The Law School community lost one of its giants this week. Professor Bernard Meltzer '37 served on the Law School faculty from 1946 until his retirement in 1985, but he continued to be a daily presence in the building until very recently. Professor Meltzer was an extraordinary teacher and scholar, and one of the world's leading authorities in labor law. Prior to joining the faculty, he had an incredible career in government service. Shortly after graduating from the Law School, he worked for the SEC and in private practice, and then was called into service during the years before America's entry into World War II. He served in both the State Department and the National Defense Advisory Commission and then as a commissioned Officer in the Navy in the Office of Strategic Services. After the war he assisted in drafting the charter of the United Nations and then served as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg International War Trials. After his service was over, he joined the Law School faculty, and we were honored to have him here for the rest of his career.
During his time at the Law School, he created the first course in international organizations and made his name teaching and writing in labor law and evidence. Among many other things, he developed the idea for the Law School’s famous Jury Project, advised attorneys representing clients during the McCarthy Era and also successfully represented clients in loyalty investigations, and served as a salary arbitrator for Major League Baseball.
To those of us who knew Bernie (as we affectionately called him) in his later life, he was the man who was always around, always knew everyone's name, and always had a smile, a kind word, and a keen insight for you. He took the stairs up several flights to his office every day (when those many decades younger took the elevator), and always seemed to know exactly what was going on around here, no matter how small. His mind remained sharp to the very end, and he mentored and taught many generations of students - and colleagues. We will miss him very much.
Ordinarily, this blog deals with lighter topics, but we thought it was important to show you this aspect of our community. Please click here to read more about Professor Meltzer's life, and visit our home page to see a selection of photos of the man at work.