WHEN Simon Smith first met Susan Campbell, she was dressed in black and was smoking a cigarillo.
"She had a presence when she came into the room," he remembers fondly.
The pair first met at Monash University where they both taught law until Professor Campbell's death last year.
To commemorate her contributions to the university's law program and its legal centres, Monash is establishing a future fund and the Susan Campbell visiting professorial fellowship.
Professor Campbell came to Monash in 1980 after teaching at the Melbourne University Law School.
"She was a formidable lawyer," Dr Smith says.
"Her commitment was to people law. Not so much acting for banks and insurance companies but for people at the defensive end of the law; the people who get the dirty letters from
solicitors and summonses from the police. Sue was one of the lawyers who helped them tell their story to the courts."
Professor Campbell taught at the Monash Legal Centre in Springvale, where law students were given hands-on experience in the field.
"Sue was really at the start of legal centres in Australia. Springvale was arguably the first legal centre in Australia through the Monash connection," Dr Smith says.
"She was right there at the ground and helping them get established. And now there are hundreds of legal centres all over Australia."
She also taught first-year students.
"Teachers in your first year can make or break you really as to what your interests are.
"She instilled in many of them that the law was not just about making money. It was also about making a contribution back.
"Now, throughout Australia, there are many, many former students who are doing that above and beyond their normal job."
Of the 84 lawyers to be admitted to the bar in 1967, Professor Campbell was one of only five women.
"The law and law schools in that era were very blokey. By comparison, today more than 50 per cent of graduates are women. She was just ahead of her time."
A fund-raiser is being held this week at the St Kilda Town Hall and will be attended by the who's who of the Victorian legal profession, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Marilyn Warren, seven County Court judges, five Supreme Court judges and 30 magistrates - most of whom Professor Campbell taught.