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Multimedia: Law students find fun, friendly competition in dragon boat race

May 10, 2010

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Each year, Lewis & Clark law students devote countless hours to their coursework and other commitments like the law review, moot court, and service to the community through legal clinics. On top of these myriad commitments, some students still find time for fun.

Now in its sixth year, the law school’s dragon boat team, “Scales of Justice,” trains weekly on the Willamette river, March through May to prepare for the Portland Rose Festival dragon boat race.

An annual event hosted by the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association, the dragon boat race takes place on June 12 and 13 this year. The event features as many as 96 dragon boat teams from all over the world who race in Taiwan-style dragon boats. 

“Every year, we invite at least 18 land-lubbing lawyers to come aboard our cog, splice the main brace, and pillage the mighty Willamette,” said Charles Parrott ’10, captain of the 2010 Scales of Justice team. “Some students know they won’t be able to make it to the race, but they join the practice anyway. Merriment aplenty. Fun be had by all.”

Learn more about the Scales of Justice team in this video.

Parrott has paddled for the team throughout his three years in law school, and this is his first year as captain.

This year’s team consists of 18 students and 10 alumni and friends. The boat holds 16 paddlers as well as a tiller, who steers the dragon, and a flag grabber, who is tied to the front of the boat to grab the flag. The captain is also plays the role of caller, standing on the front of the dragon, yelling directions and encouragement, and beating a drum.

On race day, boats race in heats across the river to retrieve their own flag. Each heat races for a total of two and a half to four minutes. Scales of Justice beat the three-minute mark last year.

Dragon boat team members bear legal-related nicknames like Lilly Dipper, Attractive Nuisance, and Mandamus. Parrott also goes by Learned Hand and was formerly known as Gravaman. He will graduate this year with a business law certificate and a background in environmental law.

As the Scales of Justice team prepares for this year’s race—training straight through finals week—students and alumni appreciate the opportunity to balance their academic and professional obligations with some lighthearted time on the river, alongside friends.