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.