Philip P. Frickey — A Life in the Law

Phil Frickey, 1953-2010.

I am sad beyond words to have to report the death of my friend and colleague Phil Frickey. His death is a great loss to Berkeley and the legal academy more generally.  In terms of his scholarship, Phil was a major figure in constitutional law, but was probably best known among legal academics for his work on theories of statutory interpretation.  His casebook with Bill Eskridge is commonly considered to have created the modern field of Legislation scholarship.  He was also perhaps the nation’s leading authority on Indian Law.  Although he did not write directly on environmental law, his work in all three of these fields was directly relevant to environmental issues.

Phil was also a great institutional citizen.  He was responsible for hiring most of Berkeley’s current junior faculty in his time as chair of the Appointments Committee, and he spent many hours mentoring and advising them. At his Festschrift, a dozen members of the junior faculty performed a song they had written in his honor.  He also showed similar dedication as a teacher, and there has been an outpouring of student sentiment on “Nuts and Boalts,” the student blog.  An issue of the California Law Review focusing on his scholarship is now in press.

Phil and I both taught at the University of Minnesota before coming here, so I knew him from the time he became a law professor.  I’ve never known anyone whose judgment was so highly respected by his colleagues.  To say he will be greatly missed is an understatement.

POSTSCRIPT: The law school has posted an extensive obituary and tribute.

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