Seattle U Law remembers the life of longest-serving dean

October 16, 2019

James E. Bond, who led the law school through significant change during his 13-year tenure, passed away in September

Photo of James BondProfessor Emeritus James E. Bond, Seattle University School of Law’s longest-serving dean, passed away on Sept. 16. He was 76 years old.

Bond arrived at the University of Puget Sound School of Law in 1986, serving as dean until 1993, and then again from 1995 to 2000, during which time the law school became a part of Seattle University. “In addition to being a highly effective administrator, Jim possessed an extraordinary legal mind as well as a quick wit, which made him a favorite among students who took his Criminal Law class,” Dean Annette E. Clark ’89 said. “Jim expected a great deal from his colleagues and students, but he was also an optimist and a generous and caring person who saw the good in everyone.”

A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 27, in North Carolina, where he had relocated. He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Georgana; their son, Garth; daughter-in-law, Julie; and granddaughter, Elizabeth.

During his second tenure as dean, Bond led the transition to Seattle from the law school’s original home in Tacoma after Seattle University acquired it in the early nineties. This entailed playing a critically important role in fundraising and the construction of a new, state-of-the-art building in the heart of the university’s Seattle campus. “He enthusiastically embraced Seattle U as the law school’s new sponsoring institution, which contributed greatly to making a potentially difficult transition go much more smoothly,” Clark said. The school previously honored Bond by naming one of its two annual moot court competitions after him.

After stepping down as dean, Bond served as Seattle University’s first University Professor until his retirement in 2004. In this role, he taught students across the university, including undergraduates, who raved about the seminars he offered. He also taught a number of faculty colloquia, which were hugely popular and brought together Seattle University faculty of differing backgrounds and perspectives to engage in vibrant intellectual debates.

Over his 13 years of leadership, he was committed to strengthening the law school’s regional and national reputation, in part by reducing class size and increasing the academic credentials of incoming students. He was also a strong proponent of the highly ranked Legal Writing Program, a subject he had taught early in his academic career.

Bond arrived at Seattle U Law from Wake Forest University School of Law, where he served as a professor. He was also an assistant and associate professor at Washington and Lee University and an instructor at the Judge Advocate General’s School, and he served as a law clerk to a U.S. District Court judge in Illinois.

A Harvard Law graduate (as well as having received LLM and SJD degrees from the University of Virginia), Bond was an expert in constitutional law, criminal law, administrative law, and jurisprudence. The author or co-author of seven books and numerous law review articles, he had a particular interest in studying the 14th amendment ratification debates that took place in the South in the 19th century. His interest in the subject began when he traveled to Mississippi for Freedom Summer in 1964 to register black voters. As a distinguished educator and legal scholar, he was in constant demand as a public speaker.

Upon his retirement in 2004, Bond stated, “You cannot imagine what a joy it is to see one's students transform themselves into lawyers.” He leaves an extraordinary legacy, both in the students he helped develop into outstanding lawyers and in the vibrant law school community he helped build. The law school will organize a program to remember Bond in the coming months, and the Seattle University Law Review will compile remembrances of his life and career.