In Law update by Emmzy on the 29th, December, 2017

BU School of Law Remembers Dean William Schwartz

Dean Schwartz led the law school from 1980 to 1988 and taught generations of law students.

William Schwartz ('55)
William Schwartz (’55)

William Schwartz (DGE’52, LAW’55, GRS’60), former professor and dean of Boston University School of Law, passed away in New York on December 20, 2017. He served as professor of law at the school for more than 30 years.

Schwartz joined BU Law as a professor of property law and trusts and estates immediately upon his graduation, magna cum laude, in 1955. He led BU Law as dean from 1980 to 1988. During his tenure, he negotiated with former BU President John Silber to take over the entire law tower, and established the International Law Journal and the Review of Banking & Financial Law. He oversaw the creation of the LLM in Banking & Financial Law Program, the first graduate program in the US to devote itself entirely to the study of banking and financial services law, and the founding of the Public Interest Project (PIP), a student organization created to provide fellowships to first and second-year students working in summer public-interest jobs.

After he stepped down as dean, Schwartz remained on the faculty until 1991, when he moved on to Yeshiva University to serve as vice president of academic affairs and professor of property law at the University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Throughout his career, he authored 18 books and more than 50 law review articles. He was counsel in the New York office of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; a member of the Legal Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange; a representative (NGO Section) to the United Nations; and a member of the board of Viacom Inc.

In 2015, BU Law dedicated the Samuel M. Fineman Law Library with a gift made by Samuel Fineman in honor of Dean Schwartz and his wife Bernice. Fineman, who met William Schwartz when he was a first-year law student, maintained a lifelong friendship with the former dean and his wife. A photograph of William and Bernice Schwartz with Samuel Fineman and his fiancée Nyla Carleton hangs in the library.

“I learned from my experience with Bill and Bernice that you meet a few exceptional individuals in your life who you always remember, respect, and revere,” Fineman said. “From Bill and Bernice’s efforts, the foundation of the law school was forged to support tremendous growth by its succeeding deans and faculty to its current outstanding record and space.”

Michael Fricklas (’84) recalled Dean Schwartz’s impact on his career in a recent issue of The Record. When, after his first year at BU Law, Fricklas was considering transferring to a lower-cost school closer to his hometown in Colorado, Schwartz would have none of it. The dean found some discretionary funding to allow him to continue at BU. “I didn’t have lawyers in my family,” Fricklas said. “I didn’t have mentors or anyone guiding me through law school, but Dean Schwartz and BU Law enabled me to get a great education and a launch on a career.”

“Bill was a true son of BU Law—an alum, a faculty member, and dean,” says Dean Maureen A. O’Rourke. “Over the years, many alumni have told me of his outsized impact on their time at BU Law, their careers, and indeed their lives. For me, Bill was an extraordinarily generous and warm friend whose passion for the school and help in securing our new campus was second to none. I send my deepest sympathies to his wife and partner in all things, Bernice, and their entire family.”

Dean Schwartz’s memorial services will be held on December 22 at 9 a.m. at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, 5 East 62nd Street, New York, New York.


Sign the guestbook and view the entries below.

Guestbook Entries


Professor Schwartz was a wonderful teacher. He skillfully mixed humor with content, ensuring an education that will be remembered.

Another recollection: Professor Schwartz would frequently dictate citations with some hypotheticals. 1st year students dutifully scribbled them down. Knowing there were 5 religious Jewish students in Section D – 1979, he sometimes gave a citation not to American law, but to a portion of the Talmud, in Hebrew, as in “Baba Kama, Blat 23, Amud Alef.” All pens ground to a halt, while we five appreciated the inside joke. I will miss him.

Israel Silverman (’82), Scor Reinsurance Company


He was a great man whom we will all miss. He was my inspiration. I can’t believe he is gone.

Martin Lobel (’65), Lobel, Novins & Lamont LLP


My condolences to the Schwartz family.

Paul Spitz (’86), Spitz Law Firm


I remember Professor Schwartz with fondness from my first year at law school. My sympathies to his family.

Linda F. Spiegel (’78), Law and Mediation Office of Linda F. Spiegel, Esq.


Isabelle Katz Pinzler (’70)


Both Ruthie and I will miss him dearly. He gave me the encouragement and confidence when I needed it most.

Stephen Kass (’65) (and Ruth)


“Not a lot of land, but a Lot of land.”

David R. Gellman (’78), Goldstein, Gellman, Melbostad, Harris & McSparran LLP


Dean Schwartz was an effective and inspirational leader of the Law School. I recall one presentations which concluded with his ambitious vision for BULS – stating the past is prologue, which he then said simply meant “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” He will be missed but always fondly remembered.

Paul Horn (’83)


I well remember Dean Schwartz, my first year property professor, asking whether we were discussing “a lot of land or a LOT of land”. He was an engaging professor and a great BULS leader. I am sorry I am not in NYC today to be at the service but send my condolences to his family.

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Leslie Miles (’82), Topside LLC


A wonderful friend, a mench.

Oscar Wasserman (Questrom’56, LAW’59, ’62,)


So sorry to read of Bill’s passing. A true gentleman, scholar and student of the Law. I will always remember his Property classes and his comments about definitions. May he rest in peace.

Matthew L. Lewiss (’65), Lewiss Law Associates LLP


My condolences to the loved ones of Dean Schwartz who was appointed just before I started at BU School of Law. I remember that the person who introduced him commented that his appointment proved that, referring to the University President, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Dean Schwartz made the study of Property both interesting and entertaining. “If you buy a lot of land, not a lot of land, but a lot of land….” Rest in peace.

H. Mitchell Schuman (’83), New York County Defender Services


Jay T. Hirschauer (’72), Hirschauer & Hirschauer


Professor Schwartz was a born teacher. It’s not everyone who can make Torts a class worth attending. The humor was frequently corny, but it helped make the information stick, and I still use some of his better lines when I teach. My condolences to his family. You’ve lost a very special person.

William Babcock (’76), Temple University


He was the best.

Robert D. Turran (’67)


My deepest condolences to Dean Schwartz’s family. I was lucky enough to have Professor Schwartz as a teacher my first year at BU Law. Not only was he a wonderful teacher, but a warm person with a terrific sense of humor. Professor Schwartz’s class was a highlight of my law school experience.

Deb Reed (’77)


Dean Schwartz’s engaging, entertaining and instructive classes were the catalyst in generating my devotion to a career in the law.

Mitchell Samuelson (’60)


I remember being terrified first week and attending a 1L reception in Tower. Dean Schwartz was welcoming and warm to all of us frightened newbies as he worked the room. I will always remember his kindness and humanity that evening. My Sympathy to his Family. Know that a good life was well led.

Amy Boyle Geisel (’88), Private practice and Trustee, Ringwood Public Library


I remember Prof. Schwartz as representing the best of BU Law.

Beth-Ann Fischer Gentile (’69), Self-employed lawyer


He was truly extraordinary—as a scholar, but more importantly as a wonderful human being.

Frank J. Santangelo (’64), Law Office of Frank J. Santangelo


I would like to extend the condolences of the Weinberg family. Bill was an invaluable friend whose friendship and wisdom we treasured. On a personal level, I will treasuere the time I spent with him at the law school especially at the minyan in his office. We made out life much richer, we are today a little poorer due to his loss.

Herbert Weinberg (’87), Rosenberg Weinberg


Martin Malinou (’58)


My favorite professor at BULS, and a wonderful person. Few can bring humor and joy to the study of law, but he managed to do so on a regular basis. He will be missed but the many fond memories he provided will continue to be cherished.

Norman Gross (’69)


He always brought humor to the class. His knowledge was extraordinary.

Judith Kramer (’70), NYC Department of Education


Nemo dat quod non habet. Prof Schwartz was the best!

Peter C. Chervin, Saunders & Assoc.


My condolences to the family.

Janina Stodolski (’75)


Who was the “voice of uncommon sense”? Bill Schwartz brought the greatest clarity to complex subjects—and always made us laugh in the process!

Arthur D. Gold (’66)


He taught during my first year with humor, kindness and wisdom. His lessons remained throughout my legal career. Knowing him was certainly a blessing for all who had the privilege.

Fredda Fisher Wolf (’66), Hardy, Wolf & Downing PA


Professor Schwartz was my favorite professor. I learned a lot from him.

Jery Barton (’72), Barton Law Firm LPA


He was one of my favorite and most exciting teachers. often he would say “bring your significant other” as we will be discussing the Rule in Shelley’s Case (whatever that may have been). A true giant in the Law.

Ed McCarthy (’62)


My memory of Professor Schwartz comes from his Future Interest And Estate Planning course in 1972, when in the final lecture of the school year he inspired all of us to work very hard in the coming years on becoming very very good lawyers because the Law deserved it. I will never forget him.

Stephen Selden (JD’72, LLM’80)


“The swift and obvious answer: it depends.”

John Guppy (’82)


A mentor and inspiration to everyone who had the privilege to know him. Dean Schwartz will be missed but always remembered as a paragon of excellence.

David S. Fox (’78), Law Offices of David S. Fox


William Schwartz was a wonderful teacher and a wonderful person. I called him 30 years after BU Law School and asked his advice and he was generous and kind and helpful. A scholar and a mensch.

Alan Robert Ginsberg (’80), Larchmont Advisors Inc.


“Torts With Schwartz” was one of my favorite classes in law school. Professor Schwartz ‘ s corny jokes kept us 1Ls laughing and were a welcome contrast with the sterner demeanor of most of our other professors.

Judy Yogman (’77)


Sad to hear the news. Dean Schwartz was not only my profeobut also my colleague working on the opposite side of the Dumaines case in New Hampshire.

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Alicia Reines-Leo (’89), Boston Public Schools


One of the most remarkable and well loved professors I have ever known.

Richard Mittleman (’65)


Condolences to Dean Schwartz’s family.

David McPherson (’93), L Catterton


Prof./Dean Schwartz’s classes were always interesting and good for leaarning.

E. Whitney Drake (’61)


He was “an authority in whom I had the utmost confidence.”

Jeffrey N. Rejan (’80), Malapero & Prisco LLP (White Plains, NY)


I had the honor of working extensively with Bill at Cadwalader from 2007 through 2013. A recent graduate of BU Law, Bill reached out to me for help on a pro bono project and for the next six years always found a place for me on one of his cases when I needed work. He was a mentor is every sense of the word, and never missed an opportunity to take me to lunch or introduce me to someone at the firm he thought could advance my career. Bill also got me an adjunct teaching position at Cardozo, where students would fight for spots in his Trusts & Estates course. I will forever be grateful for his contributions to the BU Law community, my development as lawyer, and the opportunity to count him as a friend.

Joe Zujkowski (’07), O’Melveny and Myers


He impacted my life in so many ways- It was his concern for me most of all! God bless you all!!!!

Thomas Robertson (’82)


He was simply the best. He’s why I loved law school. I will never forget Pearson vs. Post!

Ed Snyder (’65), Snyder Sarno LLC


I’m so sorry to hear this news. Professor Schwartz was my favorite law professor and one of my favorite teachers. I’m glad I had the chance to see him one last time at the dedication of the Fineman Library in 2015.

A. Joseph Ross (’70), Law Office of A. Joseph Ross, JD


Where else could one learn the law of “purple tootsies?”

Mort Glazer (’61)


I know that every BU Law grad from the sixties on down has a memory of this legendary teacher that makes them smile and know what a privilege it was to have known him. His memory will not fade.

Donald Norris (’69)


Can’t complain about my family’s station in life and BU Law under Dean Schwartz made it possible. You won’t be forgotten.

George O. Martinez (’84), BNP Paribas


My deepest sympathies for your loss. Dean Schwartz will be sorely missed by all of us.

Edania C. Rondon (’85), Edania C. Rondon PC


That Professor Schwartz could have made searching a real estate title still enjoyable after 50 years …. He lives on.

Robert V. Johnson II (’67), Law Offices of R. V. Johnson II, Concord, NH


I will always remember you as the professor who made learning the law fun. Your corny references resonate to this day: “Flea” Bailey (at that time the self-professed world’s greatest criminal lawyer) and “Plywood Ranch” for the John Hancock Tower, for its many wooden coverings of missing (fallen) windows. You were always kind.

N. Conlin (’78)


The finest teacher.

Warren Fitzgerald (’79)


It was a privilege to know Bill Schwartz, what a wonderful mentor to our son, Jonathan.

Lee and Mikki Fink, parents of Law school alum


My fond memories of the three years at BULS always include the wonderful man for all legal seasons Bill Schwartz. He will be missed.

Andrew Radding (’68), Adelberg Rudow Dorf & Hendler LLC


My deepest condolences to the Schwartz family.

Lisa Kahn Licker (’84), Kahn & Licker LLP


Bill Schwartz was a wonderful teacher (he taught me 1st year Torts and later Real Estate Transactions. I’ve been a practicing real estate and finance lawyer for 40 years, due in significant part to his teaching.

Gary D. Zanercik (’76), Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP


Dean Swartz was a wonderful professor and mentor. Tireless supporter of BU School of Law. I am proud to have been one of his students. He will be greatly missed by the entire BU School of Law family and all who were fortunate enough to have known him.

Genevieve M. (Domenico) Martin (’88), Asst. Atty. Gen. RI (ret. 9/2017) now private practice


My deepest condolences to the family. Dean Schwartz was an outstanding leader and had an extraordinary impact on the growth of the Law School.

Judge Dena Palermo (’83), United States Courts


A fine man, and an astute attorney. He will be remembered warmly.

Evan Benjamin (’82), Steve Madden


Professor Schwartz was the best: funny, thoughtful, and a true scholar. I use his lines ALL the time. May his memory be for a blessing to his family and all who knew him.

Dan Schwartz (’81), Nevada State Treasurer


Bill was my class mate and law review colleague. He was an outstandin person and will be missed. my condolences to his family.

Larry Liebman (’55)


Dean Schwartz made Property and Estates and Future Interests interesting and enjoyable, and I still remember some of his jokes.

Paul Rothschild (’71), BaconWilson PC


Professor Schwartz was always a favorite amoungst us law students. Beloved and well remembered even to this day. Condolences to his family. Your loss is shared by the BULS family from across the decades.

Richard Hawke (’76), Hawke Law Group


A true exemplar of what BU Law always hopes to produce.

Marvin Horwitz (’54)


For the past 56 years I have never forgotten Dean Schwartz who was my law professor. I should have told him what an impact he had on my life. I never did. So I tell his family. Please accept the sad condolences of Leonard and Judith Shapiro.

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Leonard Shapiro (’61)


Good lecturer. Good comedy.

Jerome J. Mautner (’68), California District Attorney (ret.)


I had Professor (not yet Dean) Schwartz for personal products liability and trusts and estates. What I remember him teaching us what that the plural of “spouse” is “spice”. ;o)

David B. Picker (’80), Spector Gadon & Rosen


An extraordinary teacher, mentor and wit. He gave us all an appreciation for the law. He will be sorely missed.

Laurence Kraemer (’81), Northwell Health


I will always fondly remember Dean Schwartz’s humor and warmth–I still tell some of his stories from time-to-time, giving him due credit. Although his impact will live well beyond him, he will be missed. My condolences to Bernice and the rest of his family.

Jonathan Fink (’83), Wright, Finlay & Zak LLP


An inspirational scholar who pursued the law his lifetime long. My condolences to his family.

Cynthia Warren (’92), Cameron & Mittleman


Professor Schwartz was my all-time favorite teacher/professor. He made it fun to learn. I think of him frequently. Our memory of him is a blessing to us.

Mark N. Busch (’67)


A wonderful man and an challenging teacher. His posterity lives on through his students.

Arthur M. Read, II (’72), Del Sesto + Read


May God rest you in His presence and eternal peace. I am forever grateful for your role in establishing the LLM in Banking and Financial Law which has greatly shaped me into who I am today.

Peter Mugo (’98), Barings LLC


Dean William Schwartz, made a positive and lasting impact on my classmates and me. No doubt on thousands of his students. While his one liner Schwartz-isms are legendary, his compassion, decency and brilliance are more noteworthy. May his memory be for a blessing!

Jonathan Awner (’85), Akerman LLP


With my utmost respect.

Edward McCarthy (’62)


Professor Schwartz made a huge contribution to the law school through his many classes, through his indelible stamp on property courses and, of course, through his humor. His jokes were an underground currency in the law school years before there was bit coin. I am thankful that he was part of my law school education.

Barry Camson (’71)


Michael D. Fricklas (’84)


We all loved ‘Schwartzie’; we fondly remember him.

Peter J. Somma Jr. (’62)


I had him for first year property, and finished the year with a solid grasp of property law and some helpful Latin: “Nemo dat quod non habet.” He offered support and guidance for the next two years while in law school and after my clerkship, he encouraged me and my husband to return to Boston. I will always be thankful for his help.

Nancy Gottlieb (’82)


He was the best teacher ever!

John J. Ryan III (’65)


My father (LAW’67) spoke so highly of Professor Schwartz and still quotes to me from his law school lectures. As a relatively new attorney myself, I smile thinking of the lectures passed down and am also grateful to Professor Schwartz and to his lovely wife Bernice for their generosity to help the children in the care of Keren Or. Our programs are stronger and our impact prouder because of their support.

Elizabeth David-Dembrowsky (CAS’00), Keren Or Inc.


Katherine Liacos Izzo (’60)


I have such fond memories of Professor Schwartz from my first year Property class. He was a great professor who taught me a lot and made it interesting and enjoyable. To this day, I still find myself laughing and repeating his famous mantra, “Let’s say you have a lot of land. Not a lot of land, a but a LOT of land.” I send my deepest condolences to Mrs. Schwartz and the entire Schwartz family.

Wendy Knudsen (’92)


I remember looking forward to going to Schwartz on Torts. It helped that he was also a practicing attorney. He was a genius with a photographic memory. He was warm. funny and passionate. He used to talk about the Holy Grail insurance company.

James Muirhead (’76), James Muirhead Law Office


Dean Schwartz, A great teacher, a true friend who will be missed by thousands of former students, including this grateful broadcast journalist, who is honored to call the Dean a mentor and a friend. Condolences to the Schwartz family and our law school community.

Dan Rea (’74), WBZ Radio – Boston


Sincere condolences to the Schwartz family. Many of the seeds down by Dean Schwartz in the 1980’s clearly laid the foundation for the level of success enjoyed by the Law School today. Certainly a life well lived.

John Veech (’83), Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners


Professor Emeritus Julius B. Levine, Boston University School of Law


Cerebra, humorous, and a treasured memory. In class, I still hear his words about the case of the lost “brooooch” as Prof Schwartz called it with a Bronx twist. A remarkable lawyer, teacher and person.

Alan J. Cushner (’65), Cushner and Bloom PC


Bernice, thank you for the great partnership you forged with Bill. You have both made such a difference in this world. Thank You.

James Normand (’80), Normand Higham


Bill Schwartz was the person who inspired me most both at law school and during my career in private practice.Bill had the complete package of intellect and wit,as well as being a great motivator.But his package would not have been complete without his lovely and caring wife,Bernice.I and so many others are thankful for the time we had with Bill.

Lawrence Kaplan (’68)

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