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The Harvard community lost one of the century's most celebrated law professors when Byrne Professor of Administrative Law Emeritus Louis L. Jaffe died yesterday. He was 90.
Jaffe, a leading scholar of administrative law and a renowned New Deal attorney, died of natural causes at a nursing home in Norwood, Mass.
"He was the founding father of administrative law," said Rosa Comella, a Harvard law student. "He was--still is--the most important administrative law scholar in the country."
The U.S. Supreme Court frequently cited his arguments on the scope and nature of judicial review.
Jaffe was already considered one of the nation's most prolific law scholars when he joined the Harvard Law faculty in 1950.
Jaffe's students said they have fond memories of the professor's classroom enthusiasm.
"He was an absolutely wonderful professor, who seemed to never be prepared for class," said Dean of the Law School Robert C. Clark, a 1972 Harvard law graduate who took Jaffe's first-year tort class.
"We were forced to prepare ourselves before class, and the informal discussions that followed were exhilarating," Clark said in an interview yesterday.
Jaffe's most famous publication was Judicial Control of Administrative Action, completed in 1965.
"It was his masterwork--the best book in his field, and, in my opinion, the best single book on the topic, even though it was written more than 30 years ago," said Byrne Professor of Administrative Law Todd Rakoff.
Born in Seattle in 1905, Jaffe spent most of his youth in San Francisco. He graduated at the age of 19 from Johns Hopkins University and attended Harvard Law School, where he graduated third in his class in 1928.
Jaffe served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
He began his law career as an attorney for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in the early stages of the New Deal. He also represented the National Labor Relations Board.
Before his move to Harvard, Jaffe spent 14 years as a professor and later dean of the University of Buffalo School of Law.
He is survived by two children, Deborah Yeomans of Dedham and Miles Jaffe of Cambridge; two grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
The burial will be private. A memorial service will be held in Memorial Church at a time to be announced.
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