February 10, 2014

David Ellis

Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel

David Ellis is the Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel of Lewis & Clark College. Currently, Ellis advises Lewis & Clark administrators on a range of legal issues, including first amendment, employment and finance law. “It runs the whole gamut,” he says. “I have an interest in learning about many, many topics.” His signature achievements include shaping the Law School’s business legal clinic and helping to found the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Before transitioning to law, Ellis studied plant physiology and anatomy. After graduating with a BA in biology from Sonoma University he ran a nursery business in California, growing and selling ferns. When a drought destroyed a quarter of his inventory, he looked for a more stable profession. He was working in real estate during his spare time, and became interested in the legal affairs. He earned his JD in 1983 from the University of Oregon. Since then, he has managed legal issues at the Department of Justice, the First Interstate Bank of Oregon and his private practice.

Ellis became the associate dean of the Lewis & Clark Law School in November of 2000. That January, he began teaching a course in business principles. At the same time, he created a program for M.BA and law students with the dean of Portland State University’s Graduate School of Business. Students in the course helped professors turn their research into startup companies.

As faculty in the MA in Student Affairs Administration program, Ellis will teach a three-credit survey on higher education law. He plans to take a “participatory approach,” letting students discuss and present on a series of ten legal issues. He hopes to cover contract law, first amendment law, and FERPA, but the hard part will be “narrowing it down to ten.” His course emphasizes social justice and the value of student life as an educational experience.

Personal Statement

Leaders in Student Life need to understand the legal environment in which colleges and universities exist.  That environment is continuously changing, and not getting simpler but more complex.  

Area of Expertise

Higher Education Law

Academic Credentials

JD 1983 University of Oregon, Order of the Coif (top 10%), BA 1978 Sonoma State University (cum laude)