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In Memoriam


The College learned on July 2, 2021 that our Fellow Ruth Silman passed away earlier that week.   Here is a link to her obituary in the Boston Globe.  Her good friend ACOEL Fellow Barry Needleman reports that she spent her last days at home, surrounded by her family.  Barry noted, “I will always remember Ruth as someone devoted to her family, her friends and the causes she believed in.  She touched so many lives in a profoundly positive way.”

ACOEL Fellow Lisa Goodheart gave tribute to Ruth, noting that she was a remarkable leader, a great lawyer, and a wonderful person.  Lisa noted that Ruth stepped up to serve as the Region 1 Co-Chair for ACOEL’s Membership Committee this past year, even as she knew that she was grappling with a terminal illness and her remaining time was so precious.  As Lisa emphasized, “Ruth squeezed every minute of life out of the time that was given to her, and did more to leave a positive mark on the world in her 52 years than would seem possible.” 

In ACOEL Fellow Mary Ryan’s words:  “I remember meeting Ruth as a new law graduate and have been thrilled to see all that she accomplished in her too-short career.  She remained throughout a wonderful friend and colleague.  I can’t help but think of losing another brilliant woman lawyer, friend and colleague to cancer this year – I hope Ruth and Wendy [Jacobs] are enjoying each other’s company someplace, somehow. She will be sorely missed.”

Ruth leaves her husband, Tim Clark, and children Phoebe and Jacob.  Cards can be sent to her husband at 114 Bolton Rd., Harvard, MA 01451.

Tribute to our late Fellow Wendy Jacobs from Harvard Law School Dean John Manning

Dear Members of the HLS Community,

It is with deep sadness that I write to tell you that our dear friend, colleague, and teacher Wendy Jacobs passed away after a long illness. Professor Jacobs was the Emmett Clinical Professor of Environmental Law and Director of the Harvard Law School Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. An alumna of this Law School, Professor Jacobs returned to HLS in 2007 after a distinguished career in public service and private practice and founded the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. She had deep faith in, and worked hard to realize, the positive role law can play in protecting the environment, addressing climate change, and preserving the earth for generations to come. Her work was creative, thoughtful, wide ranging. It focused on an array of problems and an eclectic set of tools and techniques that her students, her colleagues, and she could deploy to solve them. This involved not only litigation but also working closely with governmental and private entities to devise new ways to address environmental challenges.

Professor Jacobs was a superb, creative teacher. Her Climate Solutions Living Lab brought together graduate students from across the University to work on innovative ways to address complex problems. Her work drew together students from law, business, government, public health, design, and engineering to create real world solutions that would enable universities and other enterprises to achieve quantifiable and replicable reductions in carbon emissions. Professor Jacobs’ love of teaching and her dedication to her students was inspiring. She served as a Special Advisor on Learning and Practice to two deans and brought deep insight to the question of how to bring the science of learning to legal education and to Harvard Law School.

I am grateful to Professor Jacobs for the impact she had, for the deep learning and wonderful inspiration she brought our students, and for the many ways in which she made this Law School always better. Most of all, I am grateful for, and inspired by, the courage, commitment, and dedication Professor Jacobs showed her students each and every day. Being a teacher was her calling, and so many will, because of her, lead lives of purpose and meaning and impact. What a wonderful legacy.

I hope you will join me in wishing comfort and healing to her family and to colleagues, friends, and students who are grieving her loss.

May her memory be a blessing.