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February 2016

Alfred Hill

I just found out that Alfred Hill, a professor of law at Columbia, died a few months ago. My initial exposure to Hill’s work on Erie was curious. In looking at current articles on the topic, I kept seeing citations to articles Hill wrote in the 1950s: State Procedural Law in Federal Nondiversity Litigation and The Erie Doctrine in Bankruptcy, both published in the Harvard Law Review, and a two-part article in the Northwestern University Law Review called The Erie Doctrine and the Constitution.  Citation to half-century-old articles is very unusual in legal scholarship. When I took a look at them, I found out why they were so popular. They were masterful — written with a clarity and insight that made them still useful today. Indeed, I still often find that a Hill article is the only one that discusses a problem I am interested in. I then discovered that Hill, who I had assumed died decades before, was still alive. A number of times I considered emailing him to let him know how much I thought of his work. I never did and now, I’m sorry to hear, it is too late.