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Dean, Roger Williams University School of Law

Respected scholar, teacher and administrator Michael J. Yelnosky became the fifth dean of Roger Williams University School of Law on July 1, 2014.

A founding member of RWU Law’s faculty, Dean Yelnosky has grown up with the law school. He served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for four years, and was named Distinguished Service Professor in 2011. He has also taught at Seton Hall University School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law/IIT and Villanova University School of Law.

Professor Yelnosky is an expert in employment and labor law, and much of his scholarship explores alternatives or adjuncts to traditional enforcement of employment discrimination law. He is a Research Fellow with NYU Law School’s Center for Labor and Employment Law. He has served as President of the Rhode Island chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association, and was the neutral arbitrator in a major interest arbitration between the State of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers.

Another focus of his scholarship involves the judicial selection process, both in Rhode Island and nationally. He has written several articles and hosted a major symposium on Rhode Island’s judicial merit selection system, and the results of his research into the role of the ABA in the federal judicial selection process will soon appear in the Roger Williams Law Review. He published an op-ed in the Washington Post in 2013 that summarized the major findings of that research. He is regularly quoted in the media on these and other topics, and he has published several op-ed pieces in the Providence Journal.

In the classroom, Professor Yelnosky is a favorite with 1L students in Civil Procedure and with second and third year students in Employment Law, Labor Law, Employment Discrimination, and Judicial Behavior and Social Change Litigation, which he taught with the Honorable William E. Smith, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

In his previous administrative role as associate dean, Yelnosky was instrumental in leading the law school’s successful effort to gain membership in the prestigious Association of American Law Schools. He also designed and conducted annual studies of the scholarly output of the faculties of most American law schools, studies that documented the remarkable achievements of the faculty at Roger Williams (fifth in New England, trailing only Yale, Harvard, Boston University and Boston College) and that garnered the attention of a national audience, including influential bloggers Brian Leiter and Paul Caron.

Professor Yelnosky graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and magna cum laude from the University of Vermont. Before entering academia he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Edmund V. Ludwig in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and worked for two law firms: Mellon, Webster & Mellon; and Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius.

Professor Yelnosky and his wife Laurie Barron are the parents of 13-year-old twins. Yelnosky recently took up running, and he has completed six marathons, including two Boston Marathons.