On Being Knighted by the Louisiana Bar Foundation: Distinguished Professor 2004

Author:Paul R. Baier
Position:Professor of Law, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University

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Remarks at the 19th Annual Fellows Dinner, April 15, 2005, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, New Orleans.

    Editors Note: The Board of Editors of Volume 65 of the Louisiana Law Review is proud to join the Louisiana Bar Foundation in honoring Professor Baier as its Distinguished Professor 2004. We know him best from his teaching in the Law Review seminar where he embodies the spirit of Will Strunk. Professor Baier has annotated his speech to the Bar Foundation for publication in the Review. It is a bright example of his best. Photograph by Doug Carmouche, reproduced here courtesy of Wade Shows, Michael Palmintier, and Ed Walters - Professor Baier's former students and his friends for thirty years running


Do you know Camelot? Barbara and I are living the legend tonight. She, my Princess. I, her KnightCin Black-Tie. Why, it is as though the Louisiana Bar Foundation has touched my shoulder with the sword of crowning achievement. Being knighted Distinguished Professor 2004 is one of the great honors of my life. May I say that in spite of all that I know to the disadvantage of the subject, it makes me proud.1 Page 1161

Sixty years have elapsed since the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred Forty-four. I will not bother you with the intervening details of my life. But I may mention a few thoughts that come to me as a listener-in. Hearing the kind voice of friends touches me deeply.2


First, a word about what the Louisiana Bar Foundation means to me, as your latest distinguished professor.

I recall Eldon Fallon's invitation to become the first Scholar-in- Residence of the Bar Foundation. This was fifteen years ago. Judge Jimmy Gulotta and Marcel Garsaud were present. They can avouch my answer. They heard me ask Mr. Eldon in turn, "Must I move in with you?"

"Oh, no, 'Scholar-in-Residence' is a metaphor," Judge Fallon whispered in my ear. Thereafter for two happy years, I was able to live my life metaphorically.

I will never forget the L.B.F.'s Conclave Report.3 Worthy figures from Chief Justice Calogero and LeDoux ProvostyCGod bless himCon down to my lowly level met at the Hotel Bentley in Alexandria for two days of table talk on legal education and professional development. It fell to me to render the report. All I had was a transcript of the dialogue, some of it quite loose. As you may know, it is quite alarming to read one's own extemporaneous discourse in print. But with a little nursing of the transcriptCI say "nursing," not "doctoring"Cand with the help of Selden's Table Talk as Muse, our Editorial Committee rendered a report that the Louisiana Bar Foundation published in 1995.

I still think that next to the Bible and the Louisiana Civil Code, the L.B.F.'s Conclave on Legal Education and Professional Development is the third most important book in the history of Page 1162Western Civilization.

Surely the quotation from Selden's Table Talk on the "GREAT CONJUNCTION" featured in our report, fits the situation aptly. I quote: "The great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter happens but once in 800 years and therefore Astrologers can make noe experiment of it nor foretell what it means."4

To this day, I am not sure what the Great Conjunction at Alexandria means. I am sure, however, that the Bar Foundation's Scholar-in-Residence Program knocked two books out of me, the other being Lions Under the Throne,5 the Edward Douglass White

Lectures of Chief Justices Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist. In truth, whatever distinction I have achieved I owe in large measure to the Louisiana Bar Foundation itself.

But beyond books, there is the fellowship of the Bar Foundation's Round Table. To mention only one figure, may I say I regard the company of Judge Jimmy Gulotta as one of the great blessings of my life. Why is that? Because, he is in my favoriteCDon Quixote, de la Mancha! And I, Sancho, I'm his squire, I'm his friend. Why do I follow him? That's easy to explain. It's because, . . . because,

I like him. I really like him.

Tear out my fingernails one by one,

I like him.

I don't have a very good reason,

Since I've been with him cuckoo nuts

have been in season.

But there's nothing I can do,

Chop me up for onion stew,

Still I yell to the sky, though I can't tell you why,

That I, like him.6

You can tell there is a kind of Broadway theme to my remarks. The distinction of the Louisiana Bar Foundation has filled my heart Page 1163 with music.

I promised Mrs. Baier to say not a word about "Father Chief Justice,"7 the award-winning play sponsored by the Louisiana Bar


Guenevere, Harry HardinCindeed The Good Lord himself in whose bosom Chief Justice White rests eternallyChave heard quite enough of the play already. I must move on.


Another thought that occurs to me on the being knighted by the Louisiana Bar Foundation is the split personality that I bring to your Table. What I mean is the contrast between the professor's universe and the practitioner's arena.8 It is the fact that the practicing Bar Page 1164 sometimes thinks of professors as "Cloud-Heads."9 I quote one of the Conclave Report's topical rubrics.

According to...

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