Nationally recognized attorney brings decades of government relations and public policy experience to Drake Law School, building upon its strong 150-year history

Drake University is excited to welcome Roscoe Jones, Jr. as Dean of its Law School, effective July 1, 2024. Jones will become the 22nd dean of the Drake Law School. He joins Drake from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office where he is a partner and co-chairs the firm’s Public Policy Group. Jones is making history as not only the first Black dean of Drake Law School, but also the University’s first Black dean of any college or school.

Recognized as one of Lawdragon’s “500 Leading Lawyers in America,” listed as one of The Hill’s “Top Lobbyists,” and named by Chambers USA as a leading government relations practitioner, Jones brings with him a wealth of leadership, policy, and legislative experience. 

“The global impact of Dean Jones’ advocacy and policy work on civil and human rights is extraordinary, and we are incredibly fortunate to have him join us as the next leader of Drake Law School,” said Drake University Provost Sue Mattison. “In addition to his expertise, wisdom, and enthusiasm, he has the heart to change lives and communities by building authentic relationships through and beyond any perceived or real differences. Roscoe’s talents and experience leave him uniquely suited to advance the Law School’s mission to prepare students to promote justice, serve their communities, and uphold ideals of ethics and professionalism in their future endeavors.”

Jones served for almost a decade in senior-level roles on Capitol Hill, including Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger, Legislative Director to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senior Counsel to U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker, and Senior Counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for then-Chairman Patrick Leahy.  

He served in several roles in the U.S. Department of Justice. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington, an Appellate Attorney in the Civil Rights Division and Special Counsel to then Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jones has been involved in legal education throughout his career, serving on boards and other organizations to advance the ideal of the law. He co-chairs the national board of the American Constitution Society and serves as Secretary of the Board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Jones has taught at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and law schools at Yale, Chicago, Georgetown, and Michigan.

“I am grateful to Provost Mattison and the search committee chaired by Professor Danielle Shelton for entrusting me with this responsibility. Drake Law School is a special place dedicated to shaping future government, business, legal, and judicial leaders,” Jones said. “A Drake Law education is unique due to its focus on theory and practical learning. I am humbled to lead a community committed to an unwavering collegiality and a singular mission to prepare students to promote justice, service, and ethics. I look forward to serving our talented students as dean and working alongside our dedicated faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters to train the next generation of leaders, grow our impact, and improve justice through scholarship, teaching, and service.”

Jones graduated with high honors from Stanford University and earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Social Policy & Law and co-founder of the Center for Race & Law. He clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, and American Bar Foundation.

Jones will succeed Dean Jerry Anderson who served an eight-year term as dean. A Drake Law professor since 1991, Anderson plans to return to the faculty in the fall of 2024, continuing his devotion to serve students and passion for his scholarly discipline of environmental law.   

“We had a large number of qualified candidates with impressive backgrounds who applied to lead Drake Law School, due in no small part to Dean Anderson’s outstanding work over the past eight years,” said Mattison. “His committed leadership and advocacy have increased Drake Law School’s quality and reputation, and his generosity and kindness have supported building a values-based culture in the Law School. I am confident Dean Jones will build upon Dean Anderson’s foundational success and continue to elevate the Law School’s reputation as a national leader.”

Drake Law School was founded in Des Moines in 1865, which makes it one of the 25 oldest law schools in the country. The Law School was established by Iowa Supreme Court justices George Wright and Chester Cole, who aimed to teach law in proximity to the courts so students could witness the law in action. From the very beginning, Drake Law School focused on real and practical experience. Today the Law School continues to build on that tradition and provide opportunities for service, leadership, and the pursuit of rewarding careers. Learn more about the Drake Law School.