Washington and Lee Mourns Law Professor Louise Halper

Lexington, VA Monday, June 23, 2008

Professor Louise Halper

Louise A. Halper, professor of law and director of the Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington and Lee University, died unexpectedly from complications following surgery on Saturday, June 21 in New Jersey. She was 63.

Professor Halper joined the law faculty in 1991 after practicing public interest law for 15 years. At W&L, she taught in the areas of property, jurisprudence, critical legal theory, and environmental law. During her academic career, Professor Halper published and traveled widely and held many distinguished visiting positions at institutions in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, including a year as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in 2005.

"In my first year as Dean, I came to know Louise as a strong champion of the causes in which she believed," said Dean Rodney Smolla "I especially remember her as a forceful advocate of enhancing the diversity of the law school. My prayers and thoughts are with her family at this sad time."

In summer 2007, Professor Halper took the helm of the Frances Lewis Law Center, the research and faculty support arm of the School of Law. As director, she organized numerous faculty workshops, visiting lectures, and oversaw the completion of the yearlong series of symposia and lectures honoring the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell '29A, '31L.

In recent years, Professor Halper's research and scholarship focused on law and gender in the Middle East, and she spent part of one sabbatical in Iran and served as a Fulbright Fellow and visiting scholar in Turkey. At W&L, she organized and hosted a symposium in March of 2007 titled "Gender-relevant Legislative Change in Muslim and Non-Muslim Countries." The symposium was jointly sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center and the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School.

Over the years, Professor Halper served as an advisor to numerous law student organizations, including Outlaw, the Environmental Law Digest, and the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice (CRSJ). As Lewis Law Center director, she worked with the editors of CRSJ to organize a symposium on sexual orientation and the law titled "A Queer Definition of Equality," the first scholarly event of its kind at W&L.

"Professor Halper was a remarkable teacher, a committed scholar and a mentor to her students," said President Ken Ruscio. "We will miss her as a colleague and a friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time. On behalf of the entire University, I send our deepest sympathies to Louise's family, friends and other loved ones."

Professor Halper received her B.A. from Brandeis University in 1967 and her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law in 1973. In 1991, she received an LL.M. from New York University following a distinguished career in public interest law, which saw her appear at every level of state and federal court, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

Professor Halper was born August 2, 1944, in Columbia, S.C. She is survived by her husband, Fred, a psychology professor at Essex County College in Newark, N.J.; and their two grown sons, Reuben and Jacob.

The Halper family has asked that donations in honor of Professor Halper be made to the Center For Constitutional Rights or the NAACP. Below is a link to give a gift in memory of Professor Halper to the Center For Constitutional Rights:


Donations may also be made in her name to the Montclair, NJ chapter of the NAACP:

Montclair NAACP
P.O. Box 353
Montclair, NJ 07042 

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