Dean of St. Mary’s University School of Law
By Blithe Wiley
Photography by David Teran
In June 2020, Patricia Roberts was named the 10th Dean of St. Mary’s University School of Law. Previously, she served on the administration and faculty at her law school alma mater William & Mary School of Law, for two decades, culminating in her tenure there as Vice Dean. While at William & Mary, she greatly expanded the school’s clinical programs, particularly in the area of veterans law.
Before starting her career in academia, Roberts worked as a plaintiff’s attorney for eight years. However, she felt she was destined for a more service-oriented career.
“I’m a problem solver who is always looking for creative solutions.”
Roberts says the biggest challenge in her first year at St. Mary’s was ensuring the school continued to provide an outstanding legal education for its students – both in-person and remotely — in the face of the pandemic.
Roberts says that the school’s biggest opportunities include serving South Texas, in-person and online, and training our exceptional students to impact their communities.
She notes that 57 percent of the student body identify as underrepresented minorities. “I’m very proud that the law school provides excellent legal opportunities that increase access to the profession to underrepresented populations,” she said.
Roberts’ advice to young women considering a career in law?
“Reach out to women lawyers and judges in your community – even if you don’t know them personally,” she said. “We’ve all benefitted from mentors, and we all want to help young women interested in this noble profession. Also, volunteer to intern in local law offices or non-profits to get a better sense of all different legal specialties that exist, and reach out to St. Mary’s to learn more about law school!”