Raymond T. Nimmer served on the University of Houston law faculty for forty-four years. The tributes that follow will illuminate Ray’s sterling qualities as a teacher, colleague, friend, and leader—and, of course, as a world-class scholar. A list of Ray’s publications follows the last tribute. Please note especially The Law of Computer Technology, which won national recognition from the Association of American Book Publishers as the best book on law, of any description, in 1985, and inaugurated a whole new field of study.
Ray came to the University of Houston in 1975, fresh from the American Bar Foundation. He loved scholarship. Everyone already knew that. But upon arrival in Houston, he quickly assumed a special care for HLR. In the early days of the Review, founded in 1962-1963, members of the law faculty had written for the fledgling journal largely to ensure that it had scholarly product to publish. Ray sought to advance the Review’s prospects in other ways including, most notably, by promoting its financial stability.
By the beginning of the 1980s, Ray had become Associate Dean and decided to provide Houston Law Review firm paternal guidance regarding money. Its balance sheet, despite the modest subsidy that the school could provide, was showing red. Ray told the student editors straight-up: develop yourselves other, sustainable sources of funding. The Review did, including by self-publishing legal manuals handy to the bar. Focus on the journal itself may have suffered distractions, and publication schedules sometimes faltered. HLR did, however, begin to build up an endowment.
But how, going forward, could the journal balance keeping the enterprise afloat financially with propelling the Review to higher recognition by improving dramatically the quality of volume content?
By 1994, Ray was Interim Dean. The Review brought to him an ambitious plan to create a new, first-class lecture series, which would enable it to publish annually pieces from three nationally famous scholars, using the Review’s endowment for the purpose. Great idea substantively, Ray said, but lousy idea financially. He would himself undertake to find an outside source of funding. He did. So began the Law Center’s premier annual scholarly event, the Frankel Lecture series.
Then, in 2000, the Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law, formed the year before by the combination of the school’s IP program and Ray’s Computer Law Institute, decided to establish a yearly National Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. All of the proceedings were to be published in HLR, giving the Review access to articles by five more nationally and internationally distinguished scholars every year. Typically for him, Ray put together the first conference in 2001, on E-Commerce and Privacy.
During the 2012-2013 academic year, the Review turned fifty. The editors decided to (and did) publish an essay per issue to tell the story of each of the five decades of HLR’s maturation into a major national law journal.
Ray, by then Dean, decided to reward the Review not only for fifty years of amazing accomplishment between its covers, but also for, by then, both having achieved financial independence from the Law Center and, in addition, built up an endowment designed to keep it solvent in perpetuity.
So what did Ray, who almost thirty years before had woodshedded HLR about the need to ensure its financial stability, do? He threw HLR a party. Fancy food and drink. A fancy hotel. Funded by the Dean’s own discretionary funds. A $50,000 party. Imagine. The Review has photos to prove it.
No reason, then, to wonder why Ray Nimmer was loved within HLR’s precincts. He earned that affection the old-fashioned way: by caring deeply about Houston Law Review’s students and scholarship, and by taking the measures necessary to ensure that it would, on his watch, become properly funded, and so would endure.
Raymond T. Nimmer:
Hous. L. Rev. Benefactor Extraordinaire!
Craig Joyce: Hunton Andrews Kurth Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center. B.A., Dartmouth College; M.A., Oxford University; J.D., Stanford University.