2023 2023: New Dean of the School of Law appointed

2023 2023: New Dean of the School of Law appointed
New Dean of the School of Law appointed

Sam Panarella, professor of Law and former Executive Director of the Max S. Baucus Institute, named Dean

Sam Panarella headshot
Sam Panarella

Today, UMass Dartmouth Provost Hanchen Huang announced that Professor Sam Panarella will become the next Dean of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Law on July 18.

A tenured professor of law at the University of Montana since 2011, Panarella teaches contracts, business transactions, law practice, and renewable energy & climate change law and has research interests in clean energy, endangered and threatened species, and environmental law. At Montana, he also served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and as Director of International Programs before becoming the Executive Director of the Max Baucus Institute, a nonpartisan public policy center focused on creating opportunities for students from rural, tribal, underserved, and under-resourced communities to engage in public service domestically and internationally.

“Sam is a proud first-generation college student and a passionate advocate for first-generation and low-income students in the study of the law,” said Huang. “He joins the Law School at an exciting point in its history, and will have the privilege of working with its outstanding faculty, staff and students to develop and execute a strategic plan that will continue UMass Law’s strong upward trajectory.”

During his tenure, Panarella was an active fundraiser and community builder, helping to secure more than $5 million from foundations, corporations, and individuals to support the Institute’s programs. These include international comparative law summer study abroad programs in China and Ireland, internship programs for over 50 students each year with U.S. Senators, leading domestic and international organizations focused on energy and climate change issues, and city-and state-level entities in Montana.

Throughout his career, Panarella has prioritized increasing the diversity and inclusivity of his workplaces. As a partner at Stoel Rives, he was heavily involved in mentoring young attorneys from underrepresented communities. At the University of Montana School of Law and as executive director of the Max Baucus Institute, he has worked closely with the Native American Law Student Association, served as the faculty advisor for the first-generation law student group, chaired the department’s admissions committee, focused on increasing the diversity of the student body, and raised nearly $2 million to create pipelines for students from underrepresented and under-resourced communities. 

Before joining the University of Montana, Panarella was the CEO and founder of a successful legal consulting firm working with Fortune 500 companies in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America, Crux Consulting LLC. From 1999-2006, he was at Stoel Rives LLP law firm in Portland, Oregon, where he was made a partner in 2004. He clerked for the Honorable Otto R. Skopil, Jr. on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals from 1998-1999. He earned his J.D. at the Lewis & Clark Law School and his B.A. at the University of Montana.