Ally McBeal has nothing on Law School Dean of Admissions Asha Rangappa LAW ’00.
Rangappa was voted America’s hottest female law school dean by visitors to the site “Above the Law,” a popular online legal tabloid, garnering over a third of the 8,000 votes cast in the mid-October poll. A former FBI agent trained to catch foreign spies, she is now utilizing her behavioral analysis and interrogation skills in her new job as dean of admissions at the Law School. Voters in the contest said Rangappa was nothing short of stunning, but many also commented on her many achievements and prominent work ethic.
Rangappa said she realizes the contest is not meant to be taken seriously.
“More than anything I’m amused, because there’s some irony to winning a hottest anything contest when you’re eight months pregnant,” she said.
Law School Dean Harold Koh said Rangappa is “a great asset” to the school and deserves recognition, but that the days of judging females by their looks are over.
David Lat LAW ’99, who runs the online tabloid and was a classmate of Rangappa’s, said her victory by a sizable margin was deserved.
“If you see the picture, she’s quite stunning and very impressive, but she’s also very well credentialed,” he said.
During his time at the Law School, Lat said, Rangappa was regarded as outgoing and intelligent. Koh said she was marked by a very lively and engaging presence in his law clinic.
“She was one of those people who knew a lot of people, and everybody knew who she was,” Lat said.
After graduating from Princeton in 1996 and Yale Law School in 2000, Rangappa spent a year in Bogota, Colombia, as a Fulbright Scholar studying the impact of the country’s constitutional reform on U.S. drug policy.
Rangappa’s goal is to become an assistant U.S. attorney, she said, which is why she initially decided to join the FBI. But when Rangappa applied for a position at the FBI in 1999, the agency was on a hiring freeze.
After her year in Bogota, she went on to clerk for the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and it was then that the FBI contacted her with a job offer. She joined in December 2002, and was assigned to the New York office to work on counter-intelligence.
“Counter-intelligence investigations basically involve catching spies,” she said.
Part of the FBI training involved a 17-week paramilitary stint at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where she became skilled in the use of firearms.
Rangappa’s job entailed gathering information on suspected foreign agents, she said.
“It involved being out on the streets cultivating sources,” Rangappa said. “There were times when you had to do light undercover work.”
She said most of the people she investigated were diplomats who were suspected of stealing defense secrets, conducting economic espionage or generating negative propaganda.
The male winner of the “Hottest Law School Dean” poll was the University of Michigan’s Evan Caminker LAW ’86.