One of my favorite memories from law school was at the start of my second year.
Background: I am older than most of my classmates and “follicularly challenged.” As a full-time student with no professional obligations, I figured this was a great opportunity to do something irrational and funny with no repercussions – I dyed my remaining hair platinum blond right before the school year began.
I had taken Professor Becker’s Property class as a 1L and hadn’t seen him since the school year began. A few days into the school year, Professor Becker walked by a table at which I was sitting in the commons. After passing me, he stopped in his tracks, turned around, and said “Mr. Slavinsky, I think I preferred you as a brunette.” I’m sure I caught the hint of a smile as he turned and walked away.
I work in New York City now and see more outrageous students on a regular basis – they always make me think of this story and I always laugh. Ironically, it’s become a kind of rule for perpetuities.
Congratulations on 50 great years!
Chris Slavinsky, School of Law, Class of 2003, Survivor of Prof. Becker 1L Property
I arrived at law school completely unsure about where this new path would lead me. Not only did Professor Becker teach me to start thinking like a lawyer in his 1L Property Class, he taught me to start thinking like an estate planning lawyer, which lead me to a career that I love.
Stephanie L. Moll, JD’06
I did not attend Wash U and, therefore, did not have David Becker as a teacher. I came to know him through my husband, Chaitanya Maddali. Chaitanya was a student of David’s in 2002 and finished David’s property law course at the top of the class. He later became David’s research assistant. I learned early on in my relationship with Chaitanya the impact David had on Chaitanya’s law school career and his career working as an associate at a large law firm in Chicago. He spoke of David not just as a brilliant and talented teacher, but also a friend in whom he could confide.
I, too, am a lawyer and was looking to enter the legal academy. Chaitanya suggested that I contact David. As is typical of David, he extended himself to me and spoke with me on numerous occasions about my career – even before having met me. And, in time, David became a close, trusted friend to me as well.
Chaitanya had a serious illness throughout law school and beyond, and David regularly checked in with the both of us about Chaitanya’s health. Not too long ago, David contacted me daily to check on Chaitanya’s status when he was in critical condition in the hospital. At that time, David drafted a letter to Chaitanya to tell him how much he meant to him — a letter I would read to Chaitanya daily for two weeks. Chaitanya, though, did not recover. Without hesitation, David flew in from Florida to deliver an eulogy in honor of Chaitanya at the memorial service. Chaitanya would have been honored to hear the words that David delivered that day. Chaitanya had so much admiration for David.
It is rare to find someone of David’s kindness, generosity, and depth of character, and it brings tears to my eyes thinking about the ways in which he touched my husband’s short life. David is more than a gifted teacher — he is a wonderful human being. Chaitanya would have been proud to celebrate with David and proud to give a speech in his honor. Chaitanya is not here, but I am so grateful that he introduced me to David and that I have been given the gift of David’s friendship. David’s friendship is truly an honor.
Anita Maddali (wife of Chaitanya Maddali, JD 2005)