ohn Jay Osborn Jr.’s “Testimony” in the latest Bulletin brought to mind my own early conflicted feelings about HLS, which pretty much mirrored his own. And the amelioration of his early feelings with the help he describes having gotten from Assistant Dean Stephen Bernardi in obtaining a clerkship “for no other reason than he wanted to be helpful” also mirrors my experience. In my case, it was then Vice Dean Livingston Hall’s intervention on my behalf not once, but twice.
In early 1960, I had accepted an offer to clerk with a Chicago law firm for the following summer. About two months later, I read in The New York Times that that law firm had terminated an associate who had been active in fair housing matters on Chicago’s North Shore on a pro bono basis, about which a prominent client had complained. I called the hiring partner to verify the story, and when he did, I told him I would have to withdraw my acceptance. By then, of course, all worthwhile clerkships had long been filled, so in desperation I visited Dean Hall, who was in charge of placements, and as soon as he heard my story, he picked up the phone, called Ernie Sargent, hiring partner at what was then Ropes, Gray, Best, Coolidge & Rugg, and persuaded him to add a clerk to his already filled summer quota.
That was certainly more than I expected from Dean Hall, but his kindness and generosity were not yet exhausted. In the fall of 1960, I saw a placement notice for a clerkship with a senior circuit judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. It invited applicants to see Dean Hall. Being far distant from Law Review or other normal requirements for such a position, I was reluctant, but my wife persuaded me to take my best shot. Dean Hall looked at my record, informed me that he had the authority to choose the clerk without an interview with the judge and said that he would let me know after reviewing the several other applicants for the job. Ten days later, Dean Hall’s letter arrived directing me to report for work with Senior Circuit Judge William E. Orr in San Francisco in six months.
So it seems that Osborn and I now agree that, despite its best P.R. efforts to the contrary, HLS does indeed have a heart and exhibits it to good effect to its students when it really counts. Thanks for printing Osborn’s “Testimony” and reminding me of this.