TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesdays with Tort Masters: Dan Dobbs


Dan Dobbs is a Regents Professor and the Rosenstiel Professor of Law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.  He is the author of two leading treatises – The Law of Torts, and The Law of Remedies – and a coauthor of the treatise Prosser & Keeton on Torts. He has guided many casebooks to print, including five editions of Torts and Compensation Systems, the last three with co-author Paul T. Hayden. In addition, he has published more than thirty scholarly articles.  He also served as a past Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Torts and Remedies sections, and continues to be an active member of the American Law Institute.  In 2010, he was awarded the Robert B. McKay Law Professor Award by the American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section.

I recently was able to ask Professor Dobbs some questions about his career:

1.  Why did you apply to law school?  Where did you go to law school, and why did you select that

I went to law school because I'd just got married and had no plans. The University of Arkansas, in my home state and I chose it because it never occurred to me I might have an opportunity elsewhere.

2.  Who was your Torts professor, and what was your experience as a Tort student?

My torts professor was Dean Robert A. Leflar. I was in awe. He taught in old Socratic style. His first words in the first class were: "Mr. Dozier, give us your brief of the first case." The first case, I think it was I de S and Wife, was entirely in Latin, of which I read not one word. I couldn't leave, though--the door was just behind Dean Leflar's desk. After that it was not bad at all.

3.  How did you become interested in teaching law and Torts in particular?

I actually liked law school and thought all the moaning and groaning of some students was self-dramatizing and funny. So I always wanted to try my hand teaching. For me that would be torts, since my practice for a little over four years was mostly in torts.

4.  When did you begin teaching Torts, and how has the course and the Torts professoriate changed since then?

I began teaching at UNC in the fall of 1961. I'm not sure I have a good read on how the professoriate has changed. My overall impression is that it has become more intellectually distanced from students who are not going to be teachers but practitioners, corporate or government lawyers. Correspondingly it seems to me that many torts teachers don't have courtroom, jury-trial experience, which might be especially important in the personal injury part of tort law. (On the other hand, some of the professors today actually understand mass tort litigation, which I certainly do not!)

5.  What do you see as your major accomplishment as a Torts scholar and professor?

My accomplishment as a torts scholar is the book, Law of Torts, which will be coming out in the second edition in June, 2011.


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