Nancy Lieberman (1979)  

I started at the law school 25 years ago---in the Fall of 1976. The Law School hosted a beautiful candlelit dinner in the Green Lounge for the incoming class. At the end of the dinner, Dean Norval Morris waxed poetic about the incoming class---the class of 1979 had dozens of graduates from ivy league schools, dozens of students with advanced degress, several even had PhDs.......and then there was me---a 19 year old from a non-ivy league school who had only finished her junior year before entering Chicago. Boy was I intimidated that first night and it only got worse. The next day I attended my first torts class with Professor Richard Epstein. Torts, at least in 1976, was not a well known subject to the general public---biology, chemistry, calculus---OK---but Torts???? So, my next memorable experience that first week of law school involved sitting in Professor Epstein's class and having him ask about 50 others---"Mr. Smith---what is a tort?!!" Many gave seemingly intelligent answers. I, of course, had no idea what a tort was. Finally, I was asked--"Miss Lieberman---what is a tort?" I thought I was being clever when I answered the first dreaded socratic questioning experience of my career, by saying---"it depends--apple or strawberry?" Professor Epstein, whom I now count as an old friend, just stared for awhile and thankfully moved on.....I can't remember if anyone answered it to his satisfaction. My first week was capped off by the Friday evening movie at the Law School---and that year, the movie was The Paper Chase....the moving story of a One L Harvard Law School class. I had orignally seen that movie a few years earlier as a high school senior and loved it, so I figured, this would provide relief from a dreadful first week of the University of Chicago Law School----where it seemed that although the professors were speaking English words, it all sounded like Greek to me. Well, after seeing The Paper Chase, I felt that I was like the young married student who flunked out because he just "couldn't get it!"

While socratic teaching is PAINFUL to endure at first, it definitely becomes an "acquired taste." I remember a real "breakthrough" in my second year when Professor Geoff Stone, my wonderful evidence teacher who basically explained the concept of the course to me in his office. After an hour, I "got it" and in fact, all of law school seemed to "click" and make sense. From then on, things got much easier and I did extremely well at the Law School. I felt that I had really "learned how to think like a lawyer". The next year, I even had another course with Professor Epstein---this time, corporate tax (Professor Blum was teaching at the University of Miami that semester, and Professor Epstein, being the Renaissance Man that he is, stepped in to teach the course). Nearly three years after my first encounter with Professor Epstein and socratic teaching, I felt thoroughly competent to answer all of the tough questions thrown at me----to such a point that Professor Epstein, in one class, handed me the chalk and told me to finish teaching the class!!!--Now, of course, I wish I had kept the piece of chalk---what a collector's item. Finally, I can truly say that the famous words of the song, New York, New York---"...if I can make it here, I'll make it anywhere..." equally applies to surviving and then flourishing at the University of Chicago Law School. Well--that's about two pages of wonderful recollections. I wouldn't be where I am, if I hadn't gone to our law school. Nancy Lieberman Class of 1979