restricted access 21. Leaving Law for Academia
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180 twenty-one Leaving Law for Academia writing the law review articles had taken me into the world of scholarship. In 1972, a friend at the University of Washington asked if I would be willing to teach a course in Indian law in the Indian Studies Department. The idea was attractive and I agreed. I taught only one quarter, but three years later the department asked if I would teach the class again. Starting in 1975, I taught the course every year for five years. Many of my students were Indians, highly motivated to study Indian law. There were some difficulties. This was not a course for law students , yet it involved reading cases and understanding the language of the law. Some of the students were excellent, but lacked language skills. My philosophy was to work with everyone, treat every student with respect, and to try to present the important principles of law that affected Indian people. Preparing for teaching took a lot of time. There was then no textbook , and I had to prepare copies of case and historical materials for my students. In the process, I had to master the cases myself and organize the materials so I could present an understandable history of U.S. policy toward the Indian people. I enjoyed teaching and felt I did a good job of it. I had been assigned a tiny office in one of the university buildings and it was fun playing at being an academic. I was away from the stress of a law office, without the pressures of cases and deadlines and without an adversary. It seemed worry-free. I began to toy with leaving law for academia 181 the idea of doing this permanently. By 1979, I was looking for a respite from law practice. I had been practicing for twenty-five years, law was stressful, and my relationships within the firm had become strained. The calm of academia seemed very attractive. Gradually, an idea took shape: maybe I could find an academic post. I began to explore the possibility, calling some friends who were academics. In the spring of 1979 I attended an Indian law conference in Phoenix and ran into Bob Clinton, who was then a professor at the University of Iowa Law School. He told me there would be an opening at Iowa for a visiting professor in the spring semester of 1981. Though the position was for only one semester, there was a possibility that another appointment might open up in the fall. I was definitely interested, but I had to discuss this major change with my wife and my partners. My idea was to take a sabbatical, at my own expense—a leave of absence from the firm. I decided that I wanted a full year away from law practice, even if there was no certainty about my employment the second half of the year. I was hopeful that I could find a position somewhere. Lennie knew that I was restless in my law practice, but she was deeply uneasy about this new enterprise. What if I found a new career that would take us away from Seattle permanently? Our children were here and she loved the city. What was more, it came at a bad time for her. She had earned an M.A. in museum administration and had an NEH grant for a museum project. Leaving would mean abandoning the project. I was asking a huge sacrifice of her. But because she was always devoted to my happiness and she knew how much I wanted to get away from the practice, she agreed. I was somewhat surprised that there was no serious difficulty with my partners. I asked only that they allow me to leave for a year. Since I didn’t propose to receive any compensation and was obviously determined to go, they agreed. I would leave in December of 1980 for Iowa City for a one-year absence. We called it a sabbatical, though it was not in the usual sense because I received no income from the firm. Now came the hard part. I would be teaching a five-hour writing course in constitutional law to a relatively small class. Over thirty years had passed since I’d had any contact with constitutional law, apart from the narrow areas of civil liberties and treaty rights. What was more, I 182 leaving law for academia would not be teaching the exciting legal issues of the Bill of...


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