Monday, September 26, 2016
As most people in the profession know, our profession is a rather new one in terms of the history of legal education and was established initially by virtue of a handful of people fighting tirelessly for respect and credibility.Marjorie Rombauer was one of these individuals, if not THE first person who dedicated her career to the profession. Marjorie began teaching at the University of Washington in 1960, and by the time the first wave of "newbies" began the true development of Legal Writing in 1980, Marjorie was the matriarch to whom most people entering the field turned for advice and support. She was omnipresent in every Legal Writing organization, and often provided the foundation on which so many conference panels were based.She was the first person to self-publish a book explaining how to teach Legal Analysis -- a book that West Publishing would not publish because they did not believe there was much demand for it. [West later changed its mind about the importance of textbooks for legal writing.]She was also the person who helped convince the Association of American Law Schools that our Section name should contain the description of "Reasoning" so that others did not think we taught skills that should be separated out from legal thought or analysis.. . .
Marjorie was about as down to earth and humble as a person could possibly be. She never felt that anything she did was much of a big deal, and was thrilled at the successes of those who followed in her footsteps. She was a lover of cats, and someone who, at the age of 75, could be found fixing the roof on her house. She was extremely dedicated to family, and especially cherished the memory of her husband Edgar Rombauer, a notable attorney in his own right and who, interestingly enough, was the son of Irma Rombauer, author of the Joy of Cooking. Marjorie told me the story about how Edgar disappointed his mother by deciding to be a photographer in the west rather than initially going into the legal profession in St. Louis. Fate brought Edgar into Marjorie's life as she was attempting to golf her way across the country starting from her home in North Dakota. She said she stayed in Seattle because she "ran out of money." Aside from law and golf and fixing things, Marjorie was an accomplished accordion player and spoke fluent Japanese.
For those who wish to know Marjorie a bit better, here is a link to an article written by Professor Mary Lawrence.
Here is also a video of Marjorie's remarks in 2011 upon accepting the 2011 Burton Award for Excellence in Legal Writing Education.
As Karin Mika wrote, "Marjorie Rombauer, legend and friend, will be greatly missed." We extend our sympathy to her colleagues, family, friends, and former students who were lucky enough to have her as a teacher.
Hat tip to Karin Mika
Here are some additional stories about Marjorie Rombauer: