Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Mentors

Everyone has mentors. A funny thing about mentors is that the the person serving in that role may not always know or appreciate the fact that he or she is doing it. But, it is a fact of life. We all learn from people we know and respect and, if we are lucky, we help others along the way. This was an eventful week for my mentors.

On the positive side, Michael B. Hyman was elevated to Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court. That could not have happened to a more deserving lawyer and the people of the State of Illinois will benefit from his presence on the court. Mike was my editor-in-chief for about 10 years while I wrote a column for the CBA Record on law office technology. Mike always struck exactly the right balance of supportive and demanding. He got some of my best non-professional writing and I am proud of the work we did together.

Beyond my small contribution to the Record, I have always been impressed with the passion and energy that Mike puts into everything he does. He was an extremely able litigator, President of the Chicago Bar Association, and active in diverse legal organizations including the ABA and the Decalogue Society. Mike was instrumental in forging relationships among various local bars and the CBA and he always worked toward improving the access to justice.

Congratulations to Mike and best of luck in the new chapter in his already impressive career.

On a sad note, this week we lost George Trubow, professor of law at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. GBT, as he was known to many of us, was a gruff and demanding professor of torts for first year law students. It is because of him that I know that a battery is the intentional harmful and offensive unauthorized touching of another. More important. it is because of him that I know that the law is often less mysterious and nuanced than we may expect or even want as litigators. Many facets of law, including tariff classification, can be "unpacked" into a relatively simple set of factors. Check all the boxes: you win. Miss one: you lose. Every time I write a brief or ruling request, I think about that notion. It is not a particularly unique or profound insight. It is, however, something I first learned from GBT and then had hammered into me as a law clerk to Judge DiCarlo at the Court of International Trade.

Beyond teaching torts, GBT was an expert and leader in the field of information technology and privacy law. He, along with Professor Bill Mock, was instrumental in creating what was originally called the Software Law Journal. GBT plucked me and a few others from the staff of the John Marshall Law Review to found the new journal and eventually entrusted it to me for a short time to serve as its editor-in-chief. Since then, I have remained in sadly infrequent contact, directly and indirectly. GBT, even as his health declined, could always be counted on for shrewed insights, tremendously funny stories, and sage advice on all matters involving law and politics.

No professor I had in law school or as an undergraduate showed more care and passion about his teaching and the success of his students. GBT will be missed by all the lawyers he taught over the years. The profession is a better place because he taught us.

UPDATE: Here is an official statement from John Marshall.

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