As of July 2017, the Law Commission will be located at and staffed by the University of Oregon School of Law; for more information, contact Sandy Weintraub, Director, Oregon Law Commission, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 346-0042.
The Oregon Law Commission was created in 1997 by the Legislative Assembly to conduct a continuous program of law revision, reform, and improvement. (ORS 173.315) The Commission’s predecessor, the Law Improvement Committee, had been inactive since 1990. Legislative appropriations supporting the Commission’s work began July 1, 2000. At that time, the State, through the Office of Legislative Counsel, began a public-private partnership with Willamette University until 2017, when the Commission moved to the University of Oregon. The Commission is now composed of fifteen Commissioners and is staffed by the Executive Director’s office, which is housed at Willamette University College of Law. The College of Law provides executive, administrative and legal research support for the Commission and the Commission’s Work Groups. The College of Law also facilitates law student and faculty participation in support of the Commission’s work.
In creating the Commission, the Legislative Assembly recognized the need for a distinguished body of knowledgeable and respected individuals to undertake law revision projects requiring a long-term commitment and an impartial approach. Oregon statute requires that the Commissioners include four legislators or their designees, the chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, a circuit court judge, the attorney general, a governor’s appointee, the deans or representatives from each law school in Oregon, and three representatives from the Oregon State Bar. Lane P. Shetterly currently serves as the Commission’s Chair, and Keith Dubanevich serves as the Commission’s Vice Chair.
The Commission serves the citizens of Oregon by assisting the legislature, executive agencies and judiciary by keeping the law up to date through proposed law reform bills, administrative rules and written policy analysis. It accomplishes this by first identifying appropriate law reform projects, through suggestions gathered from the citizens of Oregon, each branch of government and the academic community. By remaining in close personal relationships with the people who use and know Oregon law, the areas generally considered “broken” and in need of repair become clear. Once potential projects are identified, the Commission researches the areas of law at issue, including gathering input from experts and those whom may be affected by proposed reforms. The goals of the Law Commission are both proposed law and written reports on the proposed reform provisions. The written reports are the Law Commission’s stock in trade. These reports detail the law reform project’s objectives, the participants, and the decision-making process. Importantly, the reports describe points of disagreement on specific policy choices and set out the reasons for and against those choices. These reports assist the legislature in their policy review and provide important legislative history for judicial interpretation.