A student’s favorite tax master

February 24, 2022
Diane Lourdes Dick

Diane Lourdes Dick receives Oltman award for excellence in teaching

Professor Diane Lourdes Dick knows what students think about the subjects she teaches. Tax law is scary and inscrutable. Business and finance law is for rich people with corporate backgrounds. Worst of all, there might be … math.

But that’s before they take her class. At some point during the semester, those preconceived notions fall away.

“It's exciting. You can see the students start to realize that wow, this can be fun, and not only can it be fun, but they really feel drawn to it,” Dick said. “There’s something about the subject that ignites a passion in students, often in students who weren’t sure law school was right for them.”

Dick’s connection to her students, and her ability to spark that interest in tax and business law, is why she was named the 2021 William C. Oltman Professor of Teaching Excellence.

The professorship, created to recognize the law school's best teachers, is named for Professor William C. Oltman, who retired in 2008 after 34 years of outstanding teaching in the areas of property and trusts and estates. Previous honorees include Professors Jeffrey Minneti, Deborah Ahrens, Brooke Coleman, Sidney DeLong, Mark Chinen, and John Mitchell (emeritus).

The installation ceremony for the Oltman professorship will be held March 1, 2022, at 4 p.m. in Sullivan Hall. (RSVP on Eventbrite.)

“I’m so pleased to see Diane honored in this way,” said Dean Annette Clark ’89. “She brings a real-world focus to her classes that helps these subjects come alive for her students. It all stems from her commitment to demonstrating that corporate law is a vital, accessible, and intellectually engaging area of legal practice.”

Dick’s academic credentials are impressive. She has published articles in some of the most prestigious law reviews and peer-reviewed journals, as well as in respected practitioner-oriented publications and on prominent commercial law blogs.

Her Puerto Rican heritage inspired scholarship on U.S. tax imperialism in Puerto Rico, a paper that was selected via blind review for the 16th Annual Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum in 2015. She has also been invited to deliver lectures at the Harvard Kennedy School, The Brookings Institution, and prestigious symposia across the nation.

Active in practitioner circles in the Pacific Northwest and around the country, Dick regularly consults with attorneys, investors, private equity funds, and think tanks about commercial finance, bankruptcy and insolvency, and business taxation. Reflecting her dedication to shaping business and tax law and policy, she currently serves as reporter for the Dodd-Frank Study Group of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and she served in 2020-21 as chair of the Washington State Bar Association's Business Law Section.

As a law professor, her magic formula is to help her students understand how law is practiced in the real world. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she took students on field trips to bankruptcy court, countless law firm board rooms, and even to the office of the Washington Secretary of State to simulate filing articles of incorporation for a business.

“I went to law school as a first-generation student, not knowing any lawyers. The first time I set foot in a law firm office was for a job interview, and I was terrified,” she said. “It’s a goal of mine to make sure that isn’t the case for our students. I want them to be comfortable in that setting. I want them to know what that world is like.”

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