A Series Remembering Richard Parker
Last October, the field of administrative law and the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice lost a dear friend and leader when University of Connecticut Law Professor Richard Parker passed away unexpectedly.
Over the next couple weeks here on the Notice and Comment blog, we will publish a number of short posts remembering Richard and his impact on our lives, the field, and the legal profession.
I miss Richard deeply. We served together over the last few years on the ABA Administrative Law Section’s governing council, and he just completed his term as one of our two Section Delegates to the ABA House of Delegates. His final work in that role was to shepherd through an ABA resolution to encourage the Executive Branch to make it easier for federal civil servants to participate in the ABA and similar organizations.
Richard was a strong voice on our governing council and in the field of administrative law. He didn’t often pull punches when it came to expressing his strongly held views on the substance. To provide but one example, in response to my coauthored article Delegation and Time, Richard published an essay in The Regulatory Review, provocatively entitled Punishing the Innocent. As he put it, “To such a proposal, however well-meant, there is only one appropriate response: no thanks.”
Rereading that essay, I am filled with so many fond memories of our conversations over the years. I loved that about Richard, and I will miss his constructive and critical feedback on my work (most of which was conveyed in a friendly phone call or email!). I knew Richard would always give his candid take, so I’d regularly seek it. He was so helpful with my current book project, and I wish he could have seen his impact on the final product.
But more fundamentally I miss his friendship. Despite our differences on substance, Richard was always so kind and supportive. He’s the type of person who after an hours-long, seemingly boring council meeting would send me an email to say I did a great job leading that meeting.
Whenever we met in person, he’d of course ask me what I was working on, but he’d also ask about my family and my students. He and I both direct our law school’s DC externship programs, and I’d hear so much from him about his students’ successes in DC. He invested so much in those students and in that program. I could tell it was a thrill for him to help guide and mentor them to develop into better lawyers and people.
Richard played a critical role in helping thousands of students and lawyers become who they are today. And his professional legacy lives on in their careers and in the tens of thousands of younger lawyers they will mentor.
Christopher J. Walker is the John W. Bricker Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and the Immediate Past Chair of the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.