Remarks of  Earl Johnson at Memorial Celebration

 

 It is 40 years ago this coming September that Gary and I first met.  It was when we were Ford Fellows at Northwestern Law School studying to earn LLM’s in Criminal Law.  The bond of friendship was forged during the year at Northwestern.  And for the next decade – the decade before Gary came to Harvard – we were almost joined at the hip in our personal lives and in our careers. In that ten year span we journeyed together from the criminal law field to the legal services program and then into clinical legal education and from the East coast to the West coast. . 

The memories come flooding back from that decade. The Northwestern year was a unique period in both our lives. If you can imagine a Gary Bellow without a caseload and a dozen projects to complete and a dozen deadlines to meet, that was what it was like.  All we had to do for those ten months was write a few seminar papers and an LLM thesis. Our schedules were entirely flexible.  We had plenty of time for self-exploration, for bull sessions about goals and aspirations, law, politics, and life in general. I still remember some of those conversations and draw inspiration from them. 

But there also were fun and games.  Gary was always hearing about some new movie we had to see.  Often we would make a spur of the moment decision to hit a midnight flick.  Or to head up to Rush Street to see Lenny Bruce or listen to the folk singer Odetta or to take in some other nightclub act. Or just to shoot some baskets or hit a few baseballs or organize a poker game. 

 Early on we met Gerry Caplan.  Although only a first year law student, he somehow fit in – and we often were a threesome in those bull sessions and nighttime forays.  This three-way friendship endured. Gary and Gerry are godfathers of my two eldest children, Gary was the best man at my wedding, Gerry was Gary’s best man, etc, etc., etc. As many of you know, Gerry Caplan is now the Dean of McGeorge Law School in Sacramento – and he, too, traveled across the country to pay his respects to Gary this afternoon. 

Gary also found his eventual calling at Northwestern.  I watched him teach his very first law school class.  They asked each of us Ford Fellows to teach one session of the first year criminal law class.  Gary, as you might expect, proved himself a natural, even in that very first attempt. It was one of the best classroom performances I had ever witnessed.   The students loved him and would readily have voted him on to the Northwestern law faculty that very day. I think Gary also got the bug to be a teacher during that experience. Despite his protestations, from that moment forward he was destined to become a law professor sometime in the future.

 Immediately after graduation, Gary and I both ended up in Washington, D. C. – he with the public defender’s office, me with the organized crime section of the Department of Justice. Although apparently on different sides of the fence, it wasn’t quite that.  Gary was defending poor and powerless defendants while I was pursuing rich and powerful ones. We saw a lot of each other socially during this first year, before I was sent out to organized crime section field offices in first Miami and then Las Vegas.  Even then we stayed in touch by phone and correspondence – and got together during my frequent visits to OCR headquarters in D.C.

  I especially remember two life-changing telephone calls I received from Gary during the 1960’s.  One came in the early Fall of 1964.  By this time Gary was deputy director of the United Planning Organization – the Ford Foundation funded community action agency in the District of Columbia.  Gary had written a proposal for a neighborhood office program to be part of UPO and Ford had funded it. Meantime I was head of the Organized Crime Section’s field office in Las Vegas
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 Only Gary, and only someone who knew me as well as he did from those countless bull sessions at Northwestern, would have reached out to the head of the organized crime section strike force in Las Vegas and asked him to be the deputy director of a civil legal services program for the poor in the District of Columbia. But such a call I received in the early autumn of 1964.

 I owe Gary many things.  But this was the biggest favor he ever did for me.  Except for him I never would have become involved in legal services to the poor – my vocation for several years and my cause ever since. A year later he did me a second favor when, as you heard from Clint Bamberger, he recommended me to Clint to be his deputy.  Thus, Gary also made it possible for me to move from the local level to the national level in the legal services field. 

 Just twenty months after that first call, I was director of the OEO Legal Services Program and Gary was deputy director of the Program’s flagship grantee, California Rural Legal Assistance.  (Neither of us, it seemed, could keep a job in those days.)  Gary soon was the heart and soul of CRLA – and the prototype of the legal services lawyers we were trying to provide to the poor – sort of  “Wall Street Lawyers with a social conscience.”

 As evidence he was that prototype, fast forward two years – late 1968 – a few months after I left the OEO Legal Services Program and Gary had started as a professor at the University of Southern California. My successor, Burt Griffin, decided the OEO Legal Services Program should confer awards in several categories for special contributions to that program.  The award for the outstanding legal services lawyer in the entire country went to Gary Bellow.  Unfortunately, this was the first and only time the OEO Program presented an “outstanding lawyer” award.  On the other hand, in my humble opinion, this first and only award went to the best legal services lawyer of the 20th Century – the best of the best even had that award been conferred annually for the next 32 years. 

 The next phone call I remember so well came in early 1969.  I was living in San Francisco, writing JUSTICE AND REFORM and figuring out what to do next. One evening Gary called and spent an hour talking about the opportunity for the two of us to start a brand new and innovative clinical program at USC. He convinced me and also convinced the USC law faculty.  By September 1969 Barb and I were living in Manhattan Beach. 

 Over the next year, while teaching regular courses and while Gary was representing some interesting clients like the Black Panthers, we developed a proposal for the “USC Clinical Semester.”  By far the most important part of the proposal was the intellectual content Gary inserted.  This was what sold the USC faculty on investing so heavily in an ambitious, untested clinical program that would account for a full one sixth of a student’s law school education.  That proposal contained the germ of the ideas Gary perfected during the next few years of clinical teaching and formed the basis of the book he and Bea Moulton authored, THE LAWYERING PROCESS. 

 Previous speakers talked about what made Gary such a magnificent teacher and a wonderful friend.  I agree with all that was said.   But I would add something further. 
Almost everyone has heroes. Most often they are from a generation or two older than our own.  And except for an occasional mentor or unusually talented boss, heroes generally are people we don’t know personally. It’s easier that way.  We only know their achievements and not their foibles. 

I have a few heroes, too, very few.  But one of those doesn’t fit the typical profile.  He is from my generation, and I know him well, including his foibles —in fact, he was a close friend.  You see, Gary Bellow was and remains my hero.  Indeed, in my mind, Gary was one of the great men of our generation. I don’t mean just one of the great clinical law teachers of our generation – or one of the great law professors or lawyers of our generation.  Had he turned his charisma, his intellect, his imagination, his passion and his energy to other fields he could have become a senator, a governor, a multi-millionaire plaintiff’s lawyer, a senior partner at a Wall Street law firm, an ABA president, or occupied any of a score of other more publicly visible positions.  That he chose to devote those enormous gifts to the service of the poor remains one of the few good breaks that population had during the 20th Century.  That he also chose to focus those talents on this risky new thing called clinical legal education is something law students – past, present and future – have much to thank him for. 

What the world needs now is more Gary Bellows.

Which brings me to my second reason for being here today.  I have been asked by the board of the National Equal Justice Library to present the John Bradway Award to Jeanne Charn on Gary’s behalf.  This Award is for Gary’s book – THE LAWYERING PROCESS. 

For those of you who may not have heard of the National Equal Justice Library allow me to explain.  It is located at American University’s Washington College of Law and is a joint project of the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the American Association of Law Libraries.  Its purpose is to both honor and to advance the pursuit of equal access to justice. It is not merely a passive repository but a vital proactive institution. 

One of the Library’s many activities is an oral history program which last year conducted an oral history interview with Gary.  Those of you here today had an opportunity to view an excerpt from that videotaped interview this afternoon.  Another of the Library’s goals is to encourage more and better scholarship in this field.  To that end, the National Equal Justice Library sponsors an awards program for books and articles in the general area of equal access to justice. One of those awards is the John Bradway Award which is being conferred for the first time this year. 

It is more than appropriate the award going to Gary is named for John Bradway.  Like Gary he was a leader both in the legal services field and in clinical legal education.  In 1922, Reginald Heber Smith hand-picked Bradway to be the first executive secretary of the newly formed National Association of Legal Aid Organizations, the predecessor of the NLADA.  Then, in 1929 Bradway started the first clinical program at the University of Southern California law school.  Yes, the very same USC where Gary started a second clinical program 40 years later. In fact, as you heard, Gary mentions John Bradway and the earlier USC clinical program in his oral history interview. 

 THE LAWYERING PROCESS was an extraordinary achievement. Between its covers this book gathers the insights and the knowledge Gary accumulated over two decades of practicing law and teaching the practice of law. Professor Elliott Milstein, the president of the Association of American Law Schools and himself a long-time clinical teacher, credits THE LAWYERING PROCESS with providing the intellectual underpinning for clinical legal education throughout the country.  It has inspired and educated generations of clinical professors as well as their students about what a lawyer can and should be and what there is to learn from many perspectives and many disciplines about that role. 

The National Equal Justice Library’s independent awards selection committee composed of some of the nation’s leading legal scholars was unanimous in recommending THE LAWYERING PROCESS receive the first John Bradway Award.  So I now ask Jeanne Charn to step forward. 

Jeanne, I consider it a great honor to present this first John Bradway Award to THE LAWYERING PROCESS and its authors.  Allow me to read the inscription that appears on the award. 

The National Equal Justice Library John Bradway Award
THE LAWYERING PROCESS
(Foundation Press, 1981)
To Gary Bellow and Beatrice Moulton--for a pathbreaking contribution to clinical education and equal access to justice” 

 

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