10:31 AM

Thank you, Prof. Abrams

Vol. 79, No. 6 / Nov. - Dec. 2023

Scott Robbins practices in Poplar Bluff at Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC. He is chair of the editorial board for the Journal of The Missouri Bar.

“Thank you.”

Two words, one sentence.

Thank you is always easy to say, is almost always appropriate, and sadly, is not said often enough.

There are times, however, when a mere thank you doesn’t seem to be appreciative enough. This is one of those occasions, as I have been asked to say “thank you” to my friend, Prof. Douglas E. Abrams, for his 24 years of service to the Journal of The Missouri Bar. Prof. Abrams chaired the editorial board of the Journal of The Missouri Bar for 21 years, and I am privileged to be following in his footsteps.

I first met Prof. Abrams through a phone call arranged by David “Duke” Snyder, the ice hockey coach at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, CT. I was a senior, looking to get into Mizzou for law school. Coach Snyder put me in touch with Prof. Abrams. That phone call began a wonderful relationship that we both, as history majors, refer to as the “WPA” or “Wesleyan Protective Agency.” The relationship deepened through my work as Prof. Abrams’ research assistant on his book, “The Law of Civil RICO,” and through my time reading every article published on the O.J. Simpson trial to prep him for his radio appearances in mid-Missouri as a legal expert about the historic trial.

Prof. Abrams joined the University of Missouri School of Law faculty in 1989. In the past 34 years, he has written or co-written six books. From the book royalties, he created the Happiness for Health program, a permanent endowment that provides toys, stuffed animals, games, and parties for sick and injured children at the MU Children’s Hospital. The U.S. Supreme Court has cited his law review articles in four decisions. His writings have been downloaded worldwide more than 50,000 times, many of which have appeared in the pages of this publication. The September/October edition of his “Writing it Right” column was his last contribution to the Journal of The Missouri Bar. This series of columns has inspired lawyers to make legal writing informative, persuasive, and enjoyable to read.

Prof. Abrams is not merely a professor; he is a fantastic teacher. He has the unique ability to make difficult subjects enjoyable to learn. He is even more than a fantastic teacher, however, as his role has been more of a mentor and a source of inspiration to his students. Prof. Abrams’ commitment to the growth and success of his students is unwavering. His influence on my life, and the lives of countless others, extends far beyond our time together in the classroom. He is always willing to provide guidance and to assist in the development of his students’ legal careers.

Beyond the academia, he has given tirelessly and unselfishly to thousands of children through coaching youth ice hockey. Prof. Abrams was instrumental in creating the first organized youth hockey teams in mid-Missouri. Many people, meeting Prof. Abrams through the sport that he played as a youth and collegiately, never even knew that he was a lawyer. What they saw was the same thing I have been privileged to see - a kind, compassionate, and genuine man, dedicated to helping others. Prof. Abrams exhibited these character traits by teaching Missouri children a love for the sport hockey. More importantly, he placed an emphasis on sportsmanship and life skills that were useful off of the ice. These character traits are different from what most non-lawyers expect to see in an attorney. The legal profession is often mischaracterized as one filled with people who are only in the profession to make money. 

Prof. Abrams reminds everyone, lawyer and non-lawyer alike, that we are here to serve others first. His is, and remains, a life well-lived. Myself, and others, look forward to the next chapters of his life and to the opportunity for a deeper friendship.

Thank you seems to be the very least of words that could be said to Prof. Abrams for his remarkable career and contributions to the legal profession. Hopefully, they are enough.