Our History: Told By You -- Neil R. Eisner

Our History: Told By You - a 50th Anniversary Blog Post Series

WHOA!  ACUS is 50? That’s not possible.  It seems like just a few years ago when I went to my first Plenary Session, and ACUS was just in its late teens then. I remember being a bit intimidated when I noted the presence of so many professors, including the ones who wrote my casebook and hornbook.  There was an impressive array of well-known judges and private practitioners.  There were members who were highly regarded for their work in public interest groups.  And there were my counterparts from around the government who brought significant expertise to the ACUS discussions.  Lawyers and non-lawyers.  Except for the short period starting in the 1990’s when Congress decided to consciously uncouple ACUS from its appropriations, it has been this way throughout the life of ACUS: so many good people, with so much expertise, who were so willing to take time out of their busy days to help make government better. 

One who always impressed me tremendously was Professor Walter Gelhorn.  Quite often, when there was a significant disagreement on a recommendation, he would get up and read a couple substitute sentences that he had crafted in response to the different views, and “poof,” the difference of opinion was resolved.  We continue to learn from our great professors even after we graduate.

And what a wonderful resource ACUS has been and what great contacts it provided.  Often, a five-minute conversation with one of the many experts I have worked with over the many years I have been a member has given me the information or advice I needed to fix a significant problem. There was also the great ACUS staff. Bright, energetic, hard-working, and always willing to help.  During my time as chair of two different committees, I could not have done the job without the tremendous support of the staff.  There was also that icon known as Jeff Lubbers.  Whenever I called him for help on an issue I was facing, without fail, he was able to either help or identify someone who had just completed research on the subject or faced a similar problem and could give me advice.

It is especially rewarding to see new faces taking the place of earlier members, people with a broad variety of perspectives and backgrounds, providing the same energetic participation and expertise, the same desire to develop innovative solutions, and the extremely important ability to work out consensus solutions to problems.  As a member and now chair of the Committee on Rulemaking, it has been gratifying to see the large number of important recommendations we have successfully completed or are currently working on, such as:   innovations in e-rulemaking, “midnight” rules, the use of social media, ex parte communications in rulemaking, and petitions for rulemaking.  When I attend the meetings of another committee, I see the same energy and success.

There is a lot to do, and it is reassuring to see so many who are willing to do it. 

--Neil R. Eisner

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