Professor Joan S. Howland is recognized for her work in legal education, legal history, law and technology, American Indian Law, legal research, and law librarianship. She teaches American Indian Legal History and a seminar on Magna Carta and the Evolution of Anglo-American Law. In 1996, she received the Roger F. Noreen Chair at the Law School. Professor Howland also has taught Law and Business at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Professor Howland received a B.A. degree from the University of California at Davis; an M.A. degree in history from the University of Texas, Austin; and an M.L.S. degree in library science from California State University. She earned her J.D. degree from the University of Santa Clara Law School and her M.B.A. degree from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. In 2002, she completed the Academic Leadership Program at the Harvard University Institute for Higher Education. From 1975 to 1983, Professor Howland was Associate Public Services Librarian at the Stanford Law School Library. She then became Associate Librarian for Public Services at the Harvard University Law School Library. In 1986, she became Deputy Director of the Law Library at the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Howland also taught at the U.C. Berkeley School of Library and Information Sciences.
Professor Howland joined the Law School faculty as a tenured Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library in 1992. She also is the Associate Dean for Information Resources and Technology. She is active in the American Bar Association and served as a member of the ABA Accreditation Committee from 2001 to 2006. Professor Howland served as a member of the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar from 2007 through 2016, serving as the 2014-5 Chair of the Council. Professor Howland currently serves as the Section on Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, the policy-making body of the ABA. She has served as Chair of the ABA Committee on Libraries and as Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Committee on Law Libraries and Technology. In 2017, Professor Howland received the AALS Section on Law Libraries and Legal Information award for outstanding contributions to teaching and scholarship. She is a member of the American Law Institute and served on the ALI Advisory Group on Electronic Publishing. Professor Howland has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Legal History. Professor Howland served as a member of the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation from 2012-2015, and chaired the Committee in 2016. She served on the ALA Taskforce on Accreditation Process and Communication. She served as Co-Chair of the Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries from 2014-2016, and is now Honorary Chair of the Forum’s Executive Board. Professor Howland has chaired many American Association of Law Libraries committees, including the Diversity, Education, National Resources, Recruitment and Scholarship committees. She was inducted into the AALL Hall of Fame in 2018. She has been a member of the Executive Board of the American Indian Library Association and served as treasurer from 1992 to 2010.
In 2021, Professor Howland received the American Bar Association's prestigious Kutak Award. This award is given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the academy, the bench, and the bar. In 2021, Professor Howland also was a recipient of the Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award as co-editor of the book Academic Law Libraries Within the Changing Landscape of Legal Education: A Primer for Deans and Provosts. In 2016 and 2017, Professor Howland was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in Legal Education by the National Jurist. In 2003, Professor Howland received the prestigious Spirit of Law Librarianship Award in recognition of her extensive volunteer efforts with a variety of legal aid programs serving the legal and technological needs of American Indians living in traditional communities. Professor Howland also received the University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Service in 2010.