BYU Law Professor Carl Hawkins recently passed away at the age of 84. His list of academic accomplishments is impressive: a Coif grad from Northwestern (and editor in chief of its law review), a Bigelow Fellow at Chicago, and judicial clerk for Chief Justice Fred Vinson. In 1957 he joined the law faculty at Michigan, where his teaching and scholarly interests included civil procedure and torts. In 1973, he moved from Ann Arbor to Provo and became a member of the founding law faculty at BYU, where he taught until he retired in 1991. He served as BYU's law dean on two different occasions (including my student years). You can read more on the life of Carl Hawkins here.
I had the privilege of being in the first-year "small section" torts class, taught by Dean Hawkins. I'll share three brief stories.
One time he gave a lecture to us on a torts-related legal writing project. On my instigation, several of us on the back row held up signs that spelled P-R-O-X-I-M-A-T-E C-A-U-S-E (we were indeed a rowdy group!). I started feeling guilty about my behavior and later that day told him I was to blame for the commotion and any disrespect he felt. He just laughed and laughed (whew!).
Dean Hawkins gave the only four-hour exam I ever took in law school (Torts was six credits -- two in the fall [two-hour exam], and four in the spring [four-hour exam]). I remember sitting with my legs up on chairs for the duration of the exam because I had a severe and very painful sunburn on them. Back in those days we didn't have laptops (shocking!), so we either wrote our exams by hand, or we went to an assigned room where we used a device called a "typewriter." I can only imagine the difficulty Dean Hawkins had deciphering my handwriting in my second Blue Book.
At the beginning of my second year, I was invited (as a voice of experience) to attend one of the several small "welcome to law school" receptions hosted by various faculty members in their homes for the entering law students. I was asked to attend the reception hosted by Dean Hawkins and his wife. He saw me in the hallway and said "I'll see you tonight." And I replied, "You bet. I'm bringing the coffee." A brief silence followed, followed by a generous chuckle (again, whew!).
It's been almost 25 years since I earned my law degree at BYU, but the fond memories remain fresh in my mind. I look now and then at the faculty directory and (as I recently discussed with Gordon Smith, a recent addition to the faculty) sadly observe that the faculty turnover from my years will soon be complete (hang in there forever, Jim Gordon!). I had the pleasure and the privilege of receiving a top-notch legal education from some of the finest minds and kindest hearts in the legal academy. Carl Hawkins was one such person, and I'll be forever grateful that he left his tenured position at Michigan to join the ranks of some other brave souls to create the J. Reuben Clark Law School.