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Pedrick selected for Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame

October 20, 2009

Willard H. Pedrick, founding dean of the Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and its leader for most of its first decade, has been chosen for the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame.

Pedrick will be honored posthumously at the Maricopa County Bar Association Annual Meeting at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, 122 N. Second St., Phoenix.

The Hall of Fame was created by the Bar in 2008 to honor county lawyers and judges who have practiced for at least 10 years and have made an impact on the development of the Bar and the legal profession, a unique contribution to the law and/or demonstrated significant leadership in the community and the profession.

Pedrick's achievements in the law and in life were remarkable. After graduating magna cum laude from Parsons College in Iowa in 1936, he earned his law degree in 1939 from Northwestern University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review and was elected to Order of the Coif. Following a clerkship with The Hon. Fred M. Vinson, who later became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Pedrick served for a time in the U.S. Marines and later with the U.S. Justice Department and the Office of Economic Stabilization. In 1944, he became a law professor, initially at the University of Cincinnati and then at the University of Texas before returning as a faculty member to his alma mater, Northwestern. During his 20 years at Northwestern, Pedrick earned a national reputation as a great teacher and scholar in the fields of torts, taxation and estate planning and as an impresario whose musical presentations at Association of American Law Schools' gatherings were legendary.

When, in 1966, ASU President Homer Durham sought a founding dean for the university's new law school, he asked legal educators at Harvard, Yale and other leading institutions for recommendations, receiving the same advice repeatedly: hire Pedrick. For the next 30 years, ASU benefited from Pedrick's vision, energy, loyalty, humor, musical talents and optimism.

Pedrick attracted an outstanding faculty, designed an innovative curriculum, organized the Law Society, oversaw the construction of Armstrong Hall, developed a fine law library and graduated a terrific founding class, all in the space of less than four years.

For the founding faculty, Pedrick assembled a fine group of scholars and leaders: William Canby, Edward W. Cleary, Richard Dahl, Richard Effland and Harold Havighurst. Late in the summer of 1967, he welcomed the inaugural class of 117 students. The class was diverse for the times, including women, Blacks and Native Americans. While the law school building was being constructed, classes were held in the Old Matthews Library near the center of the ASU campus.

In 1968, Armstrong Hall was dedicated with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren in attendance. The school received accreditation the next year, and in 1970, the first class graduated. Many of these graduates became prominent attorneys, judges and politicians in Arizona and across the country.

After stepping down as dean and returning to the faculty in 1976, Pedrick – through his statesmanship, teaching prowess, scholarly productivity, professional activities and decency – set an example of what a senior faculty member should be. He shared his expertise with students and faculty at many other law schools in this country and abroad, most notably in Australia. His community service extended well beyond the legal community. He served many local, regional and national organizations that championed the causes most dear to him, such as minority and women's rights. Pedrick was an early defender of the Equal Rights Amendment, testifying in Washington, D.C., on its behalf in the 1960s. Pedrick also served with distinction on many committees of the American Association of Law Schools and several other boards, such as the Navajo legal services organization and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.

Although Pedrick "retired" from the faculty in 1983, becoming professor and dean emeritus, he continued to teach on a regular basis at ASU and other law schools – including Iowa, UCLA, Colorado, Kansas and Texas, to name a few – until 1992.

Pedrick was given the ASU Distinguished Teaching Award, the 1978 Rosenthal Lectureship at Northwestern University and an honorary degree from the California Western School of Law. In 1992, he received an honorary degree from ASU, the university whose law school he built. He died in 1996.

Judy Nichols,
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law