Richard W. 'Dick' Bourne

University of Baltimore law professor was known for his devotion to his students

  • Richard Bourne.
Richard Bourne. (Courtesy of the family,…)
July 19, 2014|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Richard W. "Dick" Bourne, a colorful longtime University of Baltimore law professor who retired earlier this year, died July 12 of pancreatic cancer at his Pylesville farm. He was 71.

"He was a wonderful colleague and one of those special men who told you what they thought with good will and a twinkle in their eye," said Robert L. Bogomolny, who recently retired as president of the University of Baltimore.

"He retained Southern speech patterns and had extraordinarily good values, and cared deeply about his students and the school," said Dr. Bogomolny. "I was very fond of him. He was very special."

"Dick was an important part of the law school. He was passionate about his students and was a very able and dedicated classroom teacher. It was always about the students," said University of Baltimore law school dean Ronald Weich.

"He was deeply committed to civil rights and was very proud of his work with the Department of Justice in the 1960s," said Mr. Weich.

"Dick was a very caring person and had great intellectual acumen and a powerful empathy. He had a tremendous backbone," said Lynn McLain, a law school colleague and close friend of 35 years.

"He had tremendous integrity and was respected for speaking up for what he thought was the right thing to do and not going the way the wind was blowing," said Ms. McLain, who retired last year from the law school, where she taught evidence and copyright law. "His faculty memos became known as 'Bourne-A-Grams.'"

The son of Dr. Henry R. Bourne, a physician, and Virginia Bourne, a Latin teacher and homemaker, Richard Windham Bourne was born and raised in Danville, Va.

"Dick was raised in a very liberal Southern household. His father treated many black patients," said Ms. McLain.

After graduating in 1960 from Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., Mr. Bourne earned a bachelor's degree in 1964 from Harvard University, and his law degree in 1968 from the University of Virginia School of Law.

"His five years as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice put him on the front lines enforcing the Voting Rights Act in Mississippi in the late 1960s," said Ms. McLain, of Chestertown.

In 1973, Mr. Bourne returned to Harvard, where he was briefly director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and earned a master's degree in law in 1975, while teaching as a graduate fellow for two years. He then taught for four years at the University of Richmond School of Law before joining the faculty of the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1979.

At UB, he taught civil procedure, conflicts of law, remedies, professional responsibility and the litigation process.

"He had an old-fashioned notion of how lawyers should behave, and I think his hallmark was teaching professional responsibility," said John Lynch, a University of Baltimore Law School colleague and close friend.

"The students called his class 'Rev. Bourne's Church of Professional Responsibility,' which was a very value-oriented approach that a lawyer should follow his conscience rather than a lucrative path. He wanted to make that point," said Mr. Lynch.

"He believed that it was the right idea for gentlemen or women to never plead the Statute of Frauds, that a lawyer has to look to his conscience," said Mr. Lynch. "And ultimately over the years, he was well-known among students for that."

Mr. Bourne and his ever-present bow ties were a familiar scene on the law school campus.

"Enthusiastic about his subjects and students, he had not only an encyclopedic knowledge of many areas of the law, but a quick wit and a shrewd and creative legal mind. He thrived on introducing students to the intricacies of legal analysis by challenging them to think in new ways," said Ms. McLain.

"He was demanding and challenging in the classroom. He'd get their heads spinning. He loved working with them because he wanted to bring out the best in them. He really was a very loving person," she said.

Mr. Bourne wrote widely in the field of American civil litigation, conflict of laws and legal education. He was the author of articles published in the Missouri Law Review, Creighton Law Review and the University of Baltimore Law Review.

With Mr. Lynch, he wrote "Modern Maryland Civil Procedure," which was published in 1993 and is considered the leading treatise on Maryland civil procedure.

Mr. Bourne and Mr. Lynch joined Paul V. Niemeyer and Linda Schuett and published "Maryland Rules Commentary" in 2003.

Mr. Bourne's article "The Coming Crash in Legal Education: How We Got There, and Where We Go Now" also drew acclaim.

"Dick's recent article on the grave problems facing legal education, including high student debt, and how both legal education and legal services may be changed going forward, has been widely and well received," said Ms. McLain.

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