Law school remembers professor after tragedy

Ashley Ko, Contributing Writer

A memorial service was held in NYU School of Law’s Vanderbilt Hall yesterday to honor Daniel Markel, a former scholar-in-residence at NYU’s Law School, who was killed on July 18. Markel was shot in front of his home in Tallahassee, Florida, and was pronounced dead the following morning.

The event was organized by Daniel Petter-Lipstein, chief love officer of the Jewish Montessori Society, and a friend of Markel’s, who attended Harvard University with him over 20 years ago.

“I was a sophomore, he was a freshman,” Petter-Lipstein said. “We lived in the same dorm, and we were both Jewish, so we had a lot of similarities.”

Petter-Lipstein expressed his gratitude toward the NYU community, which he said was receptive to his idea of an impromptu gathering as colleagues helped to coordinate the event.

“It’s a horrible tragedy that we have to do this at all and that it happened, but in terms of getting [the memorial] together it was fairly smooth,” Petter-Lipstein said. “I had a lot of help from his colleagues at NYU.”

Law professor James Jacobs attended the memorial service and fondly remembered Markel’s time at NYU.

“I always looked forward to Dan’s monthly visits,” Jacobs said. “He was warm, witty, creative and very smart. He was a wonderful participant in our weekly criminal law faculty seminar. He is already much missed.”

Friends in the nearby New York community also convened at the memorial.

One of whom, Katrina Kuh, a Hofstra University law professor, collaborated with Markel and even wrote on his blog.

Markel’s legal blog, PrawfsBlawg, often featured writings by professors at various universities.

“Professionally, he was the center of the universe,” Kuh said. “He was a real connector of ideas and people.”

Joanna Dreifus, a college friend of Markel who had kept in touch with him through Facebook, was shocked to find the news online.

“He was a positive force of nature, a brilliant man and an energetic and enthusiastic father to his two boys,” Dreifus said. “There were not many people like him.”

Besides his work at the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law during his time at NYU, Markel also served as a co-convener of the New York City Criminal Law Theory Colloquium.

A native of Toronto, Canada, Markel attended Harvard University for his undergraduate and law degrees.

Markel’s scholarship covered numerous fields in criminal law and policy, and he enjoyed an active career in both law and teaching as a professor at Florida State University beginning in 2005.

Rachel Barkow, faculty director of CACL, said in a statement to NYU Law’s press office that Markel was a beloved colleague to many faculty members.

“It was a pleasure having Dan as a scholar-in-residence in 2011 and as a regular participant in school events even after that,” Barkow said. “He was a wonderful colleague and friend, and we will miss him greatly. He will live on in our hearts, and we will continue to teach and learn from his scholarship.”

A version of this appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 10 print edition. Email Ashley Ko at [email protected]