Hazard.

Author:Koh, Harold Hongju
Position:Yale Law School professor Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. - Testimonial
 
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Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr. Or as he calls himself, when he answers his phone, simply "Hazard."

His name, like his personality, connotes danger, taking a chance, boldness in the face of risk. Meeting or talking to him, whether for the first or umpteenth time, always feels a bit intimidating and hazardous. Intimidating because he is so accomplished, quick, and deep. Hazardous because it is so likely you might get something just slightly wrong, only to be gently but firmly set straight by one of the most knowledgeable lawyers, legal scholars, and law reformers of our time.

I first met Geoff a quarter century ago, when I was interviewing for a teaching job at Yale Law School. To prepare for my interview, I asked three friends who had attended Yale what each faculty member was like. Tellingly, each gave the same, celestial assessment of Hazard: "Hazard is a god!" But one called him the "God of Procedure"; another, the "God of Ethics"; the third, simply, the "God of Law." So how could I possibly be a colleague of this man?

Our actual interview was an absurd mismatch. I had not gone to Yale and knew only the legend. I knew of his reputation as "Yale's Kingsfield"--the teacher who tested his terrified first-year "darlings" with what he liked to call "tough love." I knew of "Hazard and James on Procedure"; (1) of "Hazard, Tait, and Fletcher on Pleading and Procedure"; (2) of Hazard's work as an American Law Institute (ALI) Reporter: (3) and Director; (4) and of Hazard as our leading scholar of legal ethics and the law and ethics of lawyering. (5)

I had even watched Geoff for many hours, though he did not know it, when he presided over the public sessions at the Mayflower Hotel, finalizing the Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law. Watching him drive sessions to closure taught me how a great lawyer can tighten and make rigorous any text--whether she is a life-long expert on international law or, in Geoff's case (and in his words), 'lust a damn good lawyer asking damn hard questions." When the moment came to summarize nearly an hour of intense and technical colloquy criticizing one of the most confusing sections, Geoff did so crisply by turning to one of the Associate Reporters and saying, with that classic Hazard swagger, "So what I think they're telling you is that you probably have enough water, but you just don't have enough in each bucket!"

When, in our interview, Hazard asked me if I planned to teach a first-year class, I answered, meekly, "procedure," and watched his eyes flare. It was, well, a hazardous answer to give to one of our greatest living proceduralists.

My anxiety deepened as I prepared for my first semester's class. I had heard that Yale had not one but two lines of procedure tradition--a doctrinal line that ran through James and Hazard, and a conceptual line exemplified in the "metaprocedure" teaching of Owen Fiss, Bob Cover, and, today, Judith Resnik and Bill Eskridge. (6) Determined to convey both strands to my students, I...

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