With a gathering of professors, practitioners of law and colleagues from far and wide as her audience, Miami Law Dean Patricia D. White last week named three of her most eminent faculty members as Dean's Distinguished Scholars for the Profession.
During a reception at the law school, Professors Michael H. Graham, Frances R. Hill and Elliott Manning were regaled with tributes as scholars whose influence over the practice of law have done much to improve and enlighten the legal profession and the clients who depend on it.
The honorific, Dean White said, recognizes the kind of "useful" scholarship that is "deeply important to the practice of law," as opposed to the more theoretical scholarship that analyses and explores matters of law but is sometimes of limited value to the everyday issues that working lawyers confront.
The work of the three professors being honored, she said, is "particularly distinctive and particularly valuable to the law." Each of the three was represented at the podium by a colleague of long standing.
Speaking for Professor Graham, Rodolfo Sorondo Jr., partner at Holland & Knight in Miami, recalled being a pupil in Professor Graham's trial advocacy class in 1978. "As a teacher, he was captivating," Sorondo recalled. The two reconnected in the 1990s, became friends, and Sorondo ultimately officiated at Professor Graham's wedding. Sorondo described Professor Graham's writing as prolific, with some 19 books under his belt.
"He writes about things that are relevant to things on earth," Sorondo said, alluding to the event's purpose in honoring scholarship that is of value to the practice of law. Professor Graham, he said, has made "a magnificent contribution to the profession."
In response, Professor Graham returned the compliment to Dean White. "I'm actually familiar with the amount of work Dean White did to make this happen," he said. Then, more seriously, he said that his kind of scholarship makes him a bit of a dinosaur: "There's just no one behind us ready to do this kind of work, no young people who are going to do this."
Speaking for Professor Hill was Nichole D. Scott, another partner at Holland & Knight, who in 2001 was a student in Miami Law's graduate program in taxation, which Professor Hill directed. "She taught me, by her example, that it was possible to become a great tax lawyer and not only a great tax lawyer but a great woman tax lawyer," said Scott, who teaches in the area of Federal Wealth Transfer Tax at Miami Law. Professor Hill's authorship of the leading treatise on tax-exempt organizations "has helped to revolutionalize the field," Scott said, "which is why we are honoring her here today."
When her turn came to speak, Professor Hill thanked Dean White "for including me in this group" as well as for the happy fact "that I am now on leave for the first time in 11 years." Ruminating on the imperatives of working in the field, she said, "You've got to save these clients from themselves – why else would they be paying us these rates?"
Turning to Professor Elliott Manning, the last of the trio – alphabetically speaking – his Miami Law colleague Professor George Mundstock said at the outset that "a legend needs no introduction." He went on to say that "Elliott has always been both a professor and a scholar at the same time." With a trace of wonder in his voice, Professor Mundstock said that the very first article Professor Manning wrote for the Harvard Law Review, in 1957, "is still one of the most cited articles" in his field. His work is "both thoughtful and scholarly and totally relevant to the practice of law," Professor Mundstock said.
"It's been humbling losing every debate with him for 25 years," he added.
Taking the podium, Professor Manning thanked Dean White as well as his "bride of 53 years, who has put up with me for all that time." He said that, as the law has become more sophisticated, it has become a profession of "experts, not specialists... and it is our job to counteract that trend."
"I've never written anything," Professor Manning said, "that doesn't find its way into my teaching. The notion of a scholar for the practice should be our major approach as time goes on."
Dean White then introduced Dana L. Trier, Distinguished Visiting Professor from Practice and Adjunct Professor in Taxation at Miami Law, who she said had been at classmate at the University of Michigan. "This was a very, very good idea," he said, referring to the designation of Dean's Distinguished Scholars for the Profession. It's a fine thing, he said, to have scholars who involve themselves with "the real world."
Before the event at which the three professors were honored, and with news that the honors would be forthcoming, laurels began to arrive at Miami Law via e-mail.
Speaking of his good friend "Mickey" Graham, Law Professor Edward J. Imwinkelried of the University of California at Davis described him as "a giant in the field" of evidence, a passion both men share. Professor Imwinkelried said the two have collaborated on several projects.
"I have the highest regard for Mickey," he said. "Whenever we have worked together, he has never been content – he always wants to make the analysis deeper, clearer, or more practical. He is one of the rare scholars who can write for every legal audience. His Evidence coursebook, now in its third edition, is one of the most innovative problem texts for law students. His six-volume treatise, now in seventh edition, is a monumental achievement. His prodigious treatise is one of the finest pieces of Evidence scholarship available to judges struggling with the interpretation of the Federal Rules. Finally, since 2005, he has regularly prepared superb Evidence workshop articles for Criminal Law Bulletin to enabled practitioners to make the leap from competent advocacy to mastery. As the editors of the bulletin once wrote, Mickey is the 'preeminent authority on the law of evidence.' I consider it a privilege to be numbered among Mickey's close friends."
The Editor-in-Chief of The Criminal Law Bulletin, James E. Robertson, said Professor Graham possesses a "remarkable mind," and that "few lawyers belong in his league."
"My acquaintanceship with Mickey began shortly after I had assumed the editorship of the Criminal Law Bulletin," said Professor Robertson, Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Corrections at Minnesota State University. "Given his prominence in the field of Evidence, I leapt at the opportunity to publish a series of articles on evidence and trial advocacy that Mickey would write with an eye toward the practicing bar. I have since copy-edited some twenty-five of these articles, and my assessment is as follows: their author is indeed remarkable. And Mickey is as nice as one can be, which says a lot about a remarkable fellow."
Paul C. Giannelli, Distinguished University Professor and Weatherhead Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University, said he relied on Professor Graham's work for more than 35 years: "He is clearly one of the preeminent evidence scholars of this generation. His books and articles are both insightful and practical, a somewhat rare combination today. They have made me a better teacher and scholar. This honor is well-deserved."
Regarding Professor Hill, who teaches and writes extensively in the areas of federal income tax, constitutional law and election law, James T. O'Hara, the former chair of worldwide tax practice at the law firm Jones Day, said she is "a true scholar and an impressive lawyer."
"In my more than thirty years of working with her in private practice and participating in some of her law school lectures, I can honestly say that I have never been associated with a lawyer who had a more eclectic mind, a more discerning analytical skill, nor a more persuasive writing ability than Fran Hill," said O'Hara, a former adjunct tax professor at Georgetown Law Center.
Trevor Potter, a member of Caplin & Drysdale's Washington D.C. office and a former Commissioner and Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said Professor Hill "is a marvel."
"She can explain complicated provisions of the tax code in a way that makes their purpose and operation crystal clear – and often in a way that generates a laugh at the same time. Who else can do that with the tax code? She is a joy to be on a panel with, because I know that her presentations will have the audience engaged and fascinated. The profession and the University are fortunate to have her."
Douglas M. Mancino, a partner at Hunton & Williams in Los Angeles, said he has collaborated with Professor Hill for many years in co-authoring the treatise Taxation of Exempt Organizations. "She is a great intellect, incredibly witty and a pleasure to work with," he said. "She is a leading scholar on the interface between election and political law and tax-exempt organizations, and her keen insights into that area have made her one of the 'go to' tax professionals in the country. She is well-deserving of this recognition."
In the same vein, Professor Manning received effusive compliments on his professionalism and expertise. Derek Cain, a Principal in Client Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington who obtained an LL.M in Taxation from Miami Law in 1995, said Professor Manning had begun teaching him the previous year.
"Prior to attending Professor Manning's class, I had enjoyed learning from very solid tax professors in my JD program," Cain said. "What distinguished Professor Manning from my prior professors was the breadth and scope of his practicing experience. Until this point, I had not experienced the major leagues of the tax practice. Surviving Professor Manning's class was exactly the preparation I needed to succeed as a young attorney in Washington D.C. after I earned my LL.M from the University of Miami School of Law. In a way, Professor Manning's class was a boot camp for young attorneys desiring to practice at the highest levels. While the day-to-day of this boot camp was not always pleasant, the experience and training I received has proven invaluable to me as a professional. I'm sure I speak for many of your other students when I say thank you. Congratulations on your award, Professor."
When James M. Peaslee, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York, met Elliott Manning, the future professor had not yet entered academia. "It was 1976, and I was a newly minted law school graduate arriving at Cleary Gottlieb, where Elliott was a tax partner," Peaslee recalled. "The group was not very large, and I ended up spending a large portion of the first four years of my career working for – and, as time went on, maybe a little with – him. It was quite an experience for an impressionable young lawyer. Elliott did what I suppose would now be called mentoring, although I am sure that phrase did not pass his lips or mine. I had enthusiasm, and a decent amount of knowledge of tax law of the type you can get in law school, but I was certainly a lump of clay ready to be molded. He was the one who did most of the molding. For a young lawyer, being able to work with Elliott was like being given a seat in the master class."
Professor Manning "simply knew more than anyone could reasonably be expected to know about tax law and how to go about practicing it in the real world," Peaslee said. "He had insights that did not come easily to others. He was creative as you would want but did not cut corners. He also did just about everything that was tax-related, something that would be rare today... Despite expecting a great deal, he was always kind. He included me in the mix of discussions to let me contribute what little I could as a neophyte. He did not remind me of the differences in experience and knowledge, except by example... He was certainly one of the strongest and most memorable characters I have encountered in my professional career. I benefitted greatly from the experience and I expect many of his students can say the same. We missed him when he left and the University of Miami was very lucky he ended up there."
Professor Manning joined Cleary Gottlieb as an associate in July 1958, after his graduation from Harvard Law School, and became a partner almost a decade later. Leslie B. Samuels, another partner in the firm's New York office, said he worked with Professor Manning on a broad range of projects until academia beckoned.
"Elliott is and was a deep and careful thinker about a broad range of tax matters," Samuels said. "A man for all tax seasons, he was legend in using his great intellect in crafting creative solutions for numerous clients. Elliott was a mentor who inspired his juniors to get to the best answer and to communicate effectively with clients. Elliott's talents as a mentor and as successful tax practitioner were missed when he left for a teaching career. He richly deserves recognition as Dean's Distinguished Scholar for the Profession."