Dedication to Dean and Professor Emeritus Barry Vickrey.

AuthorGilbertson, David E.
PositionUniversity of South Dakota School of Law - Includes 4 testimonials - Testimonial

The Board of Editors of the South Dakota Law Review is honored to dedicate Volume 62 to Dean and Professor Emeritus of the University of South Dakota School of Law, Barry Vickrey. We hope this dedication serves to highlight Professor Vickrey's accomplishments as a lawyer, educator, and administrator. As former students, the Editorial Board of the Review can attest to Professor Vickrey's skills in the classroom, and have witnessed his dedication to his pupils and to the University of South Dakota School of Law. We are glad we were a small part of Professor Vickrey's outstanding career, and we are proud to dedicate Volume 62 in his honor. The following message contains Professor Vickrey's biographical information, as well as a personal message filled with a good deal of wit and wisdom.



Before I write anything else, I want to thank the editors of the Law Review for this dedication. I am honored and humbled by it. By the way, it's not easy to humble a former dean, because the position can be so humbling.

The Law Review asked me to write a brief comment about my legal career. My reluctance to do so was overcome by the realization that few people will actually read this, since there are important law review articles and legal comments in the issue to read.

Almost no one who does read this comment will remember the 1960 television series, The Law and Mr. Jones. It ran only two seasons, the second after its viewers objected to network plans to cancel it after the first season. The great actor James Whitmore played the lawyer, Abraham Lincoln Jones. The Encyclopedia of Television Law describes Abe Jones as "honest to a fault--and he had many faults" and mentions his "compassion for justice and fair play." (1)

As a ten-year-old watching this show, I knew nothing about lawyers. My father was a plumber who ran construction projects, and my parents' social acquaintances were all from the working class. As far as I know, they had never used the services of a lawyer. I doubt they even knew any lawyers, and I certainly did not.

What I can recall from The Law and Mr. Jones is that the lawyer's primary motivation was to help others. And he was willing to do that courageously, at some risk to his own welfare. That impression of our profession still motivates me.

I went to law school not intending to enter the traditional practice of law. I had worked on significant policy issues, mostly involving education, for three years for a term-limited governor of Tennessee. Even though not yet a lawyer, I had done legal research and writing on some of the issues I handled, so I decided a law degree would prepare me for a career in government service. Although I would not practice law in the mold of Mr. Jones, I was still motivated to help others and to do so courageously.

After law school, my government-service plans were redirected by an exceptional lawyer from Memphis, Tennessee, named S. Shepherd Tate, who asked me to serve as his assistant in his capacity as president-elect and then president of the American Bar Association. At the ABA, I learned a lot more about the legal profession, including the breadth of settings in which lawyers practice. But most importantly, I saw in a real lawyer the qualities of...

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