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Message from the Board of Advisors Chair

Robert Hallenbeck
Robert Hallenbeck L'83

Dear Alumni and Friends of the College of Law,

As the new Chair of the Board of Advisors, this is my first opportunity to write to all of you who have made generous contributions of your time, talent, and treasure in support of the College of Law. On behalf of the College and the Board, I want to thank each of you for that support. Your contributions helped the College achieve remarkable goals over the past year. Your continued support will help the College to reach even greater goals in the coming years.

As part of the University’s overall strategic plan, the College of Law, under Dean Boise’s leadership, has articulated and is focused on three strategic pillars: student experience, discovery, and academic innovation. These initiatives build-up from the solid core of the College, which is defined by a remarkable faculty and staff who are dedicated to providing an outstanding learning experience for our students; world-renowned research centers and institutes; hands-on clinical programs and externships that provided our students with practical experiences that cannot be achieved the classroom; a nationally recognized Advocacy Program; and a world-class teaching and learning facility in Dineen Hall.

The Board—along with many of you—works to support all of these programs and initiatives in an effort to help train and graduate outstanding lawyers.

This Fall I had the opportunity to attend Convocation, where the Dean, University Provost Michele G. Wheatley, and College faculty and staff welcomed 185 students into the residential 1L class, 50 JDinteractive students, and 29 students into the LL.M. program. These students come from 178 different colleges and universities both in the US and abroad. The diverse backgrounds and experiences as well as the academic achievements of these students continue to demonstrate that the College’s national and international appeal.

The 50 JDi students matriculated in fall are in addition to the 29 online law degree program students welcomed in January 2019. JDi is the first ABA-approved, fully interactive online law degree program in the United States. This program provides a unique and rigorous legal education to students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to obtain a full legal education while being employed. As with their residential classmates, the students in the JDi program bring with them diverse experiences and perspectives that deeply enrich the educational environment.

While our incoming students have much to look forward to, our most recent graduates, who took the New York State Bar exam for the first time in July 2019, achieved an 88% pass rate, which is significantly higher than last year's first-time pass rate of 83%. Our 2019 first-time rate also surpasses the average of all New York State ABA law schools (85%) and all ABA law schools nationwide (86%). Again, these data underscore both the quality of the students graduating from the College and, importantly, the quality of the education they receive. We welcome them to the distinguished ranks of the College’s alumni who continue to make a profound and meaningful impact in the practice of law and throughout our society.

As I reflect on my first year as Chair, I am mindful of the time and effort that my fellow Board members contribute to the College. As advisors to the Dean, our role is to provide insight and viewpoints on how law is being practiced now and how it may be practiced in the future, as well as to support the training of College of Law students.

Our efforts are in addition to the good work that the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association (SULAA) has been doing for alumni throughout the United States. SULAA has been instrumental in connecting alumni in different regions of the country, organizing continued legal education efforts, and recognizing the achievements of some of our most distinguished alumni. If you have not had the opportunity to attend the College’s annual Law Alumni Weekend and its Law Honors Awards Program, I encourage you to do so.

I want to recognize one alum in particular: Marc Malfitano. Marc served as the Chair of the Board from 2008 to 2019, and he has been deeply engaged in all aspects of the College. For instance, he has served as an adjunct faculty member, teaching real estate and business law, since 1997; he was an integral part of the design and fundraising efforts for Dineen Hall, and he served on the search committee that hired Dean Boise. The College and the Board would not be where they are today without Marc’s efforts.

As alumni and friends of the College of Law, we can take pride in what has been accomplished and in the support that all of us—individually and collectively—have given to make our College what it is today. I encourage you to read through this Giving Book and to be inspired by what has been done. Thank you for being part of those efforts, and I look forward to continuing this journey with you.

With gratitude,

Robert M. Hallenbeck L’83