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Distinguished Honors Awards Law Alumni Relations

2014 Distinguished Graduate

Judge Michael J. McShane ‘88


Judge Michael J. McShane

The Alumni Board of Directors of Lewis & Clark Law School have selected Judge Michael McShane ‘88 as this year’s Distinguished Graduate. 

Judge Michael McShane grew up in the town of Kennewick, in the southeast corner of Washington State. He attended college at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where he obtained his English Literature degree, magna cum laude.

In 1983, Judge McShane moved to Portland, Oregon, through a placement with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps working with the homeless.  He has remained committed to serving the less fortunate ever since.  After graduating from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College, McShane worked for the Metropolitan Public Defender in Portland for nearly a decade before being appointed to the state bench in 1997, where he presided over a variety of jury and bench trials in Oregon’s largest Circuit Court.  His experience in complex civil litigation includes class actions, medical negligence, contracts, and general tort cases.  He was on the Death Penalty Panel since 2003 and presided over 25 capital homicide cases during his state court tenure. 

In 2004, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski named McShane to the Governor’s Re-Entry Council, which strives to improve the success rates of parolees returning to society after their incarceration, by increasing the availability of counseling, mentoring, job training, and drug treatment services, in prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.  In 2012 he was awarded the Oregon State Bar President’s Public Service Award for his service to the community.

On and off the bench, Judge McShane has been especially committed to helping at-risk youth.  He spent six years on the board of St. Andrew Nativity School, a tuition free middle school designed to prepare children living in poverty for a college preparatory education.  As a state judge, McShane brought kids from alternative schools into his courtroom on a weekly basis to expose them to the justice system.  He has partnered with several other schools and with Job Corps to provide internship opportunities, and through the Portland Classroom Law Project, Judge McShane presided over the Summer Law Camp for inner city kids.  In his own life, Judge McShane is an adoptive and foster parent.

Judge McShane also enjoys teaching.  He taught evidence at Oregon’s New Judge’s College and is a frequent lecturer at bar association conferences, CLE seminars, and law school classes. 

His fields of expertise include evidence, search & seizure, capital litigation, and trial practice. Judge McShane has been an adjunct law professor at Lewis & Clark, where he taught Trial Advocacy and the Criminal Practice Seminar.  He was also involved in the law school’s mentoring program and was named “Mentor of the Year” in 2009.

Judge McShane was nominated to the federal court by President Obama in September of 2012, and was confirmed by the US Senate on May 20, 2013.  Judge McShane serves as a US District Court Judge in Eugene, Oregon, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs; an ever-disheveled looking mutt drifter (rescue) named “Highway,” and an ever-vexatious but cute Yorkie-Poo named “Matty.”