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 safe to say there was no one who hated law school any more than I did. The thought that I would spend my entire life in an institution like law school was something that really didn't occur to me," said Strickland, who is now the Philip H. Knight Professor of Law at the University of Oregon School of Law.
It wasn't the subject that Strickland disliked; it was the way courses were taught. Law school in the 1960s, according to Strickland, was a "very sadistic system that was designed to humiliate or, if not humiliate, at least expose the weaknesses [of students] in a very public manner."
However, Strickland did not become disgruntled because of his experience. Instead, he saw an opportunity to make a difference in legal education. Today, he is considered a pioneer in introducing Indian law into the university curriculum, and he is the only person to have received both the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) Award (1979) and the American Bar Association's Spirit of Excellence Award (1997).
|"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.
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