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April 21, 2008

Professor Dom Vetri Retires From Teaching Torts

Longtime Oregon Law Professor Dom Vetri recently announced his retirement.  Professor Vetri will reduce his teaching load over the next few years, and on April 17 taught his last torts class.  Dozens of his colleagues attended the last few moments of class, and Professor Vetri delivered the following remarks:

“Well I guess I understand how Lady Godiva must have felt as she neared the end of her famous ride, I am drawing near to my close.

“It has been a good ride over all these years and as I reduce my teaching responsibilities, I know that you are in good hands with all of my faculty colleagues.  A good law school has two important components:  a good faculty and good students.  My colleagues are wonderful, talented, brilliant, creative people who give their all to your educational development.  I want to thank each and every one for allowing me to be a part of the crew.  The future of this School is bright under this faculty coupled with the visionary leadership of Dean Paris.  She has distinguished herself in the short period she has been Dean through bold steps to improve the quality and effectiveness of our educational program, and I can foresee many more major accomplishments in the years ahead.

“And you, my friends, are the other component of a good law school — the students.  Bright, talented, energetic and idealistic; never lose those attributes.  You are part of a long stream of generations of students past, students present, and students to come. 

“I realize that giving advice is usually a thankless business and I shall not venture too far in that direction.  I always keep in mind the profound thoughts on Socrates written by a 12 year old for a school report.

“’Socrates,’ she wrote, ’was a Greek philosopher who went about giving people good advice.  They poisoned him.’

“What words I can offer can be summed up by the three letters of the word LAW itself, L-A-W.  One last acronym from me.  L for love; A for art; and W for work.  Love , art and work.
“Work needs little elaboration.  You already have much of it and will soon have more.  Be diligent, competent, fair, civil and ethical in all that you do.  Best of all, enjoy your work if you can, as I have.  As you have learned by now, as Holmes told us long ago, the law is not a fixed compass.  As lawyers, we help to determine true North.  Law is a dynamic, changing, progressive instrument in constant need of renewal.  Your work in law must be much broader than your daily work, much grander, more noble.  Build a better world for each of us and for all of us and for your children by working for the constant improvement of the law and equal dignity under law for all of us.

“L-A-W, love art work.  By love I mean the importance of nourishing the personal side of your life.  Our spouses, partners, children, relatives and friends are essential parts of our lives and they deserve time, attention and all the love we can give.  Law is a demanding profession and we must take care that our work does not impair our personal lives.  Remember that we may love our work, but only people can love us back.

“L-A-W. Love, art, work.  Art, what in the world do I mean by art?  I had to get Art Law in here someplace.  By art, I mean that you should be sure to add a little poetry to your life.  There is beauty all around us — in good literature, painting, poetry, music and in the environment. See it, cherish it, and enjoy its enlightenment and comforts.

“As I wish each of you well in the years ahead, I also wish that your lives be free of torts, either committed by you or against you.

“And finally remember, Old torts teachers never die, they just get less reasonable.”


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