Larry Ribstein, who was Free Will's favorite law blogger, has died unexpectedly. This is one of those losses inevitably described as "incalculable:"
This morning our dear colleague, Larry Ribstein, passed away. The intellectual life of everyone who knew him, of this blog, and of the legal academy at large is deeply diminished for his passing.
For me, as for many others, Larry was an important influence, not only intellectually but personally, as well. Larry was the godfather of this blog, which got its start when a few of us, including Bill Sjostrom, Josh, Thom and me, pinch hit for Larry at Ideoblog in November 2005. It took eight of us, including my dad, to fill his shoes, and still his traffic went down. More than anyone else, Larry was instrumental in my decision to leave law teaching to work at Microsoft. Completely unsure what to do and worried about how it would affect my ability to return to law teaching, I called Larry, who had no doubt. He sealed the deal by pointing out that a move like that one would open some completely unanticipated, and potentially great, career paths and telling me not to worry so much about getting back to law teaching. He was right, of course, and, thus also an important influence on the creation of the International Center for Law and Economics. And Larry was a friend, one of those I always looked forward to seeing at ALEA and other conferences, more than once providing the necessary marginal incentive to attend.
We grieve for Ann, Sarah and Susannah and mourn his passing.
Ribstein was almost unique as a legal scholar in that he focused on the business of practicing law, which means he was the only legal scholar I have read for anything resembling practical advice. His Big Theory of the last few years has been the decentralization and demystification of legal practice; rather than a bunch of big firms dominating the landscape, Ribstein saw the emergence of smaller, nimbler practice groups marketing themselves to the general public. Intellectually speaking, this is someone who died with his boots on, leaving a lot of unanswered questions and unwritten papers with his departure. A sad loss for us all.