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Barbara Aldave: A Legal Legacy

Longtime pioneering professor, business law expert retires from teaching

On Monday, April 29, Professor Barbara Bader Aldave taught her last class at Oregon Law, the school at which she launched her illustrious teaching career in 1970 as a half-time professor. Since then, Professor Aldave has educated current and future lawyers and leaders, supported the work of Oregon's entrepreneurs, and championed the cause of justice. 

Former dean Eugene Scoles hired Aldave after the law school had begun to admit a significant number of women, as he wanted this new diversity to be reflected in the faculty. At the time, Barbara and her husband Rafael, who had met and married while in law school, had a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. Even though much of her salary was consumed by the costs associated with in-home child care, Professor Aldave was delighted to have the opportunity to begin building an academic career.

Now, more than forty years later, Aldave, the Loran L. Stewart Professor of Business Law and director of the school's Center for Law and Entrepreneurship, begins the next chapter of a life spent serving others.

Although her academic expertise is primarily related to business associations and securities regulation, Aldave has a long-standing passion for serving the public interest. In 2002, Aldave founded The Portia Project, an Oregon non-profit corporation that provides legal assistance to women in prison, with a special emphasis on helping them remain connected with their children both during their incarceration and following their release. Additionally, Aldave is a member of numerous social justice organizations, including Amnesty International, Bread For the World, the Gray Panthers, the National Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty, and many others. In 2009, the University of Oregon Law School Alumni Association honored Aldave with the Frohnmayer Award for Public Service, which recognizes a graduate, faculty member or friend of Oregon Law whose public service brings honor to the school.

Prior to entering academia, Aldave earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Stanford University in 1960 and her J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966. She graduated from law school in the top one percent of her class.

During her first quarter at Oregon Law, Aldave taught Partnerships and Corporations, and during the second she taught Commercial Paper. When she was asked to teach Securities Regulation during her third quarter, she agreed to do so even though she had never studied the subject herself. To prepare for the spring term, she read through all 12 volumes of “The Fundamental of Securities Regulation,” a treatise written by an esteemed Harvard professor, the late Louis Loss. She was given the Outstanding Teacher Award by the Oregon Law chapter of Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity in 1971 – and again in both 1972 and 1973. The vast majority of her students were men, while women now make up more than one-third of the student body at Oregon Law.

In 1973-74, Aldave taught Civil Procedure and Corporations as a visiting professor at U.C. Berkeley. In 1974, the then-dean of the University of Texas School of Law invited Aldave to teach there as a visiting professor, and made her an offer she could not refuse. Aldave accepted, and became a full professor at the University of Texas in 1978. In 1984, Aldave wrote an article about insider trading that was cited repeatedly by the United States Supreme Court in a 1997 opinion that adopted the theory she had championed. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Aldave taught for several terms as a visiting professor at Northeastern University School of Law.

In 1989, Aldave became the dean of St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas, where she served for nearly ten years. During her tenure as dean, the school established seven legal clinics and won a national award from the American Bar Association for its commitment to preparing its students for public-interest careers.

When Aldave returned to Oregon Law in 2000, she began to build a strong professional relationship with the late Carolyn Chambers, a UO College of Business graduate who founded several Eugene-based companies and generously supported numerous UO programs. Chambers was impressed by Aldave’s professional accomplishments and her extensive experience as an expert witness in business litigation, and proposed that Aldave help her spearhead the expansion of the Center for Law and Entrepreneurship as its director, a position Aldave has occupied since her return to Oregon Law in 2000. 

Since 2000, Aldave has taught Nonprofit Organizations, Business Associations, Securities Regulations, Accounting for Lawyers, and Women in Prison – the last of which gives students the opportunity to work directly with women who are or have been incarcerated at Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. During her career, Aldave has written a number of influential articles on securities fraud, and for ten years served as an editorial consultant for a five-volume treatise entitled Texas Corporations — Law and Practice. A nationally recognized expert on corporate governance and fiduciary responsibilities, Aldave has testified in dozens of cases involving claims by or against business corporations, partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and nonprofit organizations.

Through her academic, legal, charitable, and community work, Aldave has demonstrated that legal professionals need not limit themselves to one particular practice or field in order to make an enormous and meaningful impact. With her 47-plus years of legal experience in a wide variety of disciplines, Aldave has woven a legacy that inspires everyone around her to pursue greatness.

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