Celebrating the Life and Work of Deborah Rhode

Posted October 28th, 2021.

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By Stephanie Ashe, Alyssa Ashdown

On October 15 and 16, 2021, friends, colleagues, and family came together at Stanford University to honor the life and legacy of Deborah Rhode—legal ethics pioneer and leading scholar of gender, law and policy—who passed away in January 2021. On Friday, October 15, in Paul Brest Hall at Stanford Law School, a set of panel discussions were held celebrating Rhode’s scholarship with several of her colleagues discussing the impact she made on the world. Her memorial service was held on Saturday, October 16, at Stanford University Memorial Church.

The Past and the Future of Feminism

The first panel featured Cecelia Ridgeway, Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences and, by courtesy, of Education Emerita at Stanford University; Renee Knake Jefferson, Professor of Law and the Joanne and Larry Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics at the University of Houston Law Center; and Benedetta Faedi Duramy, Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Faculty Scholarship at Golden Gate University. Lucy Buford Ricca, Director of Policy and Programs, Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, was the panel moderator.

Deborah Rhode’s Legal Ethics as Moral and Political Obligation

The second panel featured Benjamin H. Barton, Helen and Charles Lockett Distinguished Professor of Law at The University of Tennessee College of Law; Robert W. Gordon, Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Stanford Law School; Gillian Hadfield, Schwartz Reisman Chair in Technology and Society, Professor of Law, and Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law; and Norman Spaulding, Nelson Bowman Sweitzer and Marie B. Sweitzer Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. Nora Freeman Engstrom, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and Co-Director, Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, moderated the panel.

What I Learned from Deborah Rhode

The final panel featured Paul Brest, Former Dean and Professor Emeritus (active), at Stanford Law School; Mark Chandler, former Chief Legal Officer at Cisco and current fellow for the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession; Hank Greely, Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law; Larry Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and former dean of Stanford Law School; Gillian Lester, dean of the faculty of law and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law at Columbia Law School; David Sanford, chairman and co-founder at Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP; and Shirin Sinnar, professor of law and John A. Wilson Faculty Scholar at Stanford.

Memorial for Deborah Rhode

On Saturday, October 16, 2021, a memorial service was held at Stanford University Memorial Church celebrating the life of Deborah Rhode. Several individuals provided remembrances including the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School Jenny Martinez; David Luban, University Professor and Professor of Law and Philosophy at Georgetown Law School; Nora Freeman Engstrom, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and Co-Director, Stanford Center on the Legal Profession; Scott Cummings, Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics at the UCLA School of Law; Philip Bobbitt, Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence at Columbia Law School, and former Stanford provost John Etchemendy. Jason Solomon, executive director of Professor Rhode’s Center on the Legal Profession, provided a reading of Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Eun Sze, her longtime assistant, read from Sacred Scripture: Psalm 23.

Please visit Stanford Law Library’s In Memoriam page to learn more about Deborah Rhode and her scholarship.

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