King of Torts

Posted: April 16, 2010 in Justice

On paper, I’m a middle-aged man with few assets, a new college loan, and about to embark on a brand new career in a field with a bad job market. But I have a precious family, a wonderfully wide collection of friends, and a couple of songs in my heart. Plus, I prefer evaluating life in ways other than paper (for a pre-law school accounting, READ HERE).

Still, the last couple of days I’ve felt on top of the world, and I thought that was worth noting.

I don’t mean for this to be an exercise in name-dropping, nor do I even want to imply the words “important people” in my little ramble. Instead, I have found it crazy cool that the gods of the law school subject I find most intriguing (torts) seem to be smiling on me. And here is my travelogue.

* My very first class in law school was taught by a visiting prof named Michael Green, who just happens to be one of the leading torts scholars in the world. And it just happens that, miracle of miracles, out of the eighty impressive students in my class, I seem to have developed an enduring connection with him. It is hard to explain, but when I visit with Professor Green, he takes on a genuine, fatherly tone. And for someone like me, without a father for so many years now, it is touching. That he is one of the leading torts guys in the world is amazing.

* I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Green last night at Dean Starr’s house. Again, the tort gods smiled on me by having our school’s law review do their symposium on Tort Law this year, which brought the best and the brightest torts folks in the nation together (check out the lineup HERE).

* Today’s symposium is in honor of Justice Allen Linden, who is THE torts guy in the nation of Canada. And, get this, I have had the pleasure of being one of nine students in his Advanced Torts Seminar this semester. We are attending the symposium as his guests today. Former Justice Linden is considered the “Prosser of Canada” and actually was a student of Prosser‘s at Berkeley in days gone by.

* I have also developed friendships with two of Pepperdine’s torts scholars, too, in Professor Cupp and Dean Gash. I took Professor Cupp‘s “Products Liability” class last semester, and I now have the pleasure of working as a research assistant for Dean Gash. But the amazing part to me is that, in addition to getting to learn from and work with these impressive men, I get to go to church with them both and consider them friends.

* Deans Gash and Starr also introduced me to Mark Lanier, and I now have the distinct pleasure of working for him this summer. Mark Lanier is one of the most famous and successful trial lawyers in the world, and I am so unbelievably pumped about the opportunity to work for him. He is legendary. I get to work for a legend.

* At last night’s event, I had the pleasure of meeting Victor Schwartz, a legendary name in tort law. In fact, the classic torts casebook is authored by Prosser, Wade, and Schwartz. I introduced myself as an old law student, and Mr. Schwartz immediately told a story of his once teaching a sixty-year-old anasthesiologist in one of his torts classes. He said he told him, “Doctor, I’m about to turn the tables on you. You’ve been putting people to sleep for years, and now I get to do it to you!”

* Also last night, I had the pleasure of meeting Provost Ellen Pryor. Provost Pryor came here to speak at the symposium from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and I discovered last evening that she will be teaching here as a visiting professor in the fall. She has authored leading torts casebooks along with articles that have appeared in the nation’s leading law journals. Professor Cupp told her that I am a former preacher, and she asked the typical question of what led me to law school. I told her I have discovered that “justice” has always been my vocation, and in that vein, I am only switching occupations. She gave me a knowing smile, said that she will be teaching “Faith, Morality, and the Law” at Pepperdine this fall, and that “vocation” is a major component of what she will be teaching.

I could go on and on. But let me just say that last night was a good night, and I am so looking forward to the symposium today. Life is always good, but sometimes it is unmistakably so.

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