I had the pleasure of attending law school at the American University Washington College of Law.
Yes, I just used the words "pleasure" and "law school" in the same breath.
WCL is a special place. People don't steal books from the library there. They circle the answers (in pencil, because we respect books, yo) and put them back. That sums up how different it is from other law schools, particularly those in the top tier (of the arguably meaningless US News rankings) and those in DC (Georgetown, I'm totally looking at you.)
I developed some seriously great mentor relationships during my time at WCL. To me, finding a kindred spirit in an educator casts a bright light on my learning experience. I was lucky to have several such bright lights.
One of these lights was recently extinguished, and I am sad.
Jim Day taught me Oil and Gas Law and Energy Law. He was an adjunct professor at WCL because, as he would have put it, he was far too busy working in the business and making "real money" to profess full time. He, shall we say, believed in incentives. Each semester, he chose one final exam essay which was the best in the class, and awarded that student a monetary prize of one thousand dollars per course credit.
Oil and Gas Law was 2 credits. I didn't win. Energy Law was 3 credits. I did win.
Jim Day was sartorially talented -- quite the snappy dresser. He was unapologetically capitalist and conservative. He believed, and proved, that the pursuit of petroleum engineering was the source of bounteous financial gain. He believed, and proved, that knowing the law and the policy was the key.
Jim Day wrote books, and published them. He held book signing parties where everyone drank bourbon. Those were fun. He had a razor sharp wit and a perpetual gleam in his eye. He gave you the feeling that he was thinking faster than you. Like, a lot faster. He was.
Jim Day sent me a handwritten Christmas card every year, in response to my unapologetically cute family photo cards.
When I got married, Jim Day sent me a wedding present. It was a really nice Calphalon soup pot, which I still use almost daily. When I thanked him for the pot, he raised his eyebrows, "Oh, is that what we sent you? Good. My wife did a good job. I told her to get you something nice."
Jim Day was a straight shooter, a smart man, known to have a cocktail, proud of his boots, well-traveled, and well-read. He saw great things in me. He constantly challenged me.
"What are you reading? What's your next job going to be? Are you making enough money?"
I stammered, sometimes, in response. I tend to be self-effacing and he had no time for that.
"Buck up. Be confident. You are smart. Get in there and kick some ass, little lady."
And now that he's gone to the great cocktail party/book signing/oil well in the sky, I feel reminded.
Thanks for everything, Professor.
Hope someone tells you to kick some ass today.