Dean's Message

Dean Jelani Jefferson Exum

Welcome to Detroit Mercy Law, where I am honored to serve as Dean. We are a community of bright and engaged students, talented faculty, dedicated administrators and staff, and accomplished alumni. We strive to Educate the Complete Lawyer through dynamic curriculum, experiential learning, and an emphasis on service. Our school has a rich and long history of service to the community, a dedication to social justice, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Detroit Mercy Law is truly a special place where students gain the skills to be ethical, justice-seeking attorneys who make a positive impact on their clients’ lives.   

We are committed to our students’ success while they are in law school and once they graduate. This means that we deliver educational rigor while also providing the necessary academic support for students where they need it. This commitment to student success is also evident in our dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which means more than maintaining our already-diverse student body—it also means ensuring that we are cultivating an environment in which all of our students, from all backgrounds, can thrive. Additionally, it means encouraging an atmosphere in which students learn to interact with a diverse clientele and come to understand their role as future lawyers in ensuring an equitable legal system. 

As lawyers, it is our privilege to serve others. We are entrusted to help people through some of the most difficult and exciting times of their lives and livelihoods. A legal education at Detroit Mercy Law will prepare you to serve your future clients with excellence. You will learn from expert faculty who will guide you through hands-on experiences. You will be challenged to think about how the law impacts people’s everyday lives and will have the opportunity to represent real clients before graduation. 

Social justice – a view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights - is foundational to the Jesuit and Mercy traditions of Detroit Mercy Law. My belief in using the law to achieve social justice has fueled my own career passions, and so I feel very fortunate to be a part of a law school where social justice is an active mission. Our dedication to social justice is shown through our curriculum, including our longstanding clinical program, as well as the work of our robust student organizations. Students are a wonderful source of insight into the future of law. Each semester students help me to imagine more and more ways to push for increased justice and equity in the law, and it is my great pleasure to support initiatives that their dreams have inspired. 

Our school’s connections to the Detroit community are instrumental in our work to advance legal and social equity in our own community. Through our clinic and externship programs, relationships with alumni and bar associations, and other work of our faculty and students, we are a visible presence in Detroit. I am proud of the work Detroit Mercy Law does for our community, and I am committed to making our outreach and legal services programs even stronger. 

Another special and unique aspect of our school is our location on a major international border, which allows us to provide transnational perspectives on the pressing legal issues of today. Our Dual JD program is the only three-year program of its kind in North America in which students can earn a JD from both a US and Canadian law school. Whether students are in our US JD program, Dual JD program, or JD-MBA program, Detroit Mercy Law students gain exposure to legal systems and employment opportunities that transcend borders. 

At Detroit Mercy Law, our greatest strength is our community. We look forward to welcoming you into that community and being a part of your future in the legal profession. Wherever your path takes you, Detroit Mercy Law will prepare you to make a difference and will always provide for you a network of support in the Detroit Mercy Law students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Thank you for your interest in our very special community.   

 Dean Jelani Jefferson Exum Signature
Jelani Jefferson Exum 
Dean and Philip J. McElroy Professor of Law