Shari Diamond


Message from Shari Diamond

I looked up to Dawn Clark Netsch for 40 years. My admiration began long before I joined the Northwestern Law faculty. Dawn was running for the Illinois State Senate in the early 1970s, and it was clear that she would be a breath of fresh air in Illinois politics. She was the first political candidate I ever worked for; I went door to door canvassing for her and was elated when she won. She was inspiring throughout her government service—always a statesperson rather than a politician.

Later on when I came to Northwestern, I got to see Dawn in her law professor role. Not only was she a great colleague, she was also the high point of any occasion that called for a Northwestern Law tale. Each entering class had the opportunity to hear her describe—with humor of course—key events in Northwestern Law’s history from 1949, when she arrived as a student (although she didn’t mention it, she graduated first in her class), to recent times. It was a highlight that every student remembers. And just by being Dawn, she showed every student a role model of what an attorney can be. By example, she also showed her faculty colleagues what a law professor can contribute inside and outside the classroom.

My most recent chance to learn from Dawn occurred in 2010, and it again demonstrated her zest for using law to improve government, as well as why she had earned a reputation as a “straight shooter.” Dawn was cohosting a campaign event for Sheila Simon, who was running for lieutenant governor. I attended the event and made a contribution, as much in honor of my colleague Dawn as of the candidate. I received my uncashed check back in the mail a week later, to my chagrin. I called the campaign to find out what the problem was and learned that the contribution could not be accepted because an attorney in my husband’s law firm had applied for some state business. The new ethics rules therefore prohibited my personal contribution. I told Dawn what had happened, expecting her to share my consternation. Instead, her eyes twinkled, and she expressed delight that the new ethics rules she had helped to write were actually being followed!

— Shari Diamond