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Oral Histories: Home

Memories of early faculty and students recorded to help commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Hamline University School of Law.

40th Anniversary Oral History Project

To help commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Hamline University School of Law, the Law Library received a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society to create an oral history of the law school’s inception and early days.  This was done by recording memories of four early faculty members as well as two alumni who were students in the first years of the school.

Through these histories we learned about why the law school was created, how it was done with few resources, the accreditation process, and the journey from being a stand-alone law school to becoming affiliated with Hamline University. 

Thanks to Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants for providing the grant that made the project possible, and special thanks to Melinda Hutchinson, Grants & Field Programs Associate for the Minnesota Historical Society, for answering all grant related questions and concerns during the project.

Featured Historians

We are most grateful to the six people who gave us their time and shared their memories.  On this page, you may view the videos featuring:



Videos filmed and edited by Modern Image Film & Video Productions.

Len Biernat

Professor Len Biernat was a founding member of the law school as a student.  He then went on to become the school’s first full-time employee as an admissions and business manager, and finally as a full-time professor.


Larry Bakken

Professor Larry Bakken joined the law school faculty in 1972.  He was the school’s first librarian and was a driving force in early recruitment of students.


Joseph Daly

Emeritus Professor Joseph L. Daly joined the law school faculty in 1974 and retired in 2012.  While a member of the faculty he was involved also with teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution with Hamline University School of Law’s sister school, the University of Modena in Italy, as well as teaching law in China, Poland, Albania, Cameroon, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.


John Weeks

Emeritus Professor John Weeks joined the law school faculty in 1973 and retired in 2008.  While a member of the faculty he also participated in Hamline Law's development of programs for summer study and for faculty exchange in Norway and Italy.


Bill Harper

Bill Harper, currently a partner at Harper and Peterson, P.L.L.C.in St. Paul, MN, was a student with the class of 1977 at Midwestern School of Law.


Steve Kirsch

Steve Kirsch, currently a partner at the Murnane Brandt Law Firm in St. Paul, MN, was a student with the second class at Midwestern School of Law.  Steve was also Student Bar Association student body president and was present in Chicago when the law school received official accreditation from the American Bar Association.


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