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NH's New Leadership: Megan Carpenter
Published Monday, July 17, 2017

Throughout 2017, Business NH Magazine will highlight the dramatic changes in NH's leadership since 2015 by profiling leaders in new positions.

Remember those essays from the start of the school year, “How I spent my Summer Vacation?” Well, Megan Carpenter will have a great story to tell come September: “How I Became the First Woman Appointed Dean of the UNH School of Law.”

Carpenter, most recently founder and co-director of the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas A&M University School of Law, takes command of the law school on July 1. While she is breaking a glass ceiling, that’s not what motivated her to take the position. She says she wasn’t interested in being a dean just anywhere. What attracted her was the chance to be the dean of this particular institution.

“I have long admired the connection between Franklin Pierce and the alumni that come out of that school,” she says of the school established in 1973 and acquired by the University of NH in 2010. Carpenter, who is also chair of the academic committee of the International Trademark Association, says the school has a “world-class intellectual property program” that consistently ranks among the top 10 IP programs nationwide as compiled by U.S. News & World Report. And, she adds, the school’s alumni, spread across 80 countries, have helped develop IP legal infrastructure around the world.

The UNH School of Law’s commitment to experiential learning was also a draw. At Texas A&M, she developed clinics to help entrepreneurs and to give students hands-on experience in applying IP law.

“Getting students real-life experience is something we should do before they graduate and that’s been core to UNH since its founding. We have 96 percent of our 2016 graduates graduating with experience in a legal residency or clinic,” Carpenter says. “We’re not just teaching them theory, but how to apply it outside the classroom. That’s where the real magic takes place.”

Beyond UNH’s dedication to graduating practice-ready students, Carpenter was also attracted to the opportunity to develop interdisciplinary relationships at the research university.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Carpenter received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in foreign languages from West Virginia University, before earning her law degree from that school’s College of Law.

“With my background in languages, I thought I would practice international law and immigration law,” she says. But, after landing a job with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in Pittsburg, Pa. she started working on intellectual property and, within three years, became the most junior attorney to head the Internet enforcement team for the firm’s largest IP client.

“I did a lot of interesting work dealing with tech community and figuring out ways to value human creativity as an asset,” Carpenter says. “Being able to help creative people figure out ways to make a living doing what they love was something that was deeply satisfying to me.”

Teaching was also something she found satisfying, eventually transitioning into higher education where she landed in administration.

Before taking the helm at UNH, Carpenter says she’ll enjoy a beach vacation with her husband, four-year old son and 18-year-old son who is heading off to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.  

Once at the UNH School of Law, Carpenter says she knows it is important to get to know the community, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as the broader community. “In the first few months I will be on a listening tour to hear what those groups have to say. People are what sets a law school apart from other law schools,” she says. “This school is really unique. It’s unlike any other and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

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