Yale Law School Remembers Professor Quintin Johnstone ’51 JSD
Yale Law School Professor Quintin Johnstone died in June 2014 in Hamden, Connecticut. Johnstone was the Justus S. Hotchkiss Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School. He was 99 years old.
“Quintin Johnstone was an iconic figure at the Yale Law School,” said Dean Robert Post ’77. “He taught here for more than 55 years, and perhaps instructed more students than any other teacher in the School’s history. His mastery of the intricacies of property law was treasured by generations of students, as were his insights into the legal profession. He was still actively teaching at 96 years of age. We shall miss him deeply. A treasured landmark has passed away.”
Johnstone was an expert in property, land transactions, and professional responsibility and the legal profession. In his more than 55 years as a professor at Yale Law School, he taught courses in the fields of real property, professional ethics, legal problems of developing countries, conflict of laws, criminal law, torts and legislation.
Johnstone was the author of three books: Lawyers and Their Work (1967) (with D. Hopson); Paralegals: Progress and Prospects of a Satellite Occupation (1985) (with M. Wenglinsky); and Land Transfer and Finance (4th ed., 1993) (with A. Axelrod and C. Berger). He was also the author of many articles, including "Title Insurance," 66 Yale Law Journal 492 (1957); "The Federal Urban Renewal Program," 25 University of Chicago Law Review 301 (1958); "An Evaluation of the Rules of Statutory Interpretation," 3 University of Kansas Law Review 1 (1954); “The Lawyer in the Year 2000: The Private Practitioner,” 25 Ala. L. Rev. 13 (1972); "Government Control of Urban Land Use: A Comparative Major Program Analysis," 39 New York Law School Law Review 373 (1994); and "Unauthorized Practice of Law and the Power of State Courts: Difficult Problems and Their Resolution," 39 Willamette Law Review 795 (2003).
Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1915, Johnstone earned both an A.B. and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. He received an LL.M from Cornell in 1941, and a J.S.D. from Yale Law School in 1951.
Johnstone worked in a private law practice in Chicago for a year before serving as an Enforcement Attorney in the U.S. Office of Price Administration in the 1940s. Johnstone's law teaching career began in 1947 at Willamette University Law School as an assistant professor. He was named an associate professor at University of Kansas in 1950, and remained there for five years. His tenure at Yale Law School began in 1955 as a visiting professor. Between 1956 and 1959, he served as an associate professor, and in 1959 he was elevated to professor at YLS. In 1964, Johnstone was named Yale Law School’s Justus S. Hotchkiss professor of law. He earned emeritus status in 1985. Johnstone is credited with helping to pioneer the development of the land use finance seminars in the Yale curriculum.
Johnstone’s academic influence reached across the globe to Ethiopia, where he was a co-founder of the Haile Selassie I University Law School (now Addis Ababa University School of Law), serving as its dean from 1967 to 1969; this was the first and is the most influential law school in Ethiopia. From 1985 to 2000, he also was a professor at New York Law School and became professor emeritus in 2000.
Johnstone served on the Connecticut Law Tribune’s editorial board from its inception in 1987 until just a few years ago. In honor of his service, the newspaper awarded its Service to the Profession Award to Johnstone in 2011 and also renamed the award the Quintin Johnstone Service to the Profession Award in his honor.
Johnstone was an active member of both the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) and the Connecticut Bar Foundation (CBF). Johnstone had served on the CBA’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, and was a multi-decade member of the Standing Committee on Professional Ethics, on which he was still serving at the time of his death. He received the CBA’s John Eldred Shields Distinguished Professional Service Award in 1996. Just this past spring, the CBA awarded its Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award to Johnstone.
Johnstone served on the Board of the Connecticut Bar Foundation for more than 30 years, and as its President from 1987 to 1991. In 2008, the Bar Foundation presented its inaugural Distinguished Service Award to Johnstone.
“One of the primary ways that Quintin has embodied the ideal of professional responsibility is through his remarkable service on the Board of the Connecticut Bar Foundation,” Yale Law School Professor Kate Stith said in remarks at the Bar Foundation ceremony honoring Johnstone in 2008. “As President he led the effort to transform IOLTA from a voluntary to a mandatory program, in order to provide much greater funding for the Legal Services programs in the State. That effort was controversial both in the legislature and among members of the bar. But Quintin steered us clear to success. There was simply no arguing with his forthrightness or with his central claim: legal services to the poor was grossly underfunded; the federal government was reducing its commitment to that cause; and it would be unconscionable if Connecticut, a pioneer in providing legal services to the poor, did not step up to the plate,” Stith said.
In a 2011 Connecticut Law Tribune article, Sandra Klebanoff, executive director of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, called Johnstone, “a fierce defender of the need for pro bono legal services for the poor.”
Johnstone was predeceased by his wife, Nancy. He is survived by two children, Robert Dale Johnstone and Katherine Mary Johnstone.
In 1985, Johnstone entered emeritus status at Yale Law School (though he continued to teach until 2011). At the time of his retirement in 1985, The Yale Law Journal published tributes to Johnstone, which can be read here. Memorial gifts may be directed to the Quintin Johnstone Scholarship Fund and mailed to: Yale Law School Fund, PO Box 208341, New Haven, CT 06520-8341.