Weyrauch Symposium Examines Five Decades of Scholarship

Published: October 6th, 2008

Category: News

Walter WeyrauchUF Law Professor Emeritus Walter Weyrauch reached a remarkable, record-setting milestone this year—51 years of continuous teaching at a single school. Close to 150 people, including his current and former colleagues and students, attended the “Walter Weyrauch Symposium: Reflecting on the Contributions to Legal Thought of Walter Weyrauch” Sept. 29 to honor that record and examine the impact of his impressive body of work.

Weyrauch’s teaching and scholarship focus on family law, business organizations, comparative law, law and society, legal philosophy, and autonomous informal lawmaking, and he has been widely published in these areas.

His publications since 1999 include Gypsy Law: Romani Legal Traditions and Culture, University of California Press, Berkeley, (Los Angeles and London, 2001); Das Recht Der Roma Und Sinti: Ein Beispiel Autonomer Rechtsschöpfung, Vittorio Klostermann Publisher, (Frankfurt Main, Germany, 2002); “Nonrational Sources of Scholarship: Remembering David Daube (1909-1999),” 19 Rechtshistorisches Journal 677 (2000); “A Theory of Legal Strategy,” 49 Duke Law Journal 1405 (with Lynn LoPucki, 2000); “Unwritten Constitutions, Unwritten Law,” 56 Washington and Lee Law Review 1211 (1999) (also republished in Charles W. Collier, Basic Themes in Law and Jurisprudence, Anderson Publishers, 2000); and “Unconscious Meanings of Crime and Punishment,” 2 Buffalo Criminal Law Review 945 (1999).

 

Symposium speakers included Professors Inga Markovits, Friends of Joe Jamail Regents Chair, University of Texas School of Law; Lynn M. LoPucki, Security Pacific Bank Professor, University of California-Los Angeles School of Law; Alison Barnes, Marquette University Law School; and W. Michael Reisman, Myres S. McDougal Professor of International Law, Yale Law School. The four spoke eloquently on the far-ranging influence of Weyrauch’s scholarship and how it has swayed their own views and studies.

Markkovits

Inga Markovits

“I don’t think I know anyone as curious as Walter Weyrauch,” began Professor Markovits. “He has the investigative curiosity of a three-year-old. He is interested in not only what happened, but how and why it happened. That is what law is all about.”

An internationally renowned expert in comparative law, Markovits’ research has concentrated on socialist legal regimes, and more recently, on law reform in Eastern Europe. She commented that she, like Walter, is an immigrant to America, and spoke on the value of examining a culture through the lens of another.

“Walter is fascinated by the law outside the realm of the mighty and the decision-makers,” she said, and praised his use of qualitative versus quantitative research and analysis.

Professor Lynn M. LoPucki focused his presentation on Weyrauch’s unique view of legal strategy. In addition to his position at UCLA Law School, LoPucki is the Bruce W. Nichols Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School each fall semester. He teaches Secured Transactions and Empirical Analysis of Law at both schools, and has engaged in empirical research on large public company bankruptcies for 25 years.

Lynn LoPucki

Lynn M. LoPucki

He worked with Weyrauch in 1975 on a two-step presentation strategy: persuade the judge (without legal doctrine) and provide the doctrinal bridge to that result. He said Weyrauch’s work with the Gypsies eventually led to a 2000 theory of legal strategy where lawyers, not judges, determine outcomes, and where lawyers choose and constrain judges. The article he co-authored with Weyrauch, “A Theory of Legal Strategy,” in the Duke Law Journal examined the conventional versus the strategic view. He illustrated his point with a detailed analysis of the Pennzoil v. Texaco case, which exemplifies that strategy determines outcomes.

“Strategic practice is so much more effective than traditional practice, it is going to sweep worldwide,” said LoPucki.

The April 2008 issue of the Florida Law Review begins with an article by LoPucki, “Walter O. Weyrauch, the Observer.” The issue was dedicated to Weyrauch on the occasion of his retirement.

Professor Alison Barnes has written extensively in areas of aging law and policy, including the first law text in the field, Elder Law. She is co-author and editor of Counseling Older Clients and the Health Law Desk Reference (American Bar Association/American Law Institute), and founded and is faculty advisor of the law review Elder’s Advisor. She teaches and develops curriculum in health law and aging law and policy, and is faculty sponsor for the Health Law Society.

The April 2008 issue of the Florida Law Review begins with an article by LoPucki, “Walter O. Weyrauch, the Observer.” The issue was dedicated to Weyrauch on the occasion of his retirement.

Professor Alison Barnes has written extensively in areas of aging law and policy, including the first law text in the field, Elder Law. She is co-author and editor of Counseling Older Clients and the Health Law Desk Reference (American Bar Association/American Law Institute), and founded and is faculty advisor of the law review Elder’s Advisor. She teaches and develops curriculum in health law and aging law and policy, and is faculty sponsor for the Health Law Society.

Alison Barnes

Alison Barnes

She explored a number of aspects, including the use of ritual, in public versus private law, and the role of observers who can “attest that something took place.” This is particularly important in times of change, she said, but can also reinforce the status quo.

Barnes has been senior policy analyst for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and the George Washington University Health Policy Project and Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. During four years at the University of Florida College of Law Public Policy Project, she chaired The Florida Bar Committee on the Elderly and was vice chair of the Commission on the Elderly. She and Weyrauch are working together to examine unwritten laws and rules in long-term care, and how they impact quality.

“There is so much more to be said about informal, unwritten law, from the micro to the macro level,” she said. “There is so much more to say in a multi-cultural world, where so many more interact.”

Professor W. Michael Reisman, Myres S. McDougal Professor of International Law, Yale Law School, is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and president of the Arbitration Tribunal of the Bank for International Settlements. He has published widely in the area of international law and has served as arbitrator and counsel in many international cases.

Michael Reisman

W. Michael Reisman

“It is very important to remember the perspective you are taking in legal research,” he said. “It is vital to engage in this process of self-scrutiny.”

Reisman remarked on the groundbreaking nature of Weyrauch’s work on what has come to be known as group law. “Wherever there are social groups, there is law,” he said. “Much of that law is held at such low levels of consciousness we are unaware of it. When consciousness of that law is raised, there is conflict.”

Walter Weyrauch joined the UF Law faculty in 1957 as associate professor. He became professor in 1960, was Clarence J. TeSelle Professor 1989-94, and became Stephen C. O’Connell Chair in 1994 and Distinguished Professor in 1998. He was named an Honorary Professor of Law at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Germany, and has been visiting faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, Rutgers University School of Law and University of Frankfurt.

“The law school has been a wonderful environment, and was a fascinating environment for empirical study,” said Weyrauch in his remarks at the symposium. “There have been tremendous changes in the 51 years I have been here, including dramatic shifts in the diversity of the faculty and student body.”

The symposium concluded with several presentations, the first from a group of Weyrauch’s former students, now practicing attorneys, who announced a contribution in his honor. The second was a gift from the International Society of Family Law from Boston College Law School Professor Sanford N. Katz, who came back to Gainesville for the first time in more than 40 years to attend the symposium. Katz has been chair of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association and president of the International Society of Family Law.

“Walter treated the University of Florida as his laboratory,” said Katz. “He followed the tradition of all great family law scholars in the world, all—like Walter—German in origin.”

The Levin College of Law faculty and administration express their gratitude to the members of the Florida Law Review, who assisted with arrangements for the symposium.