North Dakota Law

Updates from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

Committee to select new law school dean announced

North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle
North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle

UND alumnus Gerald VandeWalle joins longtime University law professor Jim Grijalva in leading panel

University of North Dakota Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Tom DiLorenzo announced today that North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle and UND’s Lloyd & Ruth Friedman Professor of Law James Grijalva will serve as co-chairs of the search committee to fill the permanent deanship at the UND School of Law.

Grijalva also will serve as coordinator and primary point of contact for the search committee.

The position most recently was held by Kathryn Rand, who stepped down to return to teaching fulltime. Bradley Myers, The Randy H. Lee Professor of Law at UND, recently was named Interim Dean to serve until a permanent successor is chosen.

“The search for the next dean of the School of Law is in good in hands with the selection of Chief Justice VandeWalle and Professor Grijalva, two respected legal leaders in the state and nation,” DiLorenzo said. “I look forward to working with them and the search committee in bringing forward the best candidates possible to lead North Dakota’s great law school into the future.”

VandeWalle, who has served on the North Dakota Supreme Court since 1978, is the longest-serving incumbent Chief Justice in the United States. He was honored with the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award — North Dakota’s highest honor – on Jan. 7, 2015.

Committee membership

The other members of the search committee are:

  • Levi Andrist-UND School of Law Alumnus
  • Grant Christensen-Law Professor and Director of the Indian Law Certificate Program at the UND School of Law
  • Hesham El-Rewini-Dean of the UND College of Engineering & Mines
  • Shon Hastings-United States Bankruptcy Chief Judge for the District of North Dakota
  • Margaret Jackson-Kenneth & Frances Swenson Professor of Law at the UND School of Law
  • Sigrid Letcher-Associate Vice President of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation
  • Tammy Oltz-Law Professor and Director of the Thormodsgard Law Library at the UND School of Law
  • Brad Parrish-Alumnus and Assistant Dean at the UND School of Law
  • Alex Sickler-Law Professor at the UND School of Law
  • Kelsey Stock-Law Student at the UND School of Law
  • Zachary Pelham-UND School of Law Alumnus and President of the State Bar Association of ND Board of Governors

More about VandeWalle:

Justice VandeWalle was born on August 15, 1933, and raised in Noonan, N.D. He attended UND and in 1955 received a bachelor of science degree in Commerce from the School of Business. In 1958, he received a juris doctor degree magna cum laude from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

He was admitted to the State Bar of North Dakota in July 1958, and accepted an appointment as Special Assistant Attorney General. In January 1975, he was appointed First Assistant Attorney General. During his 20 years in the Attorney General’s office, VandeWalle held several portfolios, including the education portfolio for elementary, secondary and higher education, for most of that time; the North Dakota Industrial Commission oil and gas portfolio; and the State Retirement System portfolio.

On August 15, 1978, he was appointed to the Supreme Court. In November 1978, he was elected to serve an unexpired term, and was reelected to 10-year terms in 1984, 1994, 2004 and 2014. From July 1985 to July 1987, he served as the first chair of the North Dakota Judicial Conference.

He is a past co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Bar Admissions Committee and past chair of the Federal-State Tribal Relations Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices. VandeWalle is past chair of the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association, past President of the Conference of Chief Justices, past chair of the National Center for State Courts, and past chair of the National Center for State Court’s Research Advisory Council.

VandeWalle was elected Chief Justice effective January l, 1993; and reelected to successive five-year terms as Chief Justice effective 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015. He remains on the Court as Chief Justice, having served 39 years, 11 months, and three days as of July 17, 2018.

About Grijalva:

Lloyd & Ruth Friedman Professor of Law Grijalva received his J.D. cum laude from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. During law school, he was an associate editor of environmental law and the assistant director of forensics at Lewis & Clark College.

Following law school, Grijalva was law clerk to the Honorable Charles E. Wiggins of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He then practiced law in Seattle, at Stoel Rives Boley Jones & Grey. While in Seattle, Grijalva was also a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington’s Institute for Environmental Studies and a lecturer at the University of Puget Sound School of Law. He served on the summer faculty at Vermont Law School for 12 years.

Grijalva writes and lectures on a broad variety of environmental issues affecting Indian county, including air and water pollution, hazardous substance contamination and remediation, tribal regulatory capacity building, and natural resource damage claims. His book, Closing the Circle: Environmental Justice in Indian County, chronicles the development and operation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indian Program, and argues EPA-delegation of regulatory programs to tribes for implementation in roles like those played by state governments is the best way to achieve environmental justice for Indigenous Peoples.

Grijalva directs the Northern Plains Indian Law Center, and teaches Indian Country Environmental Law, Environmental Law, Natural Resources, Administrative Law and Property.

Since 1996, Grijalva has worked with the governments and grassroots organizations of over 50 Indian tribes across the country as the Director of the Tribal Environmental Law Project. He has also served as a technical services contractor and legal trainer for EPA’s American Indian Environmental Office, EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, and EPA’s Office of Environmental Compliance and Enforcement. In 2009, he was the Senior Fulbright Scholar for Aboriginal Legal and Resource Rights at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is a Special Alternate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota.



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