Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Remembrance of Professor Robert C. L. Moffat

Bob was my teacher during the first year of his career in the legal academy, imparting my first knowledge of civil procedure as well as his own special brand of jurisprudence.
Law school was somewhat more casual in those days of the classroom shuffle and Quarterback Spurrier and a plentiful market for pioneering legal jobs.  This comfortable camaraderie was especially noticeable in the relationships between the students and the younger professors.  Bob and Janette quickly became my Gainesville family and I routinely gravitated to their house every week to share in a nourishing meal, their exceptionally warm company, and a delightful conversation that often explored some legal issue in closer detail.
While I concede to being more impressionable then than now, looking back I realize there were few topics that Bob could not discuss with exceptional knowledge and passion, always made more memorable by his clever, near frolicsome sense of humor.  That continued of course to be the case when I moved back to Gainesville a few years ago, although by then the list of publications, honors, and memberships had more than met the promise of those early days.
To say that Bob was inspirational to his students is perhaps an understatement in my case.  Bob’s passion about legal theory led me to write that year my first law review article on The Legal Nihilism of Pashukanis.  Perhaps that article was not on the top ten list for Florida practitioners, but that did not discourage Bob from pressing me and classmate Pat Brown into service during the summer after our graduation to put together an entire symposium edition of the Florida Law Review on Jurisprudence, where I had the great pleasure of working with Myres McDougal and Harold Lasswell on one of their classic iterations of the New Haven School.  Bob always ran with the big dogs, as they say, and it was amazing to have some of that vibrant personality and powerful mind rub off on me as a law student.
I’ve always loved the expression, "Teachers Touch Tomorrow."  We can be sure that Bob has inspired a world of creative ideas and interests and passions in his thousands of students.  Now that’s a legacy.

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