THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH
Rennard Strickland: Philip H. Knight Professor of Law and former Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law [By Jen Woods] Rennard Strickland hated law school so much that he decided to become a law professor. He realized that, as a teacher, he could make the experience better for future students.
“When I was in law school, I think it would be
college. He earned his B.A. at Northeastern
of American Indian Law and Policy and a
safe to say there was no one who hated law
State University, which was founded by the
professor at the University of Oklahoma.
school any more than I did. The thought that
Cherokee tribe in the 19th century. The
From 1995 to 1997, he served as Dean of the
I would spend my entire life in an institution
school currently has the largest enrollment
Oklahoma City University College of Law, and
like law school was something that really
of Native American students of any public
from 1997 to 2002, he served as Dean of the
didn’t occur to me,” said Strickland, who is
institution of higher education.
University of Oregon School of Law.
Strickland went on to earn his J.D. from
Strickland said working with young people is
the University of Virginia, his M.A. from the
one of the highlights of his job. “I think at this
It wasn’t the subject that Strickland disliked;
University of Arkansas, and his S.J.D. from
moment, at the beginning of the 21st century,
it was the way courses were taught. Law
the University of Virginia.
we have better law students that we have
school in the 1960s, according to Strickland,
had any time in the previous 40 years that I
was a “very sadistic system that was
Immediately after law school, Strickland
have been teaching,” he said, adding that it is
designed to humiliate or, if not humiliate, at
began his career as a graduate teaching
rewarding knowing that he has helped shape
least expose the weaknesses [of students] in
fellow at the University of Arkansas School
their views of the profession.
a very public manner.”
of Law. He has also taught at the University
now the Philip H. Knight Professor of Law at the University of Oregon School of Law.
of West Florida, St. Mary’s University, the
Indian law presents unique challenges. For
However, Strickland did not become
University of Tulsa (where he also served as
example, Strickland said he believes that
disgruntled because of his experience.
acting dean for one year), the University of
many Americans have misconceptions about
Instead, he saw an opportunity to make a
Washington, and the University of Wisconsin.
Native Americans. Just because a few tribes
difference in legal education. Today, he is
In 1985, Strickland served as a professor
have opened successful and prosperous
considered a pioneer in introducing Indian
and dean at the Southern Illinois University
casinos, many people believe that every
law into the university curriculum, and he
School of Law. From 1990 to1995, he was
Native American is making millions of
is the only person to have received both
the director of the Center for the Study
dollars, which simply is not true, he said.
the Society of American Law Teachers In order to help inform the public, Strickland
(SALT) Award (1979) and the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award (1997). Strickland’s interest in Native American culture and history comes as no surprise, considering his heritage. His parents were Osage and Cherokee Native Americans, and he grew up in “Indian Country” (Muskogee, OK). Strickland was also exposed to Native American culture throughout his years in
Active to Younge Lawyers “Remember that your first job is not your last job,” Strickland said. There are many opportunities to work with tribes, state agencies, and universities. “If you are really interested in working with Indian people and Indian law, the more kinds of experiences and the broader range of experiences you have, the more you will ultimately contribute to the development of Indian law and the advancement of the Indian people,” he added.
has written and edited more than 35 books about Native American history and culture. He is often cited for his work as Editor-inChief of The Handbook of Federal Indian Law, which was written by Felix S. Cohen. The book is highly regarded and considered by many to be the “Bible of Indian law.” He is currently working on a book called Spirit Red. The book, expected to hit bookstores in three years, includes biographies of 50 key Native American leaders.
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THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH
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Stricklandâ€™s work with Indian law goes
Strickland has helped many tribes and
far beyond the classroom. He has helped
museums resolve legal conflicts regarding
resolve many significant Indian law cases.
skeletal remains and sacred objects. He has
University of Oregon School of Law
For instance, he served as the Chair and
also served as an expert witness in several
Arbitrator of the Osage Constitutional
federal court cases, including the Creek
Commission. During that time, he drafted
Nation gaming case.
the Osage National Constitution, which was
Native American Rights Fund www.narf.org
approved by the votes of more than 65% of
Strickland has been an active member of
the tribal electorate.
the American Bar Association since 1974,
The Association of American Law Schools
and he was President of the Association of
In addition, the U.S. Senate Select Committee
American Law Schools in 1994. He is the first
on Indian Affairs appointed Strickland to
person to have served as both President of
chair a team of three Indian law experts from
the Association of American Law Schools and
the University of Wisconsin Law School. The
Chair of the Law School Admission Council.
team drafted a report on a fishing rights controversy that led to a peaceful resolution.
Published on Feb 7, 2013
Article By Jen Woods On Rennard Strickland Who Hated Law School So Much That He Decided To Become A Law Professor And Realized That As A Tea...