Louis J. Sirico Jr., a professor of legal writing at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and a longtime member of The Legal’s editorial board, died Dec. 26 of cancer at age 73.
Sirico was a nationally recognized figure in the field of legal writing. He taught courses in Advanced Legal Writing, Property, Land Use Planning, and a legal history course on the drafting of the Constitution and Bill of Rights as a faculty member of Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law since 1981.
Sirico was fondly remembered by his colleagues on the editorial board for both his insight and demeanor.
Peter F. Vaira, a former U.S. attorney and currently special counsel at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores, lauded Sirico for his practical insights when it came to legal theory.
“I always remember him as being practical,” Vaira said. “He did not act like a law professor. He had a very balanced approach to legal issues, especially in issues of professional responsibility.”
“He was especially good at judging the conduct of criminal justice attorneys,” Vaira continued.
Vaira added that Sirico was devoted to his students and took an interest in their success.
Former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Albert Dandridge also worked with Sirico on the editorial board.
Dandridge said he met Sirico through his uncle, a Philadelphia common pleas court judge.
“He was a great guy and a gentleman,” Dandridge said.
Hank Grezlak, ALM’s editor-in-chief of legal brands and themes, was the editor-in-chief of The Legal when Sirico served on the editorial board.
“Lou was a valuable member of The Legal Intelligencer’s editorial board,” Grezlak said. “He was smart, measured, and always had good insight. Sometimes if the discussions got a little heated, his was the calming voice. His sense of timing was impeccable. He had a knack for weighing in with a really pointed observation at the right time. And he had a sly sense of humor. He will be greatly missed.”
According to his Villanova University biography, Sirico was the founding editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Criminal Law and an associate editor of the Texas Law Review. Before joining the university faculty he worked as an attorney with multiple public interest organizations, including the National Public Interest Research Group in Washington, D.C., Fairfield County (Connecticut) Legal Services and the Connecticut Citizens Action Group in Hartford. Sirico was also a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association and Connecticut Bar Association.
Sirico was a recipient of the Thomas Blackwell Award, given by the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors for demonstrating an “outstanding contribution to improve the field of legal writing by demonstrating an ability to nurture and motivate students to excellence; a willingness to help other legal writing educators improve their teaching skills or their legal writing programs; and an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.”
Sirico is survived by his wife of 34 years, Patricia T. Brennan, and their daughters, Laura and Kathleen Sirico, as well as his siblings. A memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the campus of Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova.