December 26, 2011
The Ribstein Model
The passing of Larry Ribstein caught everyone off guard, and I'm not sure I have much to add. Nonetheless, the sense of loss I feel in his learning of his passing compels me to write something. So here it is:
Even without meeting him, Professor Ribstein taught me how I can be a better scholar. If he had something to say, he wrote an article or a blog post about it (usually both, it appears). He wrote with others, assisted countless more in their efforts, and still found time to seek out new opportunities. And he worked to ensure that his efforts were understood in context, not just cited.
Earlier this year, Professor Ribstein wrote an amicus brief in Roni v. Afra, a New York case regarding fiduciary duties in LLCs. In the brief he responded to criticisms that he was an "extremist." He wrote:
Instead of citing cases and authorities relevant to my arguments, including my distinction between LLCs and corporations, Respondents attack my reputation by falsely labeling me as an extremist (p. 26 n.25). My national reputation discussed above should amply refute this characterization. In any event Respondents' culling of thousands of blog posts and hundreds of articles produces three pieces of evidence that are not only irrelevant to the issues in this case but do not support Respondents' characterization of my positions. One cited post takes a position on market efficiency supported by mainstream finance experts, another aligns with the position of a majority of the U.S Supreme Court, and the only article cited is completely mischaracterized in a way that suggests that Appellant was misled by its ironic title and did not actually read it.
I did not know Professor Ribstein, but I loved reading his work in books, articles, and blogs. He was deliberate, careful, and specific, and he said what he thought. This amicus brief was no different. He analyzed the issues, explained his reasoning, and confronted what needed to be confronted. He wasn't afraid to say when he disagreed, but he didn't look for more conflict than was necessary. He understood the difference between argument and arguing.
The loss of his scholarly impact pales in comparison to the loss his friends and family are experiencing, and I share my deepest condolences. By all accounts I have seen, his was a life well-lived, scholarly and personally, and not necessarily in that order. He will be missed, and I'm glad to have been a contemporary, even if it was not for long enough.
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