Yale Law School Honors Associate Dean Mike Thompson

A portrait of Associate Dean Mike Thompson, painted by Wayde McIntosh, was recently unveiled at a Washington, D.C. alumni event.

After 34 years at Yale Law School, Associate Dean Mike Thompson retired at the end of the 2024 academic year. But students, staff, faculty, and alumni did not let Dean Thompson leave as quietly as he might have preferred. 

people holding up signs to celebrate Dean Mike Thompson
Members of the YLS community celebrated Dean Thompson at the community picnic this spring.

Last year, Yale Law School showed its appreciation for Dean Thompson at its first Diversity Homecoming in 2023, where former Dean Harold Hongju Koh noted his extraordinary contributions to the success of Yale Law School and its student and alumni communities over three decades. Dean Thompson was also celebrated at the Law School’s bicentennial community gathering this spring, where he gave remarks about how much the community — and particularly the students — have meant to him during his career. He has also been honored at alumni celebrations around the country for the Law School’s 200th anniversary.

Addressing the YLS community in April, Thompson told the students that the connections they make in New Haven will stay with them for life, and they are what keep the alumni coming back year after year. 

“You definitely all belong here — you are not mistakes,” he said.

“Dean Mike has helped countless students find their place in New Haven and stays connected with thousands of alumni around the world long after they graduate,” said Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law Heather K. Gerken. “He never forgets a name or face, providing the same welcome to alumni that he once offered to them as students… Simply put, he is a beloved member of this community.”

Mike Thompson on a ladder in front of his portrait
Dean Thompson — who else? — helped put the final touches on his portrait when it was hung at the Law School in June.

Dean Gerken also described Dean Thompson as a “guardian of the Law School,” serving the community in a demanding role that oversaw large-scale challenges — including Sterling Law Building’s 13-year renovation, the 2003 bombing at the Law School, and the COVID-19 pandemic — as well as day-to-day supervision of security, events, and conferences. Through it all, he’s mentored generations of students.

Dean Thompson earned his B.A and M.B.A. at LaSalle University and his J.D. at Georgetown University. He came to Yale Law School in 1990 for a clerkship and became Assistant Dean in 1991; five years later, he was promoted to Associate Dean. 

A portrait of Dean Thompson, painted by Wayde McIntosh, was unveiled at a gathering with 700 alumni in Washington, D.C. in June. As one of his last official acts, Dean Thompson helped oversee its installation at the Law School.