Professor Arthur von Mehren, 1922-2006


Arthur Taylor von Mehren, the Story Professor of Law Emeritus, died January 17, 2006 at the age of 83.

In addition to educating thousands of Harvard Law students over the course of a 50-year teaching career, von Mehren was a pioneer in comparative and private international law. He helped to develop new thinking on a range of legal issues including international jurisdictions, commercial arbitration and comparative constitutional law…

During his remarkable career, von Mehren studied law in three countries, taught in nine, and authored over 200 publications, including 10 books. Murray noted that von Mehren maintained a demanding teaching and research regimen up until the point of his death. His work comparing German and American civil procedure has remained definitive for nearly 50 years…

Born on August 10, 1922 in Albert Lea, Minn., von Mehren graduated from Harvard College in 1942 and from Harvard Law School in 1945. In 1946 he was awarded his doctorate in government from Harvard and was appointed assistant professor at HLS. von Mehren spent the first three years of his more than 50-year career at Harvard Law School in full-time study of Swiss, German and French law at the Universities of Zurich and Paris. In 1953 he was named a tenured professor of law at Harvard and in 1976 assumed the Story Professorship. Since 1991 he has been the Story Professor of Law, Emeritus.

[Professor] von Mehren founded the Joseph Story Fellow program, under which talented young German academics would come to work as his research assistant for one year periods. The 12 graduates of this program are now members of both German and American law faculties. At the time of his death, the Story Fellow alumni were in the process of preparing a commemorative volume of essays to be published in his honor.

A memorial service will be held in his honor later this year.


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