Doug Newell, Edmund O. Belsheim Professor of Law, Celebrates His 50th Teaching Anniversary at Lewis & Clark Law School
Walk into Doug Newell’s office, and you will see that it is full of memories and stories. As of the 2020–2021 academic year, the law school will have been Doug’s home for 50 years. What has kept him going?
The students. In his Contracts class, he loves the energy of teaching first-year students: “There’s a buzz about them, some of it is enthusiasm, some of it is anxiety, excitement… the buzz in the room you don’t really ever recreate again.” The appreciation is mutual. Doug has been selected by students to receive the Leo Levenson Award for excellence in teaching six times, at least once in every decade that he has taught: 1977, 1985, 1993, 2005, 2006, and 2011.
The subject matter. “Entertainment law is just fun; it’s a variety of things intellectual property and contracts and some torts and con law.” As a self-described “sports nut,” it’s no surprise that Doug has taught sports law as well. He’s been a lifelong football fan—he and his father used to go to games at USC, and nowadays he watches Seahawks games on TV. And he isn’t just a spectator: According to Professor Mike Blumm, “Any story on Doug should mention the fact that he was a member of the faculty basketball team that won five B-league school championships in six years in the late 1980s.” Mike adds, “He wasn’t a top player, but he was an excellent recruiter.” Doug concurs, and reminisced about how he and Ed Brunet recruited Robert Jackson onto the visiting faculty. Robert Jackson had teamed with Walt Frazier of NBA fame on an NCAA Division 2 championship team, and per Doug, “The law school team was great the year we had Robert.”
The community. It was a friend and former Harvard classmate, Bill Williamson, who introduced Doug to Lewis & Clark Law School. Doug was living in California and open to a change from his law practice. “I slipped in,” Doug jokes about how he got the teaching job after another professor had accepted the job and then left suddenly, resulting in a quick search process. Lucky for the law school, Doug was well qualified. His professionalism is unwavering: “I do the best I can; I’m always there and try to be prepared.” As someone who prides himself on “never canceling classes and always finishing what I start,” the recent transition to remote teaching has been a challenge. Doug likens the experience to sports: “If you were a basketball player and now they want you to play baseball… [it’s a] completely different skill set.”
Doug’s Ongoing Legacy
Over the past 50 years, Doug has taught three generations of the Blumm/Zucker family, most recently Nicky Blumm, JD Candidate ’22. Before that, he taught Nicky’s mother, Jo Zucker ’88, and grandmother, Linda Zucker ’74. He has also taught two generations of several other families.
Doug did not come from a family of lawyers. He describes his mother as an “education nut,” which he attributes to her experience during the Depression. She was a bright woman who started college, but was forced to quit and get a job to help support her large farming family. This experience drove her to make sure that her children received a good education, promising that “if you get in, we’ll figure out a way to pay for it.” As it turns out, Doug got into Pomona College, and later into Harvard Law School.
In 1998, Doug established the Minta Hicks Newell Memorial Scholarship, named after his mother, which is currently held by Gracey Nagle ’21. With the help of Lewis & Clark alumni, Doug continues to pay it forward. He made a lasting impression on a number of former students who have stayed in touch with Doug and in 2009 were moved to create a fellowship, scholarship, and professorship in his honor. Mark Tratos ’79 established the Doug Newell Faculty Research Fellowship, currently held by Professor John (Jack) Bogdanski, which is awarded to faculty scholars who exemplify the commitment to teaching excellence, student achievement, and academic rigor that Doug demonstrates. Jonathan Cole ’76 established the Doug Newell Scholarship, currently held by Connor McDermott, JD Candidate ’21, which is given annually each spring semester to a law student who demonstrates scholarly achievement. Matthew Bergman ’89 (and parent of Madeleine Bergman ’19) established the Doug Newell Professorship in Teaching Excellence, currently held by Professor Janet Steverson, which is awarded to faculty scholars who exemplify Doug’s commitment to teaching excellence, student achievement, and academic research. In 2018, Dan Harmon ’85 established the Newell 1L Scholarship, an annual scholarship currently held by Amanda Burgess, JD Candidate ’22. Doug notes it was fun “when they named all that stuff after me,” and he was especially impressed that they managed to keep it a surprise!
The Present and the Future
Anyone who lives a long life will likely suffer some losses, and Doug is no exception. He misses close friends and colleagues like Professors Ed Brunet, Peter Nycum, and Bill Williamson. However, Doug continues to enjoy the camaraderie he finds in the hallways on campus, exchanging pleasantries and joking around with staff, faculty, and students. And if ever he’s feeling down, “I’ll just sit and look at the wall in my office.” On those walls are pictures of students and former colleagues; photos of children sent to him by alums and student-made scrapbooks with poetry, essays, cartoons, and photos. Featured prominently is a memory from the Class of 1997 - a pennant commemorating the law faculty team’s victory in the law school basketball championship.
It helps that Doug has not lost his sense of humor. He recalls how in the 1980s, he learned that one of his students did impressions of him at parties. For the last class, “I told him I wanted to see the impression.” Aided by four classmates dressed as Newell in fall, winter, spring, and summer, the imitation was terrific. “All of the outfits were spot on.”