You are hereMichael Moffitt ('91)

Michael Moffitt ('91)


Michael Moffitt ('91)

1. Basic Information:

Name: Michael Moffitt
Title: Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Associate Professor of Law
Goodwin Senior Faculty Fellow
Associate Director of the Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center
Organization: The University of Oregon School of Law
City: Eugene State: Oregon Country: USA

2. Educational Record:

At Marietta College:
Graduation Year: 1991
Major(s): History
Minor(s): Political Science, East Asian Studies
Certificate(s): Leadership

Honors/Awards: Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, valedictorian, Cleland Award, Academic All-American (tennis)

Degrees after Marietta College:
Area of Study: Law
College/University: Harvard Law School
Graduation Year: 1994
Honors/Awards: cum laude

3. Describe your organization and what you do in this organization (job responsibilities, recent projects, work environment).

I work at the University of Oregon School of Law, where I have spent most of my time helping law students and graduate students learn about creative ways to solve problems. For the past several years, our law school has offered an innovative curriculum to help equip future lawyers to deal with a changing professional landscape – one in which resort to traditional lawsuits may be less common.

I recently stepped into the role of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, which has meant that I now have broader responsibility with respect to the full curriculum of the law school. It has been a delight to learn of the important, path-breaking work many of my colleagues are doing in fields ranging from environmental and international law to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Oregon has a proud history of producing a high percentage of students who enter the profession in some form of public service, and I’m proud to be part of helping to make that happen.

4. Briefly discuss how "leadership" plays a role in your professional field.

Our system of justice is set up in a way that it’s hard to imagine trying to navigate it effectively without a professional guide, without someone who can help give you the lay of the land, who can help you make informed and timely choices. I train those guides. I train leaders.

Some lawyers lead in the conspicuous ways illustrated in movies. They make arguments in court, or they sit in a conference room negotiating the terms of some zillion dollar deal, or they sit in the legislatures and draft the statutes that govern us all. And many lawyers wind up serving as leaders in quiet, less conspicuous ways that probably matter even more. A lawyer works with an entrepreneur, who has an idea for a business but doesn’t know how to structure it. A lawyer works with a young couple trying to figure out what needs to go into a will so that their children will be cared for appropriately. A lawyer calls a meeting of all sides to try to find a mutually agreeable resolution to a dispute over the use of a piece of downtown property. A lawyer advises a non-profit on how to structure their operations to maximum effect. And so on.

Those of us who educate these future leaders have some opportunity to shape the way they conceive of their roles. And my colleagues and I take that very seriously.

5. Briefly discuss how the McDonough Leadership Program prepared you for this professional field and leadership challenges.

I cherish my time in the classroom with law students. And although popular images of law school often paint a picture of an adversarial experience, I model many of my classes on the best educational experiences of my life – those through the McDonough program. We explore serious topics with urgency and openness. I expect more of my students than I think many have expected of them in the past, and at least some of the time, I think they achieve more than they thought they could. I credit my mentors in the leadership program for providing both the passion and the model for these kinds of exchanges.

And in my administrative position, the single biggest lesson I’ve brought with me is the powerful impact of listening. I work with really, really smart people. Smart people who often have different views about what should happen next. The best work I can do, much of the time, is simply to help make sure that each person’s view finds appropriate articulation and space, so that we can make good decisions collectively.

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