E-mail from Marc Lauritsen

As I browse this wonderful web site, and relive some of the shared events portrayed in the picture gallery – David’s naming, the dedication of the Legal Services Center – I’d like to add a few reminiscences of my own.

I didn’t have any significant contact with Gary while doing clinical work as a law student, or even during my Massachusetts legal services days in the late 70s and early 80s.  But I was fortunate to be recruited back to HLS as a fieldwork instructor and eventually as director of clinical programs, which launched fifteen years (1981-1996) there of blessedly frequent contact with a man who served as a wonderful mentor.

As clinical director I got to spend many hours with Gary alone and in committee discussing such earth-shaking things as exactly how many hours per week of what kinds of practice activities would be required for how much academic credit.  But we also pushed through courses, created the immigration clinic and other new placements, and nearly doubled the size of the clinical program over a four year period.  We began improving the status of supervisors and instructors, with the cautious but sympathetic support of Jim Vorenberg.

Technology became an odd uniting theme for us in those days.  I learned Lotus 1-2-3 and started building elaborate financial models of the various courses and placements, but there was always another analytical twist Gary wanted to explore.  He was like a kid in a candy shop when imaging how machines might help us humans change the world for the better.

Gary was a moving force behind Project PERICLES (program of education, research, and instruction in computer-aided legal services – 1984-1988), along with another dear, now departed, friend, Don Trautman.  Pericles was a well-funded, hugely exciting romp through the landscape of possible ways computers could help lawyers better serve low and moderate income people, and how they could help improve experiential education.  It catalyzed a lot of innovation in the field, and propelled me personally into a new career in the technology of practice.

Text-based and interactive video lessons fascinated Gary, as did automated worksheets for calculating government benefits.  We spent hours sweating together over arcane details about such things as what questions to ask in what order to test students’ knowledge of eviction procedures, and how best to handle deeming in assessing SSI eligibility.

The MicroMax program (http://www.micromax.org/) was another outgrowth of Gary’s fertile imagination.  Arising first out of the medical-legal services project collaborations with Judy Bigby and Jeanne Charn, MicroMax became a assessment tool for optimizing benefits over some seventy government programs, and is now used by hundreds of agencies in several states.  

I could go on – about the landlord-tenant law course we jointly taught with statistical models of student negotiation patterns, about helping Gary get his Introduction to Advocacy course up on the school’s web site, about (repeatedly) teaching him how to read his e-mail every time a few hundred messages accumulated.  And there are the non-technology things:  our several unfinished articles, unsuccessfully proposed courses, going along as he shopped for a Christmas present for Cheryl Burg, the trunk from hell, our shared interests in chess, the Kennedy assassination, James Joyce, game theory, …

Gary had a knack of making lots of people feel part of his inner sanctum, and I’m grateful to have been one of them.

My last one-to-one conversation with Gary was over two years ago.  I’m glad I had the foresight to give him a heartfelt ‘thanks for everything’ and a prolonged hug at that time – because, probably like many other folks, I delayed too long in recent months to act on my instinct to pay another visit.  I wanted to tell him about my latest scheme to use the Internet to expand legal services to moderate-income people.  He would have liked it, with a few minor adjustments of course.

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