Veteran, Lawyer, Five Decades of Teaching: LSU's Bill Crawford

BATON ROUGE - At 89 years young, James J. Bailey Professor of Law and Director of the Louisiana Law Institute Bill Crawford, isn’t letting his age slow him down.

"I’m gonna teach ‘til they carry me out,” Crawford said.

Crawford has been teaching at LSU for more than five decades. His lengthy career path started as a senior in high school, when he was drafted into the military.

“I had to be deferred from the draft in order to graduate. But I was caught in the last draft for World War II.” 

After serving in the military, he headed to college.

“I came straight out of service, still in uniform, I enrolled at LSU,” Crawford said.

He was only one year away from graduating when he made the decision to switch majors.

“I heard the courses I would have to take and major in and said that’s not for me. I don’t know what reason it was, I really don’t, that made me say I’m going to take my final year in law,” said Crawford.

He graduated from LSU in 1951. And once again, the military called. 


LSU law professor Bill Crawford has been teaching at LSU for more than 50 years. Photo Credit: LSU

“I received my orders to report for Korea, so off I went for two years,” said Crawford. “Having a year of law school, they gave me the job as being prosecutor, in the AWOL violations. I tried 85 AWOL cases and won every one of them.” 

That experience led him back to Baton Rouge, to attend LSU’s law school. Crawford said during that time, the law school was composed of mainly military veterans. Crawford was editor-in-chief of the law review, “which gave me pretty good standing in the school.”

He remembers the year he was sworn in and able to practice law: February 1955. He was also sworn into the federal bar. Crawford said he spent the next 10 years practicing law in New Orleans when he had an epiphany.

“I said to myself, is this what I want to do the rest of my life? At that point, the phone rang on my desk and it was Dean Hebert,” Crawford said. “I turned out Dean Hebert had his eye on me and he was concerned after 10 years in practice, I would be out of reach for him. But it wasn’t so. I came back to the law school.”

The rest is history. If you ask Crawford why he has been teaching for so long, he admits he’s unable to put it into words.

“I don’t have an explanation for that. You’d have to ask a bunch of other law professors,” said Crawford. “I by and large enjoy taking a subject and reducing it to its essential and relaying that to the class. I can’t imagine having done anything else.”




Contact Rachel Spangenthal
LSU Media Relations





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