UC Hastings Remembers Prof. Beatrice “Bea” Moulton

  • Faculty
Professor Emerita Bea Moulton

UC Hastings Professor Emerita Bea Moulton, who began working at the College in 1984 as the Director of Clinical Instruction, has died of cancer at the age of 83.

Ms. Moulton, who started as an adjunct professor, is credited with writing a proposal that obtained $1 million in funding from the State of California to start the College’s in-house clinical program and hire full-time professors to teach and oversee the criminal practice and civil externship clinics, said UC Hastings Professor Mark Aaronson.

After expanding the program, she became one of the first full-time clinical faculty in 1990. Among the courses she taught were Ethics in Practice, Negotiation and Settlement, and a seminar on Homelessness.

“She had a very full life and made a real difference in the world,” said Aaronson. “Bea was a modest and self-contained person.  Not only was she a terrific teacher, scholar, and colleague, but she also was a talented painter and folk singer.”

Professor Moulton, a graduate of Pomona College who earned her law degree from Stanford and an L.L.M. from Harvard, had a lasting impact at the law school both through her own teaching and scholarship and in the founding and work of the College’s highly ranked clinical law program.  Her husband was Ralph Abascal ’68, a former member of the Board of Directors and a prominent anti-poverty lawyer, who died in 1997.  Professor Moulton was instrumental in establishing UC Hastings’ post-graduate public interest fellowship program honoring his professional life and accomplishments.

Chancellor & Dean David Faigman remembered, “Although Bea retired some years ago, she remained a colleague and friend to many of us over the years. She was truly a giant in clinical education and was the architect of the extraordinary clinical program that we have at UC Hastings today. Bea was exceptional in every way, as a teacher, scholar, mentor, and, most importantly, a person. She will be deeply missed.”

Prior to attending law school, Ms. Moulton worked in the civil rights movement, the Peace Corps, and anti-poverty programs. After graduating from law school, she worked in Los Angeles at the Western Center on Law and Poverty as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow (Reggie), a program funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Legal Services to advance aggressive legal advocacy for the poor.  She then became a supervising attorney in the clinical program at Harvard Law School.

At Harvard, she coauthored with Gary Bellow The Lawyering Process: Materials for Clinical Instruction in Advocacy, the first comprehensive textbook to be published in the field of clinical education, which many believe started the legitimation of clinical law as a necessary part of American legal education.  Afterwards, Professor Moulton developed and directed training for legal services lawyers at the national level at the Legal Services Corporation and then taught for a number of years at Arizona State University Law School before coming to UC Hastings.

She is survived by her daughter Pilar, who is a psychiatrist. Funeral arrangements will be private.

UC Hastings Professor Rory Little recalled, “Bea was such a treasure, on so many diverse levels. . .  One small but treasured memory: Bea painted a wonderful portrait of my mother and second child, we purchased at an HPILF auction in 1997.  It has hung lovingly in my house in San Rafael ever since she finished it. . . Bea was, among many things, a very talented artist.”