The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

In Memoriam: Dmitry Karshtedt (1977-2022)

A profound loss to the IP community and the world


As many found out by yesterday, my dear friend and beloved IP scholar Dmitry Karshtedt has left us. Dmitry died at his DC apartment over the weekend. His accomplishments and accolades are many, from having recently obtained tenure at GW to being one of few law professors with a PhD in chemistry to regularly publishing important work in top-notch law journals. As he delightfully summarized here himself during his graduate school days, his interests also spanned many subjects and pursuits outside of the law, including chess, ping-pong, literature, and music.

We bonded over the similarities in our cultural backgrounds that only a handful of us share(d) in our field, but also over how much we enjoyed talking about so many different topics. On average, we spoke every few days, though not always in agreement. While recent years tore at us in terms of ideological disputes, I never doubted his loyalty as a friend and I suspect he never doubted mine.

Dmitry could go from intensely debating legal and other subjects to socializing and celebrating life with unmatched laughter and enthusiasm. Together with our other friends, we got to partake in meals, dances, concerts, birthday events, and much more. We last messaged a couple of days before his death, and last spoke on the phone in September. Due to the pandemic, I had not seen him in person for several years, and it is hard to believe that I never will again.

A person of infinite patience, Dmitry didn't just read and comment on papers for so many of us: he would go over (many!) drafts in a single day if necessary and would discuss a single sentence or word for ages until it was just so. He never made people feel stupid for asking even basic questions, and he genuinely didn't care at what rank school anyone worked (as well as whether an individual was in academia at all) or what he could get in return for helping someone.

Since finding out on Sunday night, I remain in shock over his passing and keep wanting to message him while having to remind myself that I can't. My heart especially breaks for his parents and brothers, whom he all loved so much and with whom he was pursuing many facets of the American dream.

While his official cause of death has not been determined, Dmitry's loss has inevitably sparked (overdue) conversations about mental health in our profession. These conversations will hopefully continue more openly in the days and years to come, because each one of us is irreplaceable. Dmitry certainly is to me.