Cianciarulo Selected to Lead Orange County’s Oldest Law School; Brings Commitment to Supporting Students and Faculty and Helping the Institution Continue to Thrive

IRVINE, CALIF. (May 3, 2022)Western State College of Law at Westcliff University, the oldest law school in Orange County, California, with nearly 12K alumni, has named Marisa S. Cianciarulo the next dean to lead the prestigious institution. Cianciarulo will officially assume the role on July 1, 2023, following the retirement of Allen K. Easley, who successfully helmed the organization for more than nine years. The transition follows one of the college’s most successful years marked by the strongest academic incoming class in the school’s history, extensive program growth with the addition of a JD/MBA program and full-time faculty additions to support continued expansion. Cianciarulo brings impressive legal, teaching and leadership experience and is passionate about continuing to support students and faculty, build relationships with alumni and the community and focus on curricular offerings while continuing to grow the law school.

“Western State has a rich history of success including significant growth under Dean Easley, and I am honored to become part of this respected institution to help position it for continued success,” said Cianciarulo. “I am thrilled to work alongside Western State’s excellent faculty to support our student body and am committed to transparency, internal and external engagement, responsible stewardship of resources and collaborative problem-solving.”

Cianciarulo is a passionate, service-oriented leader who has demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion throughout her storied career. This aligns perfectly with the culture of Western State, which was recently listed as a top school for diversity by Princeton Review and preLaw Magazine. As dean, her goal is to enhance the visibility of Western State – a pillar of the local legal education community – and inspire investments in the great legal minds of the future that the college produces year after year.

“Western State has experienced tremendous growth since the acquisition by Westcliff University in 2019 and we are excited to appoint the next dean to continue this positive trajectory,” stated Dr. Anthony Lee, president of Westcliff University. “Under Dean Cianciarulo’s leadership, we expect to see Western State further cement its reputation as a leading law school respected for its strong culture, personalized attention from an accessible faculty focused on student achievement and best-in-class internship and externship opportunities that set students up for success after graduation.”

Cianciarulo comes to Western State after having served at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law as interim dean since 2021. Prior to that, she was the college’s associate dean for academic affairs. During her time at Chapman, she was the founder and director of the Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic, and taught courses in civil procedure, gender and sexual orientation and the law, and immigration and refugee law and policy. She was recognized as Professor of the Year for 2010 – 2011, awarded tenure in 2012 and received the Valerie Scudder Award in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship and service in 2017. Past experience also includes teaching at Villanova University School of Law and multiple legal industry roles including partner and staff attorney. She is involved with several community organizations, including the Cal Law Pathways Leadership Advisory Council and Jserra High School Law Magnet Program Advisory Board. Cianciarulo earned her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law.

“I am thrilled to turn over the reins of the law school to Marisa Cianciarulo,” said Allen K. Easley, outgoing dean at Western State. “I believe she is the best candidate for the role, and I know that she cares deeply about leading Western State toward a bright future.”

Cianciarulo was selected by a search committee including representatives and stakeholders from the Western State community.

To learn more about Western State College of Law, visit

About Western State College of Law: Western State College of Law at Westcliff University is an established institution with a more than 50-year track record of success and a reputation for producing both successful trial lawyers and more than 150 graduates who have been elevated to the bench. It offers subspecialties within the J.D. program to allow every student to find their niche and develop a unique skillset. Western State was acquired in 2019 by Westcliff University, a private university in Irvine, Calif. offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Since the acquisition, Western State has benefited from Westcliff’s ability to swiftly respond to market needs by developing innovative specialty programs in real-time. Together, the schools are now fully integrated and committed to providing advanced higher education opportunities to students both globally and nationally. Visit to learn more or follow on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.