After 50 years with the same employer, Alan Dershowitz is nearing retirement. By his count, he's had 10,000 students, and they include some of the leaders of the world, although not one who, despite becoming editor of the law review, was denied access to his enrollment. Dershowitz told me recently he will always remember fondly using the Socratic method in criminal law classes, where, in any given 90-minute lecture, he'd call on about 40 students out of 150 assembled.
"No answer is right," he said. "I'd go from student to student. I knew my students very well and knew what their positions essentially would be so I knew who to call on to get a good, provocative discussion going."
Judging from those whom he's instructed over the years, he had a wealth of choices. Recently, I asked him for a sound bite on some of the better known.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas): "Off-the-charts brilliant. And you know, liberals make the terrible mistake, including some of my friends and colleagues, of thinking that all conservatives are dumb. And I think one of the reasons that conservatives have been beating liberals in the courts and in public debates is because we underestimate them. Never underestimate Ted Cruz. He is off-the-charts brilliant. I don't agree with his politics."