Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Outside Counsel has just learned that Professor John Hoey has died. He was a class act, and one of the professors whose influence has marked me for most of my life. The first Shakespeare class I took at Geneseo was with Professor Hoey. One of his traditions was to have the members of his class come to his home once a semester, for sherry and biscuits. As I recall I took two other courses with him-- Early and Later English Renaissance. I thought I'd related this anecdote here before, but I can't find it just now, so we'll recall his memory once more. Professor Hoey was a thoughtful, gentleman who took his role as professor seriously. Once you were his student you were his student for life, and that meant that he followed your academic career, even if you didn't know it. At the time I had a careless way with spelling, and this grieved him a bit. At the end of my senior year I was wandering around Wells, where his office was, looking for the grade posting for something or other. I hadn't had a class with Professor Hoey for probably a year, but suddenly he appeared in front of me and invited me into his office. I was a bit surprised-- I didn't think of him then as the sort of mentor that I now realize he was, but I went in and sat down. "I understand you are going to the University at Buffalo to study law," he started. I smiled and acknowledged that this was so, expecting to be bathed in congratulations. "I feel I must tell you that although your work has always demonstrated strong analytical powers, your failure to attend to details-- in particular proper spelling-- will be an impediment to your success, and I hope you will address this deficiency." I stammered something-- I went to law school because I pretty much always had a response to everything, but he pressed on. "I'm sure you will be a capable lawyer, but carelessness has no place in that profession. Good luck. " We chatted a bit more-- he recommended that I make a point of visiting Toronto, and then our interview was over. I thanked him, and went on my way. I can tell you now that Professor Hoey was absolutely right, and that his advice was some of the best I ever got. He was telling me to sweat the details, and I've never gone wrong doing that.

I may or may not have known that he was instrumental in forming the Geneseo Rugby Club. Not my sport, but years later, when CLA attended the Athens of the Genesee Valley she did, and I'm happy that in a distant way he influenced two generations of Altreuters.

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