Professor Ghiardi—Some Recollections

James Ghiardi stands at a podium, circa 1985Jim Ghiardi was larger than life. As Jim’s student, research assistant, colleague, and occasional golf partner, here are some recollections:

He was intimidating, commanding, and inspiring in the first-year torts course, where he could make 160 first-year students squirm in unison. He could also inspire truly extraordinary levels of class preparation (i.e., serious study of the law). Nearly a dozen of us would hang out with him after most classes in a semicircle around the podium, asking this or that, seeking a bit more from him, trying to impress him.

In his advanced torts and casualty insurance seminars, he was respectful, demanding, and encouraging. Many of us felt like associates in Jim’s law firm, with Jim acting as a mentor. He turned the class over to us, with carefully crafted assignments we were required to address orally and in writing. And pretty much everyone rose to the challenge and performed like a lawyer.

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Funny how the words fit together so smoothly yet, when combined, seem grating to the ears of many who reside in the region.  The peculiar antipathy between Milwaukee County and Waukesha County may reflect the ways in which people have segregated themselves geographically based on cultural/political orientation.  Waukesha County is 94% “white alone” according to Census Bureau data, while Milwaukee County is over one-quarter black or African-American and over one-eighth Hispanic or Latino.  In the 2014 gubernatorial election, over two-thirds of Waukesha voters supported Scott Walker, while in Milwaukee County it was closer to one-third.  Waukesha is more affluent, less racially diverse, and more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole.  Milwaukee is the opposite.

There is, indeed, some basis for an us-and-them mentality.

But the positive connections are truly powerful.  To trace a bit of the history, Milwaukee’s population was about ten times greater than Waukesha’s from 1900 until 1950.  Then Waukesha’s population began to surge, growing more than four-fold since 1950, to about 400,000, while Milwaukee’s population has remained pretty constant at around one million.  The result is that Waukesha now has about 40% as many residents as Milwaukee, thus bringing the counties into closer balance.  Waukesha is now the third-most populous county in Wisconsin; in 1950, it was seventh-most populous, slightly ahead of Outagamie and Sheboygan and trailing Brown, Rock, and Winnebago, among others.  Waukesha has become a powerful residential draw and also a draw for businesses, almost certainly in large part due to its proximity to Milwaukee.

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Getting What You Pay For In Legal Education

[Editor’s Note: This month, we asked a few veteran faculty members to share their reflections on what has changed the most in legal education since they became law professors.  This is the sixth and final entry in the series.]

Legal education is no longer lean. When I was hired as Marquette Law School’s third administrator in 1975, the Law School had about a dozen full-time faculty members and three professional law librarians. These days, the Law School has a dozen administrators, forty or so full-time faculty, and more than a dozen professional librarians. The Law School facility is more than three times larger than when I started at the Law School. That enrollment is up some, from about 450 full-time students to about 600 full-time students and another 150 part-time students, accounts for only a fraction of the growth.

The principal change I’ve seen in my 35+ years at the Law School (I was an adolescent when first employed by Marquette) is this amazing growth in the resources and cost of legal education. Students are paying unprecedented amounts for a law school education and receiving access to unprecedented resources in return.

Some of the most important new resources and costs are those mentioned by my colleagues in this blog series.  

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