Though Sanford Kadish didn't think about law school until after his discharge from the Navy in 1946, a one-year hitch at the University of Colorado planted the seeds for a life in academia. Male students at City College scheduled to graduate in the spring of 1942 were forgiven their final semester in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Prof. Kadish was tapped as a Japanese translator and spent a year in Boulder, Colo., learning the language.
"I was very taken with the life of the academic community there and thought it would be great to spend my life on such a campus," he says.
Yet the realities of a post-war life meant finding a way to make a living, and that early impression of academic life was forgotten as he made his plans. Paying a visit to "a very friendly dean I'd known," he was encouraged to go to law school. Attracted by the law's utility in the job market, his decision was cemented by the two-year program offered at Columbia for returning veterans.
Upon completion of his degree in 1948, he joined a private practice in Manhattan, where he was contacted by the dean of the University of Utah Law School, Spencer Kimball, a friend he'd met during the war. Dean Kimball offered him a job but, unprepared for a move out West, Prof. Kadish turned him down. A year later Dean Kimball renewed the offer and received the answer he wanted: Prof. Kadish was off to Utah for a decade. He then taught at the University of Michigan and later received a similar recruitment call from the Boalt Hall dean in 1964 to teach at the University of California at Berkeley.
"I told him I wasn't ready to make a move so he offered me a winter semester away from the cold, and that was it," said Prof. Kadish. "I've been in Berkeley ever since."
Yet, if a career in academia was spawned by a call from an old army buddy, Prof. Kadish's interest in the classroom and the life of the mind was present from his first days at law school. Citing Professors Herb Wechsler '31 and Walter Gellhorn '31 as profound influences, he notes the "awesome intellects" that cast the mold for his professional scholarly life and his own expertise in criminal law, shaped by Prof. Wechsler's first-year class. Now a leader in the field in his own right, and an emeritus professor, he has remained at Berkeley and continues to thrive on an academic life. His books include Discretion to Disobey and Criminal Law and its Processes, and he was editor in chief of the Enyclopedia of Crime and Justice. Prof. Kadish has also served as president of the Association of American Law Schools and the American Association of University Professors.
"I like the interchange with students - the teaching - although that wasn't the primary motive for me. It was the community that drew me in," he says. "I like ideas and associating with professors in an academic community." Prof. Kadish's many visiting professorships have earned him colleagues not only across the country but around the world.
Yet, it is at home that he continues to make his mark, most recently with the Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs. A fitting gift from a lifelong scholar, the center is a coalescence of his passions.
Prof. Kadish created the center in order to institutionalize the topics at UC Berkeley. "Last semester we used legal and moral reasoning in dealing with right and wrong in issues of life and death. My students and I engaged in a long colloquy of arguments. They came with open minds and many changed positions or formed others."