A Message From the Dean About Free Speech

Free speech, freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas are foundational to both UVA Law School and the University of Virginia. These values are essential to critical thinking. They are a hallmark of our mission of providing the best legal education to the next generation of lawyers, leaders and public servants. And they are crucial to the flourishing of our profession, our society and our democracy. They are among our most fundamental constitutional obligations as a law school that is a part of a great public university.

Dean Risa Goluboff talks to students at a breakfast.

The students, faculty, staff and alumni who make up our community come from different backgrounds, have a wide range of experiences and hold vastly different views. We are a big tent. We combine our distinct perspectives with a shared commitment to joy, humanity, respect, dialogue, collegiality, collaboration and community across our differences. This combination is rare, and it is critical to our efforts to foster a true exchange of ideas. It is not always easy to speak so that others can listen. It is not always easy to listen when the message is hard to hear. But knowing each other as whole people — as section-mates and softball teammates, from journal editing or student organizations or pro bono projects — makes it easier for us to have the hardest conversations about the most difficult issues of the day.

Within this vibrant intellectual community, students are exposed to new and challenging ideas, day in and day out — from faculty and fellow students inside and outside the classroom, as well from the hundreds of guest speakers who come to the Law School every year. The broad array of perspectives represented here means that we can and do disagree with each other, sometimes passionately. That is as it should be. As a law school, and especially as a public law school, facilitating engagement even — indeed especially — when we disagree is both a strength and essential to our mission. Our students become the exceptional UVA lawyers they are meant to be by learning to challenge, be challenged and collaborate, to consider every argument and explore every idea.