BTB Amar1

University of Illinois College of Law Dean Vikram Amar, second from left, talks with students at the law school in Champaign.

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The best boss UI College of Law Dean VIKRAM AMAR ever had was known for being a great listener and an even better writer.

You may be familiar with Harry Blackmun’s most famous work — a 1973 opinion known as Roe v. Wade — which he authored on behalf of his six fellow Supreme Court justices in the majority.

“Even if I didn’t always agree with his decisions,” says Amar, who clerked for Blackmun during the High Court’s 1989-90 term, “I never doubted that he cared deeply about, and listened carefully to, all interested parties.”

August will mark five years on the job as dean for Amar, whose path to Illinois included a seven-year run as associate law dean at UC-Davis.

The Cal-Berkeley and Yale Law grad took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 10th installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting local leaders of organizations big and small.

I’m frugal in that ... I have always taken to heart Ben Franklin’s observation that a penny saved is a penny earned.

My philosophy on meetings is ... that they are a necessary evil, and in hindsight are often more worth the time they take than anticipated.

The hardest thing about being a leader is ... saying ‘no’ to people you like and respect simply because of conflicting demands or resource constraints.

My single favorite moment of all-time in this job was ... finding out that the law school’s efforts to help a student — who had some difficulties from the past — become admitted as a licensed attorney were successful.

The worst job I ever had was ... helping put in new lawns during a summer of high school. Had to break a lot of rocks in the soil of northern California.

I can’t live without my ... iPhone — what else? — and my family and friends. And my ideas.

My one unbreakable rule for employees is ... we must try to help each other and think of the academic unit as a team.

The last luxury I indulged in was ... taking an Alaskan cruise — my first cruise ever — a few summers ago.

I’m up and at ’em every day by ... 5 a.m. — unless I’m on vacation.

As far as my exercise routine goes ... when I’m not on the road — and even then, if there is a decent hotel fitness room — I try to get to the gym five to six times a week, with some cardio almost every session and lifting thrice per week.

The next big thing in my line of work is ... how technology will interact with the legal profession and also change the nature of the most pressing questions that the law will need to address.