Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Special Advisor for Public Service, Harvard Law School
I am delighted to take a moment in these turbulent times to pay homage to my colleague and friend Bill Alford. I count myself fortunate to have had many and varied opportunities over the years to engage with Bill – consulting on Graduate Program admissions, participating as a commentator in the Harvard-Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum, discussing my interest in the death penalty in China and Asia more broadly, exchanging ideas formally and informally about each other’s scholarly work, and planning academic travel to China, Taiwan, and South Korea. Bill has always graciously invited me to meet the many distinguished visitors that he has brought to the law school whose work touches my areas of interest – enriching opportunities for which I am deeply grateful.
In meeting the tremendously accomplished and interesting people that Bill has brought to HLS or to whom he has connected me abroad, I got an inkling of how Bill is perceived by the wider world. He is such a modest and down-to-earth person – what we call a mensch – that it is only through interacting with others that it began to dawn on me what an admired giant in his field Bill is. The combination of reverence and affection with which people invariably speak of Bill is a constant reminder of how much he is valued by his vast acquaintance, and how well he has lived his professional and personal life. From Bill, I have learned and hope to model the combination of kindness and high standards, of professional achievement and dedication to family, and of scholarly depth and action in the world. Harvard has been lucky to have Bill’s leadership in the Graduate Program, the East Asian Legal Studies Program, and the Project on Disability. And we have all been lucky to have his example, collegiality, and friendship.