Good evening. It is an honor to be with you tonight to celebrate the life and career of Monroe Freedman. As we all know, Monroe Freedman was truly a legal giant; a prolific, thoughtful, and provocative scholar; an advocate for social justice; and an inspired educator.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of delivering a brief tribute to Monroe at a conference on legal ethics that Hofstra dedicated to his memory. Tonight, I’d like to again share some memories of my personal experiences with Monroe.
I knew Monroe for almost my entire academic life; I was a very young, second-year assistant professor teaching Civil Procedure and Federal Courts when Monroe was selected as Dean to succeed the founding Dean of the law school, Malachy Mahon. Because of Monroe’s scholarship, persuasive advocacy, and controversial positions, Monroe’s selection as Dean of, the then very young, Hofstra Law School (only five-years old) immediately put Hofstra Law on the map and elevated its reputation and prestige in the legal academy. Monroe as a dean was an interesting phenomenon—anti-authoritarian in orientation, he was in some sense, the anti-dean Dean: inclusive, leading from the bottom up rather than top down, creating a very personal, energizing atmosphere. Monroe was genuinely interested in law students, prospective and enrolled. He felt that LSATs were a poor (and biased) predictor of who would be a good lawyer and spent innumerable hours interviewing applicants who would not have been admitted but for his taking the time to discover the life story and the promise in each such student. Many successful alumni today attribute their successful careers to Monroe’s intervention.