Have You Ever Had a Teacher…?

I continue to spend much of my time sitting in the story of my life’s greatest mentor.  The story begins when fresh out of law school, I moved across the country from Iowa to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to clerk for Judge Max Rosenn of the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

I thought I would learn the law. His lessons transformed my life.

My first draft read as a biography. The judge deserved more.

The second draft morphed into a love story, fueled by my adoration of this man. These were words my heart needed to put on paper.

My current draft is bringing to life the lessons learned by his side.

When seeing on this week’s calendar that it was time to write this article, I wasn’t ready to move from my time with the judge.

Instead of forcing words, I’ll share with you something I read this week by one of my Rosenn co-clerks, John J. Osborn. After John left the judge’s side, he penned The Paper Chase, a book that spawned a famous movie by the same name in the 1970’s.

In a gift book we compiled for our mentor containing twenty years of clerks’ memories, John wrote this introduction:

It will come as a surprise to Judge Max Rosenn’s former law clerks, whose recollections are compiled here, that there are federal judges who do not have lunch with their clerks regularly at family Italian restaurants. Indeed, there are federal judges who do not care if their clerks manage to get happily married. There are judges who will not co-sign for your loan at the bank, who will not invite you to their summer homes, and will not take your mother and father out to dinner.

There are judges who will not get you a good deal on a car, will not furnish your apartment, and will not introduce you to all their friends. There are even judges who do not having caring and feisty spouses ready to take your side if it begins to look as if the judge is overworking you. The truth is that on the whole federal bench there is only one judge who will do all these sorts of things, and more.

He is a kind and thoughtful man. He is admirable. He inspires the deepest respect in those who work with him. He is the sort of man who one wants to spend time with. And, luckily, those of us who wish we could have spent more time with this great gentleman can now do so in the recollections included here. Although they are written in order to honor Judge Rosenn, to let him know how much our time with him has meant to us, they also provide us, his former law clerks, with the pleasure of his company once again.

And that, ultimately, is what has always made Judge Rosenn so special. His unique gift lies in giving more than he receives—even when we seek to honor him.

Well said, John. I am delighting in spending more time with this great gentleman.

Have you ever had a teacher who taught that it is your service to humanity that defines the quality of your life?

If so, count yourself fortunate. I would love to hear your story.

If not, know that I am relentlessly moving forward to bring the lessons of one such man to you.

I’m looking forward to sharing our walk with justice.

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  • I reran this article from my previous website by request. Sorry the comments didn’t carry over…
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