Tamanaha installed as Lehmann University Professor

Brian Tamanaha speaks
Brian Tamanaha delivers remarks at his installation as the John S. Lehmann University Professor on Feb. 21. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

Brian Z. Tamanaha has been named the John S. Lehmann University Professor at  Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He was installed Feb. 21 at a ceremony in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom in Anheuser-Busch Hall.

Tamanaha is a renowned scholar in the field of jurisprudence and the author of nine books and numerous scholarly articles. He joined the law faculty in 2010 and served as the William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law from 2011-17. His publications have been translated into nine languages, with his scholarly work focusing on a wide range of legal topics.

“I am deeply grateful to John Lehmann and his family for this generous gift to the School of Law, as well as a host of other significant contributions to the Washington University community through the years,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “We are proud that a professorship in his name will carry on his legacy of excellence in the field of law.”

“Brian Tamanaha is one of our brightest legal minds and I am so pleased for him to be honored with this endowed professorship,” said Nancy Staudt, dean of the School of Law and the Howard and Caroline Cayne Distinguished Professor of Law. “His expertise in jurisprudence and law and society spans the globe, and we are incredibly fortunate to have him as an esteemed member of our faculty.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in 1980, Tamanaha earned his law degree from Boston University School of Law in 1983. He clerked for a federal judge in Virginia and then became an assistant federal public defender for the District of Hawaii in his home state. Next he worked for two years as assistant attorney general for Yap, part of the then newly independent Federated States of Micronesia, spending two years there as one of two attorneys. Afterward, he took another step toward his goal of teaching law by earning a doctorate of juridical science from Harvard Law School.

Tamanaha previously served as a faculty member at both the University of Amsterdam and the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law and Administration in Non-Western Countries at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Before coming to Washington University, he was on the faculty at St. John’s University for 15 years, serving as interim dean and as the Benjamin N. Cardozo Professor of Law.

Tamanaha’s most recent book, “A Realistic Theory of Law,” received an honorable mention in the 2018 Prose Awards in the law and legal studies category. A number of his other books also have received significant awards, including “A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society,” which won a prize in legal theory and a prize in law and society. In a 2013 National Jurist poll of law deans and professors, Tamanaha was voted “#1 Most Influential Legal Educator” in recognition of his book “Failing Law Schools,” which offered a critical examination of the legal academy. He was selected “professor of the year” by Washington University law students as well as by St. John’s University law students.

About John S. Lehmann

A charitable trust established by John Stark Lehmann, a distinguished Washington University alumnus, lawyer and university trustee for more than 20 years, allowed the School of Law to establish this professorship in 2007.

Lehmann earned a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University in 1907 and a bachelor of laws degree from Washington University in 1910. He practiced law in St. Louis as a partner in the firm Lehmann and Lehmann from 1910 to 1943, then as a partner in Lehmann and Allen from 1943 to 1955. He was active in the U.S., Missouri and St. Louis bar associations.

Lehmann served in France during World War I as a captain and was regimental adjutant of the 342nd Field Artillery. He went on to co-found a firm that pioneered the development of chemical treatment methods for oil field emulsions and water, and he later headed the original firm’s successor, Petrolite Corp., its Tretolite division and the Rock Hill Co. He became honorary board chairman in 1966.

Lehmann served on Washington University’s Board of Trustees from 1941 to 1963 and as trustee emeritus until his death in 1967. He was an advisory member of the board of directors for Boatmen’s National Bank and a director of the Central Institute for the Deaf. He was a trustee of the Missouri Botanical Garden and served as president of the trustees from 1953-58. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute and Industrial Petroleum Association.

In 1981, his widow, the late Anne S. Lionberger Lehmann, established a visiting professorship at the School of Law in his memory.

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