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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Prawfs and gratitude

The following contribution to the Prawfs Tenth Anniversary is by Will Baude (Chicago).

I have felt Prawfsblawg's tenth anniversary with both fondness and despair. Fondness because of what this blog and Dan gave to both the blogosphere generally and to me; despair because like so many people who knew Dan, I now know that I'll never be able to give him the thanks I owe him.

Dan invited me to guest-blog at Prawfsblawg in its first year of operation, 2005.  I was already a blogger at the time, but I was not a "Prawf." I was just a second year law student who had no idea how impertinent I was.  On the level plane of the internet, it just seemed natural to engage with and criticize law professors as if we were all part of a shared intellectual enterprise.

Of course this was insane.  And not everybody encouraged it.  As Howard has noted, many folks advise against blogging even by tenure-track law professors, even today.  At the time blogging was much less respectable and I had plenty of concerned friends tell me that it was dangerous and I should quit before I got in trouble.

But not Dan. Even better, Dan also never told me *not* to stop, as if it were even in question. He just argued with me on the merits and invited me aboard, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. By nonchalantly bringing me to Prawfs, Dan subtly encouraged me to stay impertinent, and to think of the legal academy as someplace I belonged.

Of course, now I know that that's how Dan was with so many other people. When he took you and your ideas seriously it made you a little more fearless. You were a little more willing to ask an impertinent question or toss out a new idea. Often, the idea wouldn't pan out, and that was fine. But occasionally that insane idea you had turned out to be so insane that it was brilliant and true.

Thanks, Dan.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 14, 2015 at 08:31 AM in 10th Anniversary, Blogging | Permalink


Blogging as a law student and engaging with professors wasn't insane or impertinent, not in the slightest. Other people looked down on it, but they were wrong and still are. Dan was right to pull up a chair at the Prawfs table for you, partly because he could tell you were bound for greatness but also because we should always have open chairs at the tables where we talk and Dan knew it. Good on you for ignoring the haters.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Apr 14, 2015 9:56:54 AM

"When he took you and your ideas seriously it made you a little more fearless." This is one of my favorite lines about Dan. Very accurate w/r/t me around the same time, when I was also a pre-Prawf. Well said, Will.

Posted by: DF | Apr 14, 2015 7:34:17 PM

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