School of Law News
In Memory of Fred C. Zacharias, USD Herzog Research Professor of Law 1953-2009
SAN DIEGO (November 11, 2009) – Fred C. Zacharias, University of San Diego (USD) School of Law Herzog Research Professor of Law and nationally recognized figure in the field of professional responsibility, passed away on Sunday, November 8, 2009. He was 56.
Professor Zacharias joined the USD law faculty in 1990, teaching courses in constitutional law, criminal procedure and professional responsibility. During his tenure at USD, he was named Herzog Scholar (1995-96), received the Thorsnes Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship (2003-04), named the Class of 1975 Professor (2005-06) and in 2009, became the inaugural Donald Weckstein Summer Research Professor.
"Fred Zacharias was one of the finest legal ethics scholars in the United States, a genuine leader in the field. He was also a wise and generous colleague,” said Georgetown University Professor of Law and Philosophy David Luban. “This is a great loss not only to his family and friends, but to the profession as well.”
“At the start of his career,” Luban continued, “Fred did a pioneering empirical study of how much lawyer-client confidentiality matters to what lawyers tell their clients and what clients are willing to tell their lawyers. He was the nation's leading expert on the responsibilities of prosecutors, about which he wrote both solo and in a number of excellent articles he co-authored with Bruce Green. Fred wrote thoughtfully about the relationship between concepts of professionalism and regulatory strategies for lawyers. He was surely among the most prolific scholars in legal ethics, and among the most thoughtful.”
A prolific author, Professor Zacharias’ many articles included: "The Uniqueness of Federal Prosecutors," Georgetown Law Journal; "Waiving Conflicts of Interest," Yale Law Journal; "Structuring the Ethics of Prosecutorial Trial Practice," Vanderbilt Law Review; "Flowcharting the First Amendment," Cornell Law Review; "Federalizing Legal Ethics," Texas Law Review; and "The Politics of Torts," Yale Law Journal. He was a leading proponent of the proposition that lawyers have ethical roles beyond their duty to advance the interests of individual clients: both as a teacher and scholar he observed that lawyers have countervailing obligations—to the court, the legal system, third parties, society as a whole, and to general morality.
Before joining the USD law faculty, Professor Zacharias taught at Cornell University Law School and George Washington University Law Center. He clerked for the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia and practiced public interest law in Washington, D.C., first as an E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law School and then for the firm Dobrivir, Oakes & Gebhardt. He was also a member of the American Law Institute, the leading organization of scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. His philanthropic work included support for the San Diego Shelter for Homeless Teenagers (SDYCA) and as a long-term advisor to the Legal Ethics Committee of the San Diego County Bar.
Professor Zacharias graduated first in his class from Johns Hopkins University in just two and one-half years in 1974, earned his Juris Doctor from Yale University in 1977 and his Masters in Law from Georgetown University in 1981.
Professor Zacharias will be greatly missed. He is survived by his loving wife, Sharon Soroko Zacharias, his two sons, Eric and Blake, his mother, Laure Zacharias, and his brother, Larry, and family.
The University of San Diego School of Law has established the Fred Zacharias Memorial Fund to honor the longstanding contributions Professor Zacharias made to the law school and its students. To contribute online, please go to law.sandiego.edu/zacharias or call the USD School of Law Development Office at (619) 260-4692.
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