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Jean Braucher, In Memoriam

posted by Bob Lawless

It is with great sadness that I pass along the news that Jean Braucher passed away yesterday. Jean was my co-author, my co-blogger, and my friend. This news came suddenly this morning for all but her closest family and friends who were aware of her illness. 

The official record will show that Jean was a giant among bankruptcy and contracts scholars. Her work on local legal culture in bankruptcy courts is one of the standard references on the topic. As Dov Cohen and I were trying to understand the disparities we were seeing in our data among local bankruptcy courts, we turned to Jean. She joined our research team, and her understanding of the very fine detail of how the bankruptcy courts worked in action made the project's experimental materials a success. Jean also was widely known for her work on contracts law, being one of the authors of the seminal Contracts: Law in Action textbook.

That is the official record. I last saw Jean just in October at the symposium in honor of Bill Whitford where Jean presented her latest work. Bill exhorted us to study how the law actually worked and how it actually worked for the least-privileged in society. Jean lived that research ethos and spread it to others. She helped to nurture a small gathering at the Law & Society Association that has grown into a section of close to 100 household finance experts from around the globe. She was continuing to play a leadership role for that group while encouraging the next generation of scholars to become leaders in their own right.

Looking back at what I have written seems a paltry overview of the big footprint that Jean leaves in the  academic world. Her work touched so many others. Tomorrow I will give thanks that Jean was part of my professional life.

In the coming days, I hope to gather thoughts and remembrances of Jean into a longer blog post. If you knew or worked with Jean and have something to pass along, please email me.

Update (12/2/2014): A new post collects comments that were emailed to me. I have closed the comments on this post and encourage new comments to be left on the new post.


So sorry to hear this. Having such regard for Jean I was looking forward to knowing her better now that imam in Tucson. A huge loss to
The bankruptcy community and academia.

I had the privilege of serving with Jean on the NACBA Board of Directors for several years. She was an incredible resource for all of us, continuing to assist even after she retired. Even while maintaining her high standards of scholarship, Jean was unusual as an academic in that she was unabashed and unapologetic in her open support of consumers. She will very much be missed.

So very sorry about this shocking news. Jean was a top scholar and better person. We funded some of her work and she also served as a Resident Scholar here for a semester. Little known perhaps, she was also a rabid and knowledgeable college basketball fan of her (adopted) Arizona Wildcats, and I so enjoyed talking/debating with her about various players and incoming recruits. We agreed on nothing from sports to politics and I loved it! Will always remember her fondly but this is a tragic loss for the bankruptcy world.

Jean partnered with Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. in a law school/legal aid mortgage clinic for three years. She was a delight to work with and shared SALA's mission to help keep people in their homes during the past [and ongoing] mortgage crisis in southern Arizona.

Her knowledge and help in developing innovative approaches to mortgage issues in the bankruptcy court was invaluable. She was thoughtful and caring with the students and the issues. I will miss her greatly.

Beverly Parker

Sad. So sad. Her voice will be missed -- and is sorely needed. Her work stands as a tribute to protecting those in need. Hard loss to swallow as we approach Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the many times we debated and discussed issues -- all with grace and wisdom on her part.

Karen Gross, Southern Vermont College

Peace and prayers for all. Thanks for sharing

Jean was a giant in our field. She was a pioneer in steering the chapter 13 program nationally towards a rehabilitative, debtor-centric remedy that had positive practical effects on what we chapter 13 trustees do. Her reliance on empirical evidence to support what works - and what doesn't - will be sorely missed. I will certainly miss her and I appreciate the contributions that she made.

So very sorry to hear of Jean’s passing. She was held in high respect in Australia also. Jean visited on a number of occasions and presented at the regulator’s national Bankruptcy Congress convened in Sydney in 2008 – it was themed ‘Unravelling the Complexities’ and Jean made a significant contribution to the debate. She was also generous with her time in talking about research with more junior academics. When organising an academic bankruptcy forum at QUT Brisbane last year we approached Jean to be a keynote speaker and were sorry she was unable to accept but were hoping to be able to arrange something for 2016.

My condolences on a very personal loss to her family and a very professional loss to the bankruptcy community.

I am so sorry to hear of Jean's passing. I heard her speak and pressed her to speak at several seminars. She was terrific. Always great insights and common sense. She will be missed.

I was so sorry to hear that Jean had passed. She was a giant in her field. I greatly appreciated her work and valued the opportunities I had to work with her. Tucson will not be the same without her.

I had the great pleasure of working with her on the study that showed that the means test would have virtually no actual impact in terms of pushing people toward chapter 13. Her findings were of course correct. Jean worked quickly and her findings were accurate and unassailable.

What a sadness this gives me. A woman who cared deeply about what she was doing, who loved the challenges of life. Too young. Too young.

The comments to this entry are closed.


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