Donald Polden

Donald J. Polden

Dean Emeritus, Professor of Law

Professor Polden served as Dean of Santa Clara University School of Law from 2003 to 2013.  In addition to his service as dean, he is a well-known scholar in the areas of employment law and legal education and has practiced law, principally in the areas of federal antitrust law and employment law, in the federal and state courts. He is co-author (with U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett) of Employment Relationships: Law and Practice, published by Aspen Publishing Company. He also is the author of several law review articles on topics of federal antitrust and securities law and legal education and he is a contributing writer on employment law and business topics to Huffington Post.

Previously to being appointed as Santa Clara Law’s Dean, Polden served as Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Memphis (1993-2003).

At Santa Clara University School of Law, Dean Emeritus and Professor Polden was instrumental in developing the curriculum for leadership education, a movement that is growing in significance in American legal education. He also served as chair of the American Bar Association’s Standards Review Committee during the ABA’s  revisions to the accreditation policies for American legal education.  He was elected to membership in the American Law Institute in 1992, selected for membership in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and serves as chair of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics.  He also continues his work on leadership education for lawyers and law students with several national organizations including the Center for Creative Leadership.

During his service as Dean, the School of Law completed its first major capital campaign (which included 43 newly endowed student scholarships), initiated the second major campaign emphasizing funding for the new law school building (a project coming to a very successful conclusion soon!), hired almost a third of its full time faculty (including several “junior” faculty members who have developed into national stars!) , was initiated into the national Order of the COIF (the Phi Beta Kappa of legal education), secured the gift and launched the annual Katharine & George Alexander Prize, launched the tremendously successful annual Jerry Kasner Estate Planning Seminar, and grew the summer international programs to ten with addition of programs in Munich, The Hague and San Jose, Costa Rica.

Dean Emeritus Polden has been immeasurably supported in his work by his wife, Susie, and his children, Andy, Laura and Emma, and by the wonderful students and alumni of Santa Clara Law.


J.D., cum laude, Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, 1975

B.B.A., George Washington University, 1970

Areas of Specialization

Corporations Law, Employment Law, Antitrust Law, Securities Regulation

Affiliations and Honors

Fellow, American Bar Foundation