Willamette’s Jurist in Residence Honored

Edwin J. Peterson, former Oregon Supreme Court chief justice and current Distinguished Jurist in Residence at Willamette, was recently honored by the Oregon State Bar. The OSB's Joint Bench/Bar Commission on Professionalism selected Peterson to be the first recipient of the Edwin J. Peterson Professionalism Award. The award, named after Judge Peterson, was given for "demonstrating the highest standards of conduct to the bench, bar and public."

Soon after becoming chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court in 1983, Peterson began his campaign to return civility and professionalism to the legal profession. An article he wrote for the OSB Bulletin on the topic was reprinted several times nationally. He spent the next 20 years striving to make professionalism an integral part of practicing law. In the courtroom, he insisted that lawyers be courteous, civil and prompt to their adversaries and to their clients. His efforts also included creating a statewide arbitration system and developing committees made up of all sides to reduce delays and make arbitration more effective. Believing that communication and cooperation are key to making the judicial system work, he insisted that layers and judges work together to make decisions.

Portland attorney Albert A. Menashe, chairman of the Joint Bench/Bar Commission on Professionalism, calls Peterson's contribution to professionalism "a guiding light." The OSB recently featured Judge Peterson on the cover of the OSB Bulletin.

Peterson admits to being honored and a little embarrassed by all the attention. "Being recognized by ones peers is the highest honor one can receive," he said in an interview at his office at the law school. "Professional conduct is so important in our profession that I'm especially pleased to win this particular award."