SAN FRANCISCO — The venerable Hastings College of Law will let lawyer E. Robert Wallach, indicted in the Wedtech scandal, keep the title of "dean" of one of the school's most prestigious programs, at least for now, the school's board of trustees said Friday.
But even as the trustees met, an advertisement for the College of Advocacy summer seminars was in the mail to 130,000 lawyers across the country listing Wallach not as dean but as one of 29 members of the program's advisory board.
When a staff member pointed out the deletion to Wallach after Friday's decision by the trustees, the attorney said, "That's something they should not have done."
Ordered Title Omitted
Daniel Lathrop, acting dean of the law school, directed that Wallach's title be omitted after concluding that the law school's bylaws did not allow such a title to be conferred. Lathrop also discovered that Wallach's appointment as "dean" was to have been for only one academic term, in 1981 and 1982.
Former Hastings Dean Bert S. Prunty bestowed the title on Wallach in 1981.
"I don't know what the authority was," Lathrop said, adding that the dean of the law school itself has "complete authority and responsibility for that program."
Wallach, who received no pay for his Hastings work, has been listed since 1981 in law school literature as dean of the Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy, also known as the College of Advocacy. The program, a series of tax-deductable seminars, is designed to help attorneys hone their skills. In the program, accomplished attorneys and state and federal judges teach the latest meanderings of the law or how to sway juries with the newest techniques.
Indicted in New York
Last December, as Lathrop looked into the center's operation, Wallach, 53, was indicted in New York on fraud and conspiracy charges alleging that he took payments from the Bronx-based Wedtech defense contractor in exchange for influencing government officials, including U.S. Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III, a friend from their law school days.
Wallach has pleaded not guilty. With the indictment and other investigations, the question of the title may be the least of Wallach's concerns. But Wallach and his attorney, George Walker, are much concerned about damage to his reputation.
Wallach's role in the program is an important part of his reputation. He has talked with pride in newspaper interviews about his unpaid work at the center, and has cited the title, "dean," on his resume and other writings.
"I accepted the title in good faith on the premise it would enhance the center," Wallach said after Friday's meeting. He added that he will continue to work at the center, regardless of the title.
Can Retain Title
The law school's Board of Trustees on Friday said Wallach could retain the title of "dean" for at least another month, while Lathrop comes up with a recommendation for selecting members of the program's advisory board, and what titles to confer upon them. The advisory board, led by Wallach, selects teachers and curriculum for the seminar.
Harold Dobbs, chairman of the board of trustees, said the question of whether to remove Wallach's title was not intended as "an affront to Mr. Wallach."
"Mr. Wallach has done a great deal in the past. I hope he will continue in any way he can," Dobbs said.