In Memoriam: Philip I. Blumberg

In Memoriam: Philip I. Blumberg

Dean Emeritus Phillip I. Blumberg of UConn School of Law, passed away on February 14, 2021. He was 101. Elected to membership in the ALI in 1973, Dean Blumberg served as an Adviser on three ALI projects—Restatement of the Law Third, Agency; Restatement of the Law Third, Suretyship and Guaranty; and Principles of the Law, Corporate Governance: Analysis and Recommendations. 

Dean Blumberg was born Sept. 6, 1919, in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Lithuanian immigrants. His father, Hyman Blumberg, was a garment worker and a founder of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Hyman Blumberg became the union’s executive vice president and moved the family to New York, where Dean Blumberg attended public school, skipped several grades and entered Harvard College 10 days after his 16th birthday.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in government, he went on to Harvard Law School. Before his graduation, magna cum laude, in 1942, Dean Blumberg was invited to clerk for Judge Learned Hand on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Instead, he joined the Army Air Corps and served as a judge advocate on circuit among air bases in Great Britain during World War II. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. The missed opportunity to clerk for Hand “was trivial by comparison” to the sacrifices of those who lost their lives in the war, Dean Blumberg said in an oral history interview conducted by UConn Law Professor R. Kent Newmyer and Bruce M. Stave in 2009.

After the war, Dean Blumberg worked for two years at a large Wall Street firm and then joined the boutique firm of Szold & Brandwen, later Szold, Brandwen, Meyers & Blumberg. He spent 20 years in a successful and lucrative practice focused on mergers and acquisitions and became president of Federated Mortgage Investors. The realization that it was time to change his career struck suddenly after the Harvard reunion.

“The fellows talked about nothing except who was making the most money in the class,” he later said. The next morning, while shaving, “I looked in the mirror and I said, ’Blumberg, You’re as bad as all the rest.’”

He took a position in 1968 as a professor at Boston University Law School at a salary equal to one third of his Wall Street earnings and remained there for six years. In 1974, when he was named dean of the UConn School of Law, he said in an interview with The Hartford Courant that his goals were to convert UConn Law from a good law school to a great one, to give law students extensive practical experience, and to attract more minority and female students.

ALI extends our deepest condolences to his wife, ALI Council member Ellen Ash Peters, and to his entire family.

Read the full piece in remembrance of Dean Blumberg on the UConn Law website.