At the 2011 annual meeting of the American Bar Association in Toronto, James A. Henderson Jr. was given the Robert B. McKay Law Professor Award, which recognizes lawyers committed to the advancement of justice and scholarship in the fields of tort and insurance law. Henderson, who has been the Frank B. Ingersoll Professor of Law since 1984, has testified numerous times before congressional committees and is currently a special master in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
"I'm flattered," says Henderson, who plans to retire from teaching at the end of 2012. "This career in law has been a remarkable journey, with one foot in academia and the other in real world litigation, and as I come to the end of my years in the classroom, it's particularly gratifying to receive this award."
"Jim Henderson is an enormously influential torts scholar and richly deserving of this award," said Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. "He has been a leader as a teacher, casebook author, scholar, and public servant. As a fellow Torts teacher, I have learned much from him, as have countless others."
Before coming to Cornell, Henderson was a law clerk for Judge Warren L. Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and a faculty member at Boston University School of Law, the University of Colorado, and the University of Virginia. In 2006, he and Aaron Twerski were appointed special masters to U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who is responsible for adjudicating more than 10,000 individual cases of personal injury filed by first responders to the World Trade Center collapse. After helping reach a settlement of most of the tort claims, which he calls "fair and equitable," Henderson expects to complete the mastership within a year or so, when he will return to Florida and enter the next phase of his career, engaging in legal consulting, including special mastering and continuing to publish academic work.
"I met Bob McKay when I first started teaching, back in the Sixties," says Henderson. "I attended a seminar that he directed for new law professors, and I found him to be very kind, thoughtful, and supportive. The last thing he said to me was that he expected our paths to cross again one day, but I never dreamed it would happen like this, with an award in his name."