Thomas L. Shaffer joined the Notre Dame Law School faculty in 1963 and taught primarily in the area of estate planning. From 1969 to 1971 he served as associate dean, and from 1971 to 1975 as dean. He rejoined the Notre Dame faculty in 1988 as a chaired professor. For most of his recent tenure, he has been a supervising attorney in the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic, teaching clinical ethics and guiding the legal practice of the law students who serve the needy of the South Bend area.
Shaffer, the nation’s most prolific legal author, has written nearly 300 scholarly works in his varied areas of expertise including estate planning, law and religion, legal ethics, and most recently, clinical teaching and legal counseling. He earned his B.A. from the University of Albuquerque in 1958 and his J.D. cum laude from Notre Dame in 1961, where he graduated first in his class and served as editor-in-chief of the law review, Notre Dame Lawyer. In 1983, St. Mary’s University (San Antonio, Texas) honored him with an LL.D. In 2008, he received an honorary doctor of laws from Valparaiso University.
Admitted to the Indiana Bar, Professor Shaffer practiced law in Indianapolis with Barnes, Hickam, Pantzer & Boyd from 1961 to 1963 before beginning his teaching career. While on the faculty of Washington & Lee University Law School from 1980 to 1988, he served as the director of its Frances Lewis Law Center (1983–1985) and was named the Robert E.R. Huntley Professor of Law (1987–1988). His expertise has given him numerous visiting scholar opportunities including visiting professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles (1970–1971), visiting professor of law at the University of Virginia (1975–1976), Frances Lewis Scholar at Washington & Lee University (fall 1979), visiting professor of law at the University of Maine (summers 1982 and 1983), Richard Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Boston College Law School (fall 1992), and Edward Godfrey Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Maine (fall 1998).
His membership in professional organizations includes the Society of Christian Ethics (since 1985), the Jewish Law Association (since 1986) the AALS Executive Committee (1975–1976) and the ABA Accreditation Committee (1975–1981). From 1970 to 1977, and again from 1981 to 1985, he served on the board of advisors of the Journal of Legal Education.
Professor Shaffer honors and awards includes the Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the Journal of Law and Religion, the Cardinal O'Hara Award (2007) and the Father Michael McCafferty Award (2012) from the Notre Dame Alumni Association, The St.Joseph County Bar Association now named its annual pro bono award the Thomas L. Shaffer Award, and Dean Newton named the Law School's Public Interest Law Fellowships the Shaffer Fellowships (2013).Publications
Thomas Shaffer: He Believes What He Teaches and Lives What He Believes, Rev. John H. Pearson C.S.C.