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Kanter, Steve

  • Stephen Kanter
    Steve Hambuchen

Steve Kanter

Professor of Law and Former Dean of the Law School

Years Served: 39

Path to Lewis & Clark:

After I graduated from Yale law school, my wife, Dory, and I decided to move to Oregon in the summer of 1971. While I was preparing to take the bar exam, I took some time to meet with a variety of people doing interesting things with law and public policy. During this process I visited the Lewis & Clark’s law school and met some of the faculty. While waiting for my bar exam to be graded, I took a short-term job with then City Commissioner Neil Goldschmidt. Once the bar results were announced, I became the fourth lawyer at the newly formed Metropolitan Public Defender, where I represented indigent criminally accused individuals. The law school gave me the chance to teach criminal procedure as an adjunct professor. I enjoyed teaching and deepened my contacts with the law school. I was hired in the fall of 1977 for a tenure-track position to teach in my preferred areas of criminal law and procedure and constitutional law. The rest, 39 eventful years later, is as they say is history.

Favorite courses to teach:

Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Seminars in Free Speech, and Constitutional Theory.

What you’ve enjoyed most about your work:

Teaching and working with our students and my faculty and staff colleagues, who are altogether exceptional and wonderful groups of people.

Most memorable moment:

There have been many. I will select arguing as friend of the court the unconstitutionality of the 1978 Oregon death penalty before the Oregon Supreme Court 35 years ago with some then-current and former students in attendance in the courtroom.

Favorite place on campus:

We have a beautiful campus at both the law school and the undergraduate college. Two of my favorite places at the law school are: outdoors–the amphitheater on a pretty spring day with students and faculty sitting, chatting and working; indoors–the faculty reading room with its majestic multi-floor floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at the trees of Tryon Creek State Park.

What you’ll miss:

Our vibrant community and my colleagues, faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

What you’re most proud of:

The contributions of so many of our students to their communities after graduation, and my role as dean in helping our ongoing effort to build a rather unique law school that maintains the highest standards of intellectual rigor and open inquiry but in an environment that is unusually collaborative and supportive (especially for law schools) among faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

What’s next:

I never know for sure what the next chapter will be. Certainly it will include travel, hiking, reading, family, and friends. Oh, and we have a new puppy. As I turned 70 this past summer, I not only stepped down at the law school but also acknowledged that my days playing adult hardball baseball were over—though I might still be available for a cameo appearance. I wish everyone the very best, and thanks for all the great friendship and memories!

Fun fact:

I wrote one children’s book, The Bear and the Blackberry, and I helped lead the unsuccessful effort to bring major league baseball to Portland in the early 2000s.

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