Harold Shepherd
Professor of Law 1939-1947, Dean of the Law School 1947-1949

Harold Shepherd came to Duke in 1939 initially as a visiting professor of contracts.  However there was a sudden vacancy on the faculty during that year and Shepard was hired permanently.  He became Dean of the Law School in 1947 when Claude Horack stepped down.  When Shepherd arrived at Duke he had already taught at several law schools, and been law school dean at two of them.  He served as dean at the University of Wyoming when he was just 25.

Shepherd took a leave of absence from Duke Law during World War II and served in the Legal Division of the Ordinance Department of the Army.  His role took advantage of his expertise on contracts.  He devised new streamlined procedures for the settlement of terminated war contracts.  Shepherd’s work was so successful he was the chief of the Division by the end of the war and was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Shepherd’s role in the Army kept him occupied through the 1945-46 academic year.  When he did return to teaching it was as Dean of Duke Law.  He remained Dean until 1949, when colleagues at his alma mater, Stanford, convinced him to return and teach there.  William Rehnquist was a student in one of Shepherd’s first classes back in California.  Shepherd taught at Stanford until his retirement in 1962. 

Shepherd obtained his undergraduate and J.D. degrees from Stanford in 1919 and 1922.  He taught at Stanford in the 1920’s and later at the University of Chicago, Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Columbia.  Besides serving as dean at the University of Wyoming he was also dean at the University of Washington Law School.  In 1941 Shepherd was elected president of the Association of American Law Schools.  He died in 1971.


Bar Association of the School of Law of Duke University, The Prolocutor 3 (1949)

Duke University, School of Law, Bulletin of Duke University School of Law [serial]

Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part I)[https://perma.cc/K4QM-XH3A], vol. LXVI, no. 3, July 1989 North Carolina History Review 321

Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part II)[https://perma.cc/V2QP-KHR2], vol. LXVI, no. 4, October 1989 North Carolina History Review 443

Robert F. Durden, The Launching of Duke University, 1924-1949 (1993)

Samuel D. Thurman, Tribute to Harold Shepherd, Stanford Lawyer 3-5 (Fall 1971) https://stanfordlawyer.law.stanford.edu/issues/archive/Stanford_Lawyer_issue-09_1971-FALL_front.pdf[perma.cc/YE4A-3QNA]


Harold Shepherd
Historic Faculty