Tuesday, July 9, 2019
A memorial service is being held this afternoon at Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago.
Ralph was born in Chicago in December 1935, the son of immigrants from Romania. He attended the University of Illinois where he earned both his undergraduate degree and his law degree. He was associate editor of the University of Illinois Law Forum. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1960. Brill's first case as an attorney was a dog bite case.
Ralph Brill began his teaching career by teaching legal writing at the University of Michigan in 1960 and he then joined the faculty of the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1961. He served as associate dean from 1970 to 1973, and acting dean from 1973 to 1974. He was the director of the school's legal research and writing program for 14 years. At the time of his death he was Professor of Law Emeritus at Chicago-Kent. In addition to teaching legal writing, he taught torts, products liability, advanced torts, and seminars on current issues in tort law and famous trials in history.
Ralph served the legal writing community in many ways. He was Chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning. and Research. He also served on the Board of Directors of both the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD). He also served on the Communication Skills Committee of the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education. He was a tireless defender of legal writing professors and the legal writing community.
- In 1997, he was the second person (after Mary Lawrence) to receive the Association of American Law Schools Section Award from the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, an award that recognized lifetime contributions to legal writing education.
- In 2005, he received the Thomas F. Blackwell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the field of Legal Writing, an award conferred jointly by the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Legal Writing Institute.
- In 2006, he was the third person to receive the Burton Foundation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education.
- In 2007, he and Professor Molly Lien were the winners of the Legal Writing Institute's Terri LeClercq Courage Award.
- In 2011, the Association of Legal Writing Directors awarded the first “Brill” Award to him in recognition of his more than 50 years of service in the legal academy and to legal writing specifically. The Brill Award will be given periodically to honor those in the legal academy who, for 50 years or more, have assisted their colleagues and students in mastering legal analysis, research and writing.
In 1997, Ralph Brill, Susan L. Brody, Christina L. Kunz, Richard K. Neumann, Jr., and Marilyn R. Walter collaborated on the first edition of the ABA Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs. This book compiled information on existing programs of legal writing and gave recommendations for optimal programs. Recommendations included suggestions on class sizes and commentary on the need to improve the status and salary of legal writing professionals in order to enhance skills training in general.
Many of Ralph's contributions to the legal writing community are relatively unknown. In 1994, he established a legal writing listserv in conjunction with the Legal Writing Institute Conference held at Chicago-Kent that year. The listserv was expanded after the conference and enabled legal writing professionals to communicate on a daily basis concerning the development of their programs. The listserv membership became instrumental in enhancing the solidarity of legal writing professionals and the overall quality of programs across the nation.
His legacy at Chicago-Kent continues.
- Each year, Chicago-Kent's Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition presents the Ralph L. Brill Award for the best brief.
- Chicago-Kent law school also established the Ralph Brill Distinguished Visitor Position, which was inaugurated by Teri LeClercq in 2010.
- In 2011, Professor Adrian James Walters of England's Nottingham Trent University was named IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law's first Ralph Brill Endowed Chair.
Ralph Brill was greatly loved in the legal writing community. We share our deepest condolences with his family, colleagues, and students and with Karin Mika, his partner since 2006.