May 01, 2012
Former Dean Edward Sherman (center)
moderates a panel discussion on law and public figures in Louisiana. (Photos/Lauren Gavioli)
Office of the Dean
Faculty and staff of the law school, distinguished visitors and alums, and members of the bar gathered at Tulane Law School Wednesday (April 25) for the dedication of the law library’s most recent expansion – the Dean Edward and Alice Sherman Law and Literature Room. A three-person panel discussed “law and public figures in Louisiana fiction” prior to the ceremony, and a reception followed on the third floor of the school’s library.
Associate Professor of Law James Duggan serves as director of the law library and says the new Law and Literature room is a direct result of the Shermans’ generosity to Tulane law.
“Two years ago, Dean Sherman initiated a conversation with me about the possibility of creating a room in the law library where law students and faculty could read, browse, and check out fiction and literature related to the law,” said Duggan. “After several pleasant meetings, Dean Sherman decided to commit a sizable donation to the law library in order to make this dream a reality.”
Dean Edward and Alice Sherman have a long interest in literature. In addition to a Master’s degree in English, he has JD and SJD degrees from Harvard Law School, and she taught high school English after graduation from Stanford.
Alice Sherman (right) shares a moment with panelist, Jason Berry, at a reception following the dedication of the Sherman Law and Literature Room.
Dean Sherman began a seminar in “Jurisprudence & Literature” at Texas Law School, where he taught for 19 years before coming to Tulane in 1996 to be the law dean. He says that the idea for the room grew out of that seminar at Tulane.
“I wanted law students to continue to enjoy literature even though their three years in law school imposed a heavy reading load in the law,” he says. “The room is intended to provide a place of refuge, complete with comfortable chairs, where law students can browse and read about the law, but not in the formal cases and statutes of their law courses but in the enjoyable world of fiction.”
The room also is the result of two years of work with university architects and interior designers to create a welcoming space that houses a large part of the Shermans’ private library of law-related literature, as well as provide patron access to multimedia. Complete with a large flat-screen TV (with cable, Skype, DVD, and computer hook ups), books available on e-readers, and wireless headsets, the room has been described as a “magnificent gem.”
The dedication program was led by three distinguished Louisianans – Harry Hardin (L ’71), partner in the New Orleans law firm Jones & Walker; Jason Berry, New Orleans journalist and writer; and Tony Dunbar (L ’85), writer and senior vice president of Capital One Bank. Each focused on a novel in addressing the distinctive Louisiana approach to law as portrayed in fiction.
Hardin discussed Robert Penn Warren’s 1947 Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the King’s Men in which the lead figure resembles Governor Huey Long. Berry examined his novel Last of the Red Hot Poppas (2006), a comic novel about Louisiana politics in which a central figure is loosely based on Governor Edwin Edwards. Concluding the panel discussion, Dunbar talked about his “Tubby Dubonnet” novels, whose protagonist is an “Uptown” lawyer who reflects the distinctive New Orleans culture as he becomes involved in scrapes with the law and ethical dilemmas.
“A writer could have no more fun than to write about New Orleans,” Dunbar stated. “People revel in this city. We have a perspective to the point of cynicism. And yet we’re lucky to wake up every day.”
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