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Paying Tribute to Professor Brunet

June 30, 2014

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Paying Tribute to “Fast Eddie”

By Melody Finnemore

Jessie Young knew she faced tough odds when she headed to Lewis & Clark Law School. She was the first in her family to earn an undergraduate degree, let alone pursue postgraduate study. She struggled throughout her first year.

“I wasn’t sure if I could cut it,” Young says.

She was stunned, then, when Henry J. Casey Professor of Law Ed Brunet, who taught the civil procedures course in which she was enrolled, invited her to be his research associate. Young accepted the offer and has since completed two further courses with the professor whose rapid-fire delivery long ago earned him the epithet “Fast Eddie.” Now a third-year student, Young says that she also has developed a friendship with a kindred spirit of sorts.

“[Brunet’s] decision to hire me made a huge impact on me because he saw something I didn’t. He helped encourage me to pull myself through.”

Young is among countless alumni who have been influenced by Brunet both personally and professionally since he began teaching at Lewis & Clark in 1972. In honor of his 40th anniversary with the law school, alumni, faculty, and friends began a fundraising campaign for an endowed position in Brunet’s name. Within a matter of weeks, the group had raised more than $250,000 from 67 donors toward the $500,000 needed to establish the Edward J. Brunet Professorship.

“During my tenure, I have personally witnessed how important Ed is to Lewis & Clark Law School,” said Dean Robert Klonoff. “A professorship lasts in perpetuity and it is one of the highest academic awards that an academic institution can bestow on a faculty member. I can think of no better way to pay tribute to ‘Fast Eddie.’”

Like Young, Brunet came from blue-collar roots. His maternal grandparents emigrated from Croatia and entered America through Ellis Island. His father was a union steelworker for U.S. Steel, and his uncle was a professional football player briefly before an injury led him to establish a well-known garage construction company in Chicago.

Brunet received a full scholarship to Northwestern University, from which he graduated with honors in 1966. He went on to earn his law degree in 1969 from the University of Illinois College of Law. An interest in economic theory led him to practice antitrust law for a time at a large firm now known as McDermott Will& Emery. It didn’t take long for Brunet to burn out, however.

That’s when he decided to follow the advice of a friend, Vincent Blasi, who recommended he consider teaching.

“He loved teaching so much, and he was a good role model for me,” Brunet says of Blasi, who specializes in constitutional law at Columbia Law School. In 1972, Brunet moved to Portland and began teaching civil procedure and antitrust law at Lewis & Clark.

“One of the biggest rewards of teaching is the opportunity to work with a bunch of energetic students. I have nothing but praise for the students,” he said, noting his research assistants are invaluable to him. “They help me greatly with what I do.”

Brunet’s commitment to scholarship is one of many reasons his fellow faculty members hold him in high regard. “Ed is a valued colleague, friend, and coauthor, and his contributions to Lewis & Clark Law School are immeasurable,” says Jennifer Johnson, Erskine Wood Sr. Professor of Law.

A Fulbright scholar who has lectured around the world, Brunet visited law schools in India in the spring of 2011 to participate in academic conferences and deepen relationships with Lewis & Clark’s academic partners. He taught sessions of a course on environmental dispute resolution, and was one of three Lewis & Clark visitors who spoke at a national conference and met with Indian law professors and administrators to plan further collaboration. He most recently traveled in Chile, and has been invited by several Australian law schools to lecture in 2013.

“One big surprise to me is that if you are friendly, doors just pop open,” Brunet says of the international relationships and speaking and teaching opportunities he has developed over the years.

To Brunet’s former students and colleagues it is no surprise at all that his friendly, open demeanor, knowledge, and willingness to share his expertise have led to scores of relationships that stand the test of time and distance.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Julie Franz ’75 said she admires Brunet’s scholarly zeal and practical problem-solving approach in the classroom. “But, beyond the impact of his teaching, what makes Ed truly remarkable is the ongoing level of engagement he maintains with his former students and the support he provides in their career pursuits. I am but one of many such fortunate recipients of Ed’s guidance and friendship.”

 

To contribute to the endowment campaign, please contact Melanie Allen, assistant dean of development, at mallen@lclark.edu or 503-768-6901.

 

A Commitment to Excellence

Ed Brunet has earned much recognition for his dedication to teaching and his passion for scholarship. He has won the law school’s Leo Levinson Award for Excellence in Teaching three times. Nationally known for his work in arbitration and pre-trial procedure, Brunet has been cited by courts and journal authors more than 1,100 times. He has written over 40 articles and published in the law reviews of the University of Michigan, Duke University, Cornell University, Tulane University, the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa, the University of California at Davis, the University of Virginia, the University of Georgia, Southern Methodist University (Dedman), and the University of North Carolina. Brunet has also published several books with Cambridge University Press, Thomson Reuters, and Lexis.

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