College News and Events
Arizona Law mourns the passing of Jean Braucher, the Roger C. Henderson Professor of Law
Jean's insightful and cutting-edge scholarship earned the deep respect of colleagues around these halls, and across the country. Her knowledge and passion for teaching earned the esteem of the thousands of students whose lives she influenced.
The entire Arizona Law community feels her loss.
A National Leader and Scholar
In the days since Jean's passing, after a battle with cancer, tributes have poured in to the College and appeared online among the academic communities in her multiple fields of contracts, bankruptcy, and commercial law. One tribute among contracts professors described her as “a giant in our field.”
With Wisconsin Law Professors Stewart Macaulay, William C. Whitford, and John Kidwell, Jean co-authored Contracts: Law in Action, Vol I and Vol II. She wrote more than 50 law review articles and contributed chapters to the seminal books in her field.
The official record will show that Jean was a giant among bankruptcy and contracts scholars. Her work on local legal culture in bankruptcy courts is one of the standard references on the topic. As Dov Cohen and I were trying to understand the disparities we were seeing in our data among local bankruptcy courts, we turned to Jean. She joined our research team, and her understanding of the very fine detail of how the bankruptcy courts worked in action made the project's experimental materials a success. Jean was also was widely known for her work on contracts law, being one of the authors of the seminal Contracts: Law in Action textbook.
Her work reached the human dimensions of business transactions, contracts, and bankruptcy. As just one example, Jean's recent co-authored article, Race, Attorney Influence, and Bankruptcy Chapter Choice (9 J. of Empirical L. Stud. 393 (2012)), analyzed important new dimensions of race in the bankruptcy process.
Jean prepared one of the most concise examinations of Arizona contract law in her beautiful article, Cowboy Contracts: The Arizona Supreme Court's Grand Tradition of Transactional Fairness (50 Ariz. L. Rev. 191 (2008)). She believed in the power of information to advance academic debate, and that academic discourse could push the legal community forward. You can read this article and follow links to more of her scholarly work on her faculty profile page.
She was a leader in the academic community. In 2013 Jean was inducted as a fellow into the American College of Bankruptcy, and she was the 2013 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, where she served on the board of directors.
Around the country, Jean's colleagues are remembering her in online tributes. The following are just a sampling from the memories shared on Credit Slips: A Discussion on Credit, Finance, and Bankruptcy.
I had great respect for Jean Braucher. She was strong, willing to take on hard conceptual problems that others had papered over and determined to counter conventional wisdom with carefully collected data. Jean fought hard for policies that would help people who were often overlooked in the legal system, and her voice will be sorely missed.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren
I had read her articles long before meeting her, and continued to look for her scholarly work during my career as a law professor, and later as a bankruptcy judge. Her scholarly work was extremely helpful in teaching and in practice. Her voice and perspective will be missed. I didn't know Jean well on a personal level, but she always greeted me so warmly, and I suspect that she was a wonderfully caring person.
Judge Paulette Del
Jean was so patient with me when I barely understood bankruptcy issues, and she guided my reporting on some of the most important stories I've written here. This just breaks my heart. Reporters need people like her.
Long active in legal reform efforts, she was a Vice President and board member for the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center. She was a member of, and advisor to, the American Law Institute, serving on committees, working groups, and as a delegate to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. For more than five years she served on the American Bar Association Committee on the Law of Cyberspace, and co-chaired a subgroup charged with developing sound strategies for electronic consumer protection disclosures.
An Admired and Gifted Teacher
My relationship with Professor Braucher began with terror on the first day of law school when I walked into her Contracts class two minutes late. Soon after -- when I was buried under reading assignments I could barely understand but she always clearly explained -- I progressed from terror to begrudging respect. But by my third year, I voluntarily signed up for her flagship Mortgage Class and Clinic. By my graduation, we were colleagues and friends. Jean Braucher was a caring and attentive teacher, a renowned scholar, and a wonderful human. She will be terribly missed.
Raina Wagner ('12)
Jean joined the college in 1998 as the Roger C. Henderson Professor of Law. She established herself as an academic professional committed to the success of her students in first-year contracts, bankruptcy, and the Mortgage Clinic.
Students often remark that her style of teaching contract remedies before teaching formation seemed a little out of place at first, but that in the end it worked in the most brilliant way.
Jean Braucher was a truly unique and remarkable woman in so many ways. One of those ways was her inspiring dedication to her students' success. I was fortunate to have been able to benefit from her wisdom and guidance during my time at Arizona Law. She went above and beyond the call of duty in helping me secure a clerkship after graduation -- meeting with me over drinks to discuss interviewing techniques, my future career plans and how best to achieve them, and even went so far as to research my interviewing judge's cases to glean whatever bits of information she could that might give me an edge. I feel blessed to have known her for even so brief a time; she was an extraordinarily kind, funny, and supportive professor, mentor, and friend and I, for one, will miss her dearly.
Kaitlin Shaw ('13)
Jean was the founding director of the Mortgage Clinic at Arizona Law. After the College of Law received a grant from the Arizona Attorney General's Office -- which came from a settlement by loan providers -- she partnered with Southern Arizona Legal Aid (SALA) to offer the resources of law students in mortgage restructuring and, if needed, in bankruptcy. This clinic offered students a direct application of bankruptcy and loan modification principles.
Jean's passionate commitment to her students rang out this fall when she taught her final class in contracts.
It only took having Jean Braucher for Contracts as a first-year law student to realize she had an outstanding legal mind and was acutely aware of the real-world implications of the law. That realization was then reinforced while taking Bankruptcy from her and participating in the Mortgage Clinic for which she was an advisor. She was genuinely concerned about her students and actively involved in our educational experience. I will always be impressed by her appreciation of the practical effect of bankruptcy and contract law on the lives of the underprivileged/uneducated. She took every opportunity to lead us in discussing how greater protections and access to justice can be made available to all. She will be missed by everyone who had the privilege of calling her Professor Braucher.
Brad Terry ('13)
Before coming to Arizona, Jean served a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law (1987-1998) and the University of Puget Sound (now Seattle University School of Law) (1982-1987) and had been a visiting faculty member at Cornell University Law School, the University of Texas School of Law, Boston College Law School, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She taught internationally in summer law programs in Portugal and Greece.
A Lifetime of Service to Community and Colleagues
At Arizona Law, Jean was a leader. Over the years, she chaired the college's Executive, Faculty Development, Appointments, and Admissions Committees.
I served on two faculties with Jean, and found her to be a wonderful colleague: supportive, generous with her time, and hardworking. She had an unfailingly wry sense of humor and was almost always the smartest person in the room. I miss her already.
Gabriel "Jack" Chin
She chaired the University Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure in 2005, having served on that committee since 2003. In 2008, she received the Bell Award for Faculty Service, recognizing these and many other efforts.
Jean was also active in the legal and local community. She was the President of ACLU-Arizona during the early 2000s and advised the ACLU student organization at Arizona Law, as well as the Arizona Law Review.
Celebrating Jean's Life
These few paragraphs cannot capture either Jean's accomplishments or the spirit with which she undertook them.
We are currently talking with Jean's family and national colleagues about a time to honor her life's work.
In the meantime, you may send notes of condolence to Jean's family via:
The Family of Jean Braucher
We will forward notes to her husband, David Wohl, and their two grown children.
As we reflect on a profound loss to our extended community, the academy, and the profession, we also celebrate Jean's intellect, commitment, and courage.
She will be missed.Posted: 12/04/2014
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