Sanford N. Katz

katz9Professor Sanford N. Katz was recruited by Law School Dean Robert Drinan, SJ, in 1968 when he was teaching at the University of Florida College of Law. He came to BC Law to teach contracts and family law.

When Father Drinan hired him, the faculty had an excellent reputation for teaching, says Professor Katz. “At that time, Father Drinan’s goal was to increase the faculty’s reputation for scholarship too. He told me what BC’s ideals were: scholarship, teaching and service to others. He wanted me to become a leading scholar in family law and to instill in our students a respect for the majesty of law.”

Soon to join him on the BC Law faculty were Hugh Ault and Mary Ann Glendon. George Brown followed in 1971. All four went on to become prolific publishers. George Brown is still teaching at BC Law, Hugh Ault retired from active teaching in 2012 and is now Professor Emeritus, and Mary Ann Glendon taught at BC Law until 1986 when she left to teach at Harvard Law School.

Professor Katz recalls with fondness the senior faculty welcoming him and the other junior faculty when he became part of BC Law, a tradition that continues to this day. The faculty in the late 1960s included Arthur Berney (Constitutional Law), Peter Donovan (Torts), Sanford Fox (Criminal Law), Jim Houghteling (Civil Procedure), Jim Smith (Torts & Legal Methods), John O’Reilly (Constitutional Law), Emil Slizewski (Trusts and Estates), Richard Sullivan (Labor) and Hiller Zobel (Civil Procedure and Evidence). Father Drinan was the dean of the law school until he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970, at which time Richard Huber became the dean of the law school.

It’s been a productive and successful 46 years
katz-1979Professor Katz is the inaugural holder of The Darald and Juliet Libby Chair in memory of Michael G. Pierce, SJ. Established through a gift by Darald Libby, JD ’55, and his wife Juliet, the chair honors the New Hampshire couple’s late friend and mentor Rev. Michael G. Pierce, SJ, of the Jesuit Mission Bureau in Boston.

Then Law School Dean John Garvey noted at the time, “This is a great honor, and it is fitting that it will go to someone of Sanford’s distinction. He has served the Law School with warmth and energy for more than three decades. He has won international acclaim for his work in family law. He embodies in many ways the qualities that the Libbys wished to celebrate, and that we at Boston College prize.”

Professor Katz is a former president of the International Society of Family Law, past chairman of the family law section of the American Bar Association and former Editor-in-Chief of the Family Law Quarterly.

He has been the chief drafter of model child welfare legislation for the federal government on adoption and termination of parental rights, and has worked with state legislatures in crafting laws to help “humanize the divorce process.” He is widely viewed as the architect of subsidized adoption, in which public funds are provided to the adoptive parents of children with medical problems or histories of abuse. The funds help offset the considerable cost of their care and thus enhance the children’s prospects for adoption.

Professor Katz is the author of numerous articles and a principal textbook on family law. His new book, the second edition of Family Law in America, was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. A reviewer wrote that “it is sure to become a classic.” In relecting on the review, Professor Katz says with commitment, “I have fulfilled the promise I showed in 1968.”

Indeed, this year Professor Katz was honored with a Festschrift. The leading family law scholars in the United States and Britain contributed chapters in a book in honor of Professor Katz’s contribution to family law both in the United States and in Britain. The book, entitled Family Law in Britain and America in the New Century — Essays in Honor of Sanford N. Katz and published by Brill Publishing Company,includes a testimonial to Professor Katz by John Eekelaar, the editor and one of the leading family law scholars in England.

Some things never change … they just get a little older
Professor Katz still lives in the same house in Newton as when he joined BC Law 47 years ago. His two sons are off making their father proud. Daniel is an appellate lawyer in Massachusetts and New York, and Andy is a reporter for ESPN.

When asked what has kept him young and healthy, Professor Katz says, “I just keep marching on…” and  then adds that he did happen to drink from the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida before he came to BC Law in 1968. He muses, “Maybe there is something to it….”

Return to 1976 Newsletter >>