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Edward C. Halbach Jr.
In Memoriam

Edward C. Halbach Jr.

Walter Perry Johnson Professor of Law, Emeritus

UC Berkeley
Edward C. Halbach Jr. joined the Berkeley Law (formerly Boalt Hall) faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1959. He was born on November 8, 1931, in Clinton, Iowa. His undergraduate and law degrees were earned at the University of Iowa, with a Masters in Law from Harvard. He quickly established himself as a leader in the field of estates and trusts. Also a prolific scholar of tax, Ed changed American law with his scholarship. His volume on the Prudent Investor Rule laid the foundations for legislation that served as the model for statutes adopted throughout the United States. With the American Law Institute, he wrote Restatement of the Law, Trusts, and with the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform Law he helped write laws that were adopted across the country. As a beloved teacher at Boalt Hall, he was known for his clarity and humor.

Halbach also helped to start California Indian Legal Services, a pilot project to provide legal services to Native Americans on a national scale. That project eventually became part of the Native American Rights Foundation, which today provides legal assistance to Indian tribes throughout the United States.

Beyond Berkeley, Halbach served as president of The International Academy of Estate and Trust Law and as chair of the American Bar Association's Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law, as well as serving as the division director of that section's Probate and Trust Division. He was a member of the American College of Tax Counsel, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the American Law Institute (serving as an adviser on several of its projects), and the Uniform Law Commission's Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Trust and Estate Acts. His other long-term activities included being editor of the Estate Planning and California Probate Reporter and serving on the editorial board of Estate Planning Magazine. He also served on the governing board of California Continuing Education of the Bar and on the adjunct faculty of the University of Miami Graduate Estate Planning Program.

Professor Halbach received the Treat "Award for Excellence" (National College of Probate Judges) and the Tweed "Award for Special Merit in Continuing Legal Education" (ALI/ABA). He held the A. James Casner Reporter's Chair of the American Law Institute, and later was selected as a member of the Estate Planning Hall of Fame (National Association of Estate Planning Councils).

Perhaps Halbach’s greatest contribution to Berkeley Law was his nine-year tenure as dean. Appointed in 1966 at age 34, Halbach was not only the youngest law-school dean in America, but he also took the helm at a turbulent time in the United States, in law schools, and on the Berkeley campus. Facing intense student protests over the Vietnam War and other issues of the day, Ed relied on his bottomless store of goodwill and amazing calmness to lead the school. One alumnus credits Ed with keeping the law school together during that incredibly difficult time, describing Ed's guidance as follows: "Even in the most tumultuous days, Dean Halbach's basic decency and frankness prevailed. He will always be my ideal of a dean who was a gifted scholar, deft administrator and kind human being." He combined a self-deprecating sense of humor with extraordinary analytical abilities. Equally important, he treated the faculty and the students like family. According to an alumnus, "Ed and his wife Jan welcomed even the bearded scruffies of the class of '74 into their home. He made us all feel like we were part of something bigger."

Although not an alumnus, he received the Boalt Hall Alum of the Year Award following his deanship, and former students, friends, and colleagues later endowed a chair in his honor at Berkeley Law. He retired from Berkeley in 1994.

In 2010 he was recognized with Berkeley Law's Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award. During its presentation, he was described as a distinguished scholar, influential lawyer, and – not least by any means – "a man of good will and charm."

Ed died in Berkeley on June 1, 2017. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Janet Halbach; five children: Kristin H. Field (Evan) of Windsor, California, Edward C. Halbach III (Connie) of Winters, California, Kathleen H. Timpson (Al) of Pleasant Hill, California, Thomas E. Halbach (Claudia) of Berkeley, and Elaine H. Bryant (Joel) of Denver, Colorado; 13 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren (with another born shortly after his death); a sister and one of his brothers.

Robert C. Berring Jr.
Walter Perry Johnson