The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

Faculty Focus

James Eustice (1932–2011)

Printer Friendly Version

James EusticeNot everyone can have had my good fortune to have Jim as a teacher, a mentor, a colleague, and a friend. Jim and I taught together at NYU Law for 45 years and practiced law as colleagues for 40—first at Kronish Lieb, then more recently at Cooley after the firms merged. There was a synergy in our relationship that was unique.

I first met Jim in 1964 when he was my Tax Accounting professor. I thought I was a good student and a smart guy. But every time we got into the details of a code section, regulation, or case, I wondered whether I had actually read the material he had assigned. His ability to see issues in words and drill into the meaning of positions taken by Congress, the commissioner, or the courts was unequaled.

After having been put through the intellectual wringer by Jim in Tax Accounting and then Advanced Capital Gains, I ended up literally on his doorstep in 1966. I had graduated and returned to Florida to practice when Jerry Wallace, founder of NYU Law’s Graduate Tax Program, invited me to join the faculty. But Jerry hadn’t arranged for me to have an office. Jerry placed me temporarily in Jim’s office. That would not have been too bad, but Jim had a unique habit: He collected his used Styrofoam coffee cups, and all five years’ worth was on the extra desk in his office. So my first job as assistant professor of law was to find a home for Jim’s cups without otherwise disturbing his very organized piles of papers.

We didn’t talk much during those first six weeks. He was immersed, as he was to the end of his life, in keeping the Bittker and Eustice Federal Income Taxation of Corporations and Shareholders, the seminal work on corporate taxation, current. I surmised we had a budding friendship, however, when he offered to let me copy his notes to teach Tax Accounting. In fact, as the years went by, he also let me copy his notes for Advanced Capital Gains and Reorganizations. For those of you familiar with Jim’s handwriting and his habit of writing notes in his copy of the Internal Revenue Code, you might conclude that he really wasn’t doing me a favor.

I thought he was, however, and he must have thought he was, because in 1971, after agreeing to become counsel to Kronish Lieb, he asked me to join him in building its tax department. We had a uniquely symbiotic relationship: Jim dressed in track clothes and hated dealing with clients but had an astounding depth of knowledge. I wore starched shirts and bow ties and was in my prime dealing with clients. Together, we had great successes.

Jim was a brilliant lawyer and a great mentor and colleague. I often said he did the thinking and I did the talking, and I often struggled to keep silent so he could finish thinking. In fact, he never did finish. Jim’s mind was an unrivaled source of tax knowledge. He always sought to go deeper in any analysis. I will forever be indebted to Jim for all our years of friendship.
—Stephen Gardner (LL.M. ’65) Adjunct Professor of Law

“Jim was my teacher in the early 1970s. He was my mentor from the time I began teaching in the Tax Program in 1972. He was my colleague—I had the privilege and joy of seeing him, sharing lunches and dinners, and discussing and debating the law on a daily basis for decades. He was my friend. Jim’s amazing mind and memory, and his caring humanity, brightened my existence for more than half of my life. Teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend: I will miss Jim profoundly.” Harvey Dale, University Professor of Philanthropy

“We partied together, worshipped together, were part of the same generation of young faculty families at NYU Law that grew up together, and propped each other up during life’s inevitable potholes. There was a competitive side to Jim, which showed in his marathon running, his pride in the success of our tax program, and the supremacy of his great text, but it never invaded our friendship that, through all his years of triumphs and frustrations, was deep and abiding. It still is.” M. Carr Ferguson (LL.M. ’60), Adjunct Professor of Law

“There can be no question about Jim’s enduring contribution to the academy and the tax world. Say ‘B and E’ to any tax lawyer and they will know instantly to what you are referring. It is on every tax lawyer’s desk, in every law library, and read by generations of corporate tax students. It is the first place everyone looks for an answer to any corporate tax question, and, as I say to my students, if the answer isn’t there, there is no answer.” Deborah Schenk (LL.M. ’76), Marilynn and Ronald Grossman Professor of Law

“Jim broke the mold in tax academe, along the lines that Larry Bird did in basketball: different, even peculiar, stubborn, relentlessly independent, dignified but occasionally fond of zany adventure, quietly friendly, kind-hearted, devilishly funny, extremely bright and hardworking, committed to professional excellence, loyal, and ultimately, with self-knowledge but not arrogance, in a class very few could join. Underneath the seemingly shy, stolid exterior was an always-churning, even introspective mind. I will miss him.” John Steines (LL.M. ’78), Professor of Law

All of 2011 Faculty Focus

2011 Home