at Mississippi College has affirmed a leadership change for MC Law in downtown Jackson.

Dr. John P. Anderson, the J. Will Young, Professor of Law at MC who has served as interim dean of the school since July 1, 2022, has been selected by the Board’s Dean’s Search Advisory Committee to assume the role of dean of the school effective immediately.

Anderson succeeded Dr. Patricia Bennett, a member of the MC Law faculty from 1989-2022, who helmed the school from 2017-22.

MC President Blake Thompson said the school has continued to thrive under Anderson’s astute guidance.

“It has been a productive year under Dr. John Anderson’s leadership as interim dean of MC Law,” Thompson said. “He has continued our pursuit of academic excellence, managed the various crises inherent in running an academic unit, recruited several important additions to the law school team, and made significant plans for the future of MC Law.

“His character and values match those of our institution, and his energy is infectious. I am confident that the great progress of the last year will continue under John’s leadership.”

Anderson said he is grateful for the support he has received from MC faculty, staff, and students since stepping into the leadership role.

“From the beginning, Dr. Thompson, Dr. Keith Elder (provost and executive vice president), Dr. Debbie Norris (former associate provost and graduate dean), and everyone at the main campus has been extremely helpful,” Anderson said. “I had not served in an administrative position in an academic setting before, and they provided the support we needed to get through any challenges during the last year.

“Having such wonderful people encouraging me helped build my confidence in this leadership position.”

He said the law school’s success is built on deep and abiding relationships between faculty, staff, students, and alumni. His goal as dean is to “protect, preserve, and share” this foundational principle.

“This web of relationships is what holds the school together, strengthens it, gets it through challenging times, and helps us celebrate in the good times,” Anderson said. “I’ve always believed in our mission at MC Law, framed by our Christian mission and focus on service to our students.

“It shows whenever prospective students visit MC Law. They see the joy that is spread throughout the halls of our school. You can’t duplicate that anywhere else. Students are members of a family at the law school. We provide a legal education one relationship at a time.”

Located mere blocks from the State Capitol building, the State Supreme Court Building, federal courts, and many of the state’s most influential law firms, MC Law offers a rigorous J.D. program that combines a strong foundation in the law with opportunities to explore areas of personal interest and engage in hands-on legal work.

Anderson said he is excited about ongoing initiatives that will solidify MC Law’s standing as a pillar of legal education in the nation. The only law school outside of Louisiana to offer a civil law program, MC Law is looking to launch the country’s first Civil Law L.L.M. Program this academic year.

The school is seeking to expand its pro bono clinics – including a new partnership with Mission First – to provide expert legal services to many of the area’s historically underserved populations. MC Law is also planning major renovations to the administration building, classroom building, library, the student center, the advocacy building, and the campus grounds that will bring the law school’s facilities into the 21st century.

“We’re not planning on doing anything shockingly new,” Anderson said. “We’re just going to leverage what makes us special and amplify it.”

A highly regarded attorney with expertise in securities enforcement, white-collar crime, and the intersections of law and philosophy, Anderson has taught Business Associations, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Evidence, International Human Rights, and White-Collar Crime, among other courses. He has received numerous teaching awards and was named Law School Professor of the Year for 2021-22 and MC Distinguished Professor of the Year for 2018-19.

After receiving his B.A. in philosophy with honors and high distinction in general scholarship from the University of California at Berkeley in 1994, Anderson earned his M.A. in philosophy in 1998 and his Ph.D. in philosophy in 2000 at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He earned his J.D. in 2003 at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Anderson began his legal career in 2003 as a litigation associate for Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP in Washington, D.C., before moving across town in 2007 to join Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP as a securities enforcement and senior litigation associate. He made his way to the MC Law three years later.

The author of the book “Insider Trading: Law Ethics and Reform” published by Cambridge University Press, and co-author of the book “White Collar Crime: Cases, Materials, and Problems” published by Carolina Academic Press, Anderson has also written more than 20 articles published in leading peer-reviewed and law journals.

A frequent contributor to the Columbia Law School’s “CLS Blue Sky Blog,” Anderson’s recent articles address the law and ethics of insider trading, the problem of how to build a just and enduring Constitutional order in the face of increasing religious and cultural pluralism, and the theoretical underpinnings of international human rights. He is also co-editor and a regular contributor to the “Business Law Profs Blog.”

Selected Law School Professor of the Year at MC on four occasions, Anderson has received the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association Faculty Award, and he is a six-time recipient of the Professor of the Year Award. He has participated in numerous panel discussions and has given several presentations representing MC Law at national and international conferences and seminars.

Anderson has served as chair of the law school’s Faculty Appointments Committee and has served on numerous other committees, including the Academic Programs Committee, the Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Scholarship Committee, and the Dean’s Advisory Board on Minority Affairs. He has served as a faculty representative for the Federalist Society, the Black Law Students Association, and as director of MC Law’s Study Abroad Programs in Mexico, Cuba, and France. He helped start the Student Diversity Lunch/Discussion Group at MC Law, has judged multiple Moot Court competitions, and actively advised students on law review notes.

Anderson is a regular volunteer and supporter of Mission Mississippi, and he serves as vice chair of the New Scholars Committee for the Southeastern Association of Law Schools. He and his wife, Jaime, have three children: Peyton, 13, Brendon, 11, and Cosette, 10. They are members of the Flora Methodist Church.