Vice Provost, Professor Kerry Abrams To Lead Duke Law School

Immigration and Family Law Scholar Joins Tradition of UVA Law Leaders in Higher Education
Kerry Abrams

Abrams has been a pioneer in scholarship at the intersection of immigration and family law.

February 2, 2018

University of Virginia School of Law professor Kerry Abrams, who also serves as UVA's vice provost for faculty affairs, will be the next dean of Duke Law School, the school announced today.

Abrams, who joined UVA Law's faculty in 2005 and became vice provost in 2014, will begin her new role on July 1.

”I am so honored to have been chosen to lead Duke Law School,” Abrams said. “It is an extraordinary institution, with wonderful students, faculty, staff and alumni, and I am excited to be beginning this new chapter in my professional life. But it is also very difficult to be leaving UVA. I ‘grew up’ as a scholar and teacher at the Law School, and have learned so much from my colleagues across the University in my role in the provost’s office. Charlottesville has been our family’s home for 13 years, and we will all very much miss our friends here.”

Abrams, a pioneer in scholarship at the intersection of immigration and family law, follows in the footsteps of other UVA Law faculty members who have gone on to top leadership roles in higher education. Liz Magill '95 became dean at Stanford Law School in 2012; Jim Ryan '92, who left UVA in 2013 to become dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013, will assume the UVA presidency in the fall; and Jennifer Mnookin is dean of the UCLA School of Law. UVA Law Dean Risa Goluboff has been a member of the school's faculty since 2002. (More on UVA Law alumni and faculty in higher education.)

As vice provost at the University, Abrams tackled issues of faculty policy, diversity, dual-career hires and salary equity. She chairs the provost’s promotion and tenure committee, oversees faculty leadership and professional development, and manages university-wide faculty recruitment and retention efforts.

“As much as we will miss Kerry, in her time here she has led transformative change for Faculty Affairs," said UVA Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas C. Katsouleas. "Her leadership in creating new general faculty policies, best-in-class leadership programs, an innovative cluster hire initiative, and the dual-career program will continue to benefit UVA for years to come. It is a testament to the University’s strength that top institutions turn to our talented colleagues when they seek visionary leaders.”

The former Albert Clark Tate Jr. Professor of Law, Abrams writes and teaches about family-based immigration, constitutional family rights, citizenship, the marriage equality movement and work-family balance. Her scholarship has had an impact on Supreme Court decisions on citizenship and marriage equality. In 2012, Abrams won the Law School's Carl McFarland Prize, a biennial award given to a junior faculty member for outstanding research.

Abrams earned her B.A. from Swarthmore College and her J.D. from Stanford. After law school, she clerked for Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and practiced law for several years in the litigation department of the New York City law firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. From 2002-05, she was acting assistant professor of lawyering at the New York University School of Law.

“Kerry will bring to her leadership of Duke Law School all of the talents and values that have made her such an asset at UVA,” Goluboff said. “She is a model University citizen, a dedicated teacher, a serious and open-minded scholar, and a generous and kind colleague.”

Abrams’ husband, UVA Law professor Brandon Garrett, will also join the Duke law faculty. Garrett, the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs and the Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law, is an expert on wrongful convictions and corporate crime. While at Virginia, he has written several influential books, including "Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong," "Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations" and "End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice."

Goluboff said Garrett also will be missed.

“We are proud and excited that Kerry joins the distinguished list of former faculty serving as Law School deans, but this moment is bittersweet for we are losing not only Kerry but our wonderful colleague Brandon as well.”

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