The last torts class of the semester, taught by Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law Guido Calabresi ’58, didn’t quite end as planned. When Guido, as everyone knows, finished the course on April 29, 2021, Dean Heather Gerken appeared on the projection screen at Baker 118 along with more than 160 former Guido students, numerous law faculty members, staff and past colleagues and present from all over the country. They had all come to surprise him on his final torts class in six decades – an incredible milestone in a long and distinguished career at Yale Law School.
Gerken paid tribute to Guido’s career as a scholar and former dean of law school, but focused on his teaching legacy. “He’s been teaching his students his craft for 60 years,” she said. “He did this with rigor and intelligence, but also with such wisdom, kindness and generosity of spirit that he is simply loved by every generation.”
Alejandra Uria ’23, a student in Torts class, also shared about Guido’s unmatched legacy of teaching. “There are few people in the world who can say they have shared a class with some of the greatest legal experts for many decades,” she said. “They are the common denominator.”
“It is clear that you love this school, this class and all the thousands of students who have walked through the hallways of your classroom, virtual or otherwise.”
The class also presented Guido with a gift to show their appreciation. It was engraved with something Guido repeatedly said to the “brilliant” students at Yale Law School: “To be blessed with an incredible mind is only good when it is accompanied by character, decency, humanity and love – with kindness.”
While Calabresi will no longer teach torts, he will lead a seminar on constitutional disputes in the fall. Calabresi began as a professor at Yale Law School in 1959 and was dean from 1985 to 1994. He was named District Judge of the United States in July 1994 and is still an active senior judge.
Guido recalled his years teaching a core class like Torts, which forms the foundation for any law student’s future study and career, and spoke of the immense joy of the experience.
“What a joy – what a joy to have made and do this kind of life,” he said. “In these many years I have learned so much from my students, ‘my children’. And the love and kindness you have shown me will teach me all my life. “