Farewell, Friend: Roy Schotland

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[Image courtesy of Georgetown Law]

Last night, I got the news that Georgetown Law professor emeritus Roy A. Schotland passed away yesterday. Roy was an incredibly accomplished scholar, as this paragraph from his obituary notes:

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Professor Schotland served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan and was an associate with the New York firm Paul, Weiss. He then taught law at the University of Virginia and University of Pennsylvania before moving to Georgetown University Law Center as a professor and associate dean. He was the co-editor of Administrative Law, Cases and Comments (9th ed., 1995). Other writings included: Conflicts of Interest in the Securities Markets (ed.), Divergent Investing of Pension Assets, Campaign Financing of Elective Judges, and Proposals for Campaign Finance Reform. He consulted for the Federal Reserve Board, Congressional committees, state pension systems, the Government of Bermuda, and the ABA on campaign finance. He was a member of the American Law Institute and Senior Advisor to the National Center for State Courts. He worked on several reform efforts: the TIAA-CREF pension system, judicial elections, and judges’ pay. In addition to his work, his interests included: reading mysteries and Ancient Greek plays, listening to music, going to art museums, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

That already impressive story is just a small part of what he meant to the field – and to me personally. Indeed, it’s fair to say that where I am right now, doing what I am doing, is because of the friendship and mentorship of Roy Schotland:

+ When I approached him about my interest in attending law school, he invited me – and insisted! – to sit in on his Election Law class (essentially as a stowaway auditor) at Georgetown before I had even begun the application process;

+ When I was in private practice and feeling left out of all the excitement following the 2000 Presidential election, he was the one who tipped me off to an opportunity at Pew that eventually became electionline.org and a decade-plus with my friends and colleagues there; and

+ When I mentioned that I didn’t think that there was anyone teaching election administration as an academic subject, it was he who encouraged me to propose an adjunct course at Georgetown Law that set me on the road to my work here today.

Best of all, most of this advice came at lunches at his favorite tapas spot not far from the Law School, where he always shared his favorite joke: that he wished he could have one-and-a-half glasses of wine at lunch since one wasn’t enough and two was too many. [He delivered it with such enthusiasm every time that I never had to force the laugh.]

My experience wasn’t unique; I have heard of countless other colleagues who had similar stories to tell of how Roy’s intense intellect and boundless enthusiasm were just the thing they needed to open their eyes to new opportunities and have the confidence to tackle them.

Once at lunch, Roy mentioned a line from the preface of a book (I should have written down the source but I was too rapt) that says something like “the world owes a debt to that small group of people who, every day, keep the world from going to hell.” Roy Schotland was one of those people. His passing leaves a void in the field and in my life – but I am grateful for having had the opportunity to know him.

Farewell, friend.

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