A lesson learned from Louis D. Brandeis

The ten days that have passed since the Law School hosted the Louisville premiere of the documentary, Louis Brandeis: The People's Attorney — a festive event noted on the Law School's news ticker and here at The Cardinal Lawyer — provide ample time for reflection on the Law School's annual commemoration of Justice Brandeis's birthday. I very much wish to express the Law School's gratitude to Professor Laura Rothstein, Joe Ardery, Rabbi Joseph Rapport, and producer Charles Stuart for their roles in enabling the Law School to show this film to its first audience in this market.

The People's Attorney is an inspiration to practicing lawyers, law students, and the public at large. Justice Brandeis's story is uplifting in many ways. I write on this occasion to highlight but one of them. As the documentary demonstrated (and at one point explicitly stated), Louis D. Brandeis accomplished an astonishing amount of good over the course of his extraordinary career, not merely because he possessed a brilliant legal mind and bottomless energy, but also because he had wealth.

So it is with law schools. Like its namesake, the University of Louisville's Louis D. Brandeis School of Law is blessed with the talent, the vision, and the energy to accomplish great things on behalf of its students, its graduates, the legal profession at large, and all the communities it serves. Where we fall short, unfortunately, is wealth. Our Law School, as much as we love it, simply lacks access to the concentrations of wealth enjoyed by some other law schools.

I therefore ask, in this season of thanks, remembrance, and giving, that friends and alumni consider making a gift to the Law School — in any amount, for any purpose. The University of Louisville has even enabled its benefactors to make donations online. We value gifts not according to their magnitude, but rather according to the magnanimousness and the generosity of the giver. I hope that those who have been most inspired by The People's Attorney and the story of Louis D. Brandeis will be among those who are most motivated to help our Law School train the next generation of attorneys for the people.

Update, December 3, 2007: Courtesy of a tip from Scott Campbell, I am pleased to present a brief clip from Louis Brandeis: The People's Attorney. You may also view the video courtesy of the Savings Bank Life Insurance Co. of Massachusetts.

The preview image displayed in the media player depicts the documentary's cast.