» Professor, Ronald Rotunda

Chapman University mourns the passing of Professor Ron Rotunda of the Fowler School of Law.


Ronald Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda was the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at Chapman University, the Dale E. Fowler School of Law. He joined the faculty in 2008. Before that, he was University Professor and Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law.  From 2002 to 2006, he was the George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law. Before that, he was the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law, at the University of Illinois.

Rotunda is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was a member of Harvard Law Review. He joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1974 after clerking for Judge Walter R. Mansfield of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, practicing law in Washington, D.C., and serving as assistant majority counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee.

He has co-authored the most widely used course book on legal ethics, Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility (Foundation Press, 12th ed. 2014) and was the author of a leading course book on constitutional law, Modern Constitutional Law (West Academic Co., 11th ed. 2015) (Abridged & Unabridged editions). He is the coauthor of Legal Ethics: The Lawyer’s Deskbook on Professional Responsibility (ABA- West/Thompson Reuters Publishing, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2016-2017 ed.) (Jointly published by the ABA and West/Thompson Reuters Publishing) (with John Dzienkowski). Rotunda was also the co-author (with John Nowak) of the six-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West/Thompson Reuters Publishing, 5th ed. 2012) (with annual updates), and a one-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Academic, 8th ed. 2010). He was also the author of several other books and more than 500 articles in various law reviews, journals, newspapers, and books in this country and abroad.

Rotunda's works have been translated into French, Portuguese German, Romanian, Czech, Russian, Japanese, and Korean. These books and articles have been cited more than 2000 times by law reviews, by state and federal courts at every level, from trial courts to the U.S. Supreme Court, and by foreign courts in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. In addition, he has been interviewed on radio and television on legal issues, both in the United States and abroad.

In 1993, Rotunda was the Constitutional Law Adviser to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia and assisted that country in writing its first democratic constitution. He has consulted with various new democracies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, including Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine, on their proposed constitutions and judicial codes. He chaired the subcommittee that drafted the American Bar Association’s Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement; was a member of the Publications Board of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility from 1994 to 2016; was a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Professional Discipline (1991-1997); and was Liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility (1994-1997). Rotunda was a Fulbright Professor in Venezuela in 1986 and a Fulbright Research Scholar in Italy in 1981. In 1996, he assisted the Czech Republic in drafting the first Rules of Ethics for lawyers in that country. 

During the Spring 1999 semester, Rotunda was Visiting Professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, holding the John S. Stone Endowed Chair of Law. During the summer and fall of 2000, he was the Visiting Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, in Washington, DC. In the fall of 2001, he was visiting professor at George Mason University School of Law. During November-December, 2002, he was Visiting Scholar, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculty of Law, Leuven, Belgium. In May, 2004, and December, 2005, he was visiting lecturer at the Institute of Law and Economics, Institut für Recht und Ökonomik, at the University of Hamburg. From early June 2004 to May 2005, he was the Special Counsel to the Department of Defense. He was on the Panel of Contributing Editors that produced, Black’s Law Dictionary (West/Thompson Reuters Publishing, 8th ed. 2004; Thomson-Reuters, 10th ed. 2014). From 2005-2006, he was a member of the Task Force on Judicial Functions of the Commission on Virginia Courts in the 21st Century: To Benefit All, to Exclude None.

In May 2000, American Law Media, publisher of The American Lawyer, the National Law Journal, and the Legal Times picked Professor Rotunda as one of the ten most influential Illinois Lawyers. Also in 2000, a lengthy study that the University of Chicago Press published, which sought to determine the influence, productivity, and reputations of law professors over the last several decades, listed Professor Rotunda as the 17th highest in the nation.  The 2002-2003 New Educational Quality Ranking of U.S. Law Schools (EQR) (the last year for which such records are available) ranks Rotunda as the eleventh most cited of all law faculty in the United States.

In July, 2007, he was one of the main speakers at the International Judicial Conference hosted by the United States Embassy, the Supreme Court of Latvia, and the Latvian Ministry of Justice. The other main speakers were Justice Samuel Alito, the President of Latvia, the Prime Minister of Latvia, the Chief Justice of Latvia, and the Minister of Justice of Latvia.  On February 27, 2008, President George W. Bush nominated Ronald D. Rotunda  to become a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) for an initial four-year term and sent his nomination to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for confirmation hearings on the nominees.

Rotunda was selected the Best Lawyer in Washington, DC, in 2009 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law, as published in November 2008 in the Washington Post in association with the Legal Times. When he moved to California, Rotunda he also selected as one of the Best Lawyers in Southern California, in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, also in Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law as published in the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News, and American Law Media. 

On June 17, 2009, Rotunda became a Commissioner of the Fair Political Practices Commission, a state regulatory agency (analogous to the Federal Election Commission) that is California’s independent political watchdog. He served until January 31, 2013, when his term expired. In 2012, he became a Distinguished International Research Fellow at the World Engagement Institute, a non-profit, multidisciplinary and academically-based non-governmental organization with the mission to facilitate professional global engagement for international development and poverty reduction. In 2012, Chapman University honored him with the Chapman University Excellence In Scholarly/Creative Work Award, 2011-2012. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Editorial Board of, The International Journal of Sustainable Human Security (IJSHS), a peer-reviewed publication of the World Engagement Institute (WEI).  Rotunda was a Member of the Editorial Board of ABA’s Journal of Legal Education (2014 to 2016).

Courses Taught:

Constitutional Law I and II
Professional Responsibility