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Patricia Roberts

Dean | Charles E. Cantú Distinguished Professor of Law


Patricia Roberts

Contact Information


  • J.D., William & Mary Law (1992)
  • B.A., Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (1989)

License to Practice

  • Virginia (associate status)
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Specialties and Courses

  • Veterans Benefits Law
  • Clinical Legal Education
  • Access to Justice
  • Special Education Law
  • Negotiation
  • Legal Writing
  • Practice of Law
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Law and Leadership

Dean’s Newsletters


Roberts became the tenth dean of St. Mary’s School of Law on June 1, 2020. A legal educator for two decades, the majority of her career has been spent in clinical teaching, supervising law students in providing assistance to underserved members of the community. She is in her fourth year as dean, and is a Marianist Educational Associate.

Roberts’ initial term as dean included the Law School’s creation of the first entirely online J.D. program accredited by the American Bar Association, increased applications and financial aid awarded to entering classes, improvements in LSAT and GPA medians, advocacy team ranking of 12th in the nation, higher graduate employment, and hosting of the inaugural Lawtina Network Summit to increase the presence of, and support for, Latinas in the legal profession. The last three years also included creation of a First Generation Bootcamp for entering students, an intensive clerkship preparation program, and student Mentor Circles with members of the bench and bar. The Law School’s five-year Strategic Plan was also adopted in anticipation of its Centennial in 2027, and significant funds are being raised to support its future.

Roberts earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, with a double major in Biology and Psychology. She practiced law for eight years as a solo practitioner and later as a managing partner of a civil practice law firm after earning her law degree from William & Mary.

She returned to William & Mary in 2000 and held numerous administrative roles until her appointment to the clinical faculty in 2008 as Director of Clinical Programs. In 2017, after holding numerous administrative and academic positions, she was named Vice Dean, a position she left to become the Dean at St. Mary’s.

As Vice Dean, Roberts was William & Mary Law’s chief academic officer, responsible for academic programs and policies that are essential to an excellent legal education. She  simultaneously served as the Director of Clinical Programs, overseeing a center and nine legal clinics that provided pro bono representation to underserved clients in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area. The school’s first in-house clinics, including those specializing in veterans’ benefits, elder law, special education, appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and a center for coastal policy, were created during her tenure as director. She also helped create the Institute for Special Education Advocacy, an intensive one-week program to train attorneys and advocates to maximize their effectiveness. A similar program has now been created at St. Mary’s, the Special Education Advocacy Summit.

Roberts has been a nationwide leader in legal efforts to aid veterans. She was the inaugural President of the Board of Directors of the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium and creator of Military Mondays, a program that began at William & Mary Law School and served as a model for providing advice and counsel to veterans in numerous Starbucks locations across the country. She was a regular speaker on issues related to veterans’ law and access to justice nationwide.

Roberts is the host of the Aspen Leading Edge, and was the founding host of EdUp Legal, both podcasts about legal education and its future.


  • Member, Board of Trustees, Law School Admission Council (2023-present)
  • Fellow, San Antonio Bar Foundation (inducted 2023)
  • Co-editor, Volume 3, Antiracist Approaches to Admissions and Financial Aid, “Building an Antiracist Law School, Legal Academy, and Legal Profession” book series (2022-present)
  • Member, Executive Committee, AALS Dean’s Section (2022-present)
  • Member, Equal Opportunity Committee, San Antonio Bar Association (2022-present)
  • Texas Young Lawyers Association Board Liaison for Texas Law School Deans (2022-2023)
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation (inducted 2017)
  • Fellow, Virginia Law Foundation (inducted 2016)