Southwestern Mourns the Loss of Professor Max Goodman
Professor Max A. Goodman, one of the leading family law experts in California who served on the Southwestern faculty for over four decades, passed away on December 31, 2009 at the age of 85.
Professor Goodman was a graduate of Loyola Law School and a Certified Family Law Specialist, and maintained a successful law practice in Los Angeles for over two decades. In 1966, he joined the Southwestern faculty where he quickly earned a reputation as one of the most highly regarded family law professors in the country. During recent years, he continued to teach as Professor Emeritus in Residence and had just formally retired in Fall 2009.
"Southwestern owes a huge debt to Max Goodman," said Dean Bryant Garth. "He helped to transform the school from one of outstanding teachers to one of outstanding teacher-scholars. His brilliant teaching and mentoring produced multiple generations of great family lawyers. And his continuing example inspired us all - students, alumni, administrators, and both junior and senior faculty - to live up to the scholarly and service ideals that he embodied so remarkably."
Always active in pro bono activities, Professor Goodman served as a volunteer mediator and arbitrator for the Family Law Department and the Conciliation Court of the Los Angeles Superior Court and Dispute Resolution Services and was a contributor to the First World Conference on Family Law and Children's Rights held in Australia.
"Max Goodman's many years of dedicated service to Southwestern Law School as a highly respected and effective professor is legendary," said Dennis Codon, chair of Southwestern's Board of Trustees. "I was taught Community Property Law by Max over 30 years ago, and fondly remember him creatively captivating his students, as well as his unique ability to both inspire and demand excellence from those fortunate enough to be taught by him. Max was truly one of a kind, who had an enormous impact on thousands of students. His passing creates a huge void at Southwestern and the entire legal community."
Professor Goodman was an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), and shared his expertise through a myriad of publications and legal forums sponsored by AAML, the California Judicial Council, the Los Angeles Superior Court, California Continuing Education of the Bar, and the Family Law Sections of the American Bar Association (ABA) and many local bar organizations. He chaired the ABA Family Law Section's Law School Curriculum Committee and Ethical Practice and Procedures Committee for many years, and was a prominent member of the Family Law Sections of both the California State Bar and the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA). He also served on the LACBA board of trustees and as a delegate to the State Bar Convention, and authored family law questions for the California Bar exam.
"From the time he joined the faculty in the mid 1960's, Max was a special member of the Southwestern community. His impact on our graduates and the profession is immeasurable," said Dean Emeritus Leigh Taylor. "Max was deeply committed to Southwestern and to his students - there was hardly ever a school event of any kind that he did not attend. Always considerate, kind and supportive of his colleagues and others, this gentle giant demonstrated the highest of ethical values. Max's passing marks the end of an era for Southwestern and for the family law bar, but it is comforting to know that his legacy will live on through the thousands of students he taught and influenced."
The recipient of numerous awards from the legal profession, Professor Goodman was honored by Southwestern for his service to the community, teaching excellence and commitment to the advancement of the law school as the Irwin R. Buchalter Professor of Law in 1988 and the Irving D. and Florence Rosenberg Professor of Law in 1994 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2000. That year he also was named "Outstanding Friend" by the Southwestern Alumni Association, and in 1986, his former students established a major scholarship fund in his name.
"At the close of this decade, the Los Angeles Family Law Community saw the close of an era with the passing of Max Goodman, one of the most well-respected, kindest, gentle beings that difficult field of law has ever been privileged to count amongst its members," said Stephen A. Kolodny, a partner in the firm of Kolodny & Anteau, and a long-time friend of Professor Goodman and the law school. "A well-respected litigator in the 60's, 70's and 80's, known for his wisdom and ability to reason with people but try difficult cases when necessary; in the later years of his exemplary career, Max turned to teaching law at Southwestern, part of the meteoric success and well-respected reputation of that fine law school. 'Max the Axe' taught thousands of people the finesse of being a fine lawyer, being knowledgeable and prepared as the way to success, being kind and professional as the way to practice law, and being a tough litigator when necessary if other methods fail. The Los Angeles legal community is left with a gaping hole - one not to be filled easily, if at all."
Professor Goodman, whose beloved wife Molly passed away in 2005, is survived by a brother, Jerome; three children, Jan Goodman, Lauren Packard and Melanie Murez; and 8 grandchildren.
Services will be held on Monday, January 4 at 2:00 p.m. at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, 90068. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Professor Max A. Goodman Scholarship Endowment Fund at Southwestern (donate online or send donations to the Institutional Advancement Office).
Echoing the sentiments of Professor Goodman's colleagues at Southwestern, Professor Karen Smith said, "Max always had such passion for the law. He was so committed to our students and wanted them to know and respect the law the way he did. He was a giant in his field, but generous and down to earth at the same time. He will be missed tremendously."