Everyone at LAG was sad to learn of the passing of Gary Slapper, the legal academic and writer who died unexpectedly in December. At the time of his death, Gary was a professor at New York University and the director of its London campus. Prior to this he had been the head of the Open University’s law school. He was also a door tenant at The 36 Group. His books included English law, co-written with David Kelly, which is now in its third edition.
His untimely death, aged 57, led to an outpouring of tributes from his former students and colleagues, and the wider legal world. LLM student Julia Anderson tweeted: ‘@TimesLaw Gary Slapper’s writing showed me the law could be both technically fascinating and full of humanity, a sad sad loss.’
It was perhaps appropriate that many first heard of his death via Twitter, as Gary was a prolific tweeter on legal issues. He will probably be best remembered for his many legal jokes and anecdotes. This is one of his tweets from November last year:
COUNSEL: [seated; whispered] Please could you turn up the air conditioning. It’s sweltering in here.
USHER: I’m sorry, sir, I can’t do that. It’s controlled by the knob on the bench.
COUNSEL: [rising] My lord, I understand from the usher …
Gary also exploited the rich vein of anti-lawyer jokes that are much beloved by the profession they lampoon:
TEACHER: During class, when I asked Timothy what his father did, he said ‘He plays the banjo in a whorehouse’.
MOTHER: Oh please don’t worry, his dad’s a lawyer but how can you tell that to a five year old.