Tribute in Memory of Professor Kathleen F. Brickey


Kathleen F. Brickey, a giant in the field of white collar crime and the long-serving James Carr Professor of Criminal Jurisprudence at Washington University School of Law, passed away on June 19, 2013.

Washington University School of Law and Professor Brickey’s family and friends are organizing a Celebration of Life for Professor Brickey on Friday, August 30 at 4 p.m. in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom (No. 310), Anheuser-Busch Hall. A reception will follow. Please RSVP here.

 Professor Brickey, who joined the law faculty in 1976, was widely recognized as a renowned and prolific scholar in the field of criminal jurisprudence and as an outstanding professor. She was often ahead of her time in her scholarship and research. In 1984, she published a three-volume treatise, Corporate Criminal Liability. The New York Times, in an April 2013 article on women pioneers in the field of white collar crime, called Professor Brickey “the dean of the field.”

The article noted that she published the first law school text on the topic and that her treatise came out “long before corporate criminal liability became a topic of public debate.” In fact, Corporate Criminal Liability preceded the Enron financial accounting fraud scandal by 17 years; the scandal became the subject of her more recent scholarship. Her casebook, Corporate and White Collar Crime, now in its fifth edition, is the leading student text in the field.

In 2008, Professor Brickey pioneered another area of legal scholarship with her book, Environmental Crime: Law, Policy, Prosecution. The first law school text devoted exclusively to the study of environmental crime, it was published before one of the most significant environmental disasters and criminal cases of our time—the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, oil spill, and resulting criminal and civil proceedings.

One of Professor Brickey’s interests was the impact of extensive media coverage on the outcome of high-profile cases like Enron, the Deepwater Horizon, and the Martha Stewart scandal. She was concerned with the potential of aggressive media coverage and manipulation of publicity to undermine the court system. Over the course of her distinguished career, Professor Brickey wrote more than 20 substantive articles about the Enron scandal and its progeny, other corporate liability issues, the federalization of criminal law, and environmental crime.

The first female law faculty member to be named to a chaired professorship in 1989, Professor Brickey received a Washington University School of Law Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, Washington University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, and several Israel Treiman Faculty Fellowships—the law school’s most competitive research grant. Her course in Criminal Law was very popular among first-year students, who revered her for her rigor, respectful demeanor, generosity, kindness, and dedication to their education and welfare. Professor Brickey also taught advanced courses on corporate and white collar crime, environmental crime, and seminars on more specialized topics.

“The enthusiasm she brought to each course and to each student she taught, year after year, is a testament to Kathy’s passion and commitment to teaching,” said Kent Syverud, dean of the law school and the Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor. “She was a brilliant scholar whose work changed the field of corporate criminal law, and she brought this expertise into the classroom.

“She mentored numerous students into work with judges, prosecutors, public defenders, the Justice Department, and Attorneys General offices,” he continued. “Kathy was an exemplary servant to our university and the law school community. She will be greatly missed.”

Dorsey D. Ellis, Jr., dean emeritus and the William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, recalled, “I first met Kathy as a member of the law school dean search committee in 1985–87. My regard for her good judgment, leadership abilities, and conscientiousness led me to call upon her a number of times since to chair the faculty appointments committee, the law faculty’s most critical and demanding committee. Her outstanding record of service, both within the school of law and in the profession, will be her lasting legacy.”

Stephen Legomsky, the John S. Lehmann University Professor who is on leave serving as the Chief Counsel of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, remembers Professor Brickey as a wonderful colleague. “Kathy was a great scholar and teacher, but more importantly a wonderful person and dear friend.  She chaired the appointments committee that hired me 30 years ago and, perhaps feeling some responsibility for what she had done, has mentored me and supported my work ever since in the kindest and most generous way.  She was a truly lovely person whom I’ll deeply miss.”

Among her many professional affiliations, Professor Brickey was a member of the American Law Institute, serving on its Federal Criminal Code Reform working group. She also was a consultant to the United States Sentencing Commission and a member of both the consultative group for the Model Penal Code Sentencing Project and the Society for the Reform of Criminal Law. At the law school and university, she served on numerous committees, including several dean search committees and the committee that selected current Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Before joining Washington University, Professor Brickey taught at the University of Louisville School of Law. She also served as executive director of the Kentucky Judicial Conference and Council and had worked as a criminal law specialist and consultant to the Kentucky Crime Commission. Professor Brickey received both her A.B. and her J.D. from the University of Kentucky.

Professor Brickey is survived by her husband of 44 years, James N. Brickey, and several nieces and nephews.

  • Memories and/or tributes may be submitted to the law school’s website.
  • To make a gift to Washington University School of Law in Professor Brickey's memory, please click here and scroll down to click the button (just above the "personal information field") to indicate your gift is in honor/memory of someone. When you do so, a field will appear where you may indicate your gift is in memory of "Law Professor Kathy Brickey." Memorial contributions may also be sent to: Washington University School of Law, Professor Brickey Memorial Contribution, CB 1202, 7425 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63105.
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See what friends, alumni, faculty, and staff are saying about Professor Kathleen F. Brickey.