In the early 1970s, John Weaver was a lawyer at a midsized firm in Indianapolis. He had never worked as a teacher. He had never been west of the Rocky Mountains. But a hankering for adventure led him across the country to a brand new law school in Tacoma, Washington.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Actually, the rest was property. Professor Weaver has taught property law at Seattle University School of Law since its first day of operation in 1972, when it was affiliated with the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Professor Weaver, the last of the law school's founding faculty members, is retiring just four years shy of its 50th anniversary.
The law school will host a reception for Professor Weaver on Thursday, April 12, at 4:30 p.m. in Sullivan Hall. RSVP here.
"It was very exciting, very daunting, and very busy," Professor Weaver said, remembering the early days of the law school. "But we all found that teaching was what we really liked to do. And our students were about the same age we were, so there was a sense that we were all in this together."
Annette Clark '89 came to the law school as a student a decade after its founding and now serves as its dean. "It's an honor for me to lead the law school John helped build, and I'm grateful for his many contributions," she said. (Seattle University acquired the law school in 1994.)
Professor Weaver graduated from Dartmouth College in 1966 and received a JD from the University of Michigan Law School in 1969. He has twice served as associate dean for academic affairs for Seattle University School of Law. Professor Weaver writes in the area of future interests and easements and has prepared material for the Washington Bar Association Deskbooks in Property and Commercial Transactions. He is the co-author, with William Stoebuck, of the Real Property Volumes of West Publishing Company's Washington Practice Service.
As a practicing lawyer in Indianapolis, Professor Weaver had been toying with the idea of teaching history when he came across the job opportunity in Tacoma at a legal conference. He was hired, along with five other faculty members, and prepared by reading as much as he could and sitting in on classes at Ohio State University to remember what law school was like.
"We had 425 students in three sections, and we all taught all of the students," he said. "So by the time you got to the third class of the day, you'd gotten better at it."
Seeing that first class of students graduate, pass the bar, and become practicing lawyers is one of Professor Weaver's favorite memories from his long career with the law school.
His other favorite memories are closer to home. His wife, Ginger, graduated from the law school in 1977. Their daughter, Hannah, graduated in 2015.
The two women in his family reflect a larger trend in the legal profession that Professor Weaver said he's been pleased to observe over the years.
"There were only five women in my graduating law school class," he said. "When I started teaching, women were about 10 to 15 percent of the class. Now, it's more than 50 percent. It's been wonderful to see the expanded horizons for women."
In retirement, Professor Weaver plans to travel, write mystery novels, and continue an important role he's taken on in recent years as the law school's liaison to the South Sound legal community. He regularly contributes to the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association magazine and maintains relationships with legal leaders and employers in Pierce County.
"As the dean always says, Tacoma is in our DNA," he said. "We have so many alumni there, and it's a good place for our graduates to find fulfilling careers."