Chad Oldfather

Professor of Law
Professional Memberships: 
Minnesota, Wisconsin
Other Courses Taught: 
Constitutional Law, State Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, Judging and the Judicial Process


Professor Chad Oldfather grew up in the thoroughly Wobegonian but unfortunately named Kiester, Minnesota (current population: 501). So far as he knows, he is the first in a line stretching back to Friedrich Altvater's arrival in Berlin, Pennsylvania in 1769 never to have been a farmer. He thinks, but of course can't be sure, that his ancestors would find his being a law professor to be a reasonably agreeable second-best as a career choice. At least so long as he doesn't go around putting on too many airs.

Prior to teaching, Oldfather was a lawyer in the Minneapolis office of Faegre & Benson LLP. There he practiced most recently in the appellate section of the firm's general litigation group, having previously spent four-and-a-half years in its real estate group. These phases of his career were sandwiched around an eighteen-month stint in the appellate office of the Minnesota State Public Defender. In all, he amassed a broad range of practice experience for a diverse array of clients, including environmental groups, multinational corporations, small businesses, churches, and convicted felons. Immediately following law school he served as a law clerk to Judge Jane R. Roth of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He graduated from Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law. While in law school he served as an Articles Editor of the Virginia Law Review. He is kind to animals and small children, and no less an authority than his very own mother maintains to this day that he is "a handsome young man."

Oldfather teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Evidence, State Constitutional Law, and seminars on Constitutional Theory, Judging and the Judicial Process, and the Jurisprudence of Sport.  In 2016 he was selected by student vote as the winner of the James D. Ghiardi Award for Teaching Excellence.

Oldfather's primary area of scholarly interest is judging and the judicial process, and he regularly speaks to audiences of judges, lawyers, and other scholars about his work. He is currently working on a book, tentatively entitled "Judges, Judging, and Judgment: The Importance of Judicial Character in a Polarized World," which is under contract with Cambridge University Press. His recent articles have appeared in a wide array of journals including the Connecticut Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Florida Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, UC-Davis Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and Washington University Law Review. (An up-to-date list appears on his CV, which is linked above.) In 2004 he was awarded the Howard B. Eisenberg Prize by the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.