Richard Parker and Spider-Man, by Neil Eisner
I met Richard Parker at a meeting of the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, when Richard made a presentation to the Section on cost-benefit analysis, a critical part of the rulemaking process. The presentation was well received, and he found many new friends in the audience who appreciated his experience in the subject and that he could clearly explain the issues involved.
When I introduced myself to Richard, I must have recently seen a Spider-Man movie, because I found myself referring to Richard as “Peter Parker,” the alter-ego for Spider-Man. I did it several times over the next few months, each time embarrassing myself. But Richard laughed it off each time, and we grew to be very good friends. One of his strong points was that he always seemed to be happy and did not let little things bother him.
Another thing I appreciated about Richard was the way he balanced his academic work with real-world exposure. For example, he took a group of students from a school in New England to Washington, DC, where he taught them in a summer class on administrative law and got his students involved in summer internships jobs. Part of the teaching was having meetings with guess speakers experienced in administrative law. I enjoyed a number of meetings with those students over the years.
Richard also expanded his horizons by taking contracts for short-term non-teaching jobs. For example, he had a contract to be a facilitator on a regulatory negotiation. He even got me involved in another contract he obtained to provide the European Union with reports that identify areas where the European Union and the United States could coordinate better on the development of rulemakings to handle common problems.
Richard and I got together regularly for lunch over the years. He often had a new topic to talk about, often times being very excited about things he had discovered. He worked hard, was intelligent, loved his work, and was never reluctant to add a new project to his already crowded agenda. I miss him a lot, and when I finally get out to see the new Spider-Man movie, I will probably refer to Spider-Man’s alter-ego as “Richard.”
Neil Eisner is a Senior Fellow at the Administrative Conference of the United States.