43 Years of Impactful Scholarship

In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Roger Goebel (1936-2018)


The Editors of the Fordham International Law Journal respectfully honor the memory of our late faculty advisor, Professor Roger Goebel. We thank Professor Goebel for his continued service and many contributions to the Journal spanning over two decades.

Professor Goebel's dedication to the Journal and his continued work and passion for European Union law will be commemorated in Volume 42, Issue 3 — our European Union issue. We are grateful to all of Professor Goebel's friends and colleagues who have generously contributed their memories below and articles to our forthcoming European Union law issue.

Dean and Paul Fuller Professor of Law Matthew Diller, Fordham Law School

I write with the sad news that Professor Roger J. Goebel passed away on Friday, April 20. He was 82. We have all lost a good friend and a superb colleague whose contributions to us, our students, and our institution were immeasurable. Roger was never shy about speaking his mind and, in a gentle way, pressing his views. He always spoke from the heart, informed by his tremendous learning and intellect. He devoted particular attention to nurturing the community of international students and scholars at Fordham Law. 

Born in Indianapolis, Roger earned his A.B. from Manhattan College in 1957, graduating as valedictorian of his class. He enrolled at New York University School of Law, earning his J.D. in 1960 and his LL.M. in comparative law in 1961. From 1961 to 1962, he was a Fulbright fellow at the University of Tübingen in Germany. From 1966 to 1983, he practiced international business law and French and American corporate law in the Paris and New York City offices of Coudert Brothers.

In 1984, we at Fordham Law were thrilled to welcome Roger to the faculty; he served the Law School community for 33 years as an invaluable educator, colleague, and friend. As Alpin J. Cameron Professor of Law, he inspired students and colleagues alike with his prodigious knowledge of corporations, partnership and limited liability companies, and European Union Law.

Roger represented one of the foremost American legal academics in the field of EU Law, having taught and written in the field since 1978. Indeed, he was one of the founders of this important area of study. In 1984 he created the Fordham Center on European Law, which fostered Fordham Law’s relationships with United States and European law schools and has promoted the School’s reputation in Europe as a premier school in international law. 

Roger was instrumental in building and nurturing our LL.M. program, and he served as a caring mentor to the many international students who matriculated at Fordham due to his influence. During their time at the Law School, Roger deftly helped them navigate a legal system that may have initially seemed strange to them but that was nonetheless one they were eager to understand thanks to Roger’s encouragement and tutelage. 

Showcasing his commitment to the field of EU law, Roger published extensively on the topic and other international legal matters. His book Cases and Materials on European Union Law, which he co-authored with Eleanor Fox, George Bermann, Jeffrey Atik, and Frank Emmert, is now in its fourth edition and remains a vital law school text. He also co-edited Rights, Liability and Ethics in International Legal Practice, now in its second edition, with the late Mary Daly. His work is widely read and respected in Europe. Many European academics first learned of Fordham Law School through Roger’s work, making him one of the School’s great ambassadors. 

Roger taught at various institutions across the United States, in Germany, and in France. He maintained various professional affiliations and roles, including president of the American Foreign Law Association (1997–2000); advisory board member of the American Law Institute, Restatement of Agency Third (1999–2003); editorial advisory board member of the Common Market Law Review (1991–present); and executive committee member of the American Society of Comparative Law (1997–2000). 
Roger will be profoundly missed by his many friends, colleagues, and former students in the Fordham Law School community. 

Joseph Sweeney, John D. Calamari Distinguished Professor of Law, Emeritus, Faculty Advisor to the Fordham International Law Journal since its beginning.

Graduates, students and the faculty of Fordham Law School mourn the death on April 20, 2018, of Professor Roger J. Goebel, the foremost scholar of the European Union in the United States.  It is a special loss to the Fordham International Law Journal for which he was a faculty advisor for more than 25 years and the source and inspiration of its annual EU issue.  The predominance of the scholarship and publications of Roger Goebel, the Alpin J. Cameron Professor of Law, is clearly demonstrated by the large number of students from France, Germany, Spain and Italy who come to Fordham’s LL. M. program to study the European Union.

Roger Goebel’s expertise in international business was grounded in more than 20 years of legal practice in New York and Paris with the distinguished international law firm of Coudert Brothers (one of whose partners, Paul Fuller was the founding dean of this school in 1905).

Roger Goebel’s legal education began in New York City where he was a student at New York University Law School, having earned the J.D. in 1960 and the LL. M. in 1961.  (He was also an Editor of the New York University Law Review).  He was then chosen to be a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Tübingen, one of Germany’s oldest and most prestigious universities, where he began the study of Comparative Law and the new Common Market treaties.

Academic life was also a component of the scholarship and experiences of Roger Goebel.  In addition to 33 years of devoted and collegial service to Fordham, he served as visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley (1962), New York University (1978), Seton Hall University (1983), University of Bonn. as the Jean Monnet Professor (1995) and the University of Paris (I) (1999).

It was in his many large classes in Corporations, Partnership and all aspects of the European Union that Roger had his most significant impact on students.  He would always go out of his way to answer students’ questions.  The practicing Bar were the beneficiaries of his writings and conference discussions.

Of his many contributions to Fordham, one of the most important was the Center on European Union which he founded in 1984, continuing Fordham’s connection to Common Market Studies begun by Professor Joseph Crowley in 1964.

Roger Goebel’s courage and perseverance in the performance of his duties while struggling with a deadly form of cancer is an inspiration to all who will forever bless his memory.

Fidelma Macken, former judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland and the European Court of Justice

I will always remember Roger Goebel.  He was just one of those rare individuals who could simply not be forgotten.  I know I have recounted how I met him.  Of course looking back, it is true he hoped I might come and speak, but his way of wooing me to do so was simply inspirational!  He arrived, as I think I told you, with a book about "Sister Fidelma"!  When I tell you I thought he was joking (I had at that stage never heard of the series of books about an crime investigator of the early 6/7th century, or thereabouts - as I subsequently discovered from reading the books, this is for real.  

 But it epitomized what he was all about.  A man with a real insight into what might be of interest to someone else, with the "smarts" to go looking for the book, bring it all the way from NY to Luxembourg (probably with a lot of other heavy "stuff" for the judges and others he was meeting), and know that this would undoubtedly perk the interest of someone with the same name!  How could he lose!  I was mightily impressed and very flattered, and of course I said yes, certainly I will come and speak at Fordham!

And then, when I got to know him better, and discovered what an incredibly learned, amusing, bright, interested and interesting man he was, while remaining at the same time such a humble man, well. it was my great good fortune to have met him at all.  It was equally plain for anyone with a nose on his face to see that his love of Fordham was unbounded.  He simply adored being there, and adored finding people to come and talk to the students, whose lives and careers he so moulded, and in whom he showed an equally wholehearted interest and great affection for.  Quite a coup for whoever it was who persuaded him to come back to Fordham all those years ago.

And, last but by no means least, he was a dear friend in circumstances where my own beloved brother (who sadly died in February of this year), has also suffered throat cancer for some time years ago, and who had recovered from it.  We would talk and compare notes, and I would encourage him by this story, in a very small way to keep up the good fight.  And if sometimes that meant talking to me through a straw over lunch, neither of us ever really noticed it, and we enjoyed so many wonderful times of great fun, good stories, joyous celebrations, and just the amazement of being able to say hello again and again over the years, as though we had seen each other just a week ago, and pick up where we left off!  

What a big superb wonderful human.  I will cherish his memory and my memories of him for a long long time indeed, and celebrate the wonderful life he had, and which he encouraged all others to have too.

Philippa Watson and Peter Oliver

We are both EU lawyers based in Brussels and had known Roger since before 1986 when, as an official of the European Commission, Peter was generously invited to Fordham to give a number of classes and speeches, and Philippa also took a couple of classes.  After that, we saw Roger nearly every year, and he frequently came to dinner at our home during his annual visits to Europe.

What struck us immediately on meeting Roger was his encyclopaedic knowledge of EU law, which is possibly quite unique outside the territory of the EU itself.  In addition, he would always regale us with accounts of recent political and legal developments in the US.  All this was combined with the most unusual modestly as well as great consideration and loyalty as a friend.

Another quality, which only became clear towards the end of his life, was his fortitude in the fact of adversity: he bore with admirable courage the strains of his long and painful illness together with the repeated harrowing treatment which he had to undergo.  

We shall miss him greatly.

Vanessa Beever, St. Mary's University

I was so very sad to hear the news of Roger Goebel’s passing.

I am a 1994 graduate for the LLM International Business and Trade Law. He was so much part of what made my Fordham experience very special. He taught me EU law in way that was so engaging and started in me a deep interest in the subject. He was a fantastic teacher. I remember he used the Socratic method so effectively. To this day I remember my turn to face his questioning in front of a whole class – terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. And worth it if you received extra marks for a good performance! For a while after graduating I was his research assistant and I enjoying working with him analysing free movement of lawyers rights in the EU.

I have very many fond memories of him but I remember in particular how he spent many summers in Europe at the Court of Justice of EU in Luxembourg. He spoke very animatedly about how much he enjoyed the opportunity to undertake research at the court as well as the to meet the Judges. I recall whenever we met at reunions he was always encouraging me to visit, after all Luxembourg is only a short hop for London – unlike the trek from NYC!

I practised with Shearman & Sterling for almost nine years before moving into teaching legal practice skills and EU law here at St Mary’s University. Remembering his words, virtually every year I have taken my students to the Court of Justice and other key EU institutions. He was my inspiration to do and I am profoundly grateful for him for sharing his experience and love of the subject with me. I’m doing my best to pass it on to the next generation and will continue to do so in his memory.

Philip Sandstrom

I have known Roger Goebel since 1953 when we met at Manhattan College and were roommates together. Our friendship kept us in contact ever since. When he went to Law School at NYU I went to St Joseph ‘s Seminary, Dunwoodie, in Yonkers NY. I was studying in Paris when he was there with Coudert Frères. And then much later when I was back in Paris to complete a Doctorate in 1985 he was also working with the same law firm, and then when I was sent by Cardinal O’Connor to teach at The American College, an international seminary at the Catholic University of Louvain (KUL), Roger Goebel was a senior partner in the Coudert Fréres office in Brussels. So our lives have been intertwined for something over sixty years — me as a Catholic priest and academic, and him in his work in international law. I am honored and pleased that I have been invited to this occasion of remembrance, but I can not come to NYC and Fordham Law for the 14th September because my work necessitates that I be here in Brussels. I do remember Roger Goebel often and will do so specially on that day!

Professor Willajeanne F. McLean, University of Connecticut Law School

The first encounter with Professor Goebel was in his inaugural Corporations class. Now that I am on the other side of the podium, I understand what grace and humor he exhibited during the gentle “hazing” that he received. At the first class, he announced that he would call on those seated in the first row for the following class, and then proceed row by row. Of course, at the next class, there was no first row; and, on subsequent classes, no second or third row. By the fourth meeting he acknowledged, with a twinkle in his eye, that we’d had our fun, and it was time to get to work. We all shared a laugh, and that was that. He was rigorous and knowledgeable, and I had reason to bless him silently because, on the second day of my summer associateship, I was asked to research the possibilities of piercing the corporate veil- something I had naively assured myself I would never need to know post-exam.

The next year, I signed up for his course on European Community Law, as it was called then. The rest, for me, is history. I fell in love with the subject, went to Brussels for an advanced degree to gain more knowledge, and went to UCONN Law, where it became one of my teaching specialties. When Roger (by that time) learned that I had been appointed to teach EC Law, he immediately sent me his syllabi and the drafts of his casebook. He was always available to talk and give helpful suggestions.  My last conversation with him was about a symposium that the UCONN ILJ was giving, and he gave suggestions about possible participants and topics.

His was a gentle soul, and a generous one. I will miss his sly, dry wit and his counsel, and I will forever be in his debt. 

Thank you for giving those of us who knew him an opportunity to reflect on his life at Fordham

Professor Fernanda Nicola, Washington College of Law, American University

For me he was a mentor and inspiration as someone committed to inclusion and diversity in the field of EU law. I am still teaching his edited textbook and I remember fondly our interactions at International Law Week at Fordham and AALS where he chaired the EU law section in San Francisco.

Michael Larobina, Sacred Heart University

I was very sadden to learn of Professor Goebel’s passing. This was an extraordinary professor and academic. He took a particular interest in me as a student; recognizing my abilities and mentoring my learning. We stayed in touch after I graduated for a number of years. He invited me to dinners with dignitaries visiting the law school and allowed me to use some of his teaching materials in my own classes (I’m faculty on administrative assignment). A tremendous loss to the law school.

Professor William Davey, University of Illinois College of Law

He was a pioneering giant in bringing EU law to American law students and will be greatly missed.

In MemoriamFordham ILJ