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During the 1985-86 academic year, shortly before his untimely death that summer, Robert Cover drafted and circulated two memoranda to colleagues—"Proposal for a National Law Student Conference for Social Change" and "Proposal for a Post-Graduate Internship Program." These were among the last of Cover's many "unpublished manuscripts"—a sizable body of lecture notes, correspondence, and memoranda to faculty (and often to students as well).

These two manuscripts contain Cover's final words about the social purposes of law. His first (in writing) probably were those that he wrote two decades earlier in his application for admission to the Columbia Law School

Scholarship, however, is not my major concern. I am far more interested in the uses to which knowledge can be put than in the pursuit of knowledge itself.... For the past several years my two major interests have been institutional change and character education. I view these two areas as prerequisites for the type of societal change that I would like to see brought about in the future.

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