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Walter Weyrauch: Five decades of scholarship

Walter O. WeyrauchWalter O. Weyrauch, distinguished professor and Steven C. O’Connell Chair, died Oct. 17 at the age of 89.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 22 at 2 p.m. in the Levin College of Law Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom (180 Holland). Visit www.law.ufl.edu/news/events/weyrauch/ for more information on the service.

“UF Law lost one of its intellectual giants with the passing of Distinguished Professor Walter Weyrauch,” said Robert Jerry, dean and Levin Mabie and Levin professor of law. “Walter has been an active presence at the law school. Many of our students and faculty knew him and will mourn his passing.”

Weyrauch reached a remarkable, record-setting milestone this year — 51 years of continuous teaching at a single school. Despite being ill with cancer, Professor Weyrauch took obvious pleasure on Sept. 29 in the company of the nearly 150 people, including current and former colleagues and students, who gathered in his honor to attend the “Walter Weyrauch Symposium: Reflecting on the Contributions to Legal Thought of Walter Weyrauch.”

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.

“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.

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.”

To honor Professor Weyrauch, Frank G. Finkbeiner (JD 72) and T.W. Ackert (JD 72) have teamed with UF Law to create an endowment to fund the Walter Weyrauch Distinguished Lecture Series in Family Law. The UF Weyrauch Lecture will affirm UF’s reputation as a leader in the area of family law scholarship, and the endowed lecture will attract speakers of the highest quality, creating a lasting legacy for UF and for Professor Weyrauch.

For more information about the Walter Weyrauch Distinguished Lecture Series in Family Law, please contact Vince PremDas in the Office of Alumni Affairs at (352) 273-0640 or via e-mail at premdas@law.ufl.edu.

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