Remembering John Carroll

In March, John Carroll died unexpectedly while jogging around the lake on campus at the University of Richmond. John and I were classmates together over 15 years ago, and reconnected when he returned to the law school as a professor leading the IP law clinic. John contributed an article to the first issue of the Richmond Journal of Law & Technology (a law journal I founded) in 1995, and was an advisor to many JOLT staff over the last several years. When the JOLT editors asked me to write a remembrance of John, I was honored to do so. (It is also published on JOLT’s site.)

John and I in the Richmond Times-Dispatch
on the occasion of JOLT’s inaugural issue

As much as I came to admire John Carroll in the 15 years that we knew each other, it was at his funeral in March that the full measure of the man became clear and the scope of our loss sank in. John was many things to us at Richmond Law — friend, scholar, mentor — yet he was so much more.

John was a man of deep faith, a man who worked each day to improve the lives of those around him. John showed a respect for others that guided his every interaction, and he took great delight in being surrounded by such passionate and gifted students and colleagues.

JOLT was fortunate to have benefitted from John’s passion in many ways — from his contribution to JOLT’s first issue in 1995 to his mentorship of many JOLT staff in the years that he taught at Richmond Law. As valuable as that support was, all of us who’ve worked on JOLT over the years grieve for a far more fundamental reason: losing John means that an entire generation of Richmond Law students won’t get to know him, learn from him, or benefit from his investment in their success.

I had a history teacher in high school — Winslow Smith — who claimed that he started teaching because it was the only way he knew how to become immortal. His theory was that he’d live on in the memory of his students, and I suppose by recalling his comment from 25 years ago that I’m proving him right.

I don’t want to dwell on the tragedy of John’s untimely death, I want to celebrate the gift that John was to those of us who knew him. Richmond Law continues to be a special place, one that emphasizes community and camaraderie for students and staff. It comes as no surprise that John excelled as both a student and a professor: his commitment to others and his delight in their accomplishments embodied the heart and soul of what makes Richmond Law such a unique institution.

I mourn my friend’s passing. But I cannot help but be grateful for the chance to have met him so many years ago, and for the opportunity to share with you the memory of a great man so that he may live on.

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