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Joe Ettinger, L'56, Remains Force Behind Law 'Boot Camp'

January 09, 2018 4:21 AM

Joe Ettinger never seems to slow. He was the first to arrive at Tulane Law School’s 2018 annual Intersession Monday – a favorite program he helps support through a generous endowment – under a typical New Orleans downpour. He wasn’t fazed. “Are we ready?” Ettinger announced. A 1956 graduate of Tulane Law, Ettinger is the walking embodiment of 50-plus years of criminal law experience, and Intersession at Tulane Law doesn’t start until Joe Ettinger arrives. He believes so strongly in the skills-training program and in preparing students for the profession that he treks from Arizona to New Orleans each January, passing up, he jokes, “time on a warm Caribbean island” to serve as visiting faculty member. Tulane’s annual Lawyering Skills Boot Camp offers students an intensive simulation of law practice in one of three alternative practice tracks: civil litigation, criminal, and transactional practice. A fourth track, introduced in 2016 for first-year law students, is a business literacy boot camp, co-taught with Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. This year, Ettinger’s endowment continues to grow. Through additional contributions, the Joseph A. Ettinger Award in Criminal Law – given to the top performing student in that track -- will expand to add a similar award for students in the civil litigation track. “To me no matter where I was in my career, every experience I had I could attribute to what I learned at Tulane,” Ettinger said of his support for Boot Camp. “This program lets students make a decision about whether this is for them or not, and then, if it is, figure out how to go about making that dream come true.” Ettinger, who is a Tulane supporter through and through, served as a member of Tulane University’s Alumni Association Board of Directors. Since its first offering in 2012, Ettinger has returned every year to Intersession, serving as visiting faculty in the criminal practice track. “Joe’s passion and dedication to our students were instrumental in helping us launch the lawyering skills boot camp,” said Dean David Meyer. “We all owe him a big debt.” Ettinger led a successful criminal defense and civil rights law career in Chicago and is now retired in Arizona, but his work doesn’t stop. In 2016, he was appointed to public office as Commissioner for the Scottsdale, Arizona, Human Relations Commission for a three-year term. Until recently, he was a supervising attorney on a pro bono basis for the Arizona Justice Project of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.