Monday, November 02, 2009


Many of us had the privilege of knowing and learning from (and being publicly humiliated by) Professor Michael Goldsmith, who passed away yesterday. Everyone lucky enough to know him was affected in ways that are tough to explain (and not just because he's probably the first real, live Jew many J. Reub students ever met). Sharp, vibrant, sincere, witty, with a contagious zeal for life and the law. I can't adequately express how terrifying it was to sit in his classroom, how ashamed I felt if I even though about not reading for his class, and how much higher I held my head on the day I answered one of his questions sort-of-correctly. Under his tutelage, we all wanted to be the best, most diligent version of ourselves. Some quotes:
"When you get caught speeding, don't say 'I'm sorry.' Say, 'IF I was speeding, I am sorry.' ADMIT NOTHING."

"I'm not opposed to playing games. If you want to play solitaire, bring a deck of cards."

"For expert witnesses, there are 2 requirements: must have gray hair, and must have hemorrhoids to convey the proper level of concern."

"It was horrible! He covered everything but his 1990 colonoscopy. Good example of a bad speech. Everyone wants to go home, so unless you're awfully funny, keep it brief."

"This is my job. I'm just trying to do my job, and you're giving me a hard time. I don't give you a hard time with your job. I just order my burger and fries."

"The children of lawyers who don't read footnotes will STARVE."

"Let me give you a hypothetical. Jesus goes to law school, graduates, what does He do? Criminal prosecution or defense? That's right, he's defending these monsters. He's a defense attorney. That's my gospel insight for the day."

Brief story to give you a snapshot of this guy: one of my other favorite lawyers no longer with us told me that while he was attending the J. Reub as a non-LDS student, he and Goldsmith were surprised and startled to run into each other at a bar in Salt Lake. They were each holding a beer. Awkwardly, they each hid theirs under the table for a moment, made eye contact, shrugged, and then raised their glasses and said "Cheers!"

(Goldsmith would probably want it noted that, hypothetically, if I were trying to get this admitted, the story might be hearsay and since neither one of them is here to talk about it and it doesn't fall under any recognized exception, it's inadmissible. But, I wouldn't give up that easily, bc he taught me to be a "can-do" lawyer, so I'd still get it in under the residual exception, OR just argue that it's not hearsay because no one intended to assert anything and it's not a declarative statement offered to prove the truth of the matter's just a story.)

Thanks for everything, Prof. Goldsmith. If I weren't Mormon and pregnant, I'd drink a tribute beer right now. We'll miss you.


lifeofdi said...

Sounds like a cool guy.

I also got out of a ticket by not admitting to speeding on the way to conference, when I was still Mormon.

So good advice.

Sarita said...

I only know him through Joel's stories, but his passing saddens me (and Joel). As I told him today, that the one time I saw Prof. Goldsmith in person was when he was being honored by his students at the 'prom'. It was obvious how you all felt about him, and Im sure he felt it to.

Nikki said...

Am I the lamest friend ever? YOU ARE PREGNANT?!!! YipEE!!!! Maybe I'll actually send your baby gift this time. lol I will do my best. promise.

Ruth said...

So, I feel so sad reading this. Not about Prof. Goldsmith--I already knew about him, of course. But I didn't know about your NY friend. I remember him when he came to Spirit in the Law; he was delightful. I can't believe he's gone (even though it's been awhile now). How sad for his wife and children. How sad for the world. :(