Larry Ribstein, Rest In Peace

December 24th, 2011

I am so deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Professor Larry Ribstein. I have never met Larry, but we have spoken on the phone, and emailed countless times, and I hold him in the highest regards.

When I had an interview with Illinois at AALS, Larry generously spoke with me on the phone for nearly 30 minutes (in between his travels somewhere overseas) and told me exactly what to say, exactly whom I had to impress, and told me–more importantly–what *not to say* to certain people. The advice was spot-on.

I had emailed with Larry a lot about his work on Law’s Information Revolution, and bounced ideas off him about FantasySCOTUS and legal prediction markets as a tool in that revolution. I see (just now) that he cited my work on FantasySCOTUS in his article.

I read his work so carefully about the future of the legal profession and the future of legal education and tried to weave it into my own thinking.

I was about to contact him about his work about Sarbanes-Oxley to talk about black swans.

I diligently read his blogging, and wrote so many posts praising his work.

He has inspired me and I hope I can continue to consider his ideas, and take a second look at legal theory, legal education, and the legal profession.

Larry was a scholar and a true asset to our society. He will be missed so deeply.

Some reactions from Solum, Leiter, FIller, Somin, Wright, and there are more, plus condolences on Larry’s FB wall.

Update: More touching words from Ted Frank.

I cannot begin to say how devastated I am at the sudden death of Larry Ribstein this morning, just two days shy of his fortieth wedding anniversary. Larry was so creative and innovative in so many fields (this is just how many times we cited to him since February, including just this week), I often found myself wishing that there were several Larrys because everything he wrote had such opportunity cost for other things he didn’t have time to write. I was always begging him to write for me when I was at AEI, and the time he said yes, he (with Henry Butler) turned out the important The Sarbanes-Oxley Debacle, a devastating and persuasive takedown of the new law. I’d end up plagiarizing Professor Bainbridge’s summary of the rest of Ribstein’s body of work to discuss the rest of it, so I’ll refer you to his thorough post. In area after area—overcriminalization, overregulation, popular-culture portrayal of business, the cartelization of legal practice and education—he was often close to alone in taking important contrarian positions. If I found myself disagreeing with Larry, I knew it meant I’d better put some soul-searching and analysis into my own position; if I hadn’t already thought about an issue of corporate law or federalism, I knew I could scan Ribstein’s work on the subject to have a good starting point. So not only do we not have the three or five Larry Ribsteins we needed, we now don’t even have the one, and we’re poorer for it.