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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Dean Phil C. Neal, R.I.P.

From the University of Chicago Law School:

Former University of Chicago Law School Dean Phil C. Neal, an antitrust expert, litigator, and law firm founder whose ability to cut through complexity earned him a reputation as a deft problem-solver, died Tuesday night. He was 97.

I was particularly interested in this (taken from the same post):

After law school, Neal served for two years as a law clerk to Justice Robert H. Jackson of the US Supreme Court. In spring 1945, Jackson permitted Neal to leave his clerkship a few months early because he had the opportunity, through the intercession of Justice Felix Frankfurter, to assist Department of State official Alger Hiss in his work as secretary general of the United Nations organizing conference.

He joined the faculty at Stanford Law School in 1948 after working at a law firm in San Francisco for several years. While at Stanford, Neal introduced Justice Jackson to the student who would become his final law clerk. This meeting, which took place in Neal’s office in the summer of 1951, ultimately resulted in Jackson offering a clerkship to William H. Rehnquist. As it turned out, Rehnquist was one of two future US Supreme Court justices whom Neal taught at Stanford; the other was Sandra Day O’Connor.

In his first book about the Court, The Supreme Court:  How It Was, How It Is, Rehnquist dedicates a lot of the first chapter (which I've always thought was a really endearing read) to his clerkship interview, the trip out to Washington, and the first few weeks on the job:

A large element of luck seemed to have entered into my selection as Justice Jackson's law clerk. . . .  [A]s fate would have it, Justice Jackson came to dedicate the new Stanford Law School building in the summer of 1951, when I was attending my second summer session.  Phil Neal, my administrative-law professor, had himself clerked for Justice Jackson several years before.  Shortly before Justice Jackson was due to arrive for the dedication ceremonies, Professor Neal asked me if I would be interested in clerking for the justice; the suggestion came to me out of the clear blue sky, but I naturally said that I would be. . . .

It cannot be difficult to imagine the fear and trembling with which I approached the interview. . .  I first tried to bone up for my meeting with the justice by reading some of his opinions, and by trying to steep myself in constitutional law.  After a few hours, however, I decided that it was utterly futile[.] . . .  [Justice Jackson's] pleasant and easygoing demeanor at once put me at ease. . .   I genuinely enjoyed listening to [his] anecdotes, but somehow I felt I should be doing more to make a favorable impression on him. . . .  I walked out of the room sure that in the first few minutes of our visit he had written me off as a total loss.

I know the feeling!  In any event, I'm grateful to Prof. Neal.  R.I.P.


Posted by Rick Garnett on October 4, 2016 at 03:38 PM in Rick Garnett | Permalink


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