In Memoriam: Marshall Shapo, J.D.'64

Miami Law alumnus Marshall Shapo passed away in November at the age of 87. He was a nationally recognized authority on torts and products liability law.
In Memoriam: Marshall Shapo, J.D.'64
Marshall Shapo

Marshall Shapo passed away in November at the age of 87. He was nationally recognized and respected in the academic world, particularly in the concentrations of torts and products liability. He brought great recognition and respect to Miami Law.

Marshall grew up in Miami. He initially was a history professor, having received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Miami in history, summa cum laude, and his Master’s degree from Harvard University. He taught history at UM for a year before deciding to attend Miami Law. While at UM Law, Marshall served as Editor in Chief of University of Miami Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. He returned to Harvard University for an LLM and later earned his Doctorate in law from Harvard. He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Miami and the William L. Prosser Award of the Tort and Compensation Systems section of the Association of American Law Schools.  

 Marshall’s area of expertise was products liability because he cared deeply about the importance of safety in a wide range of products and procedures that impacted people. He first taught at the University of Texas alongside Professor W. Page Keeton, with whom he also co-authored a torts textbook. After teaching at UT, he spent several years at the University of Virginia where he taught with Antonin Scalia, and they remained friends throughout Scalia’s service as a justice of the United States Supreme Court. He then served as a chaired professor at Northwestern Law School, where he taught for over forty years. During his tenure at Northwestern, Marshall was a visiting professor at Cambridge and Oxford as well as in Germany and gave lectures in several countries, including Japan, Spain, and Portugal. He also appeared in Congress several times to testify on legislation dealing with products liability.

Marshall was a genuine “scholar,” in the purest sense of the word. He enjoyed learning for its own sake and for the knowledge and ideas which he could use in his classrooms and in his writing.  He was a passionate teacher and enjoyed all its roles, from performance in the classroom to the give and take with students during lectures. Marshall published many books and papers on various tort and product liability issues,  as well as on a number of other topics of current importance.  He also co-authored Law School without Fear with his wife, Helene, who was also a professor at Northwestern. He set an unparalleled standard for excellence and had a strong sense of integrity that was one of the guideposts that governed his life.

The enjoyment and pride Marshall derived from his work was matched, and perhaps exceeded, by the enjoyment and pride he took from Helene, his children, and his grandchildren. He was totally devoted to his family, and he and Helene raised two tremendously accomplished sons—one in the field of law, and the other as an engineer/physicist.

 Not only did UM set Marshall on his path to success, it also brought him Helene, whom he met when she was visiting the school. Outside of his career, Marshall was an avid sports fan all his life who especially loved baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies. His brother Ron, also an honors graduate of both UM and Miami Law and an accomplished practitioner now serving as a mediator, embraced the love of the Phillies and subscribed to an approach which encompassed much of the way Marshall lived his life. When asked about how he achieved his success, Marshall said: “A lot of it was by accident and luck, but chance favors the prepared mind, and that is what I try to do in whatever I have undertaken—be prepared.” Marshall will be dearly missed by the Miami Law community and by everyone who knew him.