Toni Berres-Paul JD ’86: 25 Years of Service

Professor of Lawyering
  • Toni Berres-Paul JD '86
    Nina Johnson

Professor of Lawyering

Path to Lewis & Clark

I taught for 12 years at public schools in Michigan and Oregon, mostly in special education. When I decided to pursue my long-delayed dream of going to law school, I was married, a new parent, and living in Portland. Lewis & Clark was the only place I applied. I worked at a law firm for three years, and with my husband in his business for another three. Neither teaching nor law alone were completely satisfying, so I decided the best thing would be to combine my two careers. I talked to Steve Kanter, who was then dean, about working at L&C. He contacted me when a one-year legal writing position opened—and here I am, 25 years later.

Favorite Courses to Teach

I really enjoy working with first-years, especially in the second semester when we focus on oral advocacy and persuasion, but my favorite course to teach is my upper-division class, Advanced Legal Writing.

Most Memorable Moment

It’s hard to limit it to one. It might be the tribute I received at our retirement celebration in April. Or when several other female law professors and I formed a group called “The Divas” and sang and danced for the first time at the student talent show in the quad. I think half the student body attended.

If You Hadn’t Become a Professor

I would have continued practicing law.

Biggest Change at Lewis & Clark During Your Tenure

The current emphasis on practical skills. And it’s about time.

Favorite Place on Campus

I just find it amazing that we sit in the middle of a state park and every view out our windows is gorgeous every day. That’s why my daughter got married in the amphitheatre. So I guess the whole campus is my favorite place!

What You’ll Miss

All the wonderful students at Lewis & Clark and my fabulous colleagues, especially in the Lawyering Department.

What Makes You Proudest

All the young lawyers I have launched into the world. I’ve stayed in touch with many of them and I’m always thrilled to hear about their successes.

What’s Next

I plan to do a lot of traveling, but I’m also here this fall to teach my upper-division writing class.

Fun Fact

I used to be a dancer. I was in a company at the University of Wisconsin and I choreographed several high school musicals in Michigan, where I also taught dance. I started dancing again about four years ago and performed in Le Grand Continental at Pioneer Square. I still take classes once or twice a week at Body Vox.