I want to take a moment out of our busy days to share with you an experience I had just this past weekend. Less than a month after I visited William A. Rutter and his wife, Sally, at their home in Southern California, for a lovely afternoon of their reminiscences, I attended his memorial service. Although I am called upon to fulfill various responsibilities on behalf ofUC Hastings, I believe it worthwhile to mention this event because of the contributions Bill made to the bench and the bar as well as the example he set for all of us.
I am confident you know either the name or the innovative publications of the late Bill Rutter. He created not one, not two, but three major products that transformed legal education.
First, as a student, he sold mimeographed copies of his class outlines. They became legendary. This endeavor eventually developed into the Gilbert series of study aids relied upon by generations of students struggling with black-letter doctrine.
Second, with partners, he created the commercial bar review program that would come to be known as BAR-BRI. It remains the dominant summer exercise for recent graduates preparing to join the profession.
Third, understanding that the ongoing development of law demanded more rather than less concise summaries of complex subjects, he introduced the series of practice guides bearing his name. One or another of these perfectly-edited treatises are on the bookshelves, if not the desks, of virtually every lawyer and more than a few judges. I remember well the practice pointers of those pages, from my own time litigating in the California and federal courts. As a professor who has now and then attempted to introduce civil procedure to first-years, I remain in awe of the Rutter Guides for its elegant explanations of otherwise baffling concepts.
Each of these accomplishments should be praised. As a totality, they show how powerful simple ideas can be if they are pursued to their full potential. From class outlines came continuing legal education.
Furthermore, Bill's abiding interest in education prompted him to fund the Rutter Teaching Awards, at his alma mater and then at each of the UC institutions. His extraordinary generosity has ensured a substantial honorarium is bestowed annually upon the law professor who is deemed the best in the classroom on each campus. He also has planned for the funding to continue these awards in perpetuity. (A list of the winners at UC Hastingsappears at the end of this message.)
To thank him -- and Sally, the love of his life -- I went to their home in Encino. I had not expected their wonderful hospitality. For just shy of two hours, they told me about their lives. Bill represented Sally, a Hollywood star who had appeared on the big screen and as a regular on the "Lassie" television show, in a contract dispute after Mickey Rooney failed to pay her residuals, and everything else followed. They shared with me their memories of their children and grandchildren, their dogs, the garden in the back, the fish in the pond, the house where they entertained, their journeys around the world, and much more.
From time to time, people express to me that they understand my job must be difficult and they would not wish to try it. I beg to differ. In moments such as with Bill and Sally Rutter, in their living room, enjoying their company whilethe sun set on a fine day, as their adored terrier tried to sample the crackers and cheese, I realize how privileged I am to be able to spend timewith people such as them. They care about sustaining communities and advancing causes.
It was with as much surprise followed by sadness, then, that I learned from Bill's son Paul that mere days after I called upon them, Bill had fallen, hit his head, and lapsed into a coma. He was not to recover. His family gathered by his side.
This Sunday, hundreds of people who knew Bill Rutter much better than I did gathered to pay their respects. Our alumnus and colleague, James Wagstaffe '80,was among those who paid witness. Jim's eulogy was both heartfelt and eloquent. He spoke of Bill as a gardener, quoting from Jefferson about the joys of the earth and bringing to mind how Bill would admonish him for using such fancy vocabulary as "eponymous" to describe the Rutter Group. According to Jim, much as Bill had grown rhododendrons in a climate others characterized as unsuitable, so too he had grown writers whom he recognized early on for their talent. Jim, himself having been recruited only a few years out ofUC Hastings, co-authored what has blossomed into a leading practical guide on civil procedure.
Beyond the achievements and the accolades, all of them most impressive, the memorial service for Bill Rutter highlighted his desire to teach and serve. In the two meetings I had with him, I was struck by his tremendous personal warmth. He listened so attentively as I described changes to legal education that he no doubt knew better than I did, I felt as if we had been the closest friends for some time. All of us could continue to learn from Bill Rutter.
A list of Rutter Teaching Award recipients follows.
2011 Kate Bloch
2010 Hadar Aviram
2009 Robin Feldman
2008 Heather Field
2007 Lois Weithorn
2006 Donna Ryu
2005 Brian Gray
2004 Evan Lee
2003 Ashutosh Bhagwat
2002 William Dodge
2001 John Diamond
2000 Reuel Schiller
-Frank H. Wu, Chancellor and Dean
University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco is redefining legal education through our experiential, interdisciplinary, and international approach to the law. We integrate rigorous academics with hands-on practice, preparing our graduates to tackle the legal challenges—and leverage the opportunities—of the 21st century.
UC Hastings. Made in San Francisco. Ready for the World.