Clerking for a Supreme Court justice opens many doors for a young lawyer. After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, I clerked for Justice Tom C. Clark and then joined a nine person Washington, D.C. law firm. However, I was always interested in law teaching, and when offered a partnership in the firm after seven years, I decided to investigate the teaching market.
I quickly discovered that I had a wide choice among schools. My wife, Dagmar, strongly favored the University of Virginia while I personally thought that moving to a new part of the country had its advantages. We finally decided to accept an offer from the University of Texas School of Law, in part because we were very impressed with the senior faculty members—particularly Page Keeton, Leon Green, and Charles Allen Wright—and in part because my stepfather, Walton Hale Hamilton, had graduated from the University of Texas in 1905 and had then briefly taught school in Belton and Austin. He often commented that he thought very highly of the University of Texas and that Austin was a very pleasant city. After coming to Austin, my wife got a job teaching in the University undergraduate program. Neither of us dreamed that 40 years later we would both be full time tenured professors at the University of Texas, with Dagmar having tenure in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and also teaching one course in the law school.
We have found teaching at the University of Texas to be extremely rewarding, both in terms of faculty relationships and relations with practicing lawyers. I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity of meeting now middle-aged alumni who took my courses in Contracts, Business Associations, and Securities Regulation many years ago. These alumni often describe how helpful they found my lectures of 30 or so years ago to have been in their early legal practice. That definitely does make the years of teaching at the University of Texas School of Law worth while.
In the last twenty-five years, the University of Texas has also provided both my wife and myself the chance to teach as visitors at many other law schools, an experience which we have enjoyed without ever seriously considering invitations to change schools. Perhaps most interesting have been the visits to Queen Mary College of Laws, the University of London, and the Michaelmas Term at Oxford.
I shall miss the contacts with the newer generations of students, but hope to keep an office at the law school and continue my writing. I appreciate the thoughtfulness in this regard of my friends and colleagues, and Dean William Powers. I also appreciate their thoughtfulness in arranging the barbecue dinner in my honor in the last week of my teaching career.
-Robert W. Hamilton
Robert Hamilton: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/rhamilton/
Dagmar Hamilton: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/dhamilton/
UT Law Announcement: http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2004/051704_hamilton.html