A Lawyer's Death, 100 Harvard Law Review 2053 (1987)
Toward the beginning of Tolstoy's long story The Death of Ivan Ilych, one of Ivan's lawyer friends goes to the dead magistrate's home to express condolences. Looking upon Ivan's body as it lies in its coffin, the visitor seems to see in Ivan's face "a reproach and warning to the living." Discomforted, he treats the warning as "not applicable to him," and is delighted to see another of Ivan's lawyer friends, a "playful, well-groomed, and elegant figure" whose refreshing appearance suggests that he is "above all these happenings and would not surrender to any depressing influences." Ivan's two friends whisper an agreement to meet for a bridge game later in the evening, their whispers sounding one of the story's repeating themes: how we back away from death, treating it as separate from life and unconnected to ourselves until it is upon us.
I recalled the great Tolstoy story when I read the recent issue of the Harvard Law Review containing seven short articles under the title In Memoriam: Henry J. Friendly. Henry Friendly, who died in March 1986, was among the very greatest federal judges of this century, and at his death he was still actively engaged in the work of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The group of men who memorialized him—Bruce Ackerman, Wilfred Feinberg, Paul Freund, Erwin Griswold, Louis Loss, Richard Posner, and Todd Rakoff—includes some of the leading names in American law. Their essays generally did not focus on Judge Friendly's contributions to specific areas of law; rather, most were more personal. That is what makes one omission from these articles particularly striking: none of the seven alluded to the fact that Judge Friendly killed himself.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Gewirtz, Paul, "A Lawyer's Death" (1987). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 1711.