Renée McDonald Hutchins, JD, returned “home” when she became the dean of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2022.
Hutchins had previously served 14 years in pivotal roles on the Maryland Carey Law faculty including as the Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law, co-director of the Clinical Law Program, and founding director of the Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic. She left UMB in 2019 to become dean and professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law before being named Maryland Carey Law dean last year.
“I am so incredibly proud of this institution, its people, and its impact on Baltimore, Maryland, and the nation. Maryland Carey Law is home to some of the smartest, hardest-working people I have ever met,” she said. “As a collective, we are deeply committed to the important intellectual and practical contributions we make, but all without taking ourselves too seriously. Our graduates leave our walls well-prepared for the professional challenges that will lie before them. It is wonderful to lead the institution that is such a formative part of their journey.”
Hutchins said the highlight of her first year as dean has been “reconnecting with so many old friends and getting to know so many new ones.”
She has gotten settled into her office, which contains several items that hold special meaning to her.
The first is a photo from 15 years ago of her two sons that she has on a corkboard behind her desk.
“It reminds me of how much they have grown and how privileged I am to be their mom!” she said. “They are the most remarkable human beings. They regularly amaze me with their resilience, kindness, and humanity.”
The second is also a photo, which she keeps on her desk, of the Maryland Carey Law faculty taken in September 2022. Hutchins said that 20 years ago, professor Larry Gibson, LLB, suggested the school should start chronicling the composition of the law faculty, which led to the annual tradition of faculty gathering for a “class photo” in the law school courtyard.
“Though initially only begrudgingly tolerated, the yearly sitting for the class photo has become a much beloved ritual. The September 2022 photo that is on my desk is my first photo as dean of the law school,” Hutchins said. “Amid the mountains of paperwork, the photo is a constant reminder of what makes this school so incredibly special — its people.”
The third item is a cube of marble on Hutchins’ desk that was carved from the same marble used to build the U.S. Supreme Court. It was a gift she received when she became a member of the Supreme Court bar.
While Hutchins, a Fourth Amendment expert who has been an appellate advocate for most of her professional life, has not argued before the Supreme Court, she did work behind the scenes on the United States v. Jones case in which the court found that police need to obtain a warrant before tracking citizens with installed GPS devices.
“Originally formed from a rough chunk of raw marble, the small 2-inch-by-2-inch cube is remarkably heavy and silky to the touch. It serves as a wonderful metaphor for the work of lawyers and legal scholars: Presented with rough and weighty problems, it is our job as zealous advocates and thoughtful intellectuals to craft a smooth and clearly articulated case for justice from the roughhewn turbulence before us,” she said.