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BA summa cum laude (1973), Macalester College

JD cum laude (1976), Harvard Law School

Office Phone Number:   (573) 882-7066
Home Phone Number:  (573) 256-6825
Room Number:   335 Hulston Hall
E-mail Address:  DessemRL@missouri.edu


After graduation from Harvard Law School, Professor Dessem served as law clerk for Judge William K. Thomas of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.  He then served as Assistant General Counsel for the National Education Association (1978-1980) and trial attorney (1980-1984) and senior trial counsel (1984-1985) with the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice.  In 1985 Dessem joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee College of Law, serving as associate professor, professor, and, from 1993 to 1995, associate dean for academic affairs.  From 1995 to 2002, he served as professor and dean of the Mercer University School of Law, becoming professor at the University of Missouri in July 2002 and serving as dean until August 2012.

Professor Dessem is the author of Pretrial Litigation:  Law, Policy and Practice (West, 5th ed. 2011) and Pretrial Litigation in a Nutshell (West, 3d ed. 2001), as well as articles in various law journals.  He has been elected as a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, as well as to membership in the American Law Institute, and he serves on the civil procedure drafting committee for the Multistate Bar Examination.

Professor Dessem has served on and chaired the faculty for the ABA New Deans' Seminar,  has chaired the 2004 AALS New Teachers' Workshop, and has served on and chairs the AALS Membership Review Committee.  He also has served as co-chair of the ABA Annual Deans' Workshop, on the Executive Committee of the AALS Civil Procedure Section, and on the search committee for the ABA Consultant on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Since 1996 Professor Dessem  has served on and chaired ABA law school site inspection teams. He is a  member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute of Law School Teaching and the Federal Advisory Committee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He is a trustee of Macalester College and the Americas Inns of Court.

Professor Dessem teaches Civil Procedure, Complex Litigation, Pretrial Litigation and Professional Responsibility.