Professor Harold G. Maier, 1937-2014

Harold G. (Hal) Maier, a renowned scholar of international law, died August 24 following a long illness. Professor Maier spent his entire academic career at Vanderbilt Law School. He was 77.

Harold Maier
Harold Maier

Maier was an internationally recognized authority on the application of United States regulatory legislation to foreign business activity. Over the course of his distinguished career, he worked on advanced research at the Brookings Institution and the Max-Planck Institute in Munich, Germany, and was a visiting professor at Pepperdine University, the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Georgia. He served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of International Law and the American Journal of Comparative Law. In 1983–84, he was counselor on international law to the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, and on several occasions he testified before congressional committees and as an expert witness in domestic courts.

Maier founded the student-edited Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law in 1967 and served as its faculty adviser until his retirement in 2006. He was appointed the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Professor of Law in 1988. He was a co-author of Public International Law in a Nutshell (with Thomas Buergenthal, West Publishing) and dozens of journal articles and book chapters, some written in German, which he spoke fluently.

“Hal was a giant in his field and on Vanderbilt’s campus,” said Dean Chris Guthrie. “He played a crucial role in building the law school’s leading international program.”

Hired in 1965 to develop Vanderbilt’s international law program, Maier sought to establish a program to train students interested in an international legal practice and to enable scholarship in international legal studies that would also appeal to a broader base of students. With few resources other than his formidable intellect and force of will, Maier helped form the student International Law Society as well the Journal of Transnational Law, and used these early successes to establish a firm foundation for future growth of international studies at Vanderbilt. Maier was beloved for his pointed and erudite sense of humor. During his tenure as Faculty Senate chair, he communicated with his colleagues by publishing regular installments of “Thoughts of Chairman Maier.” In Maier, students encountered the embodiment of the stereotypical absent-minded professor, as described by Paul Kurtz ’72, now J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Georgia Law School. “Clad in a white shirt and oh-so-narrow ties, which he constantly seemed to be adjusting, Professor Maier was one of those teachers who wandered around the front of the classroom,” Kurtz recalled. “It was always a conversation, not a performance.”

Maier earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Cincinnati, graduating from law school Order of the Coif and serving as editor-in-chief of the Cincinnati Law Review. He also earned an LL.M. at the University of Michigan.He is survived by his two sons, Marc and Kurt, and their families. The family has asked that contributions be directed to Vanderbilt Law School in memory of Professor Maier.


Fall 2014 Vanderbilt Law Magazine