an impeccable scholar Lipton sitting at the editor-in-chief’s desk at the Law Review; third from right in the back row, with the Class of 1955 Root-Tilden Scholars and Snow Scholars; as an adjunct professor at a faculty author reception in 1976. then-10 federal judicial circuits. During his first year at the Law friendship with Wachtell got off to a rocky start when he took School, Lipton lived at home and commuted. In his second the first note that I wrote for the Law Review and completely year, he was taken into the Root-Tilden program and moved rewrote it, pounding away on an old manual typewriter amidst a to Hayden Hall. constant stream of criticism.” Vanderbilt conceived of the Root-Tilden Scholarship Program in the 1940s because he was troubled that some of the best students and lawyers had become more concerned with making money than they were with participating in American ipton says his early years of teaching were a catalyst for his future involvement with NYU at increasdemocracy. He wanted to create leaders of the bar who would ingly higher levels. Had Dean Niles not targeted give unselfishly to serve the public. He named the program for Lipton to come back and teach, it’s possible that alumni Elihu Root and Samuel Tilden. Root, class of 1867, had been secretary of war under President William McKinley and NYU, without Lipton’s leadership, would look very secretary of state under Theodore Roosevelt. In 1912 he won the different today. Evan Chesler, the chairman of Cravath, graduNobel Prize for his contributions to international law. Tilden, ated from NYU and its law school and now sits on the boards class of 1841, was governor of New York and ran for president of both. He recalls taking Lipton’s class as a third-year law stuagainst Rutherford B. Hayes. dent. “His firm had been having a meteoric rise,” says Chesler. The program at inception was designed to build the reputation “Marty was already an extraordinarily successful lawyer around of the Law School while also bolstering legal education. So, the town. I remember thinking that it was a big deal to learn secuscholars were required to take special courses in the humanities, rities law from him.” social sciences, history, and natural sciences. They also had to Chesler adds: “My own view is that Marty feels about NYU live together and to have lunch and dinner as a group five days the same way I do. He believes the school gave him a life. He’s a week. To instill Vanderbilt’s values of public service, scholars been one of the leading corporate lawyers in America for half a met regularly with leaders in government, industry, and finance. century. And without that piece of paper from that little com“The original idea was to bring in people who would have the high- muter law school, which was always hitting above its weight, it est respect for the laws of the country, and who would uphold might not have been.” them in the most ethical manner,” said Thomas Brome ’67, a Root In addition to being an adjunct professor, Lipton added the alumnus, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the birth of roles of Law School trustee and president of the Law Alumni the program in 2002. “These men would live together and dine Association in 1972. As trustee, Lipton was reunited with his old together, forming a community of scholars who were infused boss Judge Weinfeld (who would soon become chairman of the with interests beyond the mechanical practice of law.” Law School’s board) and began consulting closely with Dean These were heady, inspirational times to be a law student Robert McKay on strategy and alumni matters. These were dire years for the University—and for the city. at NYU. Until then, NYU had been a little-noticed school. But Lipton began seeing his peers benefit from its rising status. In In 1971, NYU was running a deficit of almost $7 million and 1954, when the inaugural Root-Tilden class graduated, it was hemorrhaging money. Two years later, NYU sold its University the first time in years that NYU students were hired by major Heights campus in the Bronx for $62 million, but by then the Wall Street law firms. Cravath hired two Root-Tilden Scholars NYU budget deficit was around $10 million a year. in the class ahead of Lipton. “That was a big deal,” he remem“When Marty first got involved, the University was facing hard bers. “It was some combination of everyone thinking, We’re times,” says William Berkley, founder of W.R. Berkley Corp., the going to break into the big time and be one of the major law $5 billion insurance company. Berkley got his undergraduate schools. You’d read things about how competitive law schools degree from NYU in 1966 and is now a vice chair of the Univerwere. That was not NYU. Everybody was working toward a com- sity’s board. “We had given up the engineering school along mon goal of providing a professional education and helping with lots of other things, shrinking in order to survive.” other people get along in life.” One more lucrative asset remained—the C.F. Mueller ComHerb Wachtell was a member of that first class of Root- pany. Vanderbilt had intended its profits to support the Law Tilden Scholars. “I remember a tall, skinny guy who wrote a School, and Lipton believed it was time to sell it for the school’s Law Review piece that I proceeded to edit,” says Wachtell, of sake. But there was one snag: The Law School had not been a meeting Lipton. Lipton, likewise, remembers: “My lifelong separate entity from NYU when it purchased the pasta company.
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Published on Sep 6, 2013