School navigation

Advocate Magazine

Bill Funk: 34 Years of Service

  • News Image
    Bill Funk

Lewis & Clark Distinguished Professor of Law

Path to Lewis & Clark

I never considered teaching when I was going to law school. It was Antonin Scalia, my boss in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, who first suggested it. He arranged for my first interviews. I wasn’t ready then, but later, after almost 10 years in government service—at the Office of Legal Counsel, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Department of Energy—I was ready to try something new. At the “meat market” (where prospective professors are interviewed by law schools) I was interviewed by Lewis & Clark. I don’t remember much about it except that the dean at the time, Arthur LaFrance, asked me whether environmental law had any life left. (This was in 1982, at the beginning of the Reagan Administration). I said that I thought it did. L&C followed up by inviting me for an on-campus interview. I remember Doug Newell grilling me about why I wanted to leave Washington for Portland. Ed Brunet was my host and gave me tips, and I remember having dinner at the Brasserie Montmartre, sitting next to Brian Blum. I was interviewed by students, which greatly impressed me, and I received a nice letter later from Turid Owren ’83, editor in chief of Environmental Law at the time, saying that she hoped I would come to L&C. The whole experience was positive. Lewis & Clark was not my only offer, but I was happy to accept it when it came.

Favorite Courses to Teach

My bread and butter were Con Law I and II, Administrative Law, and Environmental Law, all of which I enjoyed. But the most fun was the Sex and the Law seminar, which I taught for several years.

Most Memorable Moment

Probably my favorite moment was being named the Robert E. Jones Professor of Law. It was a great honor, especially in light of my great respect for Judge Jones. Another moment that was memorable, though in a different sense, was when I lost it in a faculty meeting and used profanity towards another faculty member.

If You Hadn’t Become a Professor

I suppose I would have continued to be a lawyer. But if I hadn’t chosen to go to law school after the Army, I probably would have joined the CIA, given my military training and enjoyment working with the clandestine services.

Biggest Change at Lewis & Clark During Your Tenure

The advent of the internet and its effect on legal research. Actually, I’m surprised at how little things have changed at L&C otherwise. Sure, the faculty is larger, and we have Wood Hall, but the students haven’t changed much. Perhaps they are a little more demanding, but that’s okay, because we have always been customer-oriented. And the start of rankings by U.S. News didn’t change much for us, because we’ve always been motivated to surpass our competition.

Favorite Place on Campus

There are so many good spaces—the amphitheatre, the student lounge, the Wood Hall study center, the library generally, and the Faculty Reading Room. And that doesn’t include Tryon Creek State Park.

What You’ll Miss

I think I will continue to see faculty members, but I’ll miss the students.

What Makes You Proudest

First, my family—my wife, who has always been the better me, and my children, who all outstrip me. Professionally, I am proudest of having written the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and having a major part in getting it passed into law. For two decades it both protected civil liberties and the national security.

What’s Next

Much of the same. Still a lot of writing and professional activities, but hopefully more hiking in the Los Padres National Forest.

Share this story on

Advocate Magazine

Contact Us