Over the weekend my good friend Lou Del Duca passed away. This news came as a shock, because I skype chatted with Lou about the latest developments in the UNCITRAL ODR Working Group just a week ago. He was, as always, engaged in the smallest details around the negotiations, going line by line with me through the proposed documents that the State Department had circulated in advance of the next meeting. It was hard to keep up with his observations and suggested edits as he jumped from page to page. His mind was as sharp as ever.
For those of you who didn’t know him, Lou was a legend within international transactional law. He was the longest-serving Professor in the history of Dickinson Law School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He taught every summer in Italy for many years, and was internationally recognized as a leading scholar in the fields of commercial and comparative law and the internationalization of American legal education. He worked with the American Law Institute and the U.S. Secretary of State’s Committee on International Trade Law, as well as serving as president of the International Academy of Commercial and Consumer Law. He even acted as the United States’ collaborator to the Rome International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT). He was truly a giant in the field.
Lou was also a prolific writer. He was editor of the Uniform Commercial Code Law Journal and the Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly. He always had another idea for an article in the hopper. We wrote several articles together: looking at the model of eBay for cross-border redress, reviewing the history of lex mercatoria and its relevance for modern ODR, examining the need for global ODR in eCommerce, and even reviewing the proposed ODR design at the OAS and providing an early model for the UNCITRAL discussions. In almost every collaboration Lou was the main engine, crystalizing our focus and honing our language. It was great to work with him, not only because of his boundless energy, but because of the clarity of his thought and his hunger to distill the lessons from every experience.
I was lucky enough to travel quite a bit with Lou, attending international ODR meetings around different parts of the planet. I particularly remember flying 24 hours to get to the ODR Forum meeting in Chennai in 2011. I felt like a wrung out dishrag after the journey, and I just wanted to collapse in bed — but Lou was up early the next morning, swimming dozens of laps in the unheated hotel pool, ready for an exciting day tackling big questions and meeting new people. That was just the way he was wired.
Lou’s passion and enthusiasm were truly inspiring. It’s hard to imagine that he’s no longer with us. He never seemed to lose a step over the years I knew him, and some days I felt he’d out live me, even though he was 50 years my senior. For me, Lou’s unparalleled contributions to the ODR field are the legacy I will remember him by, and that legacy inspires me to work even harder to realize our shared vision. Lou’s life was truly a life well lived, and we owe him an enormous debt for the contributions he made toward the creation of fast and fair global resolution systems.