Judge Janice Wilson

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Janice Wilson

The first time I heard the name "Janice Wilson" I was starting law school at Willamette University. Judge Wilson had graduated the year before, summa cum laude and first in her class of 121. There was not a professor at Willamette who did not think she was something extraordinary, a daunting role model for most of the first year students.

Years later, Judge Wilson still generates the same sort of praise from area lawyers. She is viewed as meting out even-handed justice with patience and good humor. To keep these traits firmly in view, Judge Wilson keeps a motto taped to her bench reminding her of the virtues of humor and patience.

The "seed" to become a judge was planted, if not before, during a two-year clerkship following law school with the Honorable Otto R. Skopil Jr., US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (October 1979 to September 1981). From there, she went on to Lindsay, Hart, Neil & Weigler, as an associate in 1981. She made partner in January 1986. She later moved to Ater, Wynne, Hewitt, Dodson & Skerritt as "of counsel" in the summer of 1990.

She has nothing but good words about her old law firm, but the change gave her the opportunity to examine where she wanted to go professionally. She was haunted by a continuing feeling that there was something more that she was supposed to be doing and, with the encouragement of friends and peers, she decided to seek a judgeship. She was named to the District Court Bench in March 1991, and served until January 1994, when she moved to the Circuit Court, where she is at present.

How does she like being a judge? She loves it, despite the hard work and wrestling with sometimes very difficult issues. She combines judging with a variety of other interests, including the Judicial Conference, Judicial Education Committee (vice chair of the Executive Committee in April 1994), the MBA Volunteer Lawyers Project (received the Outstanding Volunteer Award in 1993), CLE presentations on a variety of topics, including trial dynamics, scientific evidence and HIV in the work place, the Phoenix Rising Foundation and many other organizations. She also was one of the founders of Multnomah CourtCare, a free childcare program at the Multnomah County Courthouse. And occasionally she finds time to pursue her love for fishing!

Originally authored by Ann Fisher and printed in the February 1995 Multnomah Lawyer
Updated for the Internet in 2012