David Shapiro, teacher, mentor and friend

David Shapiro sitting a couch in his office

Credit: J. Chapin David Shapiro joined the HLS faculty in 1963.

Your remembrance of David Shapiro was excellent on the professional ledger but for me did not convey his full measure on the human side. He carried his learning lightly and was humble, funny, and brave.

I first met David in the labor law class he inherited from Derek Bok and Archibald Cox (known to us as “Cox and Box”). Eventually, he became the “supervisor” of my senior labor law thesis. I use the word advisedly because supervision for him was a collaboration in which detailed critiques tended to end in cheers.

When the final product appeared 18 months later as a long piece in U.Penn. Law Review, David sent me a congratulatory cupcake, ordered long-distance to Washington, D.C. Then came by snail mail a series of reprints of his latest non-civil-procedure articles—on Justice Rehnquist, free-speech rights, and so forth—each with a scrawled inscription (“Hot stuff!” for example, or “What do you make of this?”). For some reason he never sent me articles in his wheelhouse—civil procedure—perhaps because that was not the path on which we met.

A decade after I graduated he invited me back to give a talk on regulatory reform at EPA—during which he appeared more nervous than I was. That occasioned much post-talk chuckling, plus recruitment of a first-class intern the following year.

A few years later I was halfway toward organizing a campaign to help make him the next HLS dean when he shut that down. Administrative burdens taking him from research were what he cited, though his distaste for Byzantine politics likely played a part.

Our relationship took a new turn after he retired from HLS and moved to New York due to the loss of his voice; there we discovered a mutual love of opera. He and his wife met us for a long catch-up meal near the Met—we hadn’t talked face-to-face in 30 years. We discussed attending performances together, but our schedules never meshed and that was not to be.

L’envoi, David: You were teacher, mentor and colleague. You were a friend.