When Richard Gershon was young, he wanted to be like Atticus Finch, lawyer from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Like Finch, he said, he wanted to be a lawyer for the capability what they can do for their society.
Gershon gets a little closer to a modern-day Finch on July 1, when he will be named the new dean of the Ole Miss School of Law.
Gershon graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in political science. He continued his studies at the University of Tennessee, from which he graduated with a Juris Doctorate, or first degree of law.
He then continued at the University of Florida, where he received a master of law in taxation.
Gershon worked as a professor of law at Stetson University School of Law from 1984 to 1998 and the Academic Associate Dean at Stetson University from 1988 to 1992.
This is not Gershon’s first appointment as dean, though. He first served as the Dean of Law at Texas Wesleyan Law School and later as the founding dean of Charleston School of Law in South Carolina from December 2003 until December 2007.
As the dean of Charleston School of Law, Gershon lead the school to provisional approval by the American Bar Association.
Until the school opened, South Carolina only had one law school for a state with 4 million residents.
“There was a definite need for a second law school in the state,” Gershon said. “Charleston is a beautiful and historic city, so we knew we could attract a strong faculty and outstanding students. I was lucky to be a part of building that law school, and I was fortunate to work with some amazing people.”
Constructing the law was no easy task for Gershon though, because the entire school was created from scratch.
“Every time we did something for the first time, I would say, ‘it will never be this hard again’,” Gershon said.
Gershon said that he will miss Charleston and his friends and family there. He said he is surprised, humbled and excited, though, to be selected as the next dean of the Ole Miss School of Law.
“I would have only considered leaving Charleston for a compelling opportunity in a beautiful place,” Gershon said. “Being dean at the University of Mississippi School of Law is a compelling opportunity, and Oxford is a beautiful place.”
He has many plans for his new position, such as integrating more alumni involvement into the school. He said he believes that the Ole Miss School of Law is a wellkept secret in the world of legal studies and education.
With that in mind, Gershon said he hopes to bring the school to the attention of law professors, judges and lawyers not only across the nation, but worldwide.
“The law school has outstanding alumni, faculty, students, and programs,” Gershon said. “It prides itself on producing great lawyers, and I do not want to change that. But I do think that there are opportunities to involve the alumni to a greater level, and I look forward to working with them.”
Gershon said he considers the university to be one of America’s best universities, and is excited that his family, with whom he will move, will have access to the university. His wife, who is an editor of Garden and Gun magazine, also looks forward to Oxford from articles the magazine has written, according to Gershon.
“She is also a poet, so she is excited to work with the literary community at Ole Miss and in Oxford,” Gershon said.
In additon to the job, Gershon said he is also looking forward to Southeastern Conference football since he has studied at three SEC schools in the past.