Jon F. Manning 85, of Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and professor of law at Harvard Law School, said in a letter to the community last week. During his half-century tenure at HLS, Weinerb was known nationally as a leading authority in criminal and copyright law—and on campus as a treasure trove of HLS, a professor whose lessons should not be missed.
A number of distinguished colleagues and friends paid tribute to the memory of Winrip, who passed away on December 15 at the age of 85.
“He was a thoughtful scholar and deepened our understanding of not only the criminal justice system but also the philosophical underpinnings of law,” Manning said. “He was a great corporate citizen, taking on important and sometimes challenging tasks with care and integrity.” On a personal note, Manning recalled having studied with Weinrib himself. “He was a great teacher. He loved law in all its intricacies. He also loved learning with his students. He listened so well and carefully and always made the class a place to think collaboratively and respectfully about the difficult questions that mattered. It was an exhilarating experience.”
Another prominent former student, current White House Chief of Staff Ronald A. Klein ’87: “Lloyd Weinrib was a wonderful teacher and scholar who shaped generations of minds at Harvard Law School – and beyond – including myself. His teaching style was to ask tough questions and ask his students to come up with their own answers, which he relentlessly punched in , to be well-written and meticulously observed. His writing was brilliant, insightful, creative, and challenging. After decades of being in the classroom, I still look at his work often for wisdom and perspective. I will miss him sorely.”
“From first joining law school until the end of his life, Lloyd was a close and dear friend,” said Derek Bok54, a former president of Harvard University and dean of HLS from 1968 to 1971. Engaging in participation because his interests have ranged widely from law to philosophy to theater, opera, and books of every kind, as well as his travels to every corner of the world. From all these sources he drew wise, insightful, and thought-provoking ideas and observations. It is impossible to replace these friendships, so I will miss him very much.”
Weinerb was born in 1936, received his BA from Dartmouth College in 1957, and his BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University in 1959, before receiving his LLB. He received his Ph.D. from HLS in 1962. Early in his career, he worked as a clerk for US Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan II. He taught for several semesters at Fordham Law School, and moved to Columbia for a year to study that country’s criminal justice system.
Richard Fallon, Professor of Story at HLS, was a colleague and old friend of Weinrib. He said, “Not only was Lloyd an outstanding teacher and researcher, he was also, and most importantly, an exemplary human being.” “Within a year or two after I joined college in 1982, I had become a mentor—the older brother I had never had—in almost every aspect of my life. Lloyd inspired me in his meticulous attention to his students, his devotion to his family, and his warm communication With his friends through many generations, and the breadth of his interests.For the past forty years, when I put together a book that I like, I always thought to myself that I should talk to Lloyd about it, because talking to him about books and ideas has always been so wonderful and so much fun.And it was Astonishingly generous with regard to his time and wise advice. Having the opportunity to be Lloyd’s friend has been one of the great gifts of my life.”
Early in his career, as an attorney in the Justice Department’s criminal division, Weinrib was assigned to the Warren Commission, formed a week after President John F. Kennedy’s murder investigation. Weinrib was commissioned to research and write a biography of Lee Harvey Oswald. During the 50th anniversary of the assassination, he was one of the authorities who were called to debunk still active conspiracy theories. “[People] “You don’t like the idea that random events determine so many aspects of our lives,” he told Reuters in 2013. “But it was a colossal combination of fortunes that left Oswald in the course of the Presidential Road through Dallas. …I have no doubt whatsoever that it was Oswald and Oswald alone.”
He joined the faculty at HLS in 1965, teaching courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, intellectual property, political and legal philosophy, and jurisprudence. In the 1990s, he began teaching copyright, publishing a much-discussed article on the subject in the Harvard Law Review. He was a much admired HLS professor, and was named in the 2003 Harvard Law Record story as one of the “Ten Professors to Choose”. Describing him as a “no-frills type man”, the article stated that “what students will find in Winrip is a model of competence, a master of clarity, and someone who knows exactly where to highlight issues. His moderate approach also hides a great deal of dry intelligence that He makes his lessons interesting even in the early hours.”
Characteristically, he avoided the fuss by keeping his 2014 decision to retire to himself. In honoring HLT for the occasion, Fallon drew attention to Weinreb’s rich intellectual life outside the law. He spent most of his mornings studying classical Greek and was also a fan of theatre, serving as president of the American Abbey Theater Foundation; He also wrote some unpublished plays. “Although spectator sports did not interest Lloyd, at times it seemed to me that almost everything else he did,” Fallon wrote.
His wide-ranging interests are reflected in his studies, Including Natural Law and Justice (1987), which traces the development of the natural law tradition through ancient Greece, to the time of Thomas Aquinas to the present day. Examining the most recent work of legal philosophy, Oedipus in Fenway Park (1994), the concept of rights through the ages, from Greek mythology to modern disputes over gay rights and disabled access. Weinrib also loves children’s literature and has recently written the children’s book “Erma Elephant and the Really Big Hole”.
In addition to his scientific pursuits, Weinerb loved chopping wood, building rock walls, and hiking and animals.
He is survived by Ruth Plot Weinrib, his 58-year-old wife and retired professor, his three children, Jenny Weinrib Owen, Lizzie Weinrib Fishman, Daniel Weinrib, and his beloved Labrador Retriever Luke.