Laghi Distinguished Chair
Gregory Sisk holds the Laghi Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He received his B.A. from Montana State University and his J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law, where he graduated first in his class, was an editor on the law review, and president of the moot court board. Prior to joining the legal academy, he served as a legal advisor in all three branches of the federal government: as a legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, as a law clerk to a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, and as an appellate attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice representing the United States in the courts of appeals and the Supreme Court. Subsequent to his government service, he was in private practice as the head of the appellate department of a Seattle law firm.
He joined the University of St. Thomas law faculty in 2003, after teaching for twelve years at the Drake University Law School, where he had been named as the Richard M. & Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor.
Professor Sisk published his first novel, “Marital Privilege,” with North Star Press in 2014. In the novel, which is set in the Twin Cities, a young law professor suffers the loss of her child, seeking solace in her faith. When her husband becomes the target of the investigation, she asserts the “marital privilege” and refuses to cooperate with the politically-ambitious prosecutor. This ultimately provokes a crisis of identity between her professional commitment to the justice system and her resolute loyalty to her husband.
Professor Sisk’s casebook, “Litigation With the Federal Government: Cases and Materials,” is now in its second edition (2008) with Foundation Press. The casebook has been adopted at several law schools over the years, including Georgetown University, George Washington University, Catholic University, New York University, the University of Pittsburgh, and McGeorge School of Law.
Treatise: Litigation With the Federal Government
Professor Sisk is author of the treatise on the subject, “Litigation With the Federal Government,” published as the fourth edition by ALI-ABA in 2006. The treatise has been cited by the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Treatise: Professional Responsibility
Professor Sisk is also the co-author of the continuing treatise on lawyer ethics in Iowa. “Lawyer and Judicial Ethics: Iowa Practice” (Thomson-West, 2014) (with Chief Justice Mark S. Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court).
General Scholarly Work
In addition to his books, Professor Sisk has written about than five dozen articles, many published in top 25 law reviews, on litigation with the federal government, professional responsibility, judicial decision-making, constitutional interpretation, and law and religion.
His scholarly works are regularly cited in the courts. In a keynote speech before the annual Judicial Conference of the Court of Federal Claims, Judge S. Jay Plager of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit singled out one of Sisk’s articles as the “definitive piece” on Court of Federal Claims jurisdiction over money claims and saying “it is always refreshing to find a law review article that addresses issues that are relevant to the work of judges and practicing lawyers.” S. Jay Plager, Money and Power: Observations on the Jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 17 Fed. Cir. B.J. 371, 374 (2008).
Empirical Work on Judicial Decision-Making
In an ongoing partnership with Professor Michael Heise of Cornell Law School, Sisk has been conducting a series of studies of religious liberty decisions in the lower federal courts over several decades. The reports from these studies have been published in the Michigan Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, and the Notre Dame Law Review. See also Data from Empirical Study of Religion Freedom Decisions.
An earlier empirical study of judicial decisionmaking and the influence of judicial background, co-authored with Professors Michael Heise and Andrew Morriss, was published in the New York University Law Review and received the 1999 Article Prize from the Law and Society Association.
Scholarly Impact of Law Faculties
In 2012, Professor Sisk led a study exploring the scholarly impact of law faculties, ranking the top third of American law schools. Refined by Professor Brian Leiter, the “Scholarly Impact Score” for a law faculty is calculated from the mean and the median of total law journal citations over the past five years to the work of tenured members of that law faculty. In addition to a school-by-school ranking, the study reports the mean, median, and weighted score for each law faculty, along with a listing of the tenured law faculty members at each ranked law school with the highest individual citation counts.
The law faculties at Yale, Harvard, Chicago, and Stanford stand out nationally in scholarly prominence, followed by several others that are traditionally ranked among the elite law schools. Three law schools accredited within the past two decades -- the University of St. Thomas, Nevada-Las Vegas, Chapman, and Florida International -- have already made a scholarly impact that dramatically outpaces their academic reputations.
Professor Sisk has remained active as a member of the legal profession. He maintains a limited practice, primarily as an appellate attorney and as an expert witness on professional ethics and conduct. See John R. Sand & Gravel Co. v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 750 (2008) (co-counsel for petitioner on case asking whether the statute of limitations for claims in the Court of Federal Claims is a jurisdictional condition on the waiver of sovereign immunity); United States v. Tohono O’odham Nation, No. 09-846 (decided April 26, 2011) (author of amicus curiae brief in support of neither party arguing that the Court of Federal Claims has exclusive authority in cases where the substance of the dispute is a claim for money and suggesting that the better answer to the problem of duplicative lawsuits in multiple courts is to transfer the district court case to the Court of Federal Claims to be resolved in a single case). On his appellate litigation, see also Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. Brown & Bryant, Inc., 132 F.3d 1295, 1303 n.5 (9th Cir. 1997), amended, 159 F.3d 358, 365 n.6 (9th Cir. 1998) (“Litigation often produces criticism for its participants. This case, however, was extraordinarily well briefed and argued by consummate professionals on both sides and we are grateful for that.”).
In recent years, Professor Sisk has regularly been appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as pro bono counsel in prisoner civil rights cases, in which he works with law students for a year-long, six-credit Appellate Clinic course at the University of St. Thomas.
Professor Sisk is a member of the American Law Institute, the nation's premier law reform organization. He participates as a member of the Mirror of Justice blog, which present a diverse array of Catholic perspectives on the law, public life, and social justice.
Professor Sisk was born in Des Moines, Iowa; grew up in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; went to college in Montana; attended law school in Seattle, Washington; and now lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with his wife, Mindy, a ceramic artist and para-professional with special needs students in junior high, and his daughter, Caitlin, who attends the University of Notre Dame.
A Sample of Current and Recent Projects and Activities
Professor Sisk’s Class