Lawrence Berger

Publication year2021
CitationVol. 77

77 Nebraska L. Rev. 647. Lawrence Berger


This issue is dedicated to Lawrence Berger in honor of his many years of service to the University of Nebraska College of Law. The following tributes by his colleagues and former students offer a glimpse into 39 years of exemplary teaching. Generations of Nebraska law students remain deeply indebted to Professor Berger for teaching them how to "think like a lawyer."

Harvey Perlman*

It was September, 1963, 9:00 a.m. on the Thursday morning of my first week as a law student in Room 101 of the old law school. Professors using the Socratic method had dissected a few of my classmates, but I had escaped direct grilling and had even made one feeble, but apparently unsuccessful, attempt to answer a professor's question. The members of my "study group" had come to realize that the only sensible objective was survival rather than success. Since those of our classmates who had been called on had both displayed their ignorance and survived, it had a liberating influence and we began to lapse into a state of indifference. Then into Room 101 walked Professor Lawrence Berger for the first time. Suddenly the most important question in our lives became who was the rightful owner of a fox that hunter A had chased through the woods only to have it intercepted at the last minute by hunter B. Now, some 36 years later that fox remains branded on my memory.

During these intervening years I have been privileged to interact with Larry Berger as his student, his colleague, and his friend. The success of a law school depends on contributions from many sources, but it is from the classroom that most alumni draw their most enduring memories. As Dean I visited alumni from many generations, and I think it is fair to say that on the spectrum of these classroom memories, this Law College has three distinct eras: The Henry Foster era, the Fred Beutel era, and the Larry Berger era.

Henry Foster and Fred Beutel, both bright men, were characters and most of the memories repeated to me involved their classroom eccentricities. Although there are some classic Larry Berger stories (he


has paid me not to repeat them), the most enduring recollections of most alumni focus on the rigor and intellectual challenge of his classroom and their respect for the man. His classroom was, and happily still is, an experience that changes the way one analyzes problems, that tends to grind at the sloppy edges of one's thinking. Certainly I don't have top of the mind recollection of most of the rules of Property or of Commercial Law which he taught in my...

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