Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Professor Russell Weintraub of the University of Texas Law School passed away on December 12, 2012. The law school is holding a memorial for him on April 24. Here is his obituary.
Professor Weintraub was my Contracts professor for a single class hour in which he changed my way of thinking and ultimately my way of teaching. During that hour, he guest-taught the Carbolic Smokeball case. I expected him to guide us in analyzing the reasoning of the court from the judicial perspective. Instead, he asked us for the arguments of the plaintiff and the arguments of the defendant. I was stunned. I had never thought about a case by looking through the eyes and arguments of the litigants. I learned to think about cases and law from the standpoints of litigants.
Later, as a lawyer, I naturally approached the law as an advocate. As a law professor, I came with the understanding that my students might not have that perspective. It was my job to help them see cases through the eyes of the litigants and the court. Years later, I was fortunate enough to speak with Professor Weintraub and to thank him for teaching me this valuable lesson. As law professors we never know when a word or a class we teach will significantly influence a student.