The Intersection of Leadership, Professionalism, and Professional Identity

Date: Tuesday, September 10th from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EST/11:00 – 12:00 pm CT/10:00 – 11:00 am MT/9:00 – 10:00 am PT

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April M. Barton, Dean and Professor of Law, Duquesne University Thomas R. Kline School of Law


April M. Barton is Dean and Professor of Law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University. Under her leadership, the Law School has steadily increased enrollment while simultaneously raising the academic profile of the entering class. The Duquesne Kline School of Law also continues to excel in bar passage and post-graduation employment rates.

Duquesne Kline School of Law remains grounded in its Catholic and Spiritan Mission while embracing a new shared vision for the future focused on three pillars of interdisciplinary learning, leadership development, and community well-being. These three pillars continue to guide the School’s innovation and path forward and Dean Barton has launched a number of initiatives in alignment with Duquesne’s Mission and shared vision.

Interdisciplinary Learning: The Duquesne Kline School of Law has launched a Business Essentials Micro-Credential Program in cooperation with Duquesne’s Palumbo-Donahue School of Business, allowing law students to take four graduate business courses to complement their J.D. and providing graduates with a fluency in finance, business, and management.

Leadership Development: Understanding that leadership development is a critical part of professional development and a lawyer’s greater duty to advance justice and preserve democracy in our society, she established the School’s distinctive Leadership Fellows Program in 2019, the Leadership Honors Program in 2021, co-teaches the first course in Law and Leadership, and has worked collaboratively with faculty to ensure that leadership development is introduced in all Professional Responsibility courses taught at Duquesne.

Community Well-Being: Focused on creating a culture of belonging for all, Dean Barton formed the Dean’s Diversity Action Council in 2019, to ensure that the Duquesne Kline School of Law is focused on creating long-term, sustained progress toward justice, equity, and human dignity. On June 19, 2020, the School faculty unanimously adopted a Promise Statement on Race and Justice, an affirmative statement against racism and a commitment to lead positive change.

She serves on the AALS Deans’ Steering Committee, is Chair to the AALS Leadership Section, and is a Board Member of the Pittsburgh Legal Diversity and Inclusion Coalition.
She previously held various positions at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, most recently as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Barton successfully launched initiatives on leadership development, including a student Lawyers as Leaders program and a new course, Leadership and Management Skills for Lawyers. At Villanova, Barton taught courses in administrative agency rulemaking, computer law, the First Amendment and regulation in cyberspace, and digital law. She previously served as the director of the JD/MBA and JD/MPA joint degree programs.

In addition to authoring Best Practices for Building a High-Tech Law School: The Process of Designing Educational Spaces published by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Barton’s work has been published in law reviews including the Washington University Law Review, Baylor Law Review, and the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology. She is a frequent speaker and has presented and moderated discussions on teaching leadership in law school, promoting diversity, innovations in law school teaching, distance learning, technology, and classrooms of the future. Barton also has testified before the U.S. Congressional Commission on Online Child Protection and the European Commission for Democracy through Law, Venice Commission, in Brussels. Barton served as an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Division of Marketing Practices, where she worked on policy and law enforcement issues related to internet fraud and deception.



Aric Short, Professor of Law and Director, Professionalism and Leadership Program, Texas A&M University School of Law


Since 2014, Aric Short has served as Vice Dean of the law school, where he oversees new degree programs, academic collaborations with other schools, and our innovative Professionalism and Leadership Program. Dean Short also established and leads the law school’s annual pro bono summer trip to Costa Rica. From 2013 to 2014, he served as Interim Dean of the law school and helped lead its transition to Texas A&M ownership. Before that, Dean Short served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, where he oversaw the law school’s curriculum and expanded experiential learning and professionalism training. These efforts included developing a skills-based winter term, building new clinical partnerships with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Aviation Administration, and helping implement an oral skills graduation requirement.

In addition to his administrative work, Dean Short has taught Property, Wills and Estates, and other property-related courses, and he has been voted 1L Professor of the Year six times. His research and scholarship have focused on housing-related discrimination and the litigation of human rights claims in U.S. courts. Dean Short has been active in local and national service, including serving on the ABA committee that revised distance- learning standards for legal education. He is also the Chair-elect of the Post-Graduate Legal Education Committee of the Association of American Law Schools.

Prior to teaching, Dean Short practiced international law at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C. and environmental and administrative law at Vinson & Elkins in Austin, Texas. Dean Short received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University and his law degree with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where he a member of the Texas Law Review and Order of the Coif. He resides in Fort Worth with his wife and three children.