Remembering Professor James Ghiardi

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School History, Public
Law professor James Ghiardi stands at a podium and lectures to a class, circa 1985.
Law professor James Ghiardi stands at a podium and lectures to a class, circa 1985.

James D. Ghiardi, professor emeritus, passed away yesterday, at the age of 97. Jim was a Marquette lawyer, from our Class of 1942, and after service in World War II served as a member of our faculty, active or retired, for almost 70 years. From his first-year Torts course to his (somewhat) gentler approach with upper-level students, as I understand it, Professor Ghiardi was the legendary member of the Marquette Law School faculty for more than a generation. Professor Ghiardi enjoyed immense respect and esteem from Marquette lawyers—his former students.

Jim had retired by the time I arrived in 1997, but he remained a presence at the Law School until as recently as a few months ago. He was unfailingly gracious and supportive to me even before I became dean—indeed, from my earliest days on the faculty. I have been fortunate to count him among my colleagues and friends. At the same time, it seems appropriate to let speak here one of my predecessors as dean—indeed, one of Professor Ghiardi’s former students. Robert F. Boden wrote the following of Professor Ghiardi in 1971:

I first knew him when I was one of 160 terrified freshmen students entering Law School in the fall of 1949. As a student I came to respect him as a fine teacher. As a fellow member of the bar, a fellow Marquette alumnus, faculty colleague, and finally as his Dean, I have come to respect him as a gentleman and a scholar. Few are more zealous in their loyalty to the University and to the profession. Few also have the industry and capacity for work that manifests itself every day in Professor Ghiardi’s vigorous and devoted attention to the responsibilities which he has assumed in the Law School and in the many other related activities which he has undertaken.

In a quarter century of teaching of tort and insurance law, Professor Ghiardi has come to be recognized nationally as one of the academic leaders in this area of the law. Since 1962 he has served as Research Director of the Defense Research Institute, the national research and educational arm of the defense bar. He is often called upon to address legal organizations throughout the country in the field of his expertise, and his long record of publication in the leading bar journals of the country is a further manifestation of his accomplishments in legal scholarship.

Dean Boden made these remarks in the context of dedicating, on behalf of the student editors, a volume of the Marquette Law Review to Professor Ghiardi. The dedication, which also notes Professor Ghiardi’s unusual service as the president of the Wisconsin bar, may be read here.

It concludes by expressing “certain[ty] in the fact that [Professor Ghiardi] will continue for many more years to reflect the highest ideals of his University and his profession.” Dean Boden was right to be so certain in his remarks nearly forty-five years ago. The loss of Jim Ghiardi now diminishes us, but his work and life magnified us—and as a legacy will continue to do so. Requiescat in pace.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, January 24th at Feerick Funeral Home, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. A visitation will also be held starting at 9:30 AM on Monday, January 25th, followed by the celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial at the Church of the Gesu, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave. at 10:30 AM. Committal Services and Military Honors will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery, 7301 W. Nash, after the Mass. A lunch will follow at 1:30 PM at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago Ave.

 Memorials in Jim’s name may be made to the Marquette University Law School, (James D. Ghiardi and Phyllis A. Ghiardi Scholarship Fund), or to the Milwaukee Catholic Home (Employee Fund).

 

Author: Joseph D. Kearney

On July 1, 2003, Joseph D. Kearney became the ninth dean of Marquette University Law School. Dean Kearney has been a member of the Marquette faculty since 1997. Prior to coming to Marquette Law School, Dean Kearney practiced for six years at Sidley & Austin, Chicago's largest law firm. He served as well as a law clerk to the Honorable Antonin Scalia, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and to the Honorable Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Dean Kearney is an accomplished teacher, scholar, and lawyer. His teaching focuses on civil litigation, including courses in Civil Procedure and Advanced Civil Procedure. His scholarly articles have appeared in the Columbia Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, and Marquette Law Review, among other journals. They variously focus on regulation of industry (particularly telecommunications), civil litigation, and judicial selection. His background as a practitioner is in appellate and telecommunications litigation, and he has argued cases before the Wisconsin and Illinois Supreme Courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and has been the primary draftsman of winning briefs on the merits in the United States Supreme Court. Dean Kearney is an honors graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Professor James Ghiardi”

  1. Without any doubt whatsoever; Professor Ghiardi was the most memorable of the Law School Faculty when I attended (1975 – 78). I can still remember like it was yesterday when I was called upon in his Freshman Torts class. I can recall the case, I can recall what I said and what he said as he jumped out from behind the Lectern and said “Mr. Dineen don’t read your brief, tell me about the case”. I recall his words to me when I handed in my Torts blue book at the end to the first year exam. “Have a good summer Bill”. While it was a combination of fear and inspiration I truly studied harder for Torts than any other class in law school. Thanks for the Memories Professor Ghiardi.

  2. I was fortunate to have studied torts under Professor Ghiardi in 1962 and to have been his research assistant the following year. He launched me on a career teaching torts . Professor Ghiardi was an inspiring teacher and mentor. I recently received the Prosser Award from the AALS and I attribute my love for torts to him. He was rigorous, humorous , dedicated and an intellectual giant. He will be missed . He was one of a kind.

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