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Do You Remember? Help Us Caption Our Mystery Photos!

The College of Law’s photo archive is a fascinating visual history of your alma mater, full of nostalgia, anecdotes—and a few mysteries. That is, some of our prints and slides lack information or captions.

That’s where you come in. In this feature, we challenge you to help us recall the people and scenes in our mystery photos. For our new mystery, we’ve unearthed a fascinating photo, or what actually appears to be a tearsheet from a publication. 

Possibly a classroom scene from White or MacNaughton halls, there is no information accompanying this tearsheet, so if you know the names of any of the students pictured and/or when the photo was taken, please email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@syr.edu, and we’ll publish what we discover in a future issue and on our social media.

Our Back Bages for Yearbook 2021

Faculty Publications

Discover faculty research at papers.ssrn.com.

Hon. James E. Baker

Professor of  Law

Director, Institute for Security Policy and Law Professor of Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (by courtesy appointment)

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

From Shortages to Stockpiles: How the Defense Production Act Can Be Used to Save Lives, Make America the Global Arsenal of Public Health, and Address the Security Challenges Ahead, 11 J. NAT’L DEC. L. & POL’Y 157 (2020).

Leadership in a Time of Pandemic: Act Well the Given Part, 11 J. NAT’L DEC. L. & POL’Y 1 (2020).

Reports, News, and Commentary

Ethics and Artificial Intelligence: A Policymaker’s Introduction, CSET POLICY BRIEF (Ctr. for Sec. & Emerging Tech, Walsh Sch. of Foreign Serv., Georgetown Univ.),  Apr. 2021.

A DPA for the 21st Century: Securing America’s AI National Security Innovation Base, CSET POLICY BRIEF (Ctr. for Sec. & Emerging Tech, Walsh Sch. of Foreign Serv., Georgetown Univ.), Apr. 2021. 

Good Governance Paper No. 21: Obedience to Orders, Lawful Orders, and the Military’s Constitutional Compact, JUST SECURITY, Nov. 2, 2020.

Kristen Barnes

Associate Dean for Faculty Research

Professor of Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Reframing Housing: Incorporating Public Law Principles into Private Law, 31 DUKE J. COMP. & INT’L L. 91 (2020).

The Pieces of Housing Integration, 70 CASE W. RES. L. R. 717 (2020).

Todd A. Berger

Professor of Law

Director, Advocacy Programs

Director, Philly Ex

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Male Legal Educators Cannot Teach Women How to Practice “Gender Judo”: The Need to Critically Re-Assess Current Pedagogicwal Approaches for Teaching Trial Advocacy, 45 J. LEGAL PROFESSION 1 (2020).

Peter D. Blanck

University Professor 

Chairman, Burton Blatt Institute

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Thirty Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Law Students and Lawyers as Plaintiffs and Advocates , 45 NEW YORK UNIVERSITY REVIEW OF LAW & SOCIAL CHANGE/THE HARBINGER 8 (2021).

Disability Inclusive Employment and the Accommodation Principle: Emerging Issues in Research, Policy, and Law, 30 J. OCCUPATIONAL REHABILITATION 505 (2020). 

Gig Workers with Disabilities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Regulatory Response (with Paul Harpur), 30 J. OCCUPATIONAL REHABILITATION 511, (2020). 

Diversity and Inclusion in the American Legal Profession: Workplace Accommodations for Lawyers with Disabilities and Lawyers Who Identify as LGBTQ+ (with Fitore 

Hysein & Fatma Altunkol Wise), 30 J. OCCUPATIONAL REHABILITATION 537 (2020). 

Before the Accommodation Principle: Disability and Employment Among Union Army Veterans (with Larry Logue), 30 J. OCCUPATIONAL REHABILITATION 565 (2020). 

California’s Response to the Status of Gig Workers with Disabilities: An Update (with Paul Harpur), 30 J. OCCUPATIONAL REHABILITATION 689 (2020). 

Diversity and Inclusion in the American Legal Profession: First Phase Findings from a National Study of Lawyers with Disabilities and Lawyers Who Identify as LGBTQ+, (with Ynesse Abdul-Malak, Meera Adya, Fitore Hyseni, Mary Killeen, and Fatma Altunkol Wise) 23 UDC/DCSL L. REV. 23 (2020). 

Doron Dorfman

Associate Professor of Law

Book Chapters

The Universal View of Disability and its Danger to the Civil Rights Model, in DEFINING THE BOUNDARIES OF DISABILITY: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES (Licia Carlson & Matthew Murray, eds.) (2021).

Treatment of Disability Under Crisis Standards of Care: An Empirical and Normative Analysis of Change Over Time During COVID-19 (with Ari Ne’eman, Michael Ashley Stein & Zackary D. Berger), J. HEALTH POL. POL’Y & L. (Mar. 2020).

Book Reviews


Reports, News, and Commentary

Mask Exemptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic—A New Frontier for Clinicians (with Mical Raz), 1 JAMA HEALTH FORUM (July 2020).

Opinion, How an Unexpected Collaboration Led Utah to Amend its Discriminatory Triage Plan, THE HILL (Aug. 28, 2020).

Opinion, Thirty Years Later, Still Fighting Over the ADA (with Thomas F. Burke), REGUL. REV. (Dec. 7, 2020).

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

The Professionalization of Urban Accessibility (with Mariela Yabo), 47 FORDHAM URB. L.J. 1213 (2020).

Disability Rights as a Necessary Framework for Crisis Standards of Care and the Future of Health Care (with others), 50 HASTINGS CENTER REP. 28 (2020).

Reweighing Medical Civil Rights (with Rabia Belt), 72 STAN. L. REV. ONLINE 176 (July 2020).

David M. Driesen

University Professor

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

The Unitary Executive Theory in Comparative Context, 72 HASTINGS L.J. 1 (2020).

Implied Presidential and Congressional Powers (with William C. Banks), 41 CARDOZO L. REV. 1301 (2020).

Reports, News, and Commentary  

Opinion, How Science Will Save the World, Dec. 16, 2020, THE HILL (Dec. 16, 2020)

Opinion, How Private Companies Could Step Up to Help Save Our Election (with Eric W. Orts & George Aposporos), THE HILL (Aug. 25, 2020).

Opinion, This Election Is About the Survival of Our Democracy, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, July 26, 2020, at E1. 

Opinion, The Seila Law Case: Liberty and Political Firing, THE HILL (July 1, 2020).

Trump’s Quislings, HIST. NEWS NETWORK (Apr. 26, 2020).

Book Review


Ian Gallacher

Professor of Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Here’s Tae Us, Wha’s Like Us: Some Thoughts on the Future of Legal Writing in American Law Schools, 24 J. LEGAL WRITING INST.29 (2020). 

Shubha Ghosh

Crandall Melvin Professor of Law

Director, Syracuse Intellectual Property Law Institute

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Myriad Post-Myriad, 47 SCI. & PUB. POL’Y 638 2021). 

Do the Games Never End? 71 FLA. L. REV. F. 76 (2020).

The Elusive Quest for Digital Exhaustion in the US and the EU: The CJEU’s Tom Kabinet Ruling a Milestone or Millstone for Legal Evolution?, 8 HUNG. YB INT’L L. & EUR. L. 249 (2020).

A Revolution Ignored?, 65 ANTITRUST BULL. 606 (2020).

Book Review

Recognizing and Correcting a Discrepancy, JOTWELL 


Lauryn P. Gouldin 

Crandall Melvin Professor of Law

Director, Syracuse Civics Initiative

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Reforming Pretrial Decision-making, 55 WAKE FOREST L. REV. 857 (2020). 

Reports, News, and Commentary

Opinion, Why Is There Over-Policing for Low-Level Offenses?, THE HILL (Apr. 23, 2021).

Roy Gutterman

Director, Tully Center for Free Speech

Associate Professor, Newhouse School

Professor of Law (by courtesy appointment)

Reports, News, and Commentary

Assaults on Press Freedom, Here and Abroad, Endanger Democracy, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, April 30, 2021.

Is Election Disinformation Free Speech or Defamation? Courts Will Decide, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, February 26, 2021 at E1. 

Biden Must Swiftly Restore Press Freedom, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, December 13, 2020 at E1.

The Right to Vote Is “the Essence of a Democratic Society.” Exercise it., SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, October 25, 2020 at E1.

Advice for Individuals, Not Governments, to Safeguard Free Speech, WASH. POST, August 2, 2020 at B6.

Trump, Twitter and the Distraction of Censorship Order Likely Violates First Amendment and Contradicts His New Neutrality Policy, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, May 31, 2020 at E3.

Book Review


Paula C. Johnson

Professor of Law

Co-Director, Cold Case Justice Initiative

Reports, News, and Commentary

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian Made an Impact on SU, Too, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, July 19, 2020 at B4.

Arlene S. Kanter

Laura J. & L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence

Professor of Law

Director, Disability Law and Policy Program

Faculty Director of International Programs

Professor of Disability Studies, School of Education (by courtesy appointment) 

Reports, News, and Commentary 

Individuals with Disabilities Are not “Them,” They Are “Us,” SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, December 3, 2020 at A19.

Religious Freedom Is No Reason to Deny People with Disabilities the Right to Equality in the Workplace, THE HILL (July 26, 2020).

Turning Their Back on People with Disabilities in the Name of Religious Freedom, JURIST (July 26, 2020). 

Can Faculty Be Forced Back on Campus?: Several Covid-Related Regulations and Federal and State Laws Provide Guidance, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, June 15, 2020.

Nina A. Kohn

David M. Levy L’48 Professor of Law

Faculty Director of Online Education

Book Chapters

Fiduciary Principles in Surrogate Decision-Making, in OXFORD HANDBOOK OF FIDUCIARY LAW (R. Sitkoff et al. eds., 2019). 

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Nursing Homes, COVID-19, and the Consequences of Regulatory Failure, 110 GEO. L.J. ONLINE 1 (2021).

How the Guardianship System Can Help Address Gun Violence, 48 Supp. J. L. MED. & ETHICS 133 (2020).

Reports, News, and Commentary 

It’s Time to Care About Home Care, THE HILL (May 31, 2021).

COVID Awakened Americans to a Nursing Home Crisis. Now Comes the Hard Part, WASH. POST (Apr. 28, 2021).

Netflix’s “I Care a Lot” Should Worry You (with David M. English), THE HILL (Feb. 24, 2021).

When it Comes to Healthy Aging: Location, Location, Location (with Jennifer Goldberg), THE HILL (Oct. 15, 2020). 

Coronavirus Isolated Nursing Home Residents. Now it Might Keep Them From Voting: States Can Step in to Help, but Many Aren’t, WASH. POST (Oct. 14, 2020). 

Older Adults Are Feeling the Heat, Literally (with Karl Pillemer), THE HILL (Aug. 29, 2020). 

Come Fall, Universities Must Expand Vision: Traditional Learning Can Be Replicated Online, ALBANY TIMES UNION (June 6, 2020). 

Nursing Homes Need Increased Staffing, not Legal Immunity (with Jessica L. Roberts), THE HILL (May 23, 2020). 

Move Class Online ... But Do it Right, SYRACUSE.COM (Mar. 19, 2020).

Robin Paul Malloy

Ernest I. White Chair and Distinguished Professor of Law Kauffman Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director, Center on Property, Citizenship, and Social  Entrepreneurism

Professor of Economics, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (by courtesy appointment)

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Advancing Accessible Communities, 27 VA. J. SOC. POL’Y & L. 233 (2020). 

Mary Helen McNeal

Professor of Law

Director, Elder and Health Law Clinic

Co-Director, LondonEx

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Addressing Elder Abuse: Service Provider Perspectives on the Potential of Restorative Processes, 32 J. ELDER ABUSE & NEGLECT 357 (2020).

Elder Restorative Justice (with Maria Brown), 21 CARDOZO J. OF CONFLICT RESOL. 91 (2019).

Aliza M. Milner

Teaching Professor

Director, Legal Communication and Research

Book Chapters

Triple Step: The Choreography of Teaching Reading in the Doctrinal Classroom, in LAWYERING SKILLS IN THE DOCTRINAL CLASSROOM: USING LEGAL WRITING PEDAGOGY TO ENHANCE TEACHING ACROSS THE LAW SCHOOL CURRICULUM (Tammy Pettinato Oltz ed., 2021). 

Mark P. Nevitt

Associate Professor of Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Domestic Military Operations and the Coronavirus Pandemic, 11 J. NAT’L SEC. L. & POL’Y 107 (2020).

On Environmental Law, Climate Change, and National Security Law, 44 HARV. ENVTL. L. REV. 321 (2020).

Reports, News, and Commentary 

Should the COVID-19 Vaccine Be Required for the Military?, JUST SECURITY, Apr. 12, 2021.

Is Climate Change a National Emergency?, JUST SECURITY, Feb. 25, 2021.

Tragedy at the Capital: Four Questions That Demand Answers, JUST SECURITY, Jan. 9, 2021.

Important Context Missing from the Austin Nomination Debate, JUST SECURITY, Dec. 17, 2020.

Climate Change, National Security, and the New Commander-in-Chief, JUST SECURITY, Dec. 2, 2020.

Good Governance Paper No. 6 (Part Two): Domestic Military Operations—The Role of the National Guard, Posse Comitatus Act and More, JUST SECURITY, Oct. 21, 2020. 

Good Governance Paper No. 6 (Part One): Domestic Military Operations—Reforming the Insurrection Act, JUST SECURITY, Oct. 20, 2020.

Climate Change, Arctic Security, and Why the U.S. Should Join the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, RULE OF LAW POST (Center for Ethics & the Rule of L., U. Pa.), Sept. 30, 2020.

As Climate-Related Disasters Intensify, Retreat Emerges as Adaptation Strategy, ENERGY POLICY NOW (Podcast, Kleinman Center for Energy Pol’y, U. Pa.), Sept. 15, 2020. 

Climate Change: A Threat to International Peace and Security?, OPINIOJURIS (Int’l Comm’n of Jurists), Aug. 29, 2020.

Climate Adaptation Strategies: How Do We Manage Managed Retreat?, (Report, Kleinman Center for Energy Pol’y, U. Pa), August 2020.

Secretary Pompeo’s Surprising Defense of International Law, Allies, and the Law of the Sea Convention, JUST SECURITY, July 15, 2020.

The President and the Domestic Military Deployment of the Military: Answers to Five Key Questions, JUST SECURITY, June 2, 2020.

Michael A. Schwartz

Associate Professor of Law

Director, Disability Rights Clinic

Book Chapters 

Deaf Research Methodologies? Confronting Epistemological Silences and Challenges in Qualitative Research (with Bronagh Byrne), in SOCIAL RESEARCH AND DISABILITY: DEVELOPING INCLUSIVE RESEARCH SPACES FOR DISABLED RESEARCHERS (Ciaran Burke & Bronagh Byrne eds., 2021). 

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Enhancing Deaf People’s Access to Justice: Implementing Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (with Bronagh Byrne & Brent C. Elder), 23 SCANDINAVIAN J. DISABILITY RSCH. 74 (2021).

A. Joseph Warburton

Professor of Law

Professor of Finance, Whitman School of Management

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles

Business Development Companies: Venture Capital for Retail Investors, 76 BUSINESS LAWYER 59 (2021).

Faculty Books

Disability Law and Policy

University Professor Peter D. Blanck

West Academic, 2020
Disability Law and Policy

Disability Law and Policy provides an overview of the major themes and insights in disability law. It is also a compelling compendium of stories about how our legal system has responded to the needs of impacted individuals.  

The year 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the past three decades, disability law and policy, including the law of the ADA itself, have evolved dramatically in the United States and internationally. 

As the book illustrates, walls of inaccessibility, exclusion, segregation, stigma, and discrimination have been torn down, often brick-by-brick. But the work continues, many times led by advocates who have never known a world without the ADA and are now building on the efforts of those who came before them.

Mastering Criminal Procedure (3rd. Ed.)

Professor Sanjay K. Chhablani, et al.

Carolina Academic Press, 2020
Mastering Criminal Procedure

Mastering Criminal Procedure, Volume 1: The Investigative Stage provides a concise treatment of the relevant federal constitutional doctrines that guide and constrain interactions between the police and individuals in the investigation of criminal conduct. 

Volume 2: The Adjudicatory Stage focuses on the charging and trial process of a criminal case from the filing of charges against a defendant through the pre-trial and trial stages of the prosecution, culminating with post-conviction proceedings.

The Specter of Dictatorship: Judicial Enabling of Presidential Power

University Professor David M. Driesen

Stanford University Press, 2021
Specter of Dictatorship

In The Specter of Dictatorship, David Driesen analyzes the chief executive’s role in the democratic decline of Hungary, Poland, and Turkey and argues that an insufficiently constrained presidency is one of the most important systemic threats to democracy. 

Driesen urges the United States to learn from the mistakes of these failing democracies. Their experiences suggest, Driesen shows, that the US Supreme Court must eschew reliance on and expansion of the “unitary executive theory” and apply a less deferential approach to presidential authority, invoked to protect national security and combat emergencies, than it has in recent years. 

Ultimately, Driesen argues that concern about the loss of democracy should play a major role in jurisprudence because the loss of democracy can prove irreversible. As autocracy spreads throughout the world, maintaining democracy has become an urgent matter.

Advanced Introduction to Law and Entrepreneurship

Professor Shubha Ghosh

Edward Elgar, 2021
Law and Entrepreneurship

This Advanced Introduction considers the multiple ways in which law and entrepreneurship intertwine. It explores key areas defining the field—including lawyering, innovation policy, intellectual property, as well as economics and finance—to enhance both legal and pedagogical concepts. 

Key features include: a survey of critical scholarly articles in the field of law and entrepreneurship; analysis of challenges to legal professions in the new technological environment; and a tracing of the roots of entrepreneurship and law and the scholarly study of intellectual property.

Forgotten Intellectual Property Lore: Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Intellectual Property

Professor Shubha Ghosh (Editor)

Edward Elgar, 2020
Forgotten Intellectual Property Law

Forgotten Intellectual Property Lore explores forgotten disputes over intellectual property and the ways in which creative people and sovereigns have managed these disputes throughout the centuries. 

With a focus on reform, the book raises important questions about the resilience of legal rules and challenges the methodology behind traditional legal analyses. Focusing on lore and traditions, Shubha Ghosh brings together expert contributors who incorporate into their analyses contextual understandings that are rooted in history, sociology, political science, and literary studies. 

Real Estate (4th Ed.)

Professor Robin Paul Malloy (with James C. Smith)

Wolters Kluwer, 2021
Real Estate

Part of Wolters Kluwer’s Emanuel Law Outlines series, Real Estate offers a comprehensive study guide to a spectrum of real estate law topics, including transactions and markets; types of brokers; contracts; risk management, liability; escrow; titles and deeds; contract remedies (damages, forfeiture, slander of title, and tort); land descriptions and surveys; public land records; mortgage products and obligations; foreclosure; and commercial real estate matters. 

“May You Live in Interesting Times”

By Robert Nassau, Associate Director, Office of Clinical Legal Education, and Director, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic; and Teaching Professor

Clinic Director’s Report

Professor Robert Nassau
Professor Robert Nassau

The precise origin of the phrase “may you live in interesting times” is unknown, and it’s also unclear if it is meant as a blessing or a curse. But whether a blessing or a curse, or a little bit of both, that phrase certainly has rung true for the student attorneys and directors of the College of Law’s eight clinics during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Below, we summarize some of the amazing work performed by our student attorneys and clinic directors during these interesting and challenging times. These summaries are just the tip of the iceberg for all that we have accomplished this past year. 

And while the coronavirus pandemic has created significant obstacles, it also—as Associate Dean of Clinical and Experiential Education Deborah Kenn wrote in last year’s Clinic Director’s Report—provided teachable moments and learning opportunities that will better prepare our student attorneys for legal practice in a post-pandemic world.

Why am I writing this year’s report rather than Professor Kenn? It is because she has stepped down from her position as clinical program director due to a terminal illness diagnosis. Deb arrived at the College in the fall of 1989 when she started the Community Development Law Clinic. For the past 10 years, under her leadership as Associate Dean, the Office of Clinical Legal Education has added the Bankruptcy Clinic and the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Law Clinic, and the College dramatically expanded its experiential learning opportunities, consistent with new ABA and state requirements. 

Professor Deb Kenn
Professor Deb Kenn

On top of her leadership of the College of Law’s clinical and experiential education, Deb has taught doctrinal courses in, among other things, Animal Law, Property, and Nonprofit Organizations Law, and she led three study abroad trips to South Africa.

All of her colleagues in the Office of Clinical Legal Education will miss Deb’s camaraderie, leadership, and dedication to our clients and our students. None more than me. And more importantly, the hundreds of students whom Deb has taught, guided, and mentored over the decades will remember her fondly and gratefully throughout their careers.

To paraphrase another unattributable proverb, but one that perfectly encapsulates Deb’s tenure at the Syracuse Law: “She left it better than she found it.”

Clinic Reports

Bankruptcy Clinic

Lee Woodard
Professor Lee Woodard

Director: Adjunct Professor Lee E. Woodard

During 2020-2021, the Bankruptcy Clinic produced results for its clients despite challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Various legal aid societies and numerous other sources continued to refer clients and bankruptcy courts continued to conduct hearings and process filings virtually.

Appearing in court or at meetings of creditors virtually presented its own challenges, such as having clients sign petitions and schedules and then getting the originals filed with the court. A combination of Zoom, FaceTime, phone, e-mail, and regular mail was used, and the clinic was able to file all its cases.\

With in-person instruction starting again in fall 2021, student attorneys are looking forward to interacting with clients directly, sitting down with them to go through their financial information world and helping them create a fresh start.

Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic

Beth Kubala
Professor Beth Kubala

Executive Director: Professor Elizabeth Kubala

Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the practice of law, and student attorneys in the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic (VLC) have adapted and evolved to continue to best serve our community’s veterans.

While many courts closed or suspended operations, the US Department of Veterans Affairs continued processing disability claims, requiring students to find innovative ways to meet with clients and maintain good client relationships.

In fact, the significant shift to virtual proceedings meant increased opportunities for student attorneys to participate in hearings and appeals. And because classes were delivered virtually, the clinic was able to integrate JDinteractive students who benefited from experiential learning opportunities provided by the clinic.

Student attorneys performed a broad array of administrative and court appeals to challenge wrongful denials of federal veterans’ benefits, adapting seamlessly to the VA’s tele-hearing format and regularly appearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals.

Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic

Professor Suzette Meléndez
Professor Suzette Meléndez

Director: Professor Suzette Meléndez

Despite the pandemic—and perhaps because of it—the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic (CRC) was hard at work this past academic year with students engaged in the active representation of their clients even while the courts had to severely reduce the matters heard. 

CRC students were able to finalize an adoption for a family that had taken in a teenager after a very unstable and abusive childhood and was now adopting him as an adult after 18 years. The whole family showed up in the Zoom courtroom for the event.

The Clinic was able to process divorce matters in multiple counties. In one of our cases, we are resolving the divorce for a client experiencing debilitating PTSD, who was referred to us by the VLC. VLC Law Fellow Matthew Bulriss was a critical bridge in forming a successful attorney/client relationship. 

The CRC also helped a young mother regain significant custodial rights and parenting time for her child after the mother successfully recovered from a drug addiction that led to a jail sentence. Additionally, the CRC engaged in representations that required significant research and detailed written analysis seeking legal options for our clients about how best to move their cases forward once courts resume normal activity. 

Our clients retained us for the following matters:

  • Joint tenancy issues and options for a partition action for an unmarried couple
  • Bankruptcy issues related to marriage
  • Issues of property division when workers’ compensation settlement proceeds were used to buy a marital home
  • Inherited property and claim against the marital home purchased with said inheritance 

Additionally, CRC students assisted clients in an expungement hearing arising from an erroneous determination after a child welfare inquiry; the preparation of annulment paperwork after a bigamous marriage was discovered, and the pursuit of an order of protection necessary to extract a woman and her children from a violent home. Students also participated in mediation training and observations in cases where alternative dispute resolution was offered.

Criminal Defense Clinic

Professor Gary Pieples
Professor Gary Pieples

Director: Professor Gary J. Pieples

The Criminal Defense Clinic (CDC) had several successes during the 2020-2021 academic year. Victoria Lezette L’21 and Michael Stoianoff L’21 represented a client charged with a series of minor, victimless charges, mostly resulting from her substance abuse and mental health issues. After Stoianoff developed a motion based upon statements from her family and social workers detailing her mental and physical condition, the court agreed to dismiss all charges.  

In another case, James Thyden L’21 and rising 3L Katherine Davis convinced the judge and prosecutor to reduce the charges and reduce the protective order prohibiting their client from being in his family home. His mother wanted him home to help with the younger siblings while she cared for her ailing husband. As a result of the negotiated plea, no convictions were added to the client’s history, and he was able to move back home.

The CDC also successfully got a client’s case dismissed because of prosecutorial violations of updated New York discovery rules. A team of Donatello Lazarati L’21, Andrew Rahme L’21, and rising 3Ls Lilian Baah and Shannon Edwards researched, filed, and argued several motions arguing numerous discovery violations. On the eve of trial, the judge ruled that dismissal was warranted after multiple failures by the assistant district attorney to provide required discovery.

Disability Rights Clinic

Professor Michael Schwartz
Professor Michael Schwartz

Director: Professor Michael A. Schwartz

The following are five exemplary accomplishments of the Disability Rights Clinic (DRC) during the past year:

  • DRC partnered with a Rochester, NY-based law firm to file a lawsuit against a franchisee of the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, alleging violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York state anti-discrimination law. The case concerns a Deaf driver who was refused service at the franchise’s pick-up window because he could not use the ordering kiosk. Initial mediation is mandatory.
  • DRC joined a local non-governmental organization in defending a lawsuit brought by a roofing company against the clinic’s client, an elderly Deaf man, in Small Claims Court. The clinic, in turn, filed a discrimination claim against the company with the New York State Division of Human Rights, which found probable cause to go to a public hearing.
  • DRC continues to advocate for snow removal and maintenance of sidewalks for wheelchair users in a suburb of Syracuse.
  • An Institutional Review Board approval was obtained for a study of educational policies and practices involving members of the Deaf New American community. 
  • The clinic continues to advocate for accessible access to health care facilities for people with disabilities, including immigrants with disabilities.

Elder and Health Law Clinic

Professor Helen McNeil
Professor Helen McNeil

Director: Professor Mary Helen McNeal

Despite the many challenges of COVID-19, the Elder and Health Law Clinic (EHLC) shifted quickly to virtual representation. Students executed wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and living wills; handled appeals of public benefit denials; assisted clients with minor probate issues; litigated a financial exploitation case; and represented family members seeking guardianship of parents with end-stage dementia. 

As students learned the law, they simultaneously faced the challenges of virtual representation, including clients’ limited access to technology, limited ability to use technology, social isolation, and declining physical and mental health. While many people faced these challenges over the last year, they were exacerbated for many older people.

Student attorneys represented several patients residing in the long-term care unit at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital who were seeking end-of-life documents. One client’s situation exemplifies the challenges both clients and students faced. The client, who had advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, wanted a will and power of attorney. He had neither access to—nor ability to use—technology. With the assistance of a VA social worker, student attorneys Dianne Jahangani L’21 and Benjamin Kaufman L’21 met virtually with the client, whose health was deteriorating rapidly. 

After several meetings, they drafted a will and arranged for a “virtual signing,” with final documents signed virtually, transmitted via email, and then virtually notarized pursuant to New York’s COVID-related executive orders. While Jahangani and Kaufman had intended to complete other legal tasks for the client, he unfortunately passed away within days of the will signing. As Jahangani and Kaufman wrote in their closing memo: “He was a wonderful client whom we had the pleasure of working with and ensuring that his final wishes were memorialized.” 

In spring 2021, the EHLC participated in launching the “Enhancing Services for Older Victims of Abuse and Financial Exploitation” project, a collaboration among Vera House, the Center for Court Innovation, Christopher Communities, and Syracuse University. A major goal of the project is to offer restorative justice options as an alternative to litigation for those impacted by elder financial exploitation. EHLC and Elder Justice Fellow Allison Wick are integral parts of this project, providing legal information, training, referrals, and limited representation.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

Professor Robert Nassau
Professor Robert Nassau

Director: Professor Robert Nassau

In addition to its typical array of casework—such as helping clients obtain rightful refunds or fend off debilitating collection activity—student attorneys participated in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic’s (LITC) first-ever Remote Tax Court Trial and increased their expertise in all three of our government’s pandemic-related stimulus payments.

The trial involved a taxpayer’s claim that she had signed an Extension of Time to Assess Tax under duress. Student Attorney Meredith Wallen L’21 examined the taxpayer at trial while rising 3Ls Justin Lange and Michael Towey assisted with a post-trial briefing. 

Regarding the stimulus payments, LITC helped numerous taxpayers obtain payments, which—for reasons ranging from a failure to file a return to having been fraudulently claimed by another taxpayer—they had wrongfully been denied. The clinic anticipates a similar tax activity in the coming year in connection with the expanded Child Tax Credit.

Transactional Law Clinic

Professor Jessica Murray
Professor Jessica Murray

Director: Professor Jessica Murray

While continuing to work with clients who are starting and operating businesses and not-for-profit organizations during the unusual circumstances of a global health crisis, the Transactional Law Clinic (TLC) took advantage of online meeting technology to invite alumni to share experiences in their transactional law practices since graduating Syracuse Law.

Alumni speakers included:

  • Erin Chrzanowski L’19, Corporate Legal Counsel Americas for Dassault Systèmes, joined the class from Massachusetts to discuss her in-house practice, which includes work similar to that done by student attorneys.
  • Haley DeCarlo L’18, an associate at, Block, Longo, LaMarca & Brzezinski PC in Syracuse, provided an overview of practicing residential real estate law in Central New York.
  • Marysia Mullen L’13, an associate at Latham & Watkins, and Tyler Mullen L’13, Government Contracts Attorney, US Defense Information Systems  Agency, both joined the class from  Washington, DC, discussing how TLC experiences impacted  their careers. 
  • Austin Judkins L’18, an associate at Boylan Code in Rochester, NY, talked about the business and corporate finance practice of a medium-sized firm. 

The visiting alumni also discussed life-work balance, career opportunities, changes resulting from COVID-19, and diversity initiatives at their workplaces. These online visits proved so popular that the clinic will continue them even after students return to the classroom, and some student attorneys have already expressed interest in returning to the clinic as future alumni guest speakers.

Students also collaborated for their appearance before the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on a still-pending, novel case involving a veteran suffering from military sexual trauma. Finally, two student attorneys worked as part of a national team to draft an amicus brief filed before the US Supreme Court that addressed issues involving veteran suicide rates, Gulf War Illness, and military sexual trauma.

Beginning a New Chapter

By Dafni Kiritsis ’97, Director of Externships and Career Services

Externship Program

Dafni Kiritsis '97
Dafni Kiritsis '97

I’m very excited to have joined the College of Law as Director of Externships and Career Services. In this position, which I started in June 2021, I report to the Assistant Dean of Career Services, and I will help to design and implement programs and services for the Office, in part by expanding our already robust Externship Program. In doing this, I look forward to using my diverse legal and human resources experiences and to engaging with our alumni base, which already provides such extraordinary support to our externs.

A little about myself. I’m a Syracuse native, the daughter of Greek parents who immigrated to Central New York from Northern Greece. An Orange alumna, I graduated from SU in 1997 with a B.A. in International Relations and French Language, Literature, and Culture, and a minor in Women’s Studies. I also met my husband as an undergraduate!

After earning my J.D. in 2000 from Albany Law School, I began my law career as an associate in the Albany, NY, firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP. I then joined Green & Seifter (now Bousquet Holstein PLLC) as a senior associate and stayed with the Syracuse firm for nine years, practicing employment law and litigation.

I then worked as an attorney for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of District Counsel for eight years, providing counsel, conflict resolution, and legal representation to VA Medical Center facilities in the North Atlantic District.

In 2018, I returned to my alma mater as a Senior HR Business Partner, counseling senior leaders in the University’s Business Finance Administrative Services group, as well as College of  Law staff and faculty.

As I pick up the reins of the Externship Program, I thank my colleagues for so ably overseeing it during such a challenging—and, we hope, unique—time in its history. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted work for almost all of us, and that’s no less true for our spring 2021 externs. Nevertheless, and with the invaluable assistance and patience of our hosts and alums, we continued to provide our students critical applied learning experiences through remote placements.

"As I pick up the reins of the Externship Program, I thank

my colleagues for so ably overseeing it during such a

challenging—and, we hope, unique—time in its history."

Deborah O’Malley, the 2020-2021 NYCEx and PhillyEx Director, notes that even though they were not on-site with their employers, our students impressed their site placement supervisors. “Each participant in the NYCEx and PhillyEx programs for the spring semesters received excellent final evaluations,” she says.

The New York City/Philadelphia course seminar was also continued via Zoom, with guest lectures from Everett Gillson L’85, Chief Administrative Officer, Defender Association of Philadelphia; Kimberly Lau L’06, Partner, Warshaw Burstein LLP; Kevin Belbey L’16, Sports Media Agent, Creative Artists Agency; and Jesse Feitel L’16, Media Associate, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

Overseen by Professor Terry Turnipseed, Faculty Director of Externship Programs, the Washington, DC, program also continued its strong placement track record, with DCEx placing nine students across government, nonprofit, judicial, and corporate organizations. “I was quite pleased with the quality of the positions,” he says. “For instance, we placed five participants at the US Department of Justice, including two in the Tax Division for the first time.”

All DCEx placements were remote, except an in-house placement at Orbis Technologies, hosted by Erin Lawless Miller L’10, Vice President of Corporate Business Services. Rachel Stanley Nguyen L’07 and Joe Di Scipio L’95 were among alums offering insights and advice during the DCEx seminar series.

Looking to the future, I look forward to executing Dean Boise’s vision of integrating our Externship Program within the Office of Career Services as part of our efforts to achieve the highest level of placement outcomes for our students.

Because the number of students in the JDinteractive program is the highest it has been since JDi was implemented, the main focus will be on finding these students top externship opportunities.

This coming year, we will not only continue to grow our externship opportunities for our residential students, we will place our JDi students in their first externships of their law school journey. We’ll also begin to implement our Third Year Away program, allowing students to spend their final year of law school in a city of their choice. These 3L students will earn their final credits in a combination of externship placements and online classes.

I look forward to working with our alumni on all these fronts. College of Law alumni have been an integral part of our students’ successes in our Externship Program—and post-graduation, too!

Spring 2021 Externship Placements


City of Syracuse
Alumni Host: Kristen Smith L’05,  Corporation Counsel

Hon. Deborah H. Karalunas L’82, Presiding Justice, Supreme Court  of the State of New York, Commercial Division (Onondaga County) 

Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, US Magistrate Judge, Northern District of New York

Nave Law Firm
Alumni Host: Dennis Nave L’14,  Managing Partner

Alumni Host: Mary Snyder L’03,  Executive Vice President, General Counsel


Insured Retirement Institute

Orbis Technologies

Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Trading and Markets

US Department of Housing & Urban Development, Office of Hearings & Appeals
Alumni Host: Hon. J. Jeremiah Mahoney L’69, Chief Administrative Law Judge

US Department of Justice, National Security  Division

US Department of Justice, Office of Legal Policy

US Department of Justice, Tax Division

US Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, Southern Division


Goldman Sachs
Alumni Host: Timothy Paul L’84  Chief Fiduciary Officer, Goldman Sachs Trust Company

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
Alumni Host: Kimberly Warner L’14, Assistant Director for Housing

Shihadeh Law PC

Sony Music Entertainment PC

Superior Court of New Jersey
Alumni Host: Hon. Rodney Thompson L’93, G’93 Presiding Judge, Family Division


York County (PA) District Attorney's Office

Capital Service: Professor Terry Turnipseed Steps Down from DCEx

Professor Terry Turnipseed
Professor Terry Turnipseed

Professor Terry Turnipseed—Faculty Director of Externship Programs—has stepped down as the Director of the Washington, DC, Externship Program after a spectacular five year tenure in that role.

Conceived to develop students’ professional skills inside and outside the classroom in the capital’s diverse legal community, DCEx was launched in January 2014. From the start, the program leveraged Professor Turnipseed’s substantial knowledge of DC as a graduate of Georgetown Law and a former wealth management and estate planning expert at Covington & Burling, Deloitte & Touche, and elsewhere. 

With Professor Turnipseed’s guidance, over the past five years students have been given a taste of the capital’s unique legal and professional environment through placements at the White House, US Department of Justice, US Securities and Exchange Commission, FBI, NASA, United Nations, Planned Parenthood, Federal Communications Commission, and elsewhere, as well as at world-class law firms and consultancies such as Arnold & Porter, DLA Piper, K&L Gates, and Ernst & Young. 

DCEx will build upon this strong tradition, drawing from Syracuse Law’s extensive Capital Region alumni community to offer unparalleled applied learning and networking experiences and to provide Distinguished Guest Lecturers for “The Washington Lawyer” seminar program, another of Professor Turnipseed’s DCEx innovations. 

As Ethan Paraboschi L’19 observes, “I will tell you: DCEx is a fantastic opportunity. Not only does it offer great networking opportunities, it gives you the chance to visit some of the more exclusive buildings and offices in the US!”

How a “Small but Mighty” LL.M. Cohort Forged Ahead During Lockdown

By Andrew S. Horsfall L’10, Assistant Dean of International Programs

Office of International Programs

Andrew Horsfall L'10
Andrew Horsfall L'10

In early spring 2020, weekly enrollment reports showed that applications to the LL.M. program were soaring well above where they usually are. I was holding weekly admission interviews with applicants from nearly every corner of the globe and working with incoming students on their visa paperwork (a good sign that one has committed to Syracuse Law).

It felt as though we were on track to exceed our enrollment goals for the fall 2020 semester until talk of a pandemic began to be all too real. Looking back, it is easy to think that everything changed overnight—lockdowns, mask mandates, and canceled plans—but there was still hope through the late spring and early summer that we would be back to normal sometime during summer and that it would be business as usual by fall.

However, summer brought border closures, student visa restrictions, and the near-hourly requests from students to “defer to a later semester.”

“Throughout, there was a refrain of

gratitude for the opportunities to learn

and engage with the Syracuse Law community.”

I couldn’t blame anyone for wanting to delay their LL.M. experience. Many applicants would be accessing Zoom lectures from up to 12 hours ahead or behind Syracuse time. Although admissions numbers started to evaporate, I was struck by the optimism and determination of a small group of students who committed to starting their LL.M. studies with us in August.

In total, 10 students from eight countries enrolled. This class was extended across different locations and time zones: three students were located in Syracuse, another three were elsewhere in the Eastern Time Zone, and four studied from their homes in Mexico, Kenya, Germany, and Ghana.

By Labor Day 2020, with orientation behind us and the first weeks of classes over, I was afraid our small but mighty group would become even smaller with students deciding that this “wasn’t for them.” Despite the usual growing pains of a new semester, the requests to drop or defer didn’t come in. Nor did they come in September, nor after mid-terms, and nor leading up to final exams. They had done it! 

Every LL.M. student who started in the fall successfully completed the semester, and then went on to do the same in spring. Indeed, our “small but mighty fall” cohort was joined by 13 new LL.M. students for spring 2021.

Our LL.M. students not only attended classes—sometimes well past midnight their time—but they participated in student organizations, made meaningful editorial contributions to student journals, and formed relationships with one another and their professors. Throughout, there was a refrain of gratitude for the opportunities to learn and engage with the Syracuse Law community. The LL.M. program is always a transformative experience for our students, and over the 2020-2021 academic year our students—our “COVID Class”—were asked to transform and adapt to many more challenges than they could have foreseen. 

Not that we have surmounted the obstacles of that year, we can proudly look ahead to a return to in-person classes and the opportunity to welcome one of our largest incoming cohorts of LL.M. students—from more than 20 countries! Having thrived in their studies during a pandemic, the COVID Class has set a very high bar for our future students, and I look ahead with all the optimism and determination that our students demonstrated over the past year.

Assisting Uzbekistan with Disability Rights Building Capacity

In December 2020, Dean Boise joined Chancellor Kent Syverud, Provost John Liu, Syracuse Law colleagues, and representatives from three Republic of Uzbekistan institutions to sign an agreement that strengthens academic ties between the University and the republic. The agreement includes a collaboration to create a disability law clinic at Tashkent State University of Law, led by Professor Michael Schwartz, Director of Syracuse Law’s Disability Rights Clinic.

“Syracuse Law enjoys institutional relationships with more than two dozen foreign law schools and government agencies,” says Dean Boise. 

“This agreement marks our first in Uzbekistan. It will be among our most robust partnerships, bringing together parties and interests across various strata of civil society, including academia, governmental, and nonprofit organization.

Syracuse University signs an MOU with representatives from three Uzbek institutions.
Syracuse University signs an MOU with
representatives from three Uzbek institutions.

In Memoriam

Zaiden Geraige Neto
Zaiden Geraige Neto

The College of Law mourns the passing of Master of Laws student Zaiden Geraige Neto in March 2021.  Zaiden was a prestigious and well-respected class action lawyer and law professor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, who held an LL.B., Masters, and Ph.D. from Pontifical Catholic University.

“I knew Zaiden as a perennially positive and optimistic person who was excited about his studies with us and always enjoyable to see,”  reflects Assistant Dean of International Programs Andrew S. Horsfall L’10.

Where Law, Technology, and Business Intersect

Innovation Law Center

ILC students and faculty partner across disciplines, helping clients bring next-generation products to market.

When rising 3L Jake Goldsmith was a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, he had no idea that he would parlay his education into the courtroom—and the boardroom. “There’s not much difference between science and law,” he says. “In both cases, I’m organizing data to be understood by others.”

Today, Goldsmith is a student in the Innovation Law Center (ILC) and an aspiring intellectual property attorney. ILC not only gives Goldsmith hands-on legal training but also enables him to help innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies bring their ideas to life.

For more than 30 years, ILC has been a pioneer in technology commercialization law, which encompasses the legal, business, and technical aspects of product development. In addition to offering a graduate-level practicum, ILC is New York State’s only official science and technology law center and is a sought-after legal incubator.

Students such as Goldsmith work with faculty experts at ILC, which advises more than 60 clients a year, ranging from startups and established companies to federal laboratories and other research institutions. Most clients, he says, seek out ILC for actionable research analysis about early-stage technologies. The center responds with a detailed landscape report covering the technology’s intellectual property rights, competition, marketplace, and regularlatory environment.

“I came to Syracuse because of ILC, whose entrepreneurial

environment reminds me of the West Coast.”

Viviana Bro L’21

Recent projects include an amphibious, all-terrain vehicle; a wind tunnel simulation-testing tool; a gas turbine for an unmanned aerial system; and an at-home catheterization and sterilization system.

“We help clients figure out what to do next,” says ILC Director M. Jack Rudnick L’73. “If the technology is sound, we recommend they contact a patent attorney. If it isn’t, we encourage them to go back to the drawing board. Either way, ILC provides something of value at little or no cost.”

Adds Goldsmith: “We help clients understand what they don’t know.”

Success Breeds Success

ILC is open to students of all majors. Most are second- or third-year law students, but Rudnick has noticed a surge in M.B.A. candidates from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and graduate students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

One such participant is Patrick Riolo ’20, G’21, an M.B.A. and a B.S. graduate in bioengineering. He recently proved his interdisciplinary mettle by conducting marketing research for several ILC clients, including a major cybersecurity firm.

Viviana Bro L'21 and Patrick Riolo
Viviana Bro L'21 and Patrick Riolo '20, G'21

“ILC has changed how I view my audiences,” says Riolo, who appreciates the reciprocity between technology and the marketplace. “Here, I’m not writing for a professor or an imaginary judge, I’m writing for a real-world client who is emotionally invested in their product and understands the technology behind it. I like to put myself in their shoes and wonder how their invention might look to an angel investor or a venture capitalist.”

The first in the nation to apply scholarly legal analysis and experiential education to product commercialization, ILC has enjoyed a strong upward trajectory. Its designation as the New York State Science and Technology Law Center in 2004, followed by Rudnick’s arrival in 2013, has enhanced the state’s role as a global leader in unmanned vehicles, medical, and infrastructure technologies.

“Success breeds success. We went from six to 60 clients almost overnight. Now we have more than 120,” says Rudnick. “I’m always thinking about how ILC students can benefit other students on campus and companies throughout the region.”

Ergo his emphasis on effective client management—asking the right questions at the right time to achieve clarity and understanding.

Viviana Bro L’21 discovered this during her first day on campus when she met Rudnick at a student-faculty luncheon. “I came to Syracuse because of ILC, whose entrepreneurial environment reminds me of the West Coast,” says Bro, a veteran of California’s semiconductor industry. “The program has taught me that a lawyer can be a fundamental partner or ally instead of someone who always says ‘no.’”

Bro’s projects also reflect ILC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Chilean-born scholar recalls working with three entrepreneurs on an app that connects people who are deaf and hard of hearing to American Sign Language interpreter services. “Today, the app is widely available,” she says. “We hope it becomes as ubiquitous and easy-to-use in the Deaf community as Uber is for city passengers wishing to hail a ride.”

Supporting the Innovation Ecosystem

David Eilers ’80, who teaches part-time in ILC, says the program’s success is measured in different ways. “Sometimes, the best thing we can do for a client is deliver bad news, saving them millions of dollars down the road. Other times, we’re able to hand them off to a good patent attorney or an investor who helps get their product off the ground.”

An adjunct professor in management and law, Eilers credits ILC for staying nimble amid an uncertain global economy. The key to ILC’s longevity, he surmises, is being different things to different people.

“If you’re a client from New York state, we can serve you as the NYS Science and Technology Law Center. If you’re from out of state or overseas, we can work with you as a tech incubator, with no territorial restrictions,” says Eilers, who also teaches in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program. 

“Thanks to support from Empire State Development [New York’s chief economic development agency], we can do pro bono or low bono work and pay our students.”

Eilers is struck by the similarity between scientific and legal literacy. “Just as there’s a hypothesis to prove in the scientific method, there’s a business thesis needing to be attacked through a rigorous discovery process. Good data is key.”

Nowhere is this rigor more evident than within Central New York’s thriving innovation ecosystem, where ILC enjoys longstanding relationships with Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries, the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental Energy Systems, the Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering, and the CNY Biotech Accelerator.

“Some of our most gratifying projects are those conceived and cultivated in our own backyard,” says Rudnick, recalling a recent collaboration with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry involving tissue engineering. “We want to make New York State and the world a better place to live.” 

ILC’s Student-Led Research Reports Give Innovators an Edge

During 2020-2021, Innovation Law Center students’ applied learning experiences continued apace with virtual student teams developing  research reports for clients who brought a spectrum of technologies to the Center, including innovations in green building systems, plastics recycling, medical sensors, biometrics, 6G cell service, streaming media,  and infrastructure logistics.

That variety was matched by the research tasks students performed, among them prior art searches, the potential for patent infringements, and commercialization pathway mapping. 

This research offers invaluable work experience, as Nikkia Knudsen L’21 discovered when assisting biotech firm Triton Bio. “My team helped Triton narrow down what their technology could look like and then created a report based on potential technological iterations,” says Knudsen, who recently joined the health care practice at Columbus, OH, firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP. “This process helped me learn how to guide a client and help them figure out exactly what type of research is useful to them.”

Selected 2020-2021 NYSSTLC Clients

  • Icarus Biomedical—Icarus’ Knoggin technology is a mobile application that allows the user to perform tests to assess the cognitive state of a person with a head injury.
  • Intermix—A copolymer that adheres the various polymers found in mixed post-consumer plastics, helping increase the amount of plastic that can be effectively recycled.
  • MicroEra Power—Solutions for retrofitting existing  HVAC systems in commercial buildings to make them  more cost-effective and energy-efficient.
  • Organic Robotics—Developed at Cornell University, this platform technology uses networks of sensors to read athletes’ body movements.
  • NSION Technologies—A media streaming and data management platform that provides real-time, multi-source situational awareness for events and disasters.
  • Soctera—This Cornell University-based start-up has developed a high-speed, high-voltage transistor to improve radar sensitivity for future 6G cell service.
  • Skip-Line—Real-time information on fleet location, material usage, and application performance for contractors completing road work.
  • Optimed—Commercializing University at Buffalo technology, Optimed is currently assessing the patentability of 3D-printed dentures. 
  • Triton Bio—Novel technology to isolate microbes from biological samples for medical diagnostics.
  • Vita Innovations—A “smart” face mask for emergency rooms and similar clinical environments that monitors patients’ vital signs with embedded technology.   

The Innovation Review

In fall 2020 ILC launched a series of student-written articles to assist inventors and start-ups navigate common issues in IP and regulatory law. The articles are published in The Innovation Review, a monthly newsletter produced on behalf of the New York State Science and Technology Law Center. Read the newsletter at nysstlc.syr.edu/innovation-review.

  • Viviana Bro L’21: “Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Ushered in the Drone Age?”
  • Kaitlyn Crobar L’21: “General Wellness v. Medical Device Considerations”
  • Nikkia Knudsen L’21: “Has Crowdfunding Become the Best Way for Start-Ups to Raise  Funds? Not So Fast!”
  • Sehseh Sanan L’21: “Implications of Van Buren v. United States and the Reach of the CFAA”
  • Sohela Suri L’21: “Considerations for Choosing a Business Entity”

Human-Machine Teaming: SPL Research Asks How Law and Ethics Can Best Regulate AI

By Matthew Mittelsteadt G’20, AI Research Fellow, SPL

Institute for Security Policy and Law

We are amidst an artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. If the last decade was the dawn of the “Age of AI,” then this decade has seen the technology mature as it has begun to be widely deployed. Its growth and use in the next few years will be exponential. However, the use of AI opens a Pandora’s box of legal and security challenges. The law has yet to catch up. 

Led by the Hon. James E. Baker and Professor Laurie Hobart, Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL) researchers are currently exploring these challenges—and trying to bridge the gap between AI reality and AI regulation—funded by a research grant from the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET). 

Our focus: Ethical decision-making, bias, and data regulation so that the national security community can maximize the benefits of AI and minimize and mitigate the risks.

The central question of our research is posed in Baker’s landmark book, The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution: What is the appropriate mix of human and AI decision-making?

This is the puzzle known as the “Centaur’s Dilemma.” Just as a centaur is part man and part horse, with AI we must ask the question with each AI application what part should be machine-driven and what part reserved to human decision. The dilemma is in reaping the benefits of operating at machine speed with machine capabilities while maintaining appropriate legal and ethical human control. 

SPL Publications: Breaking New Ground

As nearly every AI legal and policy question involves a variant of the Centaur’s Dilemma—and recognizing that policymakers have done little to address AI up until now—SPL research sets out to determine how law and policy can be applied to make AI more accurate and effective while also maintaining necessary human control.  

“Twenty-first-century lawyers will need

to understand the constellation of technologies

known as AI, or they will be left behind.”

We recognized that the answer must start with Socratic inquiry, asking questions such as: What is the purpose? Where is the data from? Is there bias? What laws, if any, can we use to guide AI regulation? And where do gaps exist? 

In his policy paper, “A Defense Production Act (DPA) for the 21st Century,” Baker addresses these questions by turning to the US Code, noting that there are few statutes that explicitly map federal AI authority. To fill this void, policy—and therefore law—must be flexible. The DPA, for instance, can be extended to AI to promote robust research and development and to adapt to AI’s rapid evolution.

Turning to the courtroom, in Baker, Hobart, and my forthcoming guide “AI for Judges,” we seek to give judges a legal reference, outlining appropriate processes to guide their jurisprudence while flagging the questions they will address when AI issues arise in court. This first-of-its-kind work will offer a primer to judges as they attempt to define AI’s legal scaffolding and answer the Centaur’s Dilemma.  

Furthermore, my issue brief—“AI Verification: Mechanisms to Ensure AI Arms Control Compliance”—in turn recognizes that many have called for AI controls, but no one has explained exactly how that will be achieved. How, for instance, will we verify that a state or an application is complying with the law or ethical principles? Without verification, it is hard to apply law and ethics. The brief attempts to do just that, proposing first-of-their-kind technical mechanisms that can be used to inspect AI “arms” and providing a means whereby regulatory authorities and the international community can be confident that AI regulations are being respected. 

A National Symposium 

In each of these publications, our guiding philosophy has been an emphasis on explaining technology in “plain language.” We believe anyone can understand AI if given the proper guidance, and we aim to make the field accessible to non-technologists, including lawyers. 

This philosophy guided an AI symposium for national security lawyers that SPL hosted in October 2020. Acting as a live AI security policy discussion, we first offered the audience a primer on how AI works. Three live panels followed: AI and the Law of Armed Conflict; AI and National Security Ethics: Bias, Data, and Principles; and AI and National Security Decision-Making. 

Top experts and policymakers fielded audience questions, debated the core policy issues, and introduced the audience to the many challenges and benefits AI will create. The Symposium concluded with a conversation between Baker and CSET Founding Director Jason Matheny (now Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security and Technology, and Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy) about the way AI will transform—or should transform—how and where national security lawyers practice law.  

The bottom line? Twenty-first-century lawyers will need to understand the constellation of technologies known as AI, or they will be left behind. The symposium provided attendees an overview of the emerging field and broadcasted the importance of AI policy in light of the Centaur’s Dilemma. 

Ultimately, the Centaur’s Dilemma is a “wicked problem” only answerable by a slate of ethically grey solutions. Recognizing this, SPL’s research recognizes there is no single, definitive answer to this problem. In the past year, however, the SPL and CSET collaboration has made strides towards clarifying the legal landscape, crystalizing the process, and deepening understanding. 

AI is here to stay, and it requires serious policy and legal attention. Our hope is that our work will inspire the vigorous thought needed to maximize the benefits of human-machine teaming while mitigating the risks. Visit securitypolicylaw.syr.edu for updates and further reading on AI.

New Frontiers in AI: Policy Briefs and Reports

A DPA for the 21st Century

Read and download at: securitypolicylaw.syr.edu/AI-research.

“A DPA for the 21st Century,” by the Hon. James E. Baker

The Defense Production Act can be an effective tool to bring US industrial might to bear on national security challenges, including those in technology. If updated and used to its full effect, the DPA can encourage the development and governance of AI. 

“Ethics and Artificial Intelligence: A Policymaker’s Introduction,” by the Hon. James E. Baker 

A primer on the limits and promise of three mechanisms to help shape a regulatory regime that maximizes the benefits of AI and minimizes its potential harms.

“AI Verification: Mechanisms to Ensure AI Arms Control Compliance,” by Matthew Mittelsteadt G’20 

A starting point to explore “AI arms control,” defining the goals of “AI verification” and proposing several mechanisms to support arms inspections and continuous verification.

“National Security Law and the Coming AI Revolution,” by the Hon. James E. Baker, Laurie Hobart G’16, Matt Mittelsteadt G’20, and John Cherry

Observations from the October 2020 AI law and policy symposium hosted by SPL and the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

Inclusion, Empowerment, and Participation in Community: BBI’s Year in Review

Burton Blatt Institute

The Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University builds on the legacy of Burton Blatt, former dean of SU’s School of Education and a pioneering disability rights scholar, to better the lives of people with disabilities. 

With its focus on research, education, and outreach in law and public policy, BBI incorporates cross-disability issues, focusing with an intersectional lens across the whole of life, to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities, while building on the University’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

Below are highlights of BBI’s impactful work this year.

July 2020

Toward Creating a Disability-Inclusive Law School Environment

BBI co-hosted a national symposium of leading law schools titled “Call to Action: Creating a Disability-Inclusive Law School Environment” from July 7-9. The symposium convened top law schools to work on disability inclusiveness and accessibility to share ideas and resources, identify existing barriers, and ultimately form a task force that creates a more disability-inclusive future in legal education. 

Symposium topics included (1) how ableism and racism function together; (2) racial disparities in COVID-19 that impact students of color; (3) race-based trauma; and (4) the need to combat anti-blackness in disability advocacy. Co-hosts included the ABA Commission on Disability Rights, National Disability Law Student Association, Law School Admissions Council, and Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation at Loyola Law School.


Thirty for ADA@30

For the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, University Professor Stephen Kuusisto, Director of the BBI Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach, published 30 short essays about the law, the anniversary, and the cultural impact of ADA@30. According to Kuusisto, “I’m doing this as a disabled person who’s lived half his life before the ADA. I’m reflecting on the ‘before and after’ of the law.” Read the essays at bbi.syr.edu/2020/07/thirty-for-thirtieth-ada-anniversary

August 2020

Addressing Digital Access and Accessibility

The Aug. 3, 2020, edition of ADA Live!—a podcast produced for the Southeast ADA Center by BBI—took a deep dive into access for students receiving special education during the coronavirus pandemic. The podcast addressed the shift to online instruction for schools across the United States, which has exposed troubling gaps in digital access and accessibility, especially for low-income students and students with disabilities. “Schools now face the difficult task of re-imagining what instruction will look like in the future,” explain the hosts. 

September 2020

Analyzing D&I in the Legal Profession

BBI and the American Bar Association published a groundbreaking report in September 2020, uncovering prevalent reports of discrimination faced by disabled and LGBTQ+ lawyers. The study of 3,590 lawyers from every state and the District of Columbia was among the first and largest undertaking of its kind to focus on lawyers who either identify as having disabilities or who identify as LGBTQ+ in their workplaces. BBI Chairman and University Professor Peter Blanck, lead author of the study, wrote that “the longer-term objective is to help measurably enhance the professional lives of lawyers and others in the profession by understanding and mitigating pernicious sources of attitudinal stigma and structural bias.”  

Particularly noteworthy, the study examines individuals with multiple identities that intersect, such as people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities who also have disabilities. Read the study at americanbar.org/groups/diversity/disabilityrights/initiatives_awards/aba-bbi.

Disabilty Law and Policy

Professor Blanck Publishes “Disability Law and Policy”

Released to mark the 30th anniversary of the ADA, Professor Blanck’s 2020 book is a compendium of stories about how the legal system has responded to the needs of impacted individuals. 

The Foreword to Disability Law and Policy (Foundation Press) is written by Lex Frieden, an internationally distinguished disability rights scholar and advocate, and former Chairperson of the US National Council on Disability. “My story is one of many in the modern disability rights movement,” writes Frieden. “In Disability Law and Policy, Peter Blanck retells my story, and the personal experiences of many others living with disabilities, in a master tour of the area.”

BBI to Lead National Center on Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities

In September 2020, BBI received $4.3 million from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research to lead a new national Rehabilitation Research Training Center (RRTC) on “Disability Inclusive Employment Policy.” RRTC’s goal will be to design and implement a series of studies that produce new data and evidence on policy levers to increase employment rates of persons with disabilities, with the objective of informing current and future policy and program development.

According to principal investigator Professor Blanck, RRTC will “ambitiously look across the employment lifecycle, to enhance employment entry, economic outcomes, and career growth.” The five-year project will develop a post-COVID-19 policy framework to accelerate opportunities for employment, career pathways, entrepreneurship, and economic self-sufficiency for youth and adults across the spectrum of disability.

November 2020

The Future of Workplace Accommodation

To commemorate the ADA’s 30th anniversary, the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation presented a special section of articles guest-edited by Professor Blanck. At the heart of the ADA’s drive for inclusion was the workplace accommodation principle; the special section highlights emerging research, policy, and law on the future of employment and the accommodation principle for people with disabilities, envisioning a potential future of full disability-inclusive employment. Read JOOR Vol. 31, No. 2 at link.springer.com/journal/10926/volumes-and-issues/31-2. 

Imagining Inclusive Public Spaces

In November 2020, BBI and the University of Leeds announced a project to investigate problems caused by unequal access to streets in 10 cities around the world and the way law and government respond to them. As part of its research, the Inclusive Public Space (IPS) project asks pedestrians about their experiences, in particular people with disabilities, older adults, and parents or caregivers. IPS is a five-year project

December 2020

Professor Peter Blanck and Professor Paul Harpur
Professor Peter Blanck and Professor Paul Harpur

Exploring New Norms in Public Health Surveillance 

Professor Blanck and BBI International Distinguished Fellow Paul Harpur were awarded a Social Science Research Council Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant—funded by the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation—in December 2020. 

Their project—“The Unsettling of Old Norms by a New World of COVID-19 Public Health Surveillance”—asks, How has COVID-19 public health surveillance shifted social norms pertaining to health status in public spaces? How are new health norms created by COVID-19 health surveillance creating new sites of disablement in society? How do disability discrimination and ability equality measures apply to people disabled by COVID-19 health surveillance?  How can this unsettling of abled and disabled be used to  help make a more inclusive society?

February 2021

A Crip Reckoning

Postponed by the coronavirus pandemic, the University’s celebration of the ADA@30 took place in February 2021. “A Crip Reckoning: Reflections on the ADA@30” featured a distinguished panel of thought-leaders and scholar-activists from the worlds of disability culture, education, advocacy, and innovation. Discussion topics included ableism, cultural change, equity, creativity, and intersectionality. “This event was not a day late and a dollar short,” said Professor Kuusisto. “By taking extra time, we’ve been able to focus on how diverse the disability community really is.”

Reporting on Alternatives to Guardianship 

A collaboration between BBI and The Arc of Northern Virginia, February 2021 saw the release of a report on the findings and recommendations of the Virginia Supported Decision-Making Pilot Project. This report provides background information and foundational research on supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship and a way to increase self-determination and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. Among the report’s findings, project participants who used supported decision-making showed improved independence and decision-making skills, made better decisions, and had enhanced quality of life.

April 2021

Professor Stephen Kuusisto
Professor Stephen Kuusisto

Kuusisto Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

In April 2021 Professor Kuusisto received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or creative ability in the arts. In addition to directing BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach, Kuusisto is a poet and writer who has authored the memoirs Planet of the Blind, Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening, and Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey, as well as the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. 

Inclusivity Through Universal and Sustainable Design 

Professor Blanck spoke at the April American Institute of Architects symposium “Inclusivity in Sustainable Design: Global Universal Design Commission—How Architecture Can Transcend Accessibility, Innovate, and Serve All.” Blanck is also Chairman of the Global Universal Design Commission. 

The discussion focused on insights, design details, and a critical paradigm shift towards the implementation of Universal Design principles that allow the development of built environments usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for retrofitting or specialized design. 

Eleven Up: Advocacy Program’s Reputation Goes from Strength to Strength

Advocacy Program

Advocacy Ranking

Given the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society could have been forgiven if it had stepped back this year and waited for the dust to settle.

But in 2020-2021, students, professors, coaches, and judges did quite the opposite. They embraced virtual tournaments; added, launched, planned—and hosted—competitions; and boosted Syracuse’s national reputation to such an extent, Syracuse Law is now ranked number 11 in the nation for Trial Advocacy by U.S. News and World Report, having climbed 16 places in two years. That’s on top of placing number seven in Fordham Law’s 2020 Trial Competition Performance rankings. 

Among the highlights of this academic year, two teams won their regional rounds for the second year in a row: the Black Law Students Association Trial Team and the National Moot Court Competition Team. The BLSA team then progressed to the elite eight of their national tourney, the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition.

In February 2021, Syracuse swept the National Trial Competition Region 2 tournament, also for the second year in a row, meaning the Program again sent two teams to the NTC national finals and lifted the Tiffany Cup—awarded by the NYSBA Trial Lawyers Section, which sponsors the NTC New York Regional—for the third year in a row. 

Syracuse’s national reputation undoubtedly was boosted by the excellence of hosted competitions. In October 2020, the second Syracuse National Trial Competition became one of the first live-streamed tourneys in the nation. The SNTC organizers convened 22 top teams, managed nearly 50 trials, and gathered an awe-inspiring 150 volunteer evaluators, including many of our alumni. Loyola Law School Los Angeles prevailed over Georgetown Law in the final round. 

The Program then launched a new international competition in March 2021. The Transatlantic Negotiation Competition—a collaboration with Queen’s University, Belfast—brought together 60 students and judges (including alumni) from 23 countries, with Liberty University School of Law winning the inaugural tournament.

Next year, these two hosted competitions will be joined by the new National Disability Law Appellate Competition. Co-hosted by Syracuse Law and the National Disabled Law Students Association, NDLAC will feature a minimum of 12 teams from law schools across the United States competing in an appellate brief writing component and an oral argument component. 

BLSA Mock Trial Team
BLSA Trial Division Team

“NDLAC is the first national appellate advocacy competition to focus exclusively on disability law. It will enable students to develop their oral advocacy skills while simultaneously navigating a challenging and important area of disability law,” says Professor Michael Schwartz, Director of the Disability Rights Clinic.

With the addition of NDLAC, Syracuse Law now boasts three invitation-only competitions in each of the recognized advocacy divisions—Alternative Dispute Resolution, Appellate, and Trial.

In intercollegiate tournaments, notably this was the first year that JDinteractive students competed, and JDi students won both the Hancock Estabrook Oral Advocacy Competition and the Bond, Schoeneck & King Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition. 

In sum, rather than diminishing or even shutting down advocacy tournaments and training during the coronavirus pandemic, faculty, students, and alumni volunteers embraced online competition, allowing new opportunities to be seized.  


  • In late November 2021, there was good news from Boston, where Joseph Tantillo L’21 and rising 3Ls Kelsey Gonzalez and Olivia Stevens won the Boston Regional of the appellate division National Moot Court Competition. Tantillo also won Best Oralist. This success marked the second consecutive year Syracuse won the Boston Regional, and that Tantillo took home his individual award. Emily Brown L’09 and David Katz L’17 coached the team.
  • In February 2021, the Black Law Student Association trial division team—Ken Knight L’21, Sharon Otasowie L’21, and rising 3Ls Abigail Neuviller and Alexis Eka, coached by John Boyd II L’16—advanced from the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition regionals for the second year in a row.
  • Sharon Otasowie L’21 and rising 3L Robert Rose posted award-winning performances at the 2020 Buffalo-Niagara Trial Competition in October 2021. Otasowie won Best Overall Advocate and Rose offered the Best Direct Examination.
  • In March 2021, Syracuse swept the National Trial Competition Region 2 tournament for the second year in a row. This double win meant that the College once again sent two teams to the NTC national finals and took home the NYSBA’s Tiffany Cup for the third year in a row. Joanne Van Dyke L’87 and Peter Hakes coached rising 3Ls Marina DeRosa and Amanda Nardozza,  who took first place, and runners-up Joe Celotto L’21 and Christy O’Neil L’21. 


  • Audrey Bimbi L’21 and Carly Cazer L’21  won the 49th Mackenzie Hughes LLP Edmund H. Lewis Appellate Advocacy Competition. The final round, on Oct. 1, 2021, marked the first-ever virtual moot court competition hosted by the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society. Bimbi also won Best Advocate. 
  • Rising 3Ls Penny Quinteros and Margaret Santandreu won the 2020 College of Law Bond, Schoeneck & King Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition. The final—held virtually 
  • in October—was judged by the Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72, Circuit Court of the Seventh Circuit of Virginia (Ret.); James L. Sonneborn, of Bousquet Holstein PLLC; and Brian Butler L’96, a managing member for Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC.
  • In March 2021, Allyssa-Rae McGinn won the 11th Hancock Estabrook 1L Oral Advocacy Competition, judged by Dean Boise; the Hon. Mae A. D’Agostino L’80 and the Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, both of the US District Court for the Northern District of New York; and Timothy P. Murphy L’89, Managing Partner, Hancock Estabrook LLP. 
  • Alex Eaton L’21 and Tyler Jefferies L’21 won the 43rd Annual Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition. Jefferies took home the Best Advocate award. Held virtually for the first time in its history in March 2021, the final round was judged by the Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby L’85, US District Court Judge, Northern District of New York; the Hon. Rodney Thompson L’93, New Jersey Superior Court Judge; and the Hon. Bernadette Romano Clark L’89, New York State Supreme Court Justice. 
  • Rising 2Ls Payton Sorci and Nicco Vocaturo prevailed in 
  • the second annual Entertainment and Sports Law Society Negotiation Competition, held on April 8, 2021. The competition was held in conjunction with the seventh annual Entertainment and Sports Law Symposium, the first time both events were held completely online. Competition judges were Professor Elizabeth August L’94; Kevin Belbey L’16, Sports Media Agent, Creative Artists Agency; and Beverly Sarfo, General Counsel, TVO. 


  • Executive Director’s Award: Tyler Jefferies L’21
  • Ralph E. Kharas Award: Joseph Tantillo L’21
  • Faculty Advocacy Director’s Award: Sharon Otasowie L’21
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award: Joseph Celotto L’21 & Christy O’Neil L’21
  • Richard Risman Appellate Advocacy Award: Joseph Tantillo L’21
  • Emil Rossi L’72 Scholarship Award: Rising 3L Amanda Nardozza
  • Lee S. Michaels L’72 Advocate of the Year Scholarship Award: Rising 3L Marina De Rossa
  • Models of Excellence in Advocacy Award, given in Honor of Everett Gillison L’85: Rising 3Ls Kelsey Gonzales & Olivia Stevens
  • Order of the Barristers: Carly Cazer L’21, Joseph Celotto L’21, Lisa Cole L’21, Kenneth Knight L’21, Allison Kowalczyk L’21, Christy O’Neil L’21, Sharon Otasowie L’21, Joseph Tantillo L’21

A 360° View: Remarks by Professor Todd Berger at the 2021 Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society Banquet, April 2021

Professor Todd Berger
Professor Todd Berger

Syracuse might well be the only law school in the country with a large student organization whose students are deeply integrated into an academic program—our Advocacy Program—which encompasses the fields of trial and appellate advocacy, as well as alternative dispute resolution.

No school in the country has five internal advocacy competitions. Few schools host a trial competition as competitive as the Syracuse National Trial Competition. There is only one other school in the world—our co-hosting partner, Queen’s University, Belfast—that holds an international negotiation competition, the Transatlantic Negotiation Competition. 

There are few schools that match our record of intercollegiate success and offer scholarships to high-performing student advocates, both upon entry to law school and based upon their advocacy success while in school. And there are only 10 other law schools with a higher U.S. News ranking. 

I’m also proud of our advocacy-focused curriculum, which includes our basic advocacy courses and more advanced offerings, such as advanced trial practice, deposition practice, and  jury selection. 

While some schools might do a few of these things, in short, Syracuse is doing all of them. 

High Praise

Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby
Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby L'85

As he rendered the panel’s decision on the final round of the Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition in March 2021, the Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby L’85, Chief United States District Judge, US District Court for the Northern District of New York, addressed the four finalists*, observing:

“I’ve been doing this a long time, since law school. I’ve judged a lot of moot court competitions. The four of you are four of the best I’ve ever seen. Those were the two best opening statements in a moot court competition since I’ve been doing this. I’m just so impressed with all of you. You have a great future ahead of you.”

*Alex Eaton L’21 and Tyler Jefferies L’21 (winners); rising 3Ls Will Hendon and Nate Kelder (runners-up)

College of Law Introduces Cultural Competency Curriculum

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In May 2021, Dean Boise shared two important developments addressing efforts to achieve a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable law school community. 

First, following recommendations by the Curriculum Committee and the Inclusion Council (formerly the Inclusion Initiatives Committee), a new three-pronged Cultural Competency Curriculum will be launched in fall 2021, applicable to all students beginning with the Class of 2024. 

The new curriculum consists of:

  1. A diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) primer module for Orientation  and JDinteractive residencies.
  2. A 1L DEI Summer Initiative to develop themes and materials that will become part of the 1L curriculum.
  3. A graduation requirement, applicable to students beginning with the Class  of 2024, which may be satisfied by selecting a cultural competency-related course from a list of existing courses and new courses to be developed. 
Hon. Sandra Townes L'76
Hon. Sandra Townes L'76

Second, the new Hon. Sandra L. Townes L’76 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Resource Center will open in fall 2021. Named for the pioneering jurist and educator—who was the first Black woman appointed as a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York— the Center will be located in the Susan K. Reardon L’76 Room in Dineen Hall’s Law Library.

Developed in coordination with the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), the Center will be a space for students and faculty to convene and curate resources for sharing, experiencing, and actualizing diversity, equity, and inclusion at the College and in the law profession.

“We envision the center to both serve as a space to promote diversity and cultural competence and a safe space for minority students to engage with one another,” says rising 3L Mazaher Kaila, 2021-2022 Student Bar Association President, who was President of BLSA in 2020-2021. “The Student Resource Center will begin as an extended library space where students can access computers, printers, white boards, and books, as well as hold discussions and plan events. Our vision is for this Center eventually to offer student advising, mental health support, support for students with disabilities, and trainings and other tools essential for reaching diversity and inclusion goals.”

Professor Meléndez Named Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion

Professor Suzette Meléndez
Professor Suzette Meléndez

Dean Boise has appointed Professor Suzette Meléndez as Syracuse Law’s first Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion. 

“In this position, Professor Meléndez will work with me and across the entire College to lead ongoing efforts to foster a learning community that seeks to address and eradicate racism and other forms of discrimination, that values and builds on our community’s diversity, and that equips our students with the cultural competence necessary to function effectively and ethically in 21st century legal practice,” says Dean Boise.

In doing so, Professor Meléndez will draw and continue upon her work as Chair of the Inclusion Council, which will continue to meet regularly to evaluate the College climate and make recommendations for actions to create and sustain inclusivity. In addition to her new duties, Professor Meléndez will continue her teaching in the area of Family Law.

College of Law Student News


Lisa Cole Honored with Ms. JD Fellowship

Lisa Cole
Lisa Cole

In August 2020, 3L Lisa Cole was among 12 law students from around the country honored with a Ms. JD Fellowship. According to Ms. JD—a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to support and improve the experiences of women law students and lawyers—fellows are selected based on their academic performance, leadership, and dedication to advancing the status of women in the profession.

The Father-Daughter Duo Taking on the College of Law

Scott and Lauren Deutsch
Scott and Lauren Deutsch

In November 2020, father and daughter law school students Scott and Lauren Deutsch were profiled by Syracuse University News: “He told me how welcoming the school was,” Lauren—a rising 2L—says, referring to her father’s advice about choosing Syracuse Law. “I want to be at a school where everyone is welcome, where the diversity is enormous, and I’ve found that here.”

In the story, rising 3L Scott—an Army veteran—notes Syracuse’s strong commitment to veterans and their families: “It’s a major point of pride; you see why veterans are drawn to campus.”

Powers Awarded Scullin Scholarship

Leita Powers
Leita Powers

At a December 2020 ceremony, rising 3L Leita Powers was awarded the Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association Scullin Scholarship. The award—named for the Hon. Frederick J. Scullin Jr. L’64—is given each year to an exemplary College of Law student who shows a keen interest in federal practice.

Yanez Chosen for Prestigious AAPD Summer Internship

Matthew Yanez
Matthew Yanez

In January 2021, rising 2L Matthew Yanez—recipient of a Dean’s Scholarship and a JK Wonderland Scholarship—was chosen to be an American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) summer intern. “This is a prestigious summer internship that receives hundreds of applications each year from undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities from all academic fields within the US,” explains Professor Arlene Kanter, Director of the Disability Law and Policy Program. “Only a fraction of those students are selected each year.”

Frimpong Becomes the First Black Student to Lead Syracuse Law Review

Hilda Frimpong
Hilda Frimpong

In February 2021, rising 3L Hilda Frimpong was elected by her peers as the first Black student to lead the Law Review as Editor-in-Chief since it began publishing in 1949. “I am honored to break down barriers as the first person of color and first Black woman in this role. I am proud that my expertise and unique perspective will be added to the legacy of the Law Review,” says Frimpong.

Added Law Review Faculty Advisor Professor Robin Paul Malloy, “This is wonderful news for Hilda, the Law Review, and the College. I am proud to serve as Advisor during this groundbreaking and overdue moment in its history.”

Thevenin Trades Her Running Spikes for Law Books

Tia Thevenin
Tia Thevenin
In her March 2021 Syracuse Stories profile, rising 2L Tia Thevenin ’18—a former standout Syracuse University hurdler—discusses picking herself up from the disappointment of not competing for Team Canada in the 2020 Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic: “I had planned to go to law school anyway, so I sped up my timeline. Walking away from the sport—and Team Canada—was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. It’s also exciting to do something new.” 

Thevenin adds, “Studying law is not so different from running track. My goal is not to compete with my classmates but to inspire them to reach their fullest potential.”

Jasper Pursues His Dream of a Law Degree Online

Joseph Jasper
Joseph Jasper

In his March 2021 Syracuse Stories profile, Joseph Jasper—a rising 2L and US Army Chief Warrant Officer—spoke about  how the “stars aligned” after transferring to Fort Drum in  Upstate New York and learning about Syracuse Law’s JDinteractive program: “I was enticed by the hybrid format and  the fact that it was accredited by the American Bar Association.” For Jasper, attending law school is a “dream come true:” “I have  not stopped being excited about the opportunity to attend such  a reputable university in pursuit of my legal education.”

A Powerful Voice for Justice

Mazaher Kaila
Mazaher Kaila

In the third March 2021 profile, Syracuse Stories turned the spotlight on rising 3L Mazaher Kaila, an immigrant from Sudan who is driven by civic engagement: “It’s a core value for me. I have always aspired to help the communities I’m from.” Kaila is not waiting until she graduates to assume the role of advocate and change-maker. She serves as President of the Black Law Students Association and is leading efforts to help the University administration address issues of diversity and inclusion.

Marquette Receives Best for Vets Award

Ryan Marquette
Ryan Marquette

At its May 2021 awards ceremony, rising 3L Ryan Marquette received the Student Veterans Organization’s Best for Vets Award, given to the student veteran who has done the most to help fellow student vets succeed on and off campus. Marquette serves as President of Veterans’ Issues, Support Initiative, and Outreach Network (VISION) and President of the National Security Student Association.

Otasowie MCs ROTC Review

Sharon Otasowie
Sharon Otasowie
Sharon Otasowie L’21—an Air Force ROTC Cadet and US Air Force JAG Corps graduate law candidate—had the honor of performing MC duties at the 104th Chancellor’s ROTC Review Ceremony in April 2021. The Chancellor hosts the annual ceremony to recognize the distinguished performance of cadets in the University’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs.

Law Students Awarded ICCAE Downey Scholarships


Rising 3Ls Abigail Neuviller ’19, Penny Quinteros, and Meghan Steenburgh G’97, and rising 2L Miriam Mokhemar, were among a group of 13 undergraduate, graduate, and law students awarded Downey Scholarships by the Syracuse University Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (ICCAE) in May 2021. The award recognizes academic excellence, commitment to public service, and potential to bring diverse and distinctive backgrounds and experiences to the US Intelligence Community.

In Memoriam

John Goerner
John Goerner

The College of Law mourns the passing of John P. Goerner, a Class of 2023 student in the JDinteractive program, in April 2021. An avid hockey and rugby player, Goerner held a B.S. in Information Systems from Bellevue University, Nebraska, and an M.B.A. from Alvernia University in Reading, PA.

John planned to use his law degree to represent the less fortunate. “John was a fighter,” Associate Dean for Online Education Kathleen O’Connor told The Daily Orange. “He was a wonderful student and an exemplary man.”

College of Law Faculty News


August 2020

Professor Ghosh Submits Public Interest Statement to Trade Commission

Professor Shubha Ghosh
Professor Shubha Ghosh

Submitted to the US International Trade Commission, Professor Shubha Ghosh’s Public Interest Statement raises questions around a finding that Daewoong Pharmaceuticals had misappropriated Medytox’s trade secrets in developing and importing Nabota, a competing botulinum toxin product. Ghosh expressed concerns about the anti-competitive effects of the administrative judge’s determinations.

Professor Johnson Appointed to Judicial Commission

Williams Judicial Commission

Professor Paula Johnson, Co-Director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative, was appointed the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission. The Commission advises decision-makers throughout the New York court system on issues affecting both employees and litigants of color. All members are appointed by the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.

Professor Kanter Moderates Fulbright ADA Panel

Professor Arlene Kanter
Professor Arlene Kanter

Professor Arlene Kanter, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence and Director of the Disability Law and Policy Program, moderated a panel discussion in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Part of the Fulbright Impact in the Field Panel Series, the discussion convened more than 300 Fulbright alumni scholars with disabilities, accessibility and inclusion advocates, and legal experts.

Beth Kubala Appointed US Army Civilian Aide

Professor Beth Kubala joins fellow civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army at an August 2020 swearing-in ceremony.
Professor Beth Kubala joins fellow civilian
aides to the Secretary of the Army at an
August 2020 swearing-in ceremony.

Teaching Professor Beth Kubala, Executive Director of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic, was named one of six civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army. CASAs promote good relations between the Army and the public and advise the secretary on regional issues.

Thanking the new CASAs, Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said, “These are unprecedented times, and the Army is fortunate to have you in the community interacting with civic leaders, educators, and businesses.”

September 2020

Professor Barnes Named Associate Dean for Faculty Research

Professor Kristen Barnes
Professor Kristen Barnes

Kristen Barnes—an expert in property and housing law, anti-discrimination, and civil rights—succeeded Professor Lauryn Gouldin as Associate Dean for Faculty Research.

“As Associate Dean, Professor Barnes leads the College’s continued placement of faculty scholarship in top-tier law journals, brings noted law experts to Dineen Hall to facilitate the exchange of ideas, encourages grant-funded research projects, and broadens our faculty’s involvement with noted institutions around the world,” says Dean Boise.

Professors Ghosh and Gouldin Appointed as Crandall Melvin Professors

Recognizing their significant scholarship and thought leadership, as well as their excellence in teaching, Dean Boise re-appointed Professor Shubha Ghosh as Crandall Melvin Professor of Law and appointed Professor Lauryn Gouldin as Crandall Melvin Associate Professor of Law, each for a five-year term.

November 2020

DHS Senior Executive Matthew Kronisch Joins SPL

Professor Matt Kronisch
Professor Matt Kronisch

The Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL) welcomed Matthew L. Kronisch as a Distinguished Fellow-in-Residence. Kronisch is the first-ever Department of Homeland Security Office of the General Counsel Senior Executive assigned to an academic institution under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act.

Kronisch conducts research, teaches homeland intelligence topics, and serves as a career advisor for the Syracuse University Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence. 

December 2020

Professor Dorfman Publishes 2020 Israeli Municipal Accessibility Index

Professor Doron Dorfman
Professor Doron Dorfman

For the second year—in his capacity as an affiliated researcher at aChord-Social Psychology for Social Change—Professor Doron Dorfman led a study on attitudes toward disability in Israel and the state of disabled Israelis. The Municipal Accessibility Index also examines Israeli public opinion about experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

January 2021

Faculty Participate in Society of Socio-Economists Annual Meeting

Several College of Law faculty members participated in the 2021 Society of Socio-Economists Annual Meeting, hosted by the College of Law and titled “Pressing Social Issues.” Joining Professor Robert Ashford, Program Co-Chair for the AALS Section on Socio-Economics, were professors Christian Day, David Driesen, and Shubha Ghosh.

April 2021

Professor Gardner Receives Meredith Teaching Recognition Award

Professor Shannon Gardner
Professor Shannon Gardner

Teaching Professor Shannon Gardner was awarded a Syracuse University 2021-2022 Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for Continuing Excellence in Teaching, recognizing her contributions to teaching and learning. The award is one of the highest teaching honors bestowed by the University.

May 2021

Wentworth-Mullin Appointed to NYSBA Committee on Veterans

Chantal Wentworth-Mullin
Chantal Wentworth-Mullin

Chantal Wentworth-Mullin, Managing Director of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic, was appointed to the New York State Bar Association Committee on Veterans.

Wentworth-Mullin will assist her colleagues in program development, advocacy, and strategic collaborations that address the legal issues and needs of military servicemembers, veterans, and their families.

Dean Boise Appointed SU Board of Trustees Representative

Dean Craig M. Boise
Dean Craig M. Boise

As Dean Representative to the Board of Trustees, appointed by Chancellor Kent Syverud, Dean Boise will participate, ex officio, on the Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs Committee, and report to the Board at Executive Committee and full Board meetings.

June 2021

Professors Berger and Gouldin Promoted

Dean Boise announced that—with the concurrence of Chancellor Syverud— and the University Board of Trustees, professors Todd Berger and Lauryn Gouldin have been promoted to the rank of full professor.

College of Law News


Dean Boise Joins Governing Advisory Council of ABA Legal Education Police Practices Consortium

ABA Logo

In October 2020, Dean Boise joined a 10-member Advisory Council to govern the newly formed ABA Legal Education Police Practices Consortium. As a member of the Advisory Council, Dean Boise will help lead Consortium efforts to leverage expertise across the ABA and among collaborating law schools to develop projects that promote better police practices throughout the United States.

“As a former police officer and commissioner on the Cleveland, OH, Community Police Commission, I care deeply about building positive community/police relations,” said Dean Boise. “Syracuse is fully committed to helping the Consortium use the combined power of the bar association and law schools to effect change to police practices. The Consortium also will provide our students with meaningful opportunities to contribute to the imperative work of police reform locally and nationally.”

First-Time and Ultimate Bar Passage Rates Released

First time and ultimate bar passage rates for Syracuse Law graduates were posted in March 2021. Of first-time bar exam takers in the New York jurisdiction, 81.31% passed (compared to the state average of 85.93%). 

The Ultimate Bar Passage rate for students graduating in the 2018 calendar year was 94.08%.

College of Law Rises Nine Place in U.S. News Rankings

The College of Law rose nine places in the 2022 edition of the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings, released in April 2021. Among drivers of this improvement, the College’s median LSAT rose one point to 155 and the Undergraduate GPA increased from 3.33 to 3.53. In fact, Syracuse Law was among just 25% of law schools that improved both LSAT and UGPA, tying for the largest increase in UGPA. 

 The College’s selectivity improved by seven percentage points, the bar passage rate climbed from 85% to 88%, and the influential Judges/Lawyers Assessment Score went from 2.9 to 3.0. Notably, the Advocacy Program climbed from #15 to #11, marking a 16-place rise in the rankings in the last two years.

“The U.S. News rankings are just one way to measure our success,” noted Dean Boise. “Despite their pervasiveness, we remain singularly focused on our mission, which is to graduate extraordinary law students who go on to lead extraordinary lives enriched by all they learn and experience at Syracuse Law.”

Celebrating Classes of 2020 and 2021

(L to R) Dean Boise, Professor Laura Lape, and Vice Dean Keith Bybee at the filming of the special 2021 Commencement ceremony.
(L to R) Dean Boise, Professor Laura Lape, and
Vice Dean Keith Bybee at the filming of
the special 2021 Commencement ceremony.

On May 7, 2021, Syracuse Law celebrated the graduation of both the classes of 2020 and 2021 with a virtual Commencement ceremony featuring an address by Joanna Geraghty L’97, President and COO of JetBlue.

 “The rule of law can never have enough friends across the globe, where it can appear to be under siege at different times and in different circumstances,” Geraghty told the graduates. “Syracuse taught you that, be a friend to the rule of law wherever and whenever you come across it—and you will.”

 Class of 2021 President Troy D. Parker and SBA LL.M. Senator Fildous Hamid offered their colleagues words of congratulations and encouragement. Alicia Loomis L’19, an associate at Costello, Cooney & Fearon PLLC, sang the National Anthem and Alma Mater. In addition to the virtual Commencement, on May 6 the College held a virtual awards ceremony honoring student, faculty, and staff excellence. 

Disability Rights Luminaries Speak at DLPP/Syracuse Law Review ADA Symposium

The College hosted a star-studded Americans with Disabilities Act Symposium in April 2021, commemorating the ADA’s 30th anniversary, as well as the Disability Law and Policy Program’s 15th anniversary and a special ADA volume of the Syracuse Law Review. 

Guest speakers included disability law luminaries Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging, US Department of Health and Human Services; international disability rights activist Judy Heumann; and Arlene Mayerson, Founding Directing Attorney Emerita, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

Many of the papers discussed during the symposium will be published in a future edition of the Law Review, focusing on the past, present, and future of disability rights domestically and internationally. 

CCJI Helps Launch Wharlest and Exerlena Jackson Legacy Project

Wharlest and Exerlena Jackson Legacy Project
Wharlest and Exerlena Jackson Legacy Project

To honor the sacrifice and memory of two civil rights activists from Natchez, MS, Professor Paula Johnson and students in the Cold Case Justice Initiative helped launch the Wharlest and Exerlena Jackson Legacy Project with a two-day virtual symposium for public junior and senior high school students in both Natchez and Syracuse on March 26-27, 2021.

In addition to honoring the Jacksons’ service and sacrifice (both were active in the NAACP, and in 1967 Wharlest was killed in what the FBI considers a Ku Klux Klan attack), the Legacy Project aims to provide resources to enable students to achieve their life and career goals and to continue the Jacksons’ dedication to civic engagement.

To assist the project, Syracuse Law students have volunteered as “Life Buddies”—or mentors—to help school students navigate the next steps in their lives. Junior high and high school students who register in the Life Buddies program will be assigned a law student who can answer questions about the path to college and other career decisions. 

Syracuse Law Hosts Policing Reform Panel Discussion

Exploring policing reform efforts in Onondaga County and connecting those local and community efforts to the broader national conversation about policing practices, Syracuse Law hosted the “Policing and Reform in Onondaga County and Beyond” panel discussion in April 2021. 

Sponsored by the Syracuse Civics Initiative and hosted by Dean Boise and Professor Lauryn Gouldin, the discussion featured Syracuse Police Chief Kent Buckner; Lisa Kurtz, Innovative Policing Program, Georgetown Law; Jimmy Oliver, Syracuse Police Director of Community Engagement; Sarah Reckess L’09, Director, Center for Court Innovation-Syracuse Office; and Onondaga County Legislator Vernon Williams Jr.

The panel addressed key provisions of the Police Reform and Reinvention Plans recently developed by Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse, including use-of-force policies, police-community relations, and alternatives to arrest.

Long-Term Care After COVID: A Roadmap for Law Reform

By Professor Nina A. Kohn

Professor Nina Kohn
Professor Nina Kohn

Professor Nina Kohn has become a leading voice for reforming long-term care in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Her recent articles on regulating nursing homes and other forms of long-term care have been published in The Washington Post, The Hill, Georgetown Law Journal Online, and elsewhere. She has been quoted in more than 600 news stories in the past year, and has testified on long-term care issues before the New York legislature.

Also the Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Elder Law at Yale Law, Kohn is the author of Elder Law: Practice, Policy, and Problems (Wolters Kluwer, 2d ed. 2020). At Syracuse Law she teaches torts, elder law, and trust and estates. This short article was originally published in Spring 2021 in Bill of Health, the blog of Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School.

Long-Term Care Reform
Long-Term Care Reform
Between May 2020 and January 2021, 94% of US nursing homes experienced at least one COVID-19 outbreak.1 And nursing home residents—isolated from family and friends,2 dependent on staff often tasked with providing care to far more residents than feasible, and sometimes crowded into rooms with three or more people3—succumbed to the virus at record rates. By March 2021, nursing home residents accounted for a quarter of all US COVID-19-related deaths.

The poor conditions in nursing homes that have been exposed by the pandemic are symptomatic of long-standing problems in the industry.

Fortunately, as I discuss in the Georgetown Law Journal Online,4 there are a series of practical reforms that could readily improve the quality of nursing home care, in large part by changing the incentives for nursing home providers.

The Danger of Chronic Understaffing 

A key problem exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic is the danger of chronic under-staffing in nursing homes. Low staffing levels—and especially low levels of nursing staff 5—predict facilities’ inabilities to control COVID-19 outbreaks and avoid fatalities.6

The dangers of understaffing were an open secret long before the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, researchers had shown that most facilities lacked the staff necessary to avoid systemic neglect.7 Likewise, pre-pandemic nursing homes’ inspection reports provided ample evidence of facilities lacking the staff needed to care for residents, such as those needed to help residents eat without choking, maintain mobility, or simply stay clean. ProPublica’s database of nursing home inspection reports, for example, turns up scores of cases of residents with maggot-infested wounds and skin in the two years preceding the pandemic.8

Chronic understaffing doesn’t just result in bad care: it can be lethal. 

For example, when staff members are not available to assist residents who need help to stand or walk, residents may fatally injure themselves attempting to get about on their own. Understaffing is also associated with abusive practices. 

A 2018 Human Rights Watch report found that US nursing homes routinely overmedicate residents with dementia to make them docile and easier to control.9 This practice can increase the risk of death and strip residents of their personalities—as one daughter put it, her mother became a “zombie.” Nevertheless, as a 2017 review found, under-staffed facilities appear to use psychotropic medication as a “cost-saving alternative to hiring additional RNs.”10

Understaffing is commonplace because while federal regulations set expected outcomes for facilities, regulators do not hold nursing homes accountable for those outcomes. Instead, when nursing homes are found to have violated federal regulations designed to protect residents, they typically face no fine or other penalty; they are simply directed to correct the deficiency. 

Therefore, unscrupulous providers can increase profits by short-staffing facilities. Indeed, private equity firms continue to buy low-quality nursing homes11 because of the profit such facilities can generate—especially when owners are willing to sacrifice resident safety to maximize profit.12

The Power of the Federal Wallet

To address this issue, federal regulators could change the way nursing home penalties are assessed and enforced, imposing more significant fines and using the full range of penalties that federal statutes already authorize. This includes not only monetary fines but also holds on new admissions and suspensions of payment.

Regulators also could require facilities to have minimum direct care staffing levels that accord with what researchers have found necessary to provide humane care (slightly over four hours per resident, per day).13

In addition, regulators could require facilities to use a substantial portion of their revenue to care for residents. For example, New Jersey has adopted legislation requiring nursing homes to spend 90% of annual aggregate revenue on direct resident care. This approach could prevent unscrupulous providers from pocketing funds needed for resident care. 

The key will be to require financial transparency so that facilities cannot hide profit as expenses and to set spending minimums high (such as New Jersey’s 90% requirement and unlike the 70% threshold New York adopted as part of its 2021 Budget Bill).14

The federal government—the primary payer for long-term care services in the US—could use the power of its wallet to incentivize better care. It could pay nursing homes that provide high-quality care more than those that provide substandard care. Elsewhere in the US healthcare system, pay-for-performance is the norm. But nursing homes that provide excellent care are generally still paid the same as those that provide shoddy care.

“The good news is that, by exposing the dangers of the current system, the

pandemic could create an opening for these types of meaningful law reform.”

The federal government also could improve long-term care by fixing a fundamental market failure that it has created. The federal statute governing Medicaid requires states to cover long-term care services provided in nursing homes to Medicaid beneficiaries, but it allows states to choose whether to cover those services in more integrated settings. 

States that wish to provide home and community-based services (HCBS) to Medicaid beneficiaries needing long-term care typically apply for a “Section 1915(c)” waiver from the federal government. Under this waiver program, states are not required to provide HCBS on equal terms with institutional long-term care services, but rather they may cap the number of beneficiaries served under the waiver and the cost of services provided. 

The result is that most states have waiting lists for at least one type of Medicaid-funded HCBS care, and approximately three-quarters of states limit how many hours of care they provide to beneficiaries receiving services through a HCBS waiver program. This institutional bias could be eliminated by amending the underlying statute, as draft legislation being circulated by Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and a handful of US senators would do.15

But Is There an Appetite for Reform? 

The good news is that, by exposing the dangers of the current system, the pandemic could create an opening for these types of meaningful law reform.

Unfortunately, the political response to COVID-19 provides reason for skepticism about the extent of reform it will spark. At both the state and federal levels, policymakers’ primary response to concerns about COVID-19 transmission within nursing homes was not to protect nursing home residents, but rather to protect the nursing home industry.

As I outline in The Hill, roughly half the states in the US granted immunity to nursing homes amid the crisis (some even went so far as to grant immunity from criminal liability and from acts that would otherwise be construed as gross negligence).16 Similarly, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services used his authority under the Federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (the “PREP Act”) to bar state and federal claims against nursing homes  that unreasonably administer or use infection “countermeasures” such as  masks and testing.17 

In addition, policymakers responding by waiving—and even eliminating in some cases—existing requirements designed to protect residents. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initially responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by waiving a series of regulatory requirements for nursing homes and suspending most enforcement actions. Arkansas even rolled back its minimum staffing requirements in response to industry lobbying.

That said, there are some promising measuring under consideration. For example, at the federal level, there is the Dingell proposal, as well as a Senate bill introduced by Pennsylvania’s senators that would expand the number of poorly performing nursing homes subject to additional inspections.18 Moreover, the Biden Administration has proposed an additional $400 billion (over eight years) for HCBS, which would help increase access to alternatives to nursing home care, although it would not eliminate Medicaid’s bias in favor of institutional care.

States also are considering reform.  For example, proposed legislation pending in Rhode Island would require nursing homes to provide the 4.11 hours of care per resident, per day19 that research has indicated is necessary to avoid neglect (see footnote 13).

In short, policymakers interested in improving long-term care have a variety of straight-forward options available to them. Accordingly—as I suggested in The Washington Post, examining the politics of nursing home reform20—the key question is not what can be done to fix America’s long-term care crisis. The key question is whether there is the political appetite to make the changes that are so clearly needed. 


[1] "COVID-19 in Nursing Homes: Most Homes Had Multiple Outbreaks and Weeks of Sustained Transmission from May 2020 through January 2021," US Government Accountability Office (May 2021).

[2] "Is Extended Isolation Killing Older Adults in Long-Term Care?" AARP (Sept. 3, 2020).

[3] "Black and Latino Nursing Home Deaths in Illinois Linked to Overcrowding," WMAQ-TV (NBC Chicago) (April 30, 2021).

[4] "Nursing Homes, COVID-19, and the Consequences of Regulatory Failure," Georgetown Law Journal Online Vol. 110 (Spring 2021).

[5] "Nurse Staffing and Coronavirus Infections in California Nursing Homes," Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice Vol. 21, No. 3 (August 2020).

[6] "Staffing Levels and COVID-19 Cases and Outbreaks in US Nursing Homes," Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Vol. 68, No. 11 (November 2020).

[7] "Registered Nurse Staffing Falls Short in Most Nursing Homes," Skillednursingnews.com (March 15, 2018).

[8] "Nursing Home Inspect," Propublica.org (May 2021).

[9] “'They Want Docile:' How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia," Human Rights Watch (February 2018).

[10] Variation in Use of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes in the United States: A Systematic Review," BMC Geriatrics Vol. 17, No. 1 (January 2017).

[11] "Private Equity Ownership Is Killing People at Nursing Homes," Vox.com (Feb. 22, 2021).

[12] “Does Private Equity Investment in Healthcare Benefit Patients? Evidence from Nursing Homes," NYU Stern School of Business (Nov. 12, 2020).

[13] "The Need for Higher Minimum Staffing Standards in US Nursing Homes," Health Services Insights Vol. 9 (April 2016).

[14] State of New York, Budget Bill S.2507/A.3007 (Jan. 20, 2021).

[15] “Draft: A Bill to Amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act to Require Coverage of Home and Community-Based Services Under the Medicaid Program” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) (2021).

[16] "Nursing Homes Need Increased Staffing, Not Legal Immunity," The Hill (May 23, 2021).

[17] "Guidance for PREP Act Coverage for COVID-19 Screening Tests at Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Long-Term-Care Facilities, and Other Congregate Facilities," US Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (Aug. 31, 2020).

[18] US Congress (116th), Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 S.4866 (October 2020).

[19] State of Rhode Island, Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act S.0002 (January 2021).

[20] "Covid Awakened Americans to a Nursing Home Crisis. Now Comes the Hard Part," The Washington Post (April 28, 2021).

The Three Global Hotspots of the Climate-Security Century

By Professor Mark Nevitt

Adapted from an article first published in the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy’s Fletcher Security Review.

"Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back, and it is increasingly doing so with growing force and fury … we must use 2021 to address our planetary emergency.1 
—António Guterres, State of the Planet Speech, Columbia University (December 2020)
Professor Mark Nevitt
Professor Mark Nevitt

The climate-security century is here. With global temperatures rising, climate change is poised to massively destabilize the physical environment.2  This century may well be defined by our ability (or inability) to reduce our collective greenhouse gas emissions. We must also adapt and respond to climate change’s multivariate security impacts. From raging wildfires in Australia and California to melting ice sheets and permafrost in the Arctic, climate change acts as both a threat accelerant and a catalyst for conflict.3

Climate change is also unlike any other traditional security threat. It accelerates and exacerbates existing environmental stressors, such as sea level rise, extreme weather, drought, and food insecurity, leading to greater instability.4  Climate change impacts are already taking center stage this century, forcing us to think more broadly about climate change’s relationship with human security and national security.5

The Climate Security Century

Complicating matters, climate-driven temperature increases do not rise in a neat, uniform fashion around the globe. The pace of climatic change unfolds unevenly and erratically. Some parts of the world—such as the Arctic—are warming at a rate two to three times faster than the rest of the world. 

Three specific climate-security “hotspots” foreshadow greater destabilization and serve as climate “canaries in a coal mine”—a sneak preview of our climate-destabilized future:

  1. The Arctic—transformed by climate change and a new operational environment, opening trade routes and sparking a potential race for natural resource extraction in the High North.
  2. Pacific Small Island Developing States—where climate-driven sea level rise is swallowing nations whole, raising the specter of climate refugees and possible nation extinction.
  3. The African Sahel—where climate change is leading to increased drought and food insecurity, serving as a tinderbox for resource conflicts. 


Global Hotspot #1

Due in large part to the pace of climate change, the Arctic is quickly emerging as a region of increasing military and economic importance. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, driven by a self-reinforcing feedback loop known as the albedo effect, which accelerates the melting of polar ice caps and permafrost.

In turn, melting polar ice sheets are forming new trade routes through Canada (the Northwest Passage) and along the Russian border (the Northern Sea Route). Along the Arctic’s continental shelf, climate change is renewing interest in natural resource extraction, where close to 30% of the world’s untapped natural gas resides. 

The “Law of the Arctic” is largely governed by the work of the Arctic Council, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and an assortment of laws and bilateral agreements among the eight Arctic states. 

In contrast to its South Pole cousin—governed by the comprehensive Antarctic Treaty System (ATS)6 —there is no Arctic Treaty. The Arctic Council is characterized by an evolving “soft law” system of collaboration among the eight Arctic Council states: Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Critically, China is not a voting member of the Arctic Council, although China has declared itself a “near Arctic” nation and has increasing ambitions in the region. Of these eight members, Denmark, Russia, United States, Norway, and Canada are Arctic “coastal states”—with a continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean—and can potentially extract natural resources. 

Despite the potential for conflict and tension, the Arctic Council has enjoyed some success in managing competing Arctic interests. It has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to tackle increasingly complex issues, such as an agreement addressing unregulated fishing and Arctic search and rescue. 

However, in the face of climate change, tension points are starting to emerge. By its own mandate, the Arctic Council is prohibited from addressing matters of military security.7  This is largely left to NATO and individual nations to navigate. Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and the US are original NATO members, providing a counterweight to growing Russian militarization. As Russia has invested heavily in Arctic military infrastructure, so the NATO members of the Arctic Council have shown a renewed interest in military exercises in the region. 

While the Arctic Council’s 2008 Ilulissat Declaration reaffirmed the Arctic Council’s commitment to the Law of the Sea framework, one key Arctic Council member—the United States—remains an outlier as a non-party to UNCLOS.8 This international treaty, often referred to as the “Constitution of the Oceans,” largely governs maritime issues in the Arctic Ocean to include the increasingly important rights of Arctic innocent and transit passage.9  Additionally, UNCLOS establishes the Commission for the Limits on the Continental Shelf (CLCS), which provides technical expertise to help ascertain the breadth of each individual nation’s continental shelf claims.10  

Four of the five Arctic coastal states have submitted information to CLCS in support of continental shelf claims. The United States has not made a similar submission for its enormous Alaskan continental shelf. As a non-party to UNCLOS, the US likely will not be able to avail itself of the CLCS process.

In 2007, Russia shocked the world by planting its flag on the North Pole. This was an act of no legal significance but nevertheless signaled broader Russian ambitions in the Arctic. Today, Russia claims an outer continental shelf that extends to the Lomonosov Ridge—an enormous area with vast untapped oil and natural gas resources that overlaps with the North Pole. 

While remaining a non-party to UNCLOS, the US has nevertheless served as a good law of the sea partner. For example, the US views UNCLOS’s key navigational provisions as binding customary international law. Additionally, the US Navy has complemented and enforced many key UNCLOS provisions via freedom of navigation operations and diplomatic assertions around the world. 

Despite the US Senate’s failure to provide its advice and consent to UNCLOS ratification, a remarkably diverse coalition of American national security experts, environmentalists, and business interests support the US becoming a party to the convention. US should ratify UNCLOS as it is contrary to our long-term national security and economic interests in the Arctic and elsewhere.11 

Outside of natural resource extraction, two seasonal waterways—the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route—are both found in the Arctic. Canada has long viewed the Northwest Passage as their internal territorial waters.12  While the US and Canada have “agreed to disagree” on the legal status of the Northwest Passage, tensions have risen regarding Russia’s authority to regulate shipping along the Northern Sea Route. Russia has increasingly asserted an expansive view of its authority over ice-covered areas along the route, requiring prior notification from foreign ships before transiting.

Perhaps most importantly, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. The melting permafrost in Greenland and Arctic tundra increases the possibility for cataclysmic “green swan” events causing dramatic sea level rise, impacting coastlines and small islands, as discussed below.


Global Hotspot #2

Far away from the Arctic, scientists predict that four Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) may become uninhabitable by mid-century due to climate change-driven sea level rise and wave-driven flooding.13

The specter of potentially “stateless” UN member states—Kiribati, Maldives, Republic of Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu—strikes at the core of the UN Charter system, raising novel questions of both international law and environmental justice. It also exposes a governance gap in international law, which does not adequately protect climate migrants fleeing from climate-driven weather impacts and uninhabitability. The 1954 World Refugee Convention, for example, is silent on migrants fleeing environmental or climate disasters.

Since  World War II, the UN Charter has played an important role in stabilizing international order by upholding national territorial integrity and the sovereign equality of each member nation.14  While SIDS are relatively small, they have equal standing as sovereign nations. 

Several questions now arise: With climate change undermining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of these nations, what is the responsibility of developing nations to alleviate this slow-moving tragedy? Can international governance institutions afford to remain silent while nations face climate-driven statelessness? What are the legitimacy costs of both action and inaction?

The plight of global climate migrants is an issue of increasingly grave concern.15  By one estimate, more than 150 million people will be displaced by rising sea levels by the year 2050.16  One recent study found that two-thirds of the world’s population faces severe water shortages, a catalyst for cross-border human migration.17  

In addition, many small island nations are uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather patterns. Scientists now link climate change, rising temperatures, and the increased likelihood of extreme weather,18 to which small island nations often lack the capacity to adapt and respond. In 2020, when Cyclone Harold struck several Pacific island nations, it triggered an estimated 99,500 displacements.19 

Finally, critical US national security infrastructure in the region is increasingly at risk. The US operates a key military installation and radar facility at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands that helps protect the US from North Korean missiles. Rising seas may cause parts of the Marshall Islands to become uninhabitable as early as 2035.


Global Hotspot #3

In a cruel twist, climate change disproportionately harms nations that contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions and have the fewest resources to adapt to climate change’s impacts. This includes both SIDS and the poverty-stricken African Sahel, an area already suffering from climate-exacerbated food insecurity and conflict.20

The Sahel region of West Africa, for example, is one of the poorest regions in the world with 40% of the population living on less than US$1.90 per day. The region’s population is growing at an astonishing rate, expected to double by 2045,21 yet the climate is warming in the Sahel far faster than the rest of the world.

In a recent Security Council debate on climate and security, the World Meteor-ological Chief Scientist stated that climate change has a multitude of security impacts “increasing the potential for water conflict; leading to more internal displacement and migrations ... it is increasingly regarded as a national security threat.” 22 

There is a growing body of scholarship that connects climate change’s multivariate impacts and violent conflict.23  In 2020, the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that 12 of the 20 most vulnerable countries to climate change were in a state of conflict.24  An estimated 1.25 million people have been displaced in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger due to extreme rainfall and flooding.25 

Climate change’s destabilizing role in the African Sahel is forcing international legal institutions to reimagine what role they might play in addressing underlying causes of conflict and instability.  

Consistent with its mission to maintain international peace and security,26 the UN Security Council (UNSC) has begun to address climate change. It first recognized the link between environmental security and international security in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War (1992) and the destruction of oil fields.27  Recognition of other non-traditional security threats followed, such as HIV/AIDS (2000) and Ebola (2014).

In 2017, UNSC took the historical step of linking climate change with the deteriorating security situation in the African Sahel. In Resolution 2349, the “adverse effects of climate change and ecological change” in destabilizing the security situation in the Lake Chad Basin is specifically highlighted.28  Since this Resolution was issued, the Council followed up with additional resolutions for Somalia, Darfur, West Africa and the Sahel, and Mali.29

While it has yet to make the formal determination that climate change effects are a “threat to the peace” within the meaning of UN Charter Article 39,30  there is a growing precedent for UNSC to use its authorities to address non-traditional security threats. 

As the earth warms, climate hotspots such as the African Sahel will increasingly bear the brunt of climate change’s impacts. In the coming years, the UN will be under increasing pressure to address climate-driven security matters in some fashion.31  An Article 39 declaration serves as the legal key, opening the door for the Council to use its awesome Chapter VII authorities.  


United States Reset

Within a month of taking office, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 released two important executive orders on climate-security matters: (1) “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” and (2) “Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration.”

“Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” makes clear that the world faces a “profound climate crisis” and that US international engagement “is more necessary and urgent than ever.” 32 In the EO, President Biden makes it clear that climate considerations “shall be an essential element of US foreign policy and national security.” In re-energizing climate-security matters, the new Administration understands that it is simply too important to be left solely in the hands of the defense or state departments. 

By elevating several people within his Cabinet who have deep experience in climate change and security matters, and by favoring a whole-of-government approach, President Biden acknowledges that climate change requires integrated national security planning. For example, as Special Envoy for Climate former Secretary of State John Kerry will have a seat on the National Security Council—a historic first. Additionally, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy serves as the nation’s first National Climate Advisor, leading a new interagency National Climate Task Force.

President Biden’s EO on resettling refugees emphasizes that human migration is often due to climate change impacts.33  This order reinvigorates the role of the United States Refugee Assistance Program throughout the immigration process “in a manner that furthers [American] values as a Nation.” 

This EO also requires that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan develop a comprehensive report for the President on climate change’s impact on migration as well as its international security implications. While it remains unclear how results of this report will be implemented, this signals an important willingness to think broadly about the relationship between climate change and immigration patterns.  

Relatedly, a reinvigorated role for climate-security matters in the forthcoming National Security Strategy (NSS) is expected, a document that sets the tone for the new administration’s national security policies. 

Since President George H.W. Bush, every US president has issued an NSS that squarely addresses climate change and national security. For example, President Barack Obama’s 2015 NSS stated that, “The present-day effects of climate change are being felt from the Arctic to the Midwest. Increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property. In turn, the global economy suffers, compounding the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure.”34 

In a prescient nod to the importance of recognizing non-traditional security threats, the 2015 NSS made clear the high priority of “meet[ing] the urgent challenges posed by climate change and infectious disease.” 

While climate change was omitted from the Trump Administration’s 2017 NSS, the Biden Administration’s Interim NSS states that, “The climate crisis has been centuries in the making … if we fail to act now, we will miss our last opportunity to avert the most dire consequences of climate change for the health of our people, our economy, our security, and our planet.”35


[1] Quoted in The Washington Post (Dec. 15, 2020).

[2] J.B. Ruhl and Robin Kundis Craig, C (2021 manuscript).

[3] “Threat Multiplier: The Growing Security Implications of Climate Change—A Conversation with Sherri Goodman,” Fletcher Security Review (July 2018); Center for Naval Analyses, “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” (2007).

[4] Marwa Daoudy, The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security (Cambridge 2020).

[5] “Climate Tipping Points: Too Risky to Bet Against,” Nature Vol. 575 (2019, corrected April 2020).

[6] “Polar Opposites: Assessing the State of Environmental Law in the World’s Polar Regions,“ Boston College Law Review Vol. 59 (2018).

[7] Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council/Ottawa Declaration (1996).

[8] The Ilulissat Declaration, Arctic Ocean Conference (May 2008).

[9] UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Art. 17 (Right of Innocent Passage) and Art. 38 (Right of Transit Passage).

[10] UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Art. 76 (Definition of the Continental Shelf).

[11] “Polar Opposites: Assessing the State of Environmental Law in the World’s Polar Regions,“ Boston College Law Review Vol. 59 (2018).

[12] “The US-Canada Northwest Passage Dispute,” Brown Political Review (April 8, 2020).

[13] “Most Atolls Will Be Uninhabitable by the Mid-21st Century Because of Sea Level Rise Exacerbating Wave Driven Flooding,” Science Advances Vol. 4, No. 4 (2018).  

[14] UN Charter, Art. 2, Para. 1.

[15] “Forced Migration After Paris Cop21: Evaluating the ‘Climate Change Displacement Coordination Facility,’" Columbia Law Review Vol. 116, No. 8 (Dec. 2016).

[16] “Refugees Flee from the Earth,” The New York Times Magazine (July 26, 2020).

[17] “Two-Thirds of the World Faces Severe Water Shortages,” The New York Times (Feb. 12, 2016); Human Rights Commission, Figures at a Glance (August 2020).

[18] “Explaining Extreme Events of 2017 from a Climate Perspective,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Vol. 100, No. 1 (January 2019).

[19] World Meteorological Organization, Provisional Report on the State of the Global Climate 2020 (December 2020).

[20] "Addressing Security Council, Pacific Island President Calls Climate Change Defining Issue of Next Century, Calls for Special Representative on Issue," United Nations (July 11, 2018).

[21] "Climate Change in the Sahel: How Can Cash Transfers Help Protect the Poor?" Brookings Future Development (Dec. 4, 2019).

[22] "Climate Change Recognized as ‘Threat Multiplier’, UN Security Council Debates Its Impact on Peace," UN News (Jan. 25, 2019).

[23] "Climate Wars? A Systematic Review of Empirical Analyses on the Links between Climate Change and Violent Conflict," International Studies Review Vol. 19, No. 4 (December 2017).

[24] "Climate Change and Conflict Are a Cruel Combo that Stalk the World’s Most Vulnerable," ICRC (July 9, 2020).

[25] WMO, State of the Global Climate 2020.

[26] UN Charter, Art. 24.

[27] UN Security Council, "Provisional Verbatim Record of the Three Thousand and Forty-Sixth Meeting" (Jan. 31, 1992).

[28] UN Security Council, Res. 2349 (March 31, 2017).

[29] UN Security Council, Res. 2408 (March 27, 2018).

[30] UN Charter, Art. 39.

[31] “Is Climate Change a Threat to International Peace & Security?” Michigan Journal of International Law (forthcoming 2021).

[32] “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” Executive Office of the President (January 2021).

[33] "Executive Order 14013: Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs To Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration," Executive Office of the President (February 2021).

[34] “National Security Strategy,” Executive Office of the President (February 2015).

[35] “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” Executive Office of the President (March 2021).

By the Numbers

By the Numbers 2021
By the Numbers 2021

Dean’s Message

Our Rising Stars

Dean Craig M. Boise
Dean Craig M. Boise

When I became Dean of this great College five years ago, one of my goals was to amplify and promote the thought leadership of our extraordinary faculty. I witnessed professors and researchers whose scholarship in critical and emerging areas of the law was already exemplary, but not as well-known or understood as it could be.

As our roundups of faculty publications illustrate, our faculty’s scholarly reputation is not only as  robust as ever, it is sought-after, visible, and rising.

For instance, the two main features in this Yearbook exemplify our faculty’s status as influential  scholars. As I write this in midsummer, two stories that remain in the news cycle are the rising death tolls from climate disasters in the Pacific Northwest, Germany, and China and the push for long-term care reform in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Our lead authors—professors Mark Nevitt and Nina Kohn— are highly in demand scholars and commentators on the security implications of climate change and elder care, respectively.

“Our students benefit immeasurably from a faculty

who are thought leaders, dynamic educators, and productive scholars.”

In this issue, Professor Nevitt widens the lens on the impact of climate change, offering a portrait of three global “hotspots” that will dominate the “climate-security century.” One of his research questions— “What is the true pace of climate change in the Arctic?”—is especially prescient given the recent Pacific Northwest “heat dome” pushed as far north as Canada’s Yukon Territory. In “Long-Term Care After COVID,” Professor Kohn addresses “the dangers of the current system” and offers her own prescriptions for reform.

Of course, our students benefit immeasurably from a faculty who are thought leaders, dynamic educators, and productive scholars. As demonstrated in this year’s review of our Strategic Research Institutes and academic programs, an engaged faculty provides many meaningful applied learning opportunities for students. 

Whether writing intellectual property reports for startups, advocating for vulnerable populations through our clinics, earning praise for their professionalism from externship hosts, or excelling in advocacy competitions, our students are guided toward a bright future by professors whose intellectual rigor is matched by their expertise and care in the classroom and beyond. 

I am grateful to our staff who have worked diligently throughout the coronavirus pandemic to support our learning community and to ensure that our operations continued as smoothly as possible. We look forward to being back in Dineen Hall for the new academic year ahead, and I’m certain the positive lessons of the last year will make us stronger still. I hope as you read these pages, you are as proud and as inspired as I am by the remarkable accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff. 

Go Orange!

Boise Signature

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law

Dean’s Message

“The time is always right to do what is right” 
—Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dean Craig M. Boise

When Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 was sworn in as President of the United States, it was a moment of immense pride for Syracuse University and the College of Law. At 11 a.m. on Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden became Syracuse University’s first alumnus to reach the highest public office in the United States and only the seventh US president to graduate from a law school. He also became living proof of what we often tell our students: there is simply no limit to what a Syracuse Law graduate can achieve.

In this special issue of the Stories Book, we mark President Biden's achievement by interviewing his College of Law classmates, teachers, and friends. For them, his election is the culmination of a lifetime of service and leadership, the beginning of which was evident at Syracuse in the late 1960s. We also highlight the voices of our current students and learn about the strength and inspiration they draw from President Biden’s example.

Alongside President Biden in this issue, you will find profiles of other, exemplary public leaders. Among them are US Rep. John Katko L’88; New York State Minority Leader Will Barclay L’95 and his late father Ambassador H. Douglas Barclay L’61; former FBI Special Agent John Hartmann L’88; US Department of Interior Chief Diversity Officer Erica White-Dunstan L’98; and US Department of State Operations Planning Specialist Adom Cooper L’12.

Their stories vividly illustrate the many reasons why our alumni enter public service: to effect meaningful change; to help the less fortunate; to keep communities safe and prosperous; to act as stewards of public commons; to uphold the rule of law; and to expand professionalism, ethics, and trust in public agencies. 

“The College of Law prepares students to serve

with dignity, courtesy, wisdom, and responsibility.”

The College of Law prepares students to serve in these roles with dignity, courtesy, wisdom, and responsibility. As Representative Katko says so eloquently, “I learned very quickly that there was a lot of good that someone could do with a law degree, and you could tell the College of Law deliberately worked to instill this lesson in us. All Syracuse Law students should know that it’s a distinct honor to serve the public.” 

This edition of the Stories Book also includes our regular features about alumni lives outside the office. Following up on our last issue’s exploration of the connections between literature and the law, we include interviews with alumni-musicians whose experiences integrate music and the law.

This topic has special resonance for me. I began playing piano as a second grader, and still enjoy playing to this day. I find music-making to be a great stress therapy, and I enjoy losing myself for an hour or two playing Chopin or Rachmaninoff. I agree with David Miller L’69—himself a successful public sector attorney and accomplished jazz pianist—that a good lawyer is a well-rounded lawyer.  

“Be multidimensional,” he says, and don’t let go of your creative pursuits.

So, whether you take your inspiration from our stories of public service, the leaders we profile in “View from the Corner Office,” our “Lawyers in Love,” or the wise words of our alumni-musicians, I hope you enjoy this issue. And I hope you note the bright threads woven among these stories that illuminate the many ways that the lives of our College of Law alumni intersect across the years.

If you have a story you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at SULaw@syr.edu.

Very truly yours,

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law

Syracuse Law Alumni and Friends Reflect on President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68

Preisdent Joseph R. Biden Jr. L'68
Preisdent Joseph R. Biden Jr. L'68

In his final speech before leaving for his Jan. 20, 2021, inauguration in Washington, DC, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 referenced Syracuse, as he recalled the beginning of his life in public service: “When I came home after graduating from Delaware and then going on to law school in Syracuse, I came home after law school to Wilmington, to our county. And it had gone dark. Dr. [Martin Luther] King was assassinated. Wilmington had been in flames. The National Guard patrolled the streets. That turmoil inspired me to become a public defender: a step I never anticipated would lead me towards this improbable journey” (as quoted in Syracuse Post-Standard, Jan. 19, 2021).

Biden may have called his journey from law student, to public defender, to Delaware councilor, to senator, to vice president, to the first Syracuse alumnus elected to the nation’s highest office as “improbable.” But to some of those who know him best, the steps President Biden first took in law school always pointed in that direction.

In this article, we deliver a profile on President Biden in the words of his Syracuse friends and professors who taught him or later worked with him, and a new generation of students who are inspired by his story and his service. 

Themes emerge through these vignettes, traits that can be seen as touchstones for anyone considering public service in any form, including deep empathy that balances focused ambition, an ethical core that underwrites trust in public institutions, and faith and self-assurance that help to overcome obstacles and, in President Biden’s case, multiple tragedies. 

Syracuse University and the College of Law are proud to count a President of the United States among our alumni. But public service is no exception among our Orange family. However you serve your community—whether as a volunteer; a public defender; in the military, the judiciary, or public office; or in any other way on the front lines or behind the scenes—we dedicate this profile to you, and we thank you for your service.

In Their Words: Classmates and Other Friends

Syndicus 1968

William J. Brodsky L’68

Chairman, Cedar Street Asset Management, LLC; Former Chairman & CEO of Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE)

“The only political race I ever lost was to Brodsky,” has come up many times.  

I didn’t know Joe well during my first semester of law school, but I beat him by one vote even though I had never run for Class President before.  Later I learned that Joe had held that position all through his high school and college years. 

Years later, I held a fundraiser for him in Chicago with high-level executives such as Jamie Dimon, and Joe would publicly announce: “That SOB Brodsky was the only guy who beat me.” It was my political claim to fame!

I remember conversing with Joe in the school lounge sometime before graduation. All of us were focused on the bar exam and finding a job. I asked him what his plan was post-graduation and he said, “I’m going into politics.” My thought was “that’s not a job!”  In hindsight, it is clear that he knew exactly what he wanted to do.  At that time to me, success meant finding a legal position.

Our lives intertwined in many ways over the years, and that has led to a long, pleasant and warm relationship. I supported him financially in every election he was in after graduation.  Later, two of my sons interned for Joe.  My oldest had interned for a member of the House of Representatives. When my son, Michael and I ran into Joe as we were walking around on the Hill one day, Joe asked who Michael was interning for, and Mike said the congressman’s name.  Joe then said to me, “Your other two sons, Stephen and Jonathan better work for me!”  And they did!

How does it feel now that Joe is president after all the ups and downs he's had, and what does it say about him?  Determination, character, kindness and decency.

Roger Harrison ’65, G’68

President, RH Associates

I first met Joe in 1965 while I was a Resident Advisor in my first year of graduate school. Joe was Assistant Resident Advisor to me in Watson Dormitory. We were only a few doors apart. After activities, we’d spend time talking as peers, and we became friends. In fact, I was asked to be an usher at his and Neilia’s wedding, and I asked him to be an usher at my wedding.

I knew of Joe’s ambition to run for political office early on. In 1972, he had a decision to make: run for governor or the US Senate. The Senate played into his long-term goal.  

I joined his ’72 campaign as a volunteer, helping with communications and advertising. That period further solidified my relationship with Joe and the Biden family. When he became a senator in January of 1973, I was appointed Administrative Aide (similar to a Deputy Chief of Staff today) for his Washington, DC, office, and I commuted with him to Delaware for a while. When you travel with someone, you get to know them in a way that others don’t.

There’s consistency in his personality. Joe’s the same person in public as in private. He is smart, confident, charming, and opinionated. He stands by his convictions. He’s strong in his ambitions, but not arrogant. His confidence was always contagious, without a hint of superiority. His presidency brings attention and pride to the University, and it bucks the Ivy League trend.

“I’m very proud for the University;

having an alum at the highest level will be

very good for the law school’s future.”

Robert Osgood L’68

Clayton Hale L’68

Partner and Co-General Counsel, Mackenzie Hughes LLP

Joe and I were good friends. We had a lot of fun hanging out together. He’s a nice guy. In law school, it was obvious he wanted to get into politics. He had a stutter, so he spent a lot of time talking to high school groups. As a little kid, you might dream about being president, but somewhere along the way that changes, so it’s an awesome thought that someone I used to hang out with holds that office.

Jeffrey Harris L’68

Managing Partner, Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris & Cooke LLP

I recall being in the White Hall lounge one day and asking Joe what he was going to do after law school. He said, “Go home and be elected to the Senate.” That answer stuck with me—it wasn’t the answer I expected: we were just looking for jobs and to pass the bar!  

As a classmate, he was an affable guy. The same traits you see today were how he was in law school: a regular guy, fun to be with, easy to talk to. He’s made for this moment.  

He has the qualities that are needed, and they are the same ones he had in law school. 

SU Football Coach Dino Babers has said that Joe Biden being President will make recruiting easier. I hope the law school can be enhanced by his presidency. 

President Biden speaks at the 2016 Law Commencement.
President Biden speaks at the
2016 Law Commencement.

Donald T. MacNaughton L’68

Syracuse University Trustee and Member, College of Law Board of Advisors Partner, White & Case LLP (Ret.)

Joe was open, warm, and well-liked. He had no pretensions. That was one of Joe’s appeals as a classmate, and it remains so today. He is a natural leader who brings people together. I see him as the quintessential Irish American politician, much like Tip O’Neal. When Joe ran for Class President, he made sure to meet everyone, and he got along with everyone.

Two years out of law school, I ran into Joe at a New York City Bar meeting. He was running for Newcastle County Council. Why? Joe explained that Delaware is a small state and Newcastle County is the premier county, so it would give him statewide recognition for an eventual Senate election. There was an older Republican incumbent in the Senate, and Joe had eyes on taking him on. He wasn’t casual about it. He had his eyes on it.

Joe gets things done and brings people together. I’m very proud of him, the law school, and the Class of 1968, which has in it a very impressive group of people who have had terrific careers. Syracuse prepared us well for the future. Plus, I can joke with my old law firm partners that their law schools don’t have a United States president!

One dear memory I have of Beau Biden L’94: Joe had given the law school Commencement address in 2006. It was now several years later, and Beau had been invited to give the 2011 Commencement address. I saw him in the old Dean’s library practicing his speech. He was nervous. I told him he’d do fine, but Beau said that he knew he was following in his dad’s footsteps, and he didn’t want to let his dad down.

Beau was a wonderful young man. His speech was terrific and very well received. Syracuse is very proud to have both Joe and Beau as part of the Orange family.

Ed Moses L’68

Partner, Mackenzie Hughes LLP

Joe was conscientious. He and I were close in law school. I met him on our first day and asked what he wanted to do with his law degree. Joe’s idea was to run for office. His goal was clear: to get into politics in order to help his community. 

When he was a 1L, as a Resident Advisor, he was always looking out for the isolated kids. He’s a compassionate guy, and he genuinely cared about the well-being of those who didn’t seem to fit in easily. He helped them tremendously. His empathy serves him well. 

Robert Osgood L’68

Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP (Ret.)

Looking back now on his journey to Washington, DC, Joe’s rise in politics seems very natural. He was personable as a student, with a winning personality and the best smile in politics. 

He was friends with everyone! In one class, when he was called upon by the professor, the professor said “Mr. Bidden.” In 1965, it was gutsy for a first-year, first-semester law student to correct a stern professor in class, even if was over the pronunciation of one’s name. It was slightly brash but done with a dazzling smile. 

I recall that Joe was co-chair of the students’ Speaker’s Committee, and he’d look for opportunities to go into the city of Syracuse and speak to people. It was an indicator he’d pursue a political career. He was good at it. His character is not a fabrication, it’s real. I’ve been in the Senate lunchroom with him and seen how he jokes and throws his arm around Republican members as if they were brothers. 

I’m very proud for the University; having an alum at the highest level will be very good for the law school’s future.

“Syracuse holds a special place in my heart.

I made lifelong friends here at the law school,

including my best friend Jack Owens, who ended up

being my law partner and my brother-in-law.”

President Biden, Congratulations video to the Syracuse University Class of 2021.

John T. (Jack) Owens L’68

Former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania; Chairman, Mediguide International LLC

Joe and I spent up to an hour and a half in the locker room talking during our first encounter. We hit it off. I grew up on Long Island and had some interest in politics, but here’s some guy from Delaware saying he was going to be a senator. I am often asked if he brought up wanting to be President of the United States. I was expecting it, but he never did bring that up.

Joe may not have been too serious about books in law school but over time, he became a very serious person. He does not get enough credit for how bright he is. The truth is he’s very smart and strategic. He’s focused on getting things done correctly, and he’s a natural-born leader who draws people to him. His son, Beau, was the same way. 

His first wife Neilia deserves a lot of credit for helping him pass the Delaware bar on the first try. Delaware was one of the tougher bars at the time, and she helped him prepare for the test. Neilia was a star. Plus, Joe had the boys [Hunter and Beau] to keep him motivated. 

After Neilia died, my wife—and Joe’s sister—Valerie, became the boys’ second mother. When Valerie and I were engaged, we moved in with Joe and the boys, and we lived together for two to three years. During these tough times, not a single cross word was passed between us.

Richard Boddie L’70

Vice President, Coast Community College Association

I remember my Orientation days in 1967. It was crowded in the old building, but I heard what I thought was this Black guy talking. I couldn’t wait to meet this brother. It turned out to be Joe Biden holding court in the room. We became close friends. I remember political discussions in the law school, and it would often be me and him “against” 10 classmates. Joe and I were generally the only two or three voices in any debate regarding what is now called “social justice,” and know that I am still trying to understand and accept that term.

In law school, I knew Joe would have success in politics. He said even back then he’d be the youngest senator ever. He had name recognition in Delaware because his father had the largest Chevy dealership in the state: Biden Motors. In fact, in my day, the law school parking lot had lots of Chevy Corvettes in it—about 15 to 20 of us had them: we got them at cost through Joe!

The Hon. Joseph E. Fahey L’75

Onondaga County Court (Ret.)

The friendship between Judge Fahey and Joe Biden began back in the 1960s. The pair lived in Syracuse’s Strathmore neighborhood, while Joe finished law school and while Judge Fahey was heading into his freshman year at Onondaga Community College.

Joe and his first wife Neilia lived on Stinard Avenue (Neilia taught at the nearby Bellevue School) and I lived on South Geddes Street. He got to know all the guys in the neighborhood. He’d play stick-ball and basketball with us. Anytime the Biden name comes up, we talk about how Joe was my neighbor in law school and what a nice, great guy he is. (As told to the Syracuse Post-Standard, March 23, 2019, and WSYR, Jan. 19, 2021).

In Their Words: Syracuse Law Faculty and Leaders

From left, Professor Emeritus Tom Maroney, President Biden, Don MacNaughton, and an unidentified guest at the Class of 1968's 30th reunion.
From left, Professor Emeritus Tom Maroney,
President Biden, Don MacNaughton, and an
unidentified guest at the Class of 1968's 30th reunion.

Professor Emeritus Thomas Maroney L’63

I’m very proud of him, and I’m proud for myself, not just because I had a little part in his development. I’m a first-generation Irish American. My parents were Irish immigrants who moved to Syracuse. That Joe Biden—an Irish American like me—is President of the United States makes me deeply proud.

I remember one day after class he came in to have a chat with me. It was a long, interesting talk. I came home and told my wife; this student has a presence. I said he’s going to be something one day. I had a good feeling about him. I think he will do what is right. He has experience, he has integrity, and he has compassion. (Quoted in Syracuse Post-Standard, Jan. 20, 2021.)

Robert M. Hallenbeck G’80, L’83

Chair, College of Law Board of Advisors; Becton, Dickinson & Co. (Ret.)

In 2009, when Joe Biden was sworn in as Vice President, I took even greater pride in my degree from the College of Law. Every time I saw the life-sized cutout of him grinning in the Admissions office, I couldn’t help but return his smile. 

Twelve years later, although few of us have been able to get to campus in a long while, I still smile when I recall that cutout. Along with all of the other Orange alumni, I feel immense pride in the accomplishments of someone who walked the same halls I did. 

President Biden’s election reinforces the pride I feel in the accomplishments of so many of our amazing fellow alumni. From judges to legislators, from entrepreneurs to corporate executives, from the military to public service, and from firms large and small, the College continues to admit, educate, and graduate individuals who through their time, talent, and treasure have made their communities better places.

Michael Hoeflich

John H. & John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Kansas School of Law; Dean, Syracuse University College of Law, 1988-1994

I got to know the Bidens when they stayed with me while Beau was a law student and I was Dean. Speaking of Beau, he was my Research Assistant during his 2L and 3L years. There was pressure on him coming from a public family, to be sure. 

One memory I have of Joe and his wife, Jill, was of a dinner together at the Brewster Inn in Cazenovia. I had asked the owner to find us an area away from the main dining room, to help avoid the predictable traffic jam. As we walked through the dining room, Joe spent an hour going from table to table since he was so friendly and wanted to connect with people.

“The University, its law school, its public policy school,

and all its components, value, inspire, and nurture

those who serve the public in all walks of life.”

The Hon. James E. Baker

The Hon. James E. Baker

Director, Institute for Security Policy and Law

One of the things I respect about the University and President Biden is they share a common belief that public service has something to do with serving the public, not oneself. Service is not measured by the attainment of a particular position, but by what you do in the position you attain.

In the case of President Biden, this is reflected in his response to the COVID pandemic. He has mobilized the nation; he has communicated clearly and consistently; and he is relying on fact-based science, public health specialists, and logistics professionals.

I also value and respect all University and College of Law graduates who have gone on to serve the public, whether in the military, Peace Corps, public health work, teaching, or elective office. I respect the College as much for the hundreds of lawyers it has sent into government service as much as I do for the emergence of the 46th President. I do not presume to speak for him, but I suspect President Biden would agree.  

The University, its law school, its public policy school, and all its components, value, inspire, and nurture those who serve the public in all walks of life. There is no better academic institution in the world to prepare to do so. And now that Syracuse Law becomes only the fifth law school to graduate a President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief, we have added an exclamation mark to this long tradition.

President Biden and Professor Emeritus William C. Banks in 2016.
President Biden and Professor Emeritus
William C. Banks in 2016.

Professor Emeritus William C. Banks

I first met Joe in 1992, when he came to campus to visit Beau. In 1994, he asked me to serve as Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee that was considering the nomination of Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court. Even though Justice Breyer’s confirmation was not in doubt, Joe treated the task with the seriousness and dedication that he devotes to all of his public service. 

At some point, I either asked him or he volunteered why he was working so hard to learn about Justice Breyer and the issues that he would confront on the Court. He reminded me that he and the Senate need to take the confirmation of justices seriously so as to educate Americans about the role of the Supreme Court. Throughout the process and on the floor of the Senate on the day of confirmation, I could see Joe doing what he does best—providing a basic civics lesson to the American people. 

Joe demonstrates a seriousness of purpose; a dedication to our fundamental values of decency, humility, and empathy; and a commitment to make our democracy just a little better. 

President Biden’s ascension shows that hard work, persistence, and perseverance has its rewards, and that a law student from Syracuse can go toe-to-toe with anyone and come out on top. No one has overcome the tragedies and picked himself up as Joe has. There has never been a more dedicated public servant. All of us can learn from his example.

In Their Words: College of Law Students

President Biden meets with Syracuse Law students in Dineen Hall, 2016.
President Biden meets with Syracuse Law
students in Dineen Hall, 2016.

Ken Knight L’21

President, Student Bar Association, Class of 2021

There have only been 46 presidents, and to have one of them from the College of Law is historic. We must celebrate our victories. Public service has always been a staple of the College. To see this commitment reaffirmed at the highest level is a confirmation for all who are connected to the College. 

President Biden also demonstrates that, with public service, there is always more work to be done. There are times when you will be called upon to follow and other times when you will be called upon to lead, but leadership does not outweigh service. Service must be to all the citizens of our country, and I hope to see action that is very intentional and impactful for the communities that have been disparately impacted over countless generations of oppression. 

I hope this administration leads us towards equality and beyond performative justice. I am proud to put that challenge in the hands of a College of Law graduate, and I know that greatness awaits all of our graduates. 

Troy Parker L'21

President, Class of 2021 

When I think that a College of Law alum is President of the United States, I’m inspired and so proud. President Biden’s stature highlights the strong academic work we are conducting at Syracuse. 

It shows that with drive and passion, the degree we’re receiving can make a large impact on people’s lives. And it reinforces that a J.D. gives us immense power and privilege, and that we all have a duty to use it for good. It is an honor to share the same alma mater as the President. Hopefully, he isn’t the last.

“It makes you think, for what future moment

is my present education preparing me?”

Gabriella Kielbasinski, Class of 2022

Gabriella Kielbasinski, Class of 2022

President, Class of 2022

President Biden’s commitment to public service is evidence of something that is already made clear within the College of Law every day: that its students, past and present, have a regular and renewed commitment to serving the community at large. It is encouraging to think that our College of Law played a role in shaping the President who is to meet this unprecedented moment. It makes you think, for what future moment is my present education preparing me?

President Biden poses with Syracuse Law students during his 2016 visit to Dineen Hall.
President Biden poses with Syracuse Law 
students during his 2016 visit to Dineen Hall.

Kendall Anderson, Class of 2023

President, Class of 2023

We have a vast alumni network, people who are dedicated to serving their communities  and their country, and President Biden is one of those alums. Whether it was his defense of public housing in the 70s or his work with President Barack Obama on the Affordable Care Act, he has a desire to defend his community, a desire I feel is shared by many in the College of Law community. 

President Biden’s election reaffirms my belief that we can do anything we set our minds to. We can be the change we want to see from the world and push it forward. Seeing an alum in this prominent position is nothing short of inspirational.

In Their Words: Chancellor Kent Syverud and Dean Craig M. Boise

A thank you from President Biden to then Assistant Dean for External Relations and Administration Janice Herzog Donohue after the 2006 Syracuse Law Commencement at which Biden spoke.
A thank you from President Biden to then Assistant
Dean for External Relations and Administration Janice
Herzog Donohue after the 2006 Syracuse Law
Commencement at which Biden spoke.

Chancellor Syverud on President Biden

In his address to the Class of 2021, President Biden talked about his love for Syracuse University and his appreciation for the education he received here. I can attest to the truth of these words and the passion with which he lives them. He credits the College of Law with instilling the confidence that launched his life in public service. He also expressed unwavering faith in our students’ ability to take their Syracuse education and transform their lives, their communities, and the world. 

That faith and optimism are character traits that President Biden has exhibited since he was a young law student. I am struck by how the new generation of law students reflect those characteristics in their comments. Their sense of purpose is infectious and inspiring.  

President Biden has talked about his feeling, upon graduating from the College of Law in 1968, that he and his classmates were entering public life at a critical inflection point in our history. He believes this is also true for the present generation of Syracuse University graduates. To declare victory over the coronavirus pandemic, to advance justice and equity for all, and to surmount the global challenges we face will require all the talent, hope, and courage our graduates have to offer. It will take greatness. 

As we reflect on an alumnus’ ascent to the highest elected office in our land, we can all be proud that Syracuse University produces graduates who rise to the highest levels indeed. We should all stand taller as Orange alumni knowing that leaders and luminaries continue to build their foundation for making an impact here at Syracuse University. 

Dean Boise on President Biden 

One of the enduring phrases from President Biden’s inaugural address is, “We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.” Reading their reflections on Biden's presidency, I know that our students have taken this phrase to heart. They recognize and share his qualities of hope, resilience, and confidence whether or not their politics align with President Biden’s. These are traits that those who know President Biden personally recognize as a constant, driving force throughout his life. 

Perhaps these shared qualities are driven by a sense of urgency and destiny. Biden himself has drawn parallels between his generation—graduating into the tumult of the late 1960s—and this one: the Boomers and the Zoomers, if you will. Today’s graduates are facing, as Biden notes elsewhere in his inaugural address, a “historic moment of crisis and challenge.” I have no doubt our students can and will meet these numerous challenges and summon the willpower to turn them into triumph. But they can’t do it alone. 

Let’s not forget the role we must play as alumni and supporters of our great College, the role President Biden remembers his alma mater playing in his journey. Whether it be service to your community, ethical and inclusive leadership, or offering guidance to aspiring lawyers that cultivates them beyond the classroom, our students appreciate and draw strength from what you do. 

As we look forward, let’s strengthen our resolve to support our students in whatever ways we’re able. And like you, they will not only make us proud of their leadership, they will continue to pay it forward.

“I’m here to do what’s right”

John Katko L’88 discusses how Syracuse Law prepared him for his career as prosecutor and Congressman and what it takes to lead in Washington, DC.

John Katko L'88
John Katko L'88

Elected for a fourth term in the US House of Representatives in November 2020, Rep. John Katko L’88 serves New York’s 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne counties, as well as the western portion of Oswego County in Central New York.

Currently, Congressman Katko is Ranking Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security—leveraging his years as a federal prosecutor litigating narcotics and gang cases—as well as a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Serving as a Congressman is the latest position in a distinguished public service career for the Central New York native. Today, Congressman Katko resides in Camillus with his wife, Robin, a registered nurse, and is the proud father of Sean (currently a second lieutenant in the US Army), Logan, and Liam.

After earning degrees from Niagara University and the College of Law, Congressman Katko began his career at Washington, DC, firm Howrey & Simon. He then worked at the US Securities and Exchange Commission before becoming an Assistant US Attorney for the US Department of Justice, serving as Special Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia and with the DOJ’s Criminal Division, Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section. In this capacity, he served as a Senior Trial Attorney on the US-Mexico border in El Paso, TX, and in San Juan, PR.

Later, Congressman Katko returned to Central New York as a federal organized crime prosecutor in Syracuse for the US Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of New York, spearheading high-level narcotics prosecutions.

Throughout his 20 year career as a federal prosecutor, Congressman Katko was repeatedly tapped to train prosecutors in Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and Russia. He also was selected to serve as the only foreign prosecutor to lead an investigation and prosecution of government troops in Albania who shot and killed numerous protestors. He was awarded top prosecutor awards by three different Attorney Generals.

Notably, in the mid-2000s, Congressman Katko led the Syracuse Gang Violence Task Force, which employed the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, along with other federal statutes, to prosecute gang-related crime in the city. Between 2003 and 2012, the Task Force prosecuted 90 suspected members of six Syracuse street gangs. 

While first running for Congress in 2014, Congressman Katko referred to his work breaking up Syracuse gang violence in a Syracuse Post-Standard interview: “If I can get gang bangers to cooperate, I can certainly work with the knuckleheads in Washington and help them straighten things out.”

We recently caught up with Congressman Katko to ask him about his service to his community and the nation, how Syracuse Law prepared him for life as a prosecutor and Congressman, and what it takes to lead in Washington, DC, in the midst of a highly partisan atmosphere.

What led you to pursue a law degree at Syracuse Law?

As a student, I quickly developed an interest in public service and found that I enjoyed working on issues that supported my community and our nation. That, combined with the appreciation I always had for Syracuse University growing up, sort of instinctively led me back to the College of Law after my undergraduate degree, and that turned out to be a great decision.

“It’s clear that the College provided both President

Biden and me with a high-quality education that

we’ve relied on for our successes.”

When did you know you wanted to be a federal prosecutor and later seek public office?

I still remember the first time I was at the podium while serving at the US Securities and Exchange Commission and was introduced as “John Katko on behalf of the United States of America.” That was the moment where everything clicked for me, and I knew what I wanted to do.

How did Syracuse Law prepare you to become a federal prosecutor? 

I remember how fired up I would get for trial practice classes, and how much that feeling stuck with me. Those classes really prepared me to pursue a career as a prosecutor. 

Why is public service important to you, and what should the public understand about the role of public servants in a democracy?

As a federal prosecutor, it was drilled into your head to always be non-political and to only look at the facts. Integrity and ethics always came first and foremost, and it was important to remember that I was in that role to seek justice, not just to win cases. 

Those principles date back to my earliest classes at Syracuse Law.  It was hammered into our heads as students that upholding the law is a tremendous responsibility to be entrusted with, and therefore we have to be as objective as possible in every decision we make.

Now, as a member of Congress, I still make every decision by analyzing the facts and assessing the evidence in front of me. Sometimes, that leads to a choice that’s not popular with everyone, but ultimately, I’m here to do what’s right.

Rep. John Katko L’88 meets with Washington, DC, externs in November 2019.
Rep. John Katko L’88 meets with Washington, DC,
externs in November 2019.

Many alumni serve the public—from your perspective, is that a coincidence or the result of a Syracuse Law education?

Syracuse provides a lot of opportunities to serve our communities, such as the legal clinics and other chances to deliver pro bono service to give back and make a difference. I learned very quickly that there was a lot of good that someone could do with a law degree, and you could tell the College of Law deliberately worked to instill this lesson in us.

All Syracuse Law students should know that it’s a distinct honor to serve the public and to realize our ability to have a positive impact on society. There’s no better reward than being able to help people and feel good about the work done along the way.

In your opinion, what makes a good leader? How do these skills relate to your work as a Congressman?

People have to recognize when they don’t have all the answers and learn to value other sides of an argument. In Congress, I interact with a lot of different opinions on just about every issue imaginable. Whether I’m listening to constituents or working on a bill with members of Congress representing different districts across the country, I always want to keep an open mind and find ways to make compromises.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be elected to Washington, DC, and to advocate for policies that help my district. It turns out that writing off half your colleagues as enemies isn’t the most effective strategy to get this done, so I’ve been willing to work with anyone, regardless of party, who shares my concern for an issue.

What are your thoughts on a fellow alum being elected President while you are serving in Congress?

I’m proud of our school. It’s clear that the College provided both President Biden and me with a high-quality education that we’ve relied on for our successes. It’s exciting to see that we’re just two of the many distinguished alumni who have come out of Syracuse Law, and I hope the school continues the tradition of providing a superb education that helps students do good in the world.

How would you define your legacy in public service?

I’m a normal guy who’s been granted some extraordinary responsibilities in my life. I guess I want to be remembered as someone who never let these get to his head and as someone who used his good fortune to give back to the community he grew up in and loved.

A River Runs Through It

Will Barclay L’95 Reflects on His Family’s Legacy of Stewardship, Leadership, and Public Service

Will Barclay L'95
Will Barclay L'95

“Think about it. Nine generations. It's an incredible fact.” William A. Barclay L’95, New York State Assemblyman from the 120th District, who currently serves as Assembly Minority Leader, is referring to his deep roots in the small Central New York village of Pulaski, NY. That’s where his family settled on a farm in the early 19th century, on the banks of the Salmon River, known worldwide for its excellent fishing.

Today, Leader Barclay and his family—wife Margaret and sons Harry and George—live on that 500-acre farm, as does his mother Sara (known as "Dee Dee"), wife of the late H. Douglas Barclay L’61. A Life Trustee of Syracuse University and a former New York State Senator in Albany, NY (1965-1984), who served as US Ambassador to El Salvador from 2003 to 2006, Ambassador Barclay passed in March 2021.

If there's a thread that connects bucolic Pulaski to Syracuse to Albany to El Salvador, it's the Barclay family's stewardship of the natural beauty and resources that abound on and around their homestead. In recent generations, care for the land has grown into a sense of duty and service for the people and communities who share and depend on those resources. 

“We're blessed to have these natural resources,” says Leader Barclay. “These are some of the best fisheries in the world. We do our best to protect them, and that really informs how we take care of our property. It's something that's in the blood.”

Asked whether stewardship of the land informed his decision to go into public service, Leader Barclay points out that while “people provide for their communities in many ways, be it volunteering at church or for not-for-profits. I naturally enjoy politics, which has given me the ability to be a voice for the community where I grew up, that has shaped so many generations of my family.”

Something Deeper

That enjoyment may come from the fact that Leader Barclay—the youngest of five children—had his formative years during the peak of his father's political career. 

“I'm the only one of my siblings who became an attorney and went into public service,” he explains. “When my older siblings left, I was still with my father. I admired and respected what he did, and that was a big influence on me. I always liked the political side of things, and I would go to events with dad.”

“I’ve done a lot of things in my life that didn’t leave

me with a great impression, but that was not my

experience at Syracuse Law.”

But before Leader Barclay followed his father’s footsteps to Albany, there was Syracuse University, another enduring family legacy. “I am an Orange fan, so going to Syracuse was an easy decision,” he observes. “My dad did have an influence on that decision, but there's also something deeper that runs in my family.”

Leader Barclay notes that he has uncles who are Orange alumni, “and my grandfather on my mother’s side was a three-sport letterman.” Then there are Leader Barclay’s sisters—Susan Barclay G’91 and Dorothy Chynoweth G’88—and niece Sara Chynoweth ’15 and nephew William Chynoweth ’18, G’19. 

Of course, many College of Law graduates will know Ambassador Barclay for the White Hall library named in his honor. “It was sometimes tough to be studying in the Barclay Library at 2 a.m.,” says Leader Barclay, noting the portrait of his father that hung outside. “I got a little ribbing for that.” 

A Good Feeling

It's hard to underestimate the influence Ambassador Barclay had on the University. As a Trustee (1979-2007; Chairman, 1992-1998), he chaired the committee that selected Kenneth “Buzz” Shaw as the 10th Chancellor and President, and he was awarded the George Arents Pioneer Medal for Excellence in Law and Public Service in 1984. He also led the University’s first major capital campaign, surpassing the initial $100 million goal  by $60 million, enabling endowed professorships, merit scholarships, and other expansive academic goals to be realized. Ambassador Barclay also served as a College of Law Board of Advisors member.

Nevertheless, Leader Barclay admits there was some trepidation when he stepped on the campus after receiving his undergraduate degree from St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. “Syracuse University is a much bigger institution, and I didn't know what to expect,” he says. “But starting with Dean Michael Hoeflich, I always felt I was part of a community at Syracuse Law, which was a big concern for me coming from a small place like Canton, but I made great friends immediately.”

Leader Barclay recalls that in particular professors William C. Banks and Robert Rabin made him feel at home. “I've done a few  things in my life that left me feeling unfulfilled, but that was not my experience at Syracuse Law. I made great friends, got a great legal education, and I left law school with a good feeling and an important foundation.” 

(L to R) Margaret Barclay, Ambassador H. Douglas Barclay L’61 (1932-2021), and Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay L’95.
(L to R) Margaret Barclay, Ambassador H. Douglas
BarclayL’61 (1932-2021), and Assembly Minority
Leader Will Barclay L’95.

Respect & Compassion

After graduating law school, Leader Barclay served as a clerk for the Hon. Roger J. Miner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, before joining the law firm of Hiscock & Barclay, now Barclay Damon, the firm his father first joined in 1961. Whereas Ambassador Barclay specialized in banking and administrative law, the younger Barclay—now a partner—concentrates his practice on business law with an emphasis on contracts and mergers and acquisitions.

First elected New York's 120th district Assemblyman in 2002, Leader Barclay has risen through the ranks of his Republican conference, taking on a number of key roles. Before being elected Minority Leader by his colleagues in January 2020, he served as Deputy Minority Leader, Assistant Minority Leader, Chair of the Minority Joint Conference Committee, Vice Chair of the Minority Program Committee, and Ranking Minority Member on the Ways and Means Committee. 

Asked what influence his father has had on his leadership style in Albany, Leader Barclay is clear: “I watched how my father would manage and treat people. He always treated them with respect and compassion.”

Like his impact on Syracuse University, Ambassador Barclay left an enduring mark across the New York State. In his 19 years in the Senate, he was responsible for more than 500 pieces of legislation, and he served as Chair of the Committee on Judiciary, the Select Task Force on Court Reorganization, and the Senate Republican Majority Conference.

“It's an honor”

Referring to his own ascension in the state capitol and Republican conference, Leader Barclay says he always looks "at where I can be most helpful, and sometimes that means moving up the ladder." He notes his father did the same, especially when the call came from President George W. Bush to represent his nation as Ambassador to El Salvador. "My father loves local and state government, but he also thought he could do something on the national level too."

After his post ended in 2006, Ambassador Barclay turned his attention toward home and to the Central New York economy. He became President of the Metropolitan Development Association (now the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity) and spearheaded the ambitious Vision2010 regional economic plan. 

Ambassador Barclay hoods Will Barclay at his son’s 1995 law graduation.
Ambassador Barclay hoods Will Barclay at his
son’s 1995 law graduation.

Ambassador Barclay's collaboration with multiple stakeholders during his time at MDA again left a deep impression on his youngest son. “He'd get really involved, take everyone seriously, and talk to people from the other side of the aisle,” recalls Leader Barclay. “He always spoke highly of them, listened to them, and was empathetic toward them. That kind of understanding is a skill.”

When asked what drives his passion for public service, Leader Barclay turns again to his abiding love of Central New York and a desire to help its citizens. “Pulaski has given us a lot, and there's something about giving back,” he explains. “I'm rewarded by helping constituents because that's one thing you can really do. Anything I can do to help, I'm willing to do it. I don't see it as a burden. It's an honor.” 

And is the torch of public service being passed to the next generation? Yes, says Leader Barclay. “I want my kids to be happy and to feel as though they are contributing something to their community as my parents have done,” he says. “We don't take things for granted. It takes work, effort, and compassion, but it makes me happy. That’s why I continue to do it. And I know my father felt the same way.”

“Be Flexible”: Will Barclay on Working with the NYS Assembly Minority Conference

There’s no doubt that tough yet finely honed leadership skills are required for the rough and tumble politics of New York State, yet Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay L’95 knows that getting things done in Albany means listening, collaboration, and not digging in your heels too hard:

 “When I have ideas about what I want our  conference to accomplish, I strategize on how to do that,  get input from staff and policy experts, and then meet with the conference to go over these strategies and get their perspective. You can find you are not always right, and you must be open to other viewpoints. Sometimes you have to let things go.”

 “In other words, don't be so rigid that you can't adapt. In my business, if you are too rigid, you will lose the faith of your conference. So try to be flexible and don't take it too personally. If that process means you come out with a better policy, that's good.”

Special Section: Syracuse Law Leaders in Public Service

In this issue of the Stories Book we celebrate alumni in public service. 

We begin with reflections by friends, teachers and classmates of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 who in January 2021, became the first University and College alumnus to reach the highest office in the United States, and only the seventh US president to graduate from a law school. 

We then catch up with other College of Law alumni in public service, including in this section, US Rep. John Katko L'88 and New York State Minority Leader Will Barclay L'95

Public Service Wordcloud

Always Ready to Take a Risk

Ahmed Hmeedat LL.M. ’16 on Using Law and Art to Empower Fellow Palestinians

Ahmed Hmeedat LL.M.’16
Ahmed Hmeedat LL.M.’16

In his remarks during the Class of 2016 Commencement exercises—at which now President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 delivered the formal address—Ahmed Hmeedat LL.M.’16 told of growing up a refugee and the importance of the rule of law.

Hmeedat recounted how he was raised in a refugee camp built near Jerusalem for internally displaced Palestinian people. During high school, he started to study the law, believing that “the rule of law and the development of a strong civil unoccupied society was what my country needed the most.”  

In his speech, he noted the ongoing injustices in Israeli-occupied Palestine, and at its conclusion, he shook Biden’s hand and offered him an open invitation to visit Bethlehem. Biden welcomed the gesture, as well as a gift of a charcoal portrait of himself that Hmeedat had drawn. 

After his studies in Syracuse, Hmeedat moved to Washington, DC, to support humanitarian work, first as a legal assistant with Physicians for Human Rights and then at Usilaw, a firm that provides immigration services and solutions.   

Although helping immigrants was rewarding, Hmeedat decided to return home, choosing to work at his former undergraduate university, Al-Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences in Jerusalem. In addition to the role he plays as a member of the College’s administration, he has developed and now teaches a course incorporating his two passions: art and law.  

We recently caught up with Hmeedat to see how his career in progressing in Palestine …

How has your training at the College of Law helped in your current position?

Law school taught me to be organized, professional, and a hard worker. During my time at Syracuse, I familiarized myself with a rigorous study style. I’d spend five to six hours daily at the library after classes. That became a habit even on brutally snowy days.

 Also, serving as the LL.M. senator and representative for the Student Bar Association helped my professional journey. In my current role—as an Al-Quds Bard College communication and recruitment officer and a lecturer in human rights and international law—I am constantly applying what I learned at Syracuse Law on different levels. For example, in law school I organized student events, whereas now I organize college fairs and tours. Also at Syracuse, I wrote long legal research papers and practiced presentations; now I teach students the same writing, research, and presentation skills.

What is your fondest memory at the College of Law? 

Sharing the Commencement podium with law school deans and Joe Biden and delivering a Commencement speech was a very profound experience. I got to speak to a huge crowd and truly be myself. I loved it because I sensed the trust that my fellow LL.M. students put in me to represent them at that landmark event.

“In my current role, I am constantly applying what

I learned at Syracuse Law on different levels.”

Outside of school, I greatly enjoyed exploring Central New York, and I miss the area’s natural beauty. On Fridays and Saturdays, I hosted gatherings at my home on Ostrom Avenue for international students. These were fun times to socialize and cook together.  

What advice do you have for a foreign lawyer who wishes to study in the United States? 

I do not like to advise. Advising is about telling people what to do and what not to do. It is like forcing others to try a shoe that only fits my foot. This would not be practical or helpful. I’d rather suggest some thoughts that people might benefit from:

  1. Have a five- to 10-year plan thought out and written down before you graduate.
  2. Find a mentor and ask about their experience. For instance, if you have a passion to be a criminal law attorney, find someone who is working in that field. You can get connections with many alumni through the law school’s LinkedIn page. Then, ask that person for a Zoom or phone call. The goal is to find someone in the same field you dream to work in. When you meet, ask how they feel about their current role and what a typical workday is like. Next, visualize yourself in that position and ask if this is what you envision for yourself? If yes, pursue that path, knowing the law school will point you like a torpedo towards that goal. If no, adjust your plan and use the school to further explore the things you are passionate about.
  3. Ensure balance. Try to manage your time to include room for shopping for healthy food, working out, and socializing. Expand your networking circle outside of the master’s degree class. Meet with J.D. students and participate in other clubs. Such connections might help refer you to jobs. You never know when you will use these connections, so always network.
Ahmed Hmeedat's LL.M.'16 charcoal portrait of then Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L'68 was given to Biden at the 2016 Commencement.
Ahmed Hmeedat's LL.M.'16 charcoal portrait of then
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L'68 was given
to Biden at the 2016 Commencement.

You’ve been described as a gifted artist and presented Biden with a portrait at your Commencement. Do you think it might be hanging at the White House?!

It was the idea of the law school to present my work as a gift from the college. I visited the art store in Syracuse for nearly 30 minutes to buy the needed supplies. I used charcoal to create the portrait,  which took me at least four hours. I sat for quite a while to think about how I could make a detailed portrait that would resemble him. It can be quite easy to create a portrait but to achieve resemblance is quite challenging.  

I wasn’t allowed to present the portrait directly to Biden, but it was given to one of his consultants who said it would be delivered as a gift. I can’t say if it is now hanging at the White House, but it would be great if I could know where it ended up!

How would you describe the relationship between art and law? 

For some, the relationship between art and law might be arbitrary; however, I have found a compromise. I see art as creativity—thinking out of the box, being adventurous, and willing to take risks. Law is about rationalization, circumstances, and reasoning. I like to blend these.  

Regarding law, I am always ready to take risks and jump into new tracks. I have used both vocations to create the syllabus for a new course, which I am teaching in the spring 2021. In this interdisciplinary course—“Resistance: Art of Activism and Human Rights”—I bridge the gap between art and law. Students read texts about the Palestinian citizenship legislation, and they study art projects that empower their sense of citizenship.

Driven: Gunther Buerman L’68 on the Road from Syracuse Law to the Newport Car Museum

Maggie and Gunther Buerman at the Newport Car Museum.
Maggie and Gunther Buerman at the Newport Car Museum.

Gunther Buerman L’68 could lay claim to being “The Most Interesting Man in the World!”

Through a legal career that saw him grow the Harris Beach PLLC law firm from 20 lawyers to over 200, to founding and owning the American Rock Salt Company, to his competitive sailing endeavors, to establishing what USA Today calls one of the “10 Best New Attractions in America”—the Newport Car Museum—Buerman also embodies Dean Boise’s belief that a “well-rounded person makes a well-rounded lawyer.”

Buerman’s path to the College of Law started as an undergraduate at St. Lawrence University, where he studied history and government. He thought about teaching, but when he learned his friends were applying to law schools, he took the law boards and scored in the 98th percentile. 

“Syracuse was gracious to see what I did in undergrad, and provided me with a full scholarship,” he recalls.

“Be entrepreneurial”

Top, Buerman competes in sailing events from his home in Newport, RI. Bottom, Buerman, on the left, is presented with a trophy after a race.
Top, Buerman competes in sailing events from his home
in Newport, RI. Bottom, Buerman, on the left, is
presented with a trophy after a race.

While in law school, business-related courses caught his interest. “Going back to undergrad, I was always interested in learning how to run a business, so courses on Contracts and Financial Transactions have served me well all these years and continue to do so,” Buerman says.

Upon graduating from Syracuse Law, Buerman began his legal career in Rochester, NY. He became Harris Beach’s Managing Partner by age 40 and served in that role and Chief Operating Officer for nearly 30 years, overseeing the tenfold growth in the firm’s personnel. 

“The business of running a law firm was a constant in my legal career,” says Buerman. “How does a firm in Upstate New York serve its clients with a good team, and how do you add to that team?” he says. The answer, he reveals, is to be entrepreneurial, and to instill that mindset in the attorneys and staff. Embracing new technologies quickly helps a firm stay on top, he adds. 

Along the way, Buerman assembled a sizeable private collection of automobiles. He had become hooked on the art of car design while at St. Lawrence. “I almost majored in fine arts. Cars are kinetic art and a reflection of the culture of when they were built. For example, the 1950s and ‘60s cars of the new jet and rocket age had rocket-like fins and tail lights like jet planes, and rocket exhausts. The collection started with an old ’66 Ford Mustang I inherited and fixed up. Then a Porsche, and from there it kept snowballing.” So much so, he had to install lifts in his home garage to store his collection.

“Let’s start a Museum!”

After retiring from Harris Beach, Buerman and his wife Maggie began splitting their time between Newport, RI—where they would race his TP52 and 12 Metre sailboats during the summer weekends—and a home in Florida. Their automobile collection was scattered between the two residences.

“Maggie and I realized we weren’t able to drive and enjoy the cars as much while racing the sailboats, so I said to her that we should sell them or start a museum. Her immediate response was, ‘Let’s start a museum!’” says Buerman. 

The Newport Car Museum features approximately 85 cars representing six decades of automobile innovation.
The Newport Car Museum features approximately
85 cars representing six decades of automobile innovation.

Using his experience as a lawyer, he and Maggie established the Newport Car Museum, a 501c(3) organization that occupies a former Patriot missile factory in nearby Portsmouth, RI. The Museum opened in 2017 and displays approximately 85 cars representing six decades of automobile innovation.

Having the Museum cars—all of which are from Buerman’s collection—open and accessible to visitors was an important feature for Buerman. Each car is on a platform and without ropes around them, which enables easy access and the ability to have them driven on the Museum grounds.

“Experience life”

Like for other businesses and attractions, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the Museum. “We closed on March 15 but were open in a limited capacity by early June,”  Buerman explains. “You couldn’t just open the doors. We had to put in place a whole new set of COVID-19 protocols. Since we have a lot of physical space, people could be socially distanced.” Now we are fully opened, without any COVID-19 restrictions.

Again, Buerman’s background as a lawyer helped the Museum navigate new regulations on labor issues that became critical during the pandemic.

The Museum is seeing a rebound in traffic as vaccines are rolled out and pandemic restrictions are rolled back. Buerman is bullish about the immediate future: “I see a ’Roaring ’20s scene about to happen again. People are looking for opportunities to get out and experience life. Maybe even the Charleston will come back!” 

“Looking back, I was lucky to go to a law school that served me so well and continues to do so,” Buerman adds. 

The View from the Corner Office

Alums Reflect on Their Journey from Law School to the C Suite

The College of Law has produced extraordinary leaders throughout its history. Today, our alumni include a president of the United States, congressional representatives, a state attorney general, college presidents, numerous judges, and other public servants, as well as business and nonprofit executives, entrepreneurs, managing partners, and many others in positions of influence.

In this second edition of The View from the Corner Office, we celebrate not only the journeys four alums have taken from the classroom to the executive suite but also their exemplary public service, on local, national, and international stages. 

Along the way, we learn that for an Orange lawyer, almost any career benefits from a Syracuse law diploma. Look for more C-suite stories in future issues of the Stories Book!


COO, Bed Bath & Beyond President, buybuy Baby
John Hartmann L'88
John Hartmann L'88

As career changes go, John Hartmann's move from a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond and President of buybuy BABY may seem unusual, but in this interview he explains the organic logic of his path and the skills he easily transferred from public service to corporate leadership.

Hartmann's path from the FBI to BBB began with a senior role at Cardinal Health, a health care services and logistics firm, where he leveraged his skills as an operative and his knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry he’d gained at the Bureau. His time at Cardinal Health led him to the logistics of the home improvement industry, first serving as Chief Executive Officer of Mitre10 then joining The Home Depot and HD Supply, where he had roles in technology, strategy, and mergers and acquisitions. 

Tapped to be President and Chief Executive Officer of True Value Company, he led the company—one of the world’s largest hardware wholesalers—through its transition from a dealer-owned co-operative to a network of independent retailers. Under his leadership, True Value implemented a successful "hyperlocal" marketing model and doubled the size of its sales force.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Hartmann’s journey eventually led him to his current position at one of the largest houseware goods specialty stores in the nation.

Did you imagine in law school that you’d eventually land in a corporate leadership role?

I knew that my Syracuse education would prepare me for an exciting career, but I didn't know I'd end up in a senior leadership role. As I progressed through law school, I was preparing for parallel career options. On one track I was preparing to be a practicing attorney in a law firm or company, but I was also interested in federal law enforcement and intelligence. After I took the bar exam, I became an FBI agent.

I've always had a passion for leadership. I was a member of the Army Reserve and President of the Law Student Senate while at Syracuse. During my tenure in the FBI, other leadership opportunities presented themselves. In my final year, I was a supervisory special agent, working with teams across the country and around the globe. I also investigated how foreign governments steal American technology, so economic espionage became a focus, and I learned a lot, about a lot of industries, such as in one particular investigation about pharmaceuticals. 

That experience helped my transition to Cardinal Health, where I was exposed to all aspects of business, which led me to The Home Depot in 2002.

How did law school prepare you for your current role?

Everything that is gained in a legal education can be applied to business. That includes critical thinking, listening to different perspectives, learning how to negotiate, and analytical thinking, which helps get at the root causes of business challenges and their solutions. 

What elements of your legal training—and your work at the FBI—do you apply in your position at Bed, Bath & Beyond?

Part of the fundamental intersection between my law school training and my experience at the FBI is the critical and analytical thinking, as well as emotional intelligence, that my day-to-day work at BBB requires.

At the FBI, you learn interpersonal and hone investigatory and problem solving skills. The vast majority of an agent's time is spent interviewing people, searching for truth and data points, and asking pertinent questions. You also gain social experiences by talking to thousands of people from all walks of life, all demographics. In turn, those critical formative experiences help develop emotional intelligence, which is very important in whatever direction you take your career.

In a rapidly changing world, what innovation has most affected your industry?

There's nothing more dramatic in retail than the proliferation of data and the ability to use that data to satisfy a customer's desire for prompt and effective solutions. Consumer expectations have changed dramatically. Now transactions take place in stores and online at about the same rate, and that dynamic continues to evolve.

How has your business overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Bed Bath & Beyond pivoted dramatically to continue to serve customers even while the majority of our stores were closed. Our online fulfillment model was already underway, but we accelerated our digital transformation to ship products and to offer curbside pickup and "buy online/pickup in store," or BOPIS, once stores reopened. 

 There is still absolutely a place for the store experience, however. Our customers desire it, and they help us inform that experience. We continue to meet the customers where they are and curate an experience that is inspirational, whether online, curbside, or in store. In the end, COVID-19 accelerated the direction retail was already heading. 

What memory from your law school days is dearest to you?

Thinking of the formal side of law school, there was my experience on the Law School Senate and the superb relationships I developed with professors, especially Professor William C. Banks. I admire Professor Banks not only for the work he did teaching us Constitutional Law but also for his work in national security law and for the United States in general. He's a tremendous asset to the law school and the country. 

Informally, there was a group of us that would go out on Thursday nights together. We weren't of extravagant means back then, but we would head to a local establishment and talk about our experiences, decompress, and build the kind of Orange experience that Syracuse promises—and delivers.


President, Crowne Plaza Lake Placid
Art Lussi L'88
Art Lussi L'88

Art Lussi is President of the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid, a resort in the Adirondack village that hosted the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympics. Restored and expanded, the resort now spans more than 1,000 acres of the Adirondacks and includes 45 holes of championship-level golf.

A Lake Placid native, Lussi excelled in tennis and skiing at Dartmouth College, and during law school he skied in the World University Games in Czechoslovakia. Admitted to the bar in New York State and Washington, DC, Lussi worked as a ski coach in Vail, CO, before returning to Lake Placid to help his family operate the Holiday Inn, now the Crowne Plaza. 

A member of the Lake Placid Vacation Corporation since 1991, Lussi was involved in the village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba Community Development Commission, which produced a Comprehensive Plan in 1997, mapping the economic future of the area. He is also a Commissioner for the Adirondack Park Agency and a Board Member of the Olympic Regional Development Authority and New York Ski Education Foundation, having served as the foundation's Chairman for 10 years. 

Did you imagine in law school that you’d eventually land in a corporate leadership role?

I thought I would be a sports agent, but I soon learned that you have to be an extremely aggressive negotiator and marketer to be successful, so I decided to coach ski racing after law school. After three years in Vail, teaching, working in a ski shop, and meeting my wife on the chairlift, I decided to join my family in the hospitality business. 

How did law school prepare you for your current role?

The summer legal educational opportunity program helped me realize that I could become a lawyer, and it was professors Samuel Donnelly and Emil Rossi L’72 who gave me the confidence to lead a business and stand up for environmental protection. Professor Robert Anderson was the zoning guru who prepared me for years as an Adirondack Park Agency Commissioner. Now 

I lead our family through local zoning issues in resort development.

What elements of your legal training do you apply in your position at Crowne Plaza?

Thinking like a lawyer really works! I'm an active listener—to employees, customers, and my family—and I document when the parking lot is plowed and the sidewalk shoveled! I also have defended employees in court when our insurance companies have recommended we retain outside counsel, and those wins have been especially sweet.  

In a rapidly changing world, what innovation has most affected your industry?

People now make reservations at the last minute in resort areas based on weather reports and real time adjustments, and we are fixated with online reservation services, so keeping up reservation availability and rate structures remains challenging. 

How has your business overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

We are fortunate to be in a remote area where visitors can play outside on our mountains and in our parks, on our golf courses, and on our ski slopes—and still remain socially distanced. We “super clean” our hotel rooms, and we are lucky  to be able to provide fresh air directly to our  guest rooms through sliding glass doors.

What memory from your law school days is dearest to you? 

In January 1987 I was selected to represent the College in Alpine skiing in the World University Games in Czechoslovakia, but I needed Acting Dean Stephen Wechsler’s approval. He said, 

“Young man, you do not take three weeks off to go ski racing in Europe and stay in law school.” However, Professor Peter Bell supported me, and the Dean relented—but he gave me my only D in law school later that spring, in contracts. 

There was no internet back then, and I remember on my return, in a cab in DC, asking the driver how the Orange was doing in the Big East Tournament. The driver said, “Man, Where you been? Them Orangemen’s in the Sweet Sixteen of the Big Show.” SU kept on winning , and I ended up flying to New Orleans with fellow classmate—and now judge—Mike St. Leger L’88 for the Final Four! 


Director and Chief Diversity Officer for the Office of Civil Rights for the Office of the Secretary, US Department of Interior (DOI)
Erica White-Dunston L'98
Erica White-Dunston L'98

An expert in civil rights and employment law, Erica White-Dunston is Director and Chief Diversity Officer for the Office of Civil Rights for the Office of the Secretary, US Department of Interior (DOI). As Director, White-Dunston is responsible for developing and implementing workplace strategies that aid DOI in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. She also provides oversight to DOI bureaus, identifying and eliminating discriminatory practices via applicable Title VI and Title VII laws.

From 2001 to 2010, White-Dunston worked at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), first in the Office of General Counsel as a trial attorney in systemic litigations, with collateral duty assignments with the Office of Federal Operations and the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). In 2006, White-Dunston was reassigned to OEO, where she performed federal sector review for complaint processing. In 2008, she chaired the agency’s Disability Task Force, which resulted in the restructuring of the agency’s Disability Program. 

Recognizing her superior knowledge in human rights and Equal Employment Opportunity laws and training, in 2014 White-Dunston became one of only 11 Internal Revenue Service employees named a Department of Treasury Certified Strategic Partner. In 2015, she became a Presidential Management Council Interagency Fellow, a program to nurture excellence through cross-agency exposure, and she served a six-month detail to the Chief Human Capital Officers’ Council at the Office of Personnel Management. In May 2016, White-Dunston returned to EEOC as the new OEO Director. 

As a law student, White-Dunston received the Seely Johnson Award for Outstanding Leadership in an African American student, the Ralph Kharas Award for Outstanding Leadership in Moot Court, and the Order of the Barristers.

Did you imagine in law school that you’d eventually land in a government leadership role?

No! I knew I would be focused on serving underserved communities, but not in this capacity.

How did law school prepare you for your current role?

My class was comprised of a spectrum of races, national origins, and religions, and there was always something to learn from everyone, so I developed skills that focused on collaborative partnerships and the interpersonal and negotiation skills necessary to obtain buy-in from differing points of view.

What elements of your legal training do you apply in your position at the US Department of the Interior?

I use every bit of my legal training when assessing claims of discrimination and delivering findings. I approach questions through the IRAC (issue, rule, analysis and conclusion) model, which I learned in law school and which I have taught my staff.

In a rapidly changing world, what innovation has most affected your industry?

The ability to electronically file and  respond to complaints of discrimination increases opportunities and access to address not only Title VI and VII complaints, but all equity, diversity, and inclusion-related concerns in the workplace.

How has your department overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Because my department was already heavily focused on complying with tech requirements as mandated by the EEOC, we were not as affected by the pandemic challenges. We were immediately able to meet our customer needs while working  from the safety of our homes with little to  no break in customer service and organizational support.

What memory from your law school days is dearest to you?

The friendships that I still have cannot be over-emphasized, but my dearest memory is of the Hon. James Graves L’80. During one of the Coming Back to Syracuse events, I told him of the challenge I was having with administrative law. Despite his busy schedule, he tutored me by phone. His willingness to help has never been forgotten because it made such a difference for me. I never forgot how a small act of kindness  can have a huge ripple effect. Because of  that kindness, I strive to provide that type  of support daily. 

"A Really Exciting Time!" The Role of a Government Diversity Officer Under a New Administration

Erica White-Dunston L’98 became Director and Chief Diversity Officer in the Department of the Interior's Office of Civil Rights in September 2019. DOI employs 70,000 people across 11 bureaus and seven offices. To understand her critical role within her department and the government—especially under the transition to the President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 administration—we asked White-Dunston to describe her mandate and how it is evolving ... 

My mandate is to ensure that every employee has an employee life cycle that provides a work environment that is free from discriminatory animus and hostility.  

I ensure that Title VII, and all of the discriminatory bases covered by it, are not evidenced in the workplace. To the extent they are, my role is to ensure that the department eradicates and corrects such behavior. We do this is a number of ways, ranging from proactive prevention with training  and consultative services for employees and management to findings of discrimination that may result in compensatory damages and/or some form  of discipline for bad actors.  

With the recent change in presidential administration, there is a significant change in the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) community— as it is known in the federal sector—because of the issuance of executive orders 13985 and 13988 by President Biden.  

Those EOs specifically reinstate diversity and inclusion training that had been held in abeyance since the former administration issued its Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping order in September 2020. The new EOs mandate that every federal agency review its policies, practices, and contracts to determine whether they are being conducted with an EDI consideration. 

The Biden EOs also require federal agencies to review whether EDI programs are sufficiently funded to combat the disparity in the employee life cycles of underrepresented groups in federal government.  

This review is unprecedented in that there has never been a requirement for this level of consideration of EDI on governmental services. Needless to say, I'm incredibly busy because the work of my program is now a department priority. It is a really exciting time!


Chief Operating Officer, Reddy Vineyards
Eric Sigmund L'12
Eric Sigmund L'12

Eric Sigmund has been Chief Operating Officer at Reddy Vineyards since 2019. “My path to wine came somewhat unexpectedly,” he says. While working in international law in Washington, DC, he took a weekend job at Total Wine & More stocking shelves and selling wine to help pay off student loans.

“Then I made a dramatic shift and took a full-time job at Total,” Sigmund explains, becoming first a sales associate, then a supervisor, then wine manager at the flagship store in Maryland, before landing the role of assistant French Fine Wine Buyer.

An introduction from Sumeet Batra L’12—now a senior business analyst at Amazon who grew up with Akhil Reddy—connected Sigmund with the vintner as he planned to launch the estate-grown Reddy Vineyard wines and build a new state-of-the-art winery. With his extensive on-the-job wine experience and mind for business and law, Sigmund was a good fit. 

In February 2019, Sigmund moved his family to Texas to work full-time with the Reddys. Today, the Brownfield, TX-based vineyard has planted more than 300 acres on the fertile Texas High Plains. “I believe in 10 to 15 years, Texas wines will be right up there with California, Oregon, and Washington," says Sigmund.  

Did you imagine in law school that you’d eventually land in a corporate leadership role?

My initial career plan looked much different! After graduating, I worked as a legal adviser for the American Red Cross. It was a wonderful and challenging opportunity, but institutional challenges made it difficult to continue our work. At the same time, I had begun to be interested in wine working at Total Wine & More. This interest developed into a passion. I quickly earned multiple promotions until I became Assistant Wine Buyer at the company's national headquarters, where I was responsible for procurement, logistics, and compliance for the company’s French wine portfolio.

How did law school prepare you for your current role?

Due to my international law focus, I spent a lot of time with Professor David Crane L’80. He knew how to motivate through honest and direct feedback that would build your confidence, he showed compassion, and he always found a way to elevate my game. Professor Sanjay Chhablani, revered as a no-nonsense teacher, taught me how to truly prepare for a task and to think critically.

What elements of your legal training do you apply in your position at Reddy Vineyards?The law and the alcoholic beverage industry are intertwined in ways that many people are unaware. Legal compliance touches many facets of my job—from production parameters; to how wines are labeled; to taxes, logistics, interstate sales, reporting, and more. Whether its navigating the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's regulations or strengthening direct-to-consumer sales, I use the research, analytical, and writing skills I developed in law school. 

In a rapidly changing world, what innovation has most affected your career?

Looking back on my law education, I'd say that experiential learning had the most dramatic impact on my career. Role-plays and simulations prepare students to be far more competent practitioners. In my opinion, experiential learning is the single most powerful tool educators can use to prepare their students for the real world.  

How has your business overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 presented significant challenges to our business, but it also presented unique opportunities that we were able to capitalize on in order to grow our business. 

COVID forced brands to be flexible and evolve industry marketing tactics by years in a matter of months. Reddy Vineyards was very quick to pivot our sales strategy to optimize our digital presence, and we adopted virtual strategies to bring our products directly into peoples’ homes.

We also doubled down on our wholesale strategy, something that very few producers in Texas have chosen to pursue, even accelerating our production timelines to launch a new line of wines to provide greater access to the retail marketplace. 

As a result, we found success through the off-premise (retail) alcohol boom, and our products are now distributed statewide in partnership with the nation’s largest distributor. We will continue to diversify our business model this year by opening our first tasting room, looking to capture the rise in wine tourism as the state reopens. 

Next year is the 25th anniversary of Reddy Vineyards, so we are already preparing programming to celebrate that occasion. I am incredibly proud of our team’s hard work, and I am excited to see the company continue to grow. 

What memory from your law school days is dearest to you? 

The College of Law had a unique way of bringing people at all levels together through openness, respect, mentorship, and a desire to elevate everyone in the school. I am grateful to be a part of the family!

Adom M. Cooper L’12 Finds Risk and Reward at the State Department

Adom Cooper L'12
Adom Cooper L'12

Given his current line of work, one of Adom M. Cooper’s L’12 pieces of advice to current law students is entirely appropriate: if you want to enter the field of national security and international affairs, he says, “really think about what risks you are willing to take.”

As an Operations Planning Specialist, High-Threat Programs at the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Cooper works in a part of the state department that spends a great deal of time assessing hazards for those who serve abroad in embassies and consulates. His journey to this niche career in public service was itself filled with risk—and plenty of reward. 

“Hooked on learning”

At the University of Michigan, Cooper—whose father is an anesthesiologist—was contemplating a science and biology track before he took his first risk and switched to political science and communications. But when he took part in a summer 2008 WorldTeach service project in Namibia, his career began to bend toward the law and specifically its interaction with diplomacy, development, security, and social justice. 

“In Namibia, I helped schools and teachers get acquainted with computer literacy and the Internet after the Ministry of Education passed a law mandating that all teachers must have a basic, working knowledge of computers. Many of them had never used a computer before,” Cooper says. 

His post was in the far north of the country, beyond the “red line,” a 600-mile fence (officially for pest control measures) that demarcates the rural north from the former colonial south. “I helped a school get its first Internet connection, and I became hooked on learning how laws worked differently in different countries.” 

Returning home to the 2008 economic crash, Cooper decided to take another chance and switch from journalism—where jobs were becoming scarce—toward legal studies and Syracuse. 

Another big leap saw Cooper return to southern Africa at the end of his 1L year. “I wanted to get involved in international law, so in summer 2010 I studied abroad at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, as part of a Howard University-run program.” While in Cape Town, Cooper took international law classes, worked at a law firm, and in the evenings enjoyed World Cup games being played across South Africa that year.

Back in Syracuse, Cooper continued to specialize, taking national security classes with professors William C. Banks and David Crane L’80, international law classes—such as Law of the Sea with Professor Tara Helfman—and international relations classes at the Maxwell School. 

“Squeeze every resource”

Graduating with certificates in national security and postconflict reconstruction, Cooper spent time networking and shopping his resume, especially at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. 

His second piece of advice to students is borne out of these experiences. “Find ways to get connected to people in your chosen field,” he observes. “I can’t tell you how many informational interviews I have done, even with my peers.”   

“I can't tell you how many informational interviews I have done, even

with my peers. As an African American, there are constant barriers to entry,

and you have to squeeze every resource around you for all they are worth.”

“As an African American, there are constant barriers to entry, and you have to squeeze every resource around you for all they are worth. Many internships and fellowships, which lead to great job opportunities, are unpaid. This instantly rules out candidates from marginalized and untapped communities.”

His determined networking eventually led to a job at the UN Population Fund, where he helped edit a landmark report called “Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage.” He also coordinated legislative initiatives pushing countries to raise their legal age of marriage to 18 and organized a high-level panel event for the 2012 International Day of the Girl Child, which included luminaries such as Desmond Tutu and Michele Bachelet. “I later packaged up the report and sent it to all 193 member countries,” he adds. 

After that essential experience, Cooper moved to Washington, DC, as an International Law Fellow at the American Society of International Law (ASIL). Because of the fellowship’s low stipend, Cooper notes that “I was only able to move to DC as my godparents live here and were gracious enough to host me, changing my career trajectory.”

“A historical lens” 

After ASIL, Cooper joined consultants Lee Bayard Group LLC as Legislative and External Relations Director. Then, after responding to an ad on a Syracuse University listserv, he moved to the state department in early 2015. 

Cooper says the focus on “high threats” at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security is a response to the 2012 attack on US government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, which led to the deaths of two diplomats and 10 government investigations.  

One recommendation from the 2012 unclassified Congressional Accountability Review Board called on the state department to reform its security approach at "high threat posts," or embassies and consulates in conflict zones. With his background in national security, development, and international law and relations—as well as his experiences abroad—it’s work Cooper is well-suited to do.

Today, in addition to his state department duties, Cooper is a fellow at the Truman National Security Project, a leadership development project of the Truman Center for National Policy for which Cooper has returned to another of his vocations: writing. 

“The Truman Center encourages its members to get their voices out there. So in 2020, I started writing and publishing more,” says Cooper, whose work has been featured in Just Security, NY Daily News, USA Today, and elsewhere. “I write about things that aren’t often addressed, and I like to look at contemporary issues of national security through a historical lens.”

“Find your tribe”

Cooper’s Just Security article— “US ‘National Security’ Must Apply to the Entire Nation”—is an example of his approach. It connects his maternal grandfather’s service on a World War II submarine chaser to his and his African American compatriots’ experiences before and after the war (“continually exposed to domestic enemies at home, in the forms of institutionalized racism and hate groups”), to the importance of the US “effectively addressing foreign policy and national security challenges and issues” by doing more “to acknowledge, accept, and confront its flawed history.” 

Recently, Cooper contributed a personal narrative to a Truman Center report—"Transforming State”—about modernizing and diversifying the state department. 

Like his opinion pieces, this narrative also interrogates the nation’s "flawed history." He writes about his uncomfortable experience passing Confederate flags and monuments while on a temporary tour of duty (TDY) near Charlottesville, VA, at the time of the notorious 2017 "Unite the Right” rally. "The fact that I was working on international security issues during this TDY while there were clear and present domestic security issues close to me is sadly ironic and dysfunctional.”

Cooper urges the state department to find “the personnel, ethos, or resources” to ensure the safety of its increasingly diverse personnel, “and it must address this domestically in the same manner that it does abroad.”

This latter comment brings us to Cooper’s final piece of advice to students, especially “students who look like me interested in this kind of career.” It echoes his  “Transforming State” narrative and its call to support people from marginalized and untapped communities in national security. 

“You will need a close group of friends to bounce ideas off and to vent to,” he notes, admitting that the path won’t always be smooth. “Every day, I still connect with three other African American alums—David Chaplin L’13, G’13; Yemi Titus Falodun G’12; and Jonathan Marshall G’11—via a group text we started before we graduated. No topic is off limits, and we support each other. We talk about everything: relationships, finances, sports, politics, and life decisions. So, I’d tell students to ‘find your tribe!’”

Practice Makes (Law) Perfect

Five Musician-Attorneys Discuss the “Duet” Between Music and the Law

Where do you stand on the “left brain v. right brain” debate? Anecdotally, you may know of effortlessly creative people—artists, actors, writers, musicians—who get a little flummoxed by math, and of brilliantly rational minds who wonder at the emotions others feel for paintings, songs, or movies. 

But in reality, there is plenty of debate about whether our brains really are wired in such a strict, bicameral way. In fact, when it comes to practicing law, the ability to combine and balance our rational and artistic “sides” might give those entering the profession from creative disciplines special advantages. But what are they? 

In the 2020 Stories Book, we explored the nexus of creativity and law with alumni who write fiction and non-fiction. In this issue, we turn our lens on five musician-attorneys—four alumni and one professor, representing a spectrum of instruments—and ask them about how their passion for music has affected their practice of law.

Organizing the article in a form familiar to musicians of all abilities, we present their perspectives in five lessons ...

Lesson 1: Pursue your passions, both within and outside the law.

David Miller L’69 with his daughter, and singer, Rebecca Dumaine. Photo credit: Rosaura Studios.
David Miller L’69 with his daughter, and singer,
Rebecca Dumaine. Photo credit: Rosaura Studios.

As a partner at Northern California firm Hanson Bridgett LLP, David Miller L’69 has enjoyed a long and successful career in public agency law. Over the years, he’s provided counsel to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District and the Caltrain commuter rail system, among other high profile clients, and this deep experience has meant invitations to offer his wisdom to graduating students.

“I once gave a commencement address about pursuing one's passions,” Miller recalls. “I told the graduates that you might be entering a field that you spend a good part of your day doing, but anything that's an avocation is a vital piece to carry forward, be it acting or music or art. When you go into practice, don’t let go of what drove you into those other areas of your life. Be multidimensional.”

Miller certainly practices what he preaches. His avocation is piano, particularly jazz piano: “I was trained classically, but today I play a range of jazz styles.” His combo has been productive during the coronavirus pandemic, recording two CDs—featuring his daughter Rebecca DuMaine on vocals—for Summit Records, Someday, Someday and The Mask-erade. “Both CDs, but particularly Someday, Someday, include tunes that speak to loss of the types experienced by so many during the past year.”

Encouraged by his musically gifted family—and especially his maternal grandmother—to pursue musical study, Miller admits that the piano lid was closed while he studied law. But as a young attorney in California, his love of playing re-emerged, thanks in part to happenstance. Miller recalls a Hanson Bridgett function that had booked a three-piece jazz combo, but when the pianist didn’t show up, Miller filled in. 

“That function was 38 years ago. I wound up making a lifelong friendship and partnership [with drummer Bill Belasco] out of that gig!”

After that event, music continued to dovetail with his practice, often because his public service clients requested music at events. “One example was when I worked with former Sen. Barbara Boxer. Through this relationship, I got to play political events and was invited to Senate retreats, where I would accompany musical shows the senators put on,” recalls Miller. “The connection between work and music seemed natural to me.”

Lesson 2: Music can balance a sometimes stressful occupation.

Mike Tyszko L’15 (drummer) and Joseph Frateschi L’14 (sax) play at the 2019 Law Alumni Weekend.
Mike Tyszko L’15 (drummer) and Joseph Frateschi L’14 
(sax) play at the 2019 Law Alumni Weekend.

Also dovetailing—or to use a term familiar to a drummer, syncopating—his law career and love of music is Michael W. Tyszko L’15, a business and tax practice associate at Syracuse, NY, firm Bousquet Holstein PLLC.

Like many attorneys, Tyszko is active in his community, and for him that service has a musical flair. He plays drums in Bousquet Holstein's company band, which has participated in Syracuse’s Rockin’ the Red House Battle of the Bands fundraiser (for the Red House theater) since 2016. His jazz combo—which includes fellow alum Joseph Frateschi L’14, of Baldwin, Sutphen & Frateschi PLLC, on saxophone—plays local fundraisers and other events, including for the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, the Women's Bar of Central New York, and the College’s Law Alumni Weekend. 

Rounding out the styles this versatile percussionist plays, Tyszko also has time for a brass ensemble. 

“Since before law school, I’ve played in the percussion section of the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble,” says Tyszko, who currently serves as Chair of the group’s Board of Directors. “It's a great community of friends, and I want music to be like this, to be joyful.” 

“I always had to prove my chops earlier in life,” says Tyszko, who holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Michigan and who at one point wanted to be a school music director. “Now I don't want to take myself too seriously.”

“Law can be such a stressful profession at times,” Tyszko continues, admitting that during his undergrad studies, music “got wound up” with stress too. “I was starting to think of it as a job. I didn’t want my music to be like that, so that was the beginning of my move into law.”

Today, Tyszko says that he sees music as a “balance point” for his legal career, or as he observes—paraphrasing jazz drumming great Art Blakely—“music washes away the dust of everyday life.”

Lesson 3: Skills required by music can give lawyers an edge.

Professor David Driesen (back row, second from right) poses with the Excelsior Cornet Band.
Professor David Driesen (back row, second from
right) poses with the Excelsior Cornet Band.

Miller and Tyszko address how music can both complement and balance a legal career, but what of skills that transfer between the two disciplines? It seems that, like a good duet, there’s plenty of interplay.

“In my opinion there is a great deal of transfer of skills,” says Tyszko, noting that one of these transferable skills is problem solving “which for a musician means working on a passage of music and being aware of how it is performed before presenting it.”

Another skill is what David Miller calls “refinement,” akin to a writer's editing and shaping process. “What do we learn in law school? To refine our ability to communicate, to be logical and understandable, and to simplify complex issues,” he observes.

To these commonalities, Professor David Driesen offers another: “There's a special skill both law and music require, to quickly and intuitively respond to a complex situation.” Much like musicians learning to play as an ensemble, lawyers must process and synthesize information quickly. In law, says Driesen, “You need to read a lot of cases, see patterns, and intuitively understand them.”

Like Miller and Tyszko, Driesen was formally trained—he holds a master’s degree in trumpet performance—before switching disciplines and becoming one of the nation’s leading experts on environmental law and the rule of law. Earlier in his music career, he played orchestral works, “but today I play in the SU Brass Ensemble and the Excelsior Cornet Band.”

The latter bills itself as New York State’s only authentic Civil War-era brass band, performing period music on 19th century instruments. That means Driesen must master a different kind of brass: the modern trumpet is a piston valve instrument, but for the cornet band he picks up the rotary valve Bb saxhorn (sometimes called a rotary valve cornet).

Having been a professional musician in his 20s, Driesen says that—like Miller—playing took second fiddle once his law career began. Today, like Tyszko, he sees playing as “a sort of balance thing.”

“If you are working all day in one way, it gets stale. It’s good exercise to flit back and forth between writing and music playing. That’s just good for your mind,” says Driesen. “These days, I don’t have the time for three hours of practice a day and hustling for gigs. With Excelsior and the brass ensemble, I have found a nice balance.”

Lesson 4: A critical common skill is performance—whether playing for an audience or advocating for a client.

Gabriela Wolfe L’16 meets now President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 at the 2016 College of Law Commencement.
Gabriela Wolfe L’16 meets now President Joseph R. Biden
Jr. L’68 at the 2016 College of Law Commencement.

Fear of public speaking is a potential barrier for anyone entering the law. Whether being called upon in class, speaking in court, or advocating for a client in front of a stern hearing panel, young lawyers must learn to speak in front of others with confidence and flair.

Musicians call this fear stage fright, something which afflicts even top professionals, such as singer Barbra Streisand and guitarist Robbie Robertson. But it seems that if you can overcome stage fright, public speaking comes more naturally. 

“I find public speaking to be a lot easier since 

I have been a professional musician,” observes Driesen. Similarly, Tyszko notes that, “As attorneys we must persuade and influence a court or third party to be favorable to our client. A lawyer’s work product can be thought of as a performance.”

Vocalist Gabriela Wolfe L’16, an Assistant Public Defender in the Monroe County (NY) Public Defender’s Office, knows the trials of public performance only too well. In fact, pushing through a bad turn and eventually triumphing is at the heart of one of her enduring law school anecdotes. 

“It's tradition for a 3L to sing the national anthem at Commencement,” Wolfe recalls when asked about singing the National Anthem at the 2016 ceremony. That year, Wolfe—who has no formal training in music but grew up singing in church—decided she would audition, not knowing that the speaker would be now President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68. 

“I was very nervous and remember warming up my voice in my car before the audition,” Wolfe recalls. She hadn’t sung in a while, and initially the audition did not go well. “When I reached a high note, my voice cracked,” she says. “So I yelled an expletive, touched my toes, took a few breaths, and was determined to try again.” The judges looked as though they had seen enough, she says, “but I insisted.” Suggesting they turn their chairs around, the judges let Wolfe have another go. “I sang again, and I got the part.”

Asked whether Biden’s presence made her nervous on the day all over again, Wolfe explains, “By the time I heard he was speaker, I was so nervous in general, it didn't make much difference!”

In the end, Biden helped Wolfe relax, and her performance was flawless. “I didn't realize I’d have so much interaction with him. As soon as he shook my hand, it calmed me down.”

The take-away? “For me, performing is about proving to yourself that you are capable,” Wolfe says. “I’m the first in my family to go to college, so I always want to throw my hat in the ring. When showtime comes, I give it all I’ve got. I’m so grateful I didn’t let my first attempt to sing the anthem be the end of it.”

Lesson 5: There’s a reason they call it “practice”.

Susan K. Reardon L’76 continues to play piano at home “almost daily.”
Susan K. Reardon L’76 continues to play
piano at home “almost daily.”

For pianist and Board of Advisors Member Susan K. Reardon L’76, two threads that bind music and law have intertwined throughout her successful career—which culminated in her serving as Director of International Policy, Worldwide Government Affairs, and Policy at Johnson & Johnson—and into her retirement, which came in 2014.

First is the ability of music to balance stress.

“Playing piano requires total concentration, so you are immediately removed from daily and global sources of stress,” says Reardon, who took lessons in childhood at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute of Music and who would sneak into the University’s Crouse College piano practice rooms to play as a student. “When I was working, I still managed to set aside most Sunday evenings to play two or three hours with my duet buddy before I delved into what I had to do in the week ahead. That planning was made less stressful with the lingering joy of music making.”

Second is performance. Although these days Reardon mostly plays solo or with her duet partner, there was a time when she gigged. “That was many years ago at a Gay 90s bar in Ocean City, MD, as part of a trio with banjo and trumpet. That is the only time I was paid to play. We weren’t very good though!”

“Both music and law require, to a degree, showmanship,” Reardon continues. “As a lawyer, I brought those skills together to perform for judges, juries, clients, and employers. As a pianist, I perform almost daily, albeit mostly for myself. Music and the law have contributed enormously to my quality of life.” Ultimately, Reardon says, both music and law “are characterized by order, discipline, and beautifully crafted language. Learning to read music and learning how to think like a lawyer require training your brain through hard work and concentration.”

To an outsider, it might seem odd that lawyers “practice” their profession. Don’t you already have a law degree?! But Reardon gets at the heart of why the two disciplines share that word in common, for both require the constant application and exercise of skills and craft built over a lifetime. 

Or, as Mike Tsyzko puts it with a drummer’s final crescendo: “Law is called a ‘practice’ because you are improving all the time and working on the fundamentals, working toward more refinement.” 

A Chili Festival That Warmed Hearts—Three Ways

Mark Kompa L'80
Mark Kompa L'80

It's said that good things come in threes. That's certainly true of a College of Law tradition remembered fondly by one of its founders, Mark Kompa L'80: the Groundhog Day Chili Festival. A staple of the College's social scene in the late 1970s, Kompa recalls the three elements—music, friends, and food—that served as the festival's inspiration.

First was Kompa's love of music, and in particular the Outlaw Country music made famous by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson in the Seventies. "I've always been a music lover," says Kompa, whose Law Offices of Mark A. Kompa are in Laguna Hills, CA. 

A native of "Music City" Nashville, TN, Kompa recalls his first concert was a triple bill featuring Steppenwolf, The Grassroots, and Chairmen of the Board, a combination that could inspire anyone to try their hand at guitar. By the time he was in law school, his taste had turned to country. In particular, it was Willie Nelson's famous Fourth of July Picnic, which began in 1972, that gave him the idea for the College of Law's own music-and-food fest.

The second source of inspiration was Kompa's colleagues. Fellow first-year classmates—Brigid Carroll Anderson L'80, Marguerette Hosbach L'80, Lon Levin L'80, and Eric Smith L'80—helped him run with the idea, with Hosbach providing the venue. "Marg was living in an apartment building at the time that had a large party room," remembers Kompa. 

The date of the festival seemed particularly fitting for a gathering of friends. "Around Groundhog Day seemed a good time to hold the festival because everybody was settled in for the spring semester. That was a good time to get together and catch up." 

The third element—the food—also came from Nashville. Founded in 1907, Varallo's Chili Parlor and Restaurant is a well-known gastronomic destination that is famous for serving "Chili Three Ways," described as by The Tennessean as "layered combination of spaghetti, tamales, and chili."

"The first year we charged $5 to cover our costs and about 85 people showed up," says Kompa, who served as a “Chili Three Ways” chef. Music was also provided by Kompa, joined by Levin and Bruce Wood L’80, whom he remembers as “excellent guitarists.” They covered songs by The Beatles, Neil Young, and others before inviting classmates up to the front to play. 

"The second and third year, even more people showed up," recalls Kompa. “It was a lot of work cooking for that many, but several of my classmates pitched in with the cooking, and it was a lot of fun.”

No wonder Kompa has such good memories of his law school days, although the social scene he helped create was by no means the whole story. "Syracuse was a good place to attend law school. I went when a lot of professors—such as Daan Bravemen and Peter Bell—were just starting. There was a lot of enthusiasm. Syracuse really prepared me for my career."

Although the Groundhog Day Chili Festival may be gone, it is far from forgotten. It was a topic of conversation when the classmates got back together via Zoom for their 40th anniversary at Law Alumni Weekend 2020. And the stirring of those memories—plus thoughts of retirement after 32 years at his own law firm and attending a concert by another music legend, Sir Paul McCartney—have inspired Kompa to pick up his ax again.

"My Christmas present to myself last year was a Fender Telecaster, and I have also bought myself a Martin D28 acoustic guitar," he says. Because they say good things come in threes, perhaps Kompa might be adding something else to his guitar collection soon: a country-style resonator guitar, perhaps, or a McCartney violin bass?!  

In Memoriam

H. Douglas Barclay L’61


H. Douglas Barclay L’61
H. Douglas Barclay L’61

H. Douglas Barclay L’61, of Pulaski, New York, a Syracuse University Life Trustee and former Board Chair whose renowned career in public service included 20 years in the New York State Senate and positions under two U.S. presidents, died March 14 at age 88.

Barclay was elected to the Syracuse University Board of Trustees in 1979 and served as a Voting Trustee until 2007. He held several leadership roles during his time with the Board, including chair of the Board from 1992 to 1998; chair of the Board Investment and Endowment Committee from 1985 to 1992; chair of the $160 Million “Campaign for Syracuse University”; and chair of the search committee for the Chancellor in 1991.

Barclay was also a member of the College of Law Board of Advisors. In 1984, he received the George Arents Award, the University’s highest alumni honor.

“Doug was such a force in his professional life of public service, yet he found time to remain connected to his alma mater and serve Syracuse University in many valuable ways,” says Board Chair Kathleen Walters ’73. “On behalf of the Board, we extend our deepest sympathies and support to Doug’s wife, Dee Dee, the entire Barclay family and everyone who knew and loved Doug.”

Barclay earned a J.D. from Syracuse University’s College of Law in 1961 and a B.A. from Yale University in 1955. He served in the United States Army from 1955 until 1957. He was recognized with honorary degrees from Syracuse University, Clarkson University, the State University of New York at Oswego, Le Moyne College and St. Lawrence University.

Barclay and his wife, Sara “Dee Dee” Seiter Barclay, provided the lead gift for the establishment of the H. Douglas Barclay Law Library in the College of Law. They generously supported other initiatives in the College of Law, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University Athletics, Syracuse University Libraries and international enrollment.

“A towering figure in local, state and national government, Doug never forgot his Central New York roots,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “Doug remained a strong advocate of Syracuse University, and we all benefitted from the knowledge and experience he brought to the Board and the generosity he showed to our students.”

Barclay was elected to 11 consecutive terms in the New York State Senate from 1965-84. During his tenure, he chaired the Senate Codes Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Select Task Force on Court Reorganization and the Senate Republican (Majority) Conference.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush appointed Barclay a public board member of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. He served there until 1993, when his successor was named. In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Barclay to represent the United States at the inauguration of the president of the Republic of Costa Rica and to serve as a member of the panel of conciliators at the International Center of the Settlement of Investments Disputes. He also served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador from 2003-07.

“Ambassador Barclay was a larger-than-life figure whose distinguished career in public service spanned many years,’’ says College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise. “He made many significant contributions to the University, the College of Law, New York state and the nation. The College of Law community extends our deepest condolences to the Barclay family.”

Barclay was counsel to, and former partner of, Barclay Damon LLP, Central New York’s oldest law firm, with offices throughout New York, Boston, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and Toronto. He specialized in banking and administration law.

Barclay was chair of the Board of Directors of Douglaston Manor Inc., and owner and operator of Douglaston Salmon Run fishing reserve and Quality Machined Products (QMP), a family-owned and operated machined products company. He was past chair of the Board of Directors of Panthos Corp., QMP Enterprises, Eagle Media and CenterState CEO (formerly the Metropolitan Development Association).

Barclay also chaired the Compensation Committee of KeyCorp, which operates through Key Community Bank and Key Corporate Bank. His previous board service included KeyBank of Central York, Key Trust Company of Florida, Key Financial Services, Key Pacific Bancorp, Empire Airlines, Syracuse China Corp., Giant Portland and Masonry Cement Co., Coradian Corp., Mohawk Airlines, and Excelsior Insurance Co.

A former overseer of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, Barclay was a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and chair of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of the United Way of Central New York. He was also the former president (1991-2003), chairman emeritus (2003-present) and member of the Board of Directors of the Syracuse Metropolitan Development Association. Barclay also served on the New York State Economic Development Power Allocation Board, the Board of Directors of Modern Courts, and the Board of the New York Racing Association.

Barclay was a recipient of the Private Sector Initiative Commendation from the President of the United States; the John Jay Education Award from The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York; and multiple El Salvadorian honors, including the “Noble Amigo de El Salvador” (“Noble Friend of El Salvador”) award from that country’s legislative assembly in 2006, and the Republic of El Salvador’s Award of the Orden Nacional Jose Matias Delgado en el Grado de Gran Cruz de Plata in 2007.

Doug is survived by his wife Dee Dee and their children Kathryn, David, Dorothy Chynoweth G’88 (School of Education), Susan G’91 (School of Education) and William L’95 (College of Law) and 10 grandchildren, including granddaughter Sara Chynoweth ’15 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management) and grandson William Chynoweth ’18 (College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs), G’19 (School of Education).

Lawyers in Love

Jay Brown L’95 & Consuela Pinto L’95

Jay Brown L’95 & Consuela Pinto L’95
Jay Brown L’95 & Consuela Pinto L’95

Jay Brown, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and studied finance and economics at Santa Clara University, combined two desires when he came to Syracuse in 1992: the study of law and the experience of going East. He didn’t expect to meet his future wife, Consuela Pinto.

Growing up in North Jersey, Consuela was thrilled to go out of state to Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. She always knew her aim was college, as her first-generation Italian parents desperately wanted their children to become either doctors or lawyers.

She was settled and established in Boston, working in human resources for a bank that wanted her to stay after graduation. However, with law school in the back of her mind, Consuela knew if she didn’t go right after graduation, she may never go.

In their words, Jay and Consuela’s relationship started as a solid, comfortable friendship. Cast together in Professor Richard Ellison’s 1L Law Firm section, they ended up in a small study group.

In the second semester, Jay asked Consuela to have dinner at Pastabilities in Armory Square. There, they started a pastime that still holds after 23 years of marriage—debate, or what Consuela calls “ridiculous discussions.” That night they deliberated over the existence of New Hampshire’s coastline (for the record, the state does have a 13-mile stretch of Atlantic shoreline called the Seacoast Region).

Consuela, who had also graduated with an M.P.A. from the Maxwell School, says, “Jay is very calm and I’m the polar opposite, and if there was a point in my life when I needed an infusion of calmness, it was my time in Syracuse.”

After graduation, the couple headed to Washington, DC, where Consuela went to work for the Department of Labor. This was the perfect location for Jay as well, because his focus was antitrust law.

Making their home in Silver Spring, MD, the couple have raised two children. Isabel is in Boston attending Northeastern University, while Matthew is a high school junior studying from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Upon leaving the labor department, Consuela, who had been the President of the DC Women’s Bar Association, became a shareholder at FortneyScott, a leading management employment law firm. Her focus is Equal Employment Opportunity compliance, with a specialty in government investigations.

Today, Jay is still steeped in business law as Deputy General Counsel at the US Chamber of Commerce. He says 2020 was a busy year for the Chamber with the discovery that going virtual added the benefit of reaching a larger audience. Before the pandemic, he says, they would draw hundreds to an onsite event, now they virtually reach thousands at a time.

Both have been working from home for the past year, which they say has turned out to be great, adding tremendously to family time. Cutting out the commute, they can even have breakfast together; with the bonus of being available for Matthew if he has study questions.

Referring to his career spent in the nation’s capital, Jay compliments the College of Law’s impact, noting its great alumni network. “Our class had a particularly large group of graduates relocate to DC. Among them are alums who have reached high levels in government agencies, prominent firms, and well-known companies with offices in the capital.”

David Katz L’17 & Danielle Katz L’18

David Katz L’17 & Danielle Katz L’18
David Katz L’17 & Danielle Katz L’18

Although David Katz and Danielle (Wilner) Katz took two very different paths to get to the College of Law—where they met in 2016 before getting married in 2018—their journey shared one thing in common: each decided to attend Syracuse Law because of the quality education and collaborative environment it offered.

David, a Cornell University grad, knew since fifth grade he wanted to study law. Danielle, a Toronto native, had landed a job in guest service management after her undergraduate study in Canada but she needed more of a challenge.

So Danielle began researching law schools. She decided on Syracuse, which was the perfect distance from home, and is surprised even today at how much she enjoys living and working in Central New York as a change from her big city roots in Toronto.

“Syracuse is great. I love the person I’m with and the work that I do,” she says.

When David and Danielle met in the fall semester, neither of them thought much of each other. Danielle was just starting law school, and David was entering his last year. 

But in the spring semester, David came across Danielle stressing over an assignment. He offered to take her to get something to eat. She agreed, but wanted to make it quick, thinking they would swing by McDonalds. But David—a local from Liverpool, NY—was a regular at Phoebe’s, down Irving Avenue from campus, so that’s where he took her.

“I was so stressed, I couldn’t enjoy myself,” Danielle admits.

But after Danielle turned in her assignment, she realized what a great time she had had with David. They became fast friends, so much so that when she couldn’t get home for Passover, David invited her to his family’s home for Easter instead.

“We weren’t dating, but his whole family thought we were,” Danielle recalls. Adds David, “My uncle pulled me aside and said, ‘You think she is just your friend, but there’s more to this!’”

Shortly after Easter 2016, the couple made it official and began dating. In November 2018, they took a weekend off from Danielle’s final semester and were married in Toronto. They held off on a honeymoon until after graduating and settling into their work lives.

Last winter, the Katzes were finally able to honeymoon in St. Lucia. Having had a great time on the Caribbean island, they arrived home just as the whole world was shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic. After almost a year on lock-down as newlyweds, they have not only survived but thrived during an unprecedented time.

The couple has the alumni community as a support structure and work they share in common and which they love. David is a civil litigation associate at Smith Sovik Kendrick & Sugnet PC while Danielle practices corporate transactions and trusts and estates at Barclay Damon LLP. They couldn’t be happier, they say.

“Because we don’t work in the same area, it’s really cool to get different perspectives on working in the same profession,” David explains. 

“Essentially he goes to court and I don’t,” Danielle notes.

Our Back Pages

Do You Remember? Help Us Caption Our Mystery Photos!

The College of Law’s photo archive is a fascinating visual history of your alma mater, full of nostalgia, anecdotes—and a few mysteries. That is, some of our prints and slides lack information or captions.

That’s where you come in. In this feature, we challenge you to help us recall the people and scenes in our mystery photos.

For our new mystery, we’ve chosen a casual-yet-active scene, probably taking place in White Hall. However, there is no information accompanying this print, so if you know any of the students pictured (in the foreground or background) and/or when the photo was taken, please email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@syr.edu, and we’ll publish what we discover in a future issue.

Our Back Pages Photo 2021

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

The College of Law Mourns the Passing of Professor Emeritus Peter E. Herzog L’55

Professor Peter Herzog L'55 and Brigitte Herzog L'75
Professor Peter Herzog L'55 and Brigitte
Herzog L'75

Crandall Melvin Professor of Law Emeritus Peter E. Herzog L’55 passed away on Nov. 4, 2020.

Professor Herzog had a distinguished career as a scholar and academic at the College of Law, where he spent 37 years teaching torts, international law, comparative law, and other subjects.

He was widely published in these areas, at times with his wife Brigitte Herzog L’75 as a coauthor. He was also a visiting professor at the universities of Paris (Pantheon-Sorbonne), Dijon, and Fribourg. In addition to the Melvin Professorship, Professor Herzog was awarded the Chancellor’s Citation of Academic Excellence.

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1925, Professor Herzog studied at the University of Vienna before coming to the United States, where he earned his undergraduate degree from Hobart College, his LL.B. from the College of Law, and his masters of law from Columbia University. He began his legal career as a New York State deputy assistant attorney general. He then became an assistant attorney general before joining the College of Law as an assistant professor in 1958.

Professor Herzog was a mentor and inspiration to many law students with whom he stayed in touch long after their graduation. He was an avid supporter of the College of Law and our mission, and one permanent reminder of his generosity is the Law Library’s Peter Herzog L’55 and Brigitte Herzog L’75 Special Collections Room and the Reference Materials collection.

As the College of Law community mourns Professor Herzog, please share your memories and thoughts about him as a friend, colleague, scholar, and mentor by sending them to SU-Law@law.syr.edu.

“A Gentle Soul With a Brilliant Mind:” Remembering Professor Herzog

I have very fond memories of Peter as a teacher, scholar, and friend. He exuded warmth and kindness. Peter had a brilliant mind. He was able to distill complex ideas and make them easily understood. He was a very gracious man and a delight to be around.

—Professor Christian Day

Peter was a gentle soul with a brilliant mind.

—Professor Arlene Kanter

Like others, Peter was my mentor to whom I will be eternally grateful. A man of giant intellect possessed of unsurpassed concern for his students and a charming sense of humor, he conspicuously displayed a sincere humility often lacking in men of such tremendous accomplishment. He will be long remembered and sorely missed.

—Professor Gary Kelder

I grieve Peter’s passing. He had the finest mind of anyone I know. But even better than his mind was his gentle, kind, and loving personality. As a friend and colleague, I miss him.

—Professor Emeritus Travis H.D. Lewin

Peter is probably number one on my all-time list of smartest

people. He was Lexis before there was Lexis. You could ask him about a legal point, and he would say in his humble manner, “I believe there was a case on that in New South Wales in 1937. I believe the citation is …” And he would be correct. Peter taught me a lot as my teacher and long-time colleague. My condolences to Brigitte and family.

—Professor Emeritus Thomas Maroney L’63

I had the pleasure and privilege to learn European Union law from Professor Peter Herzog, and I am proud to have followed his footsteps by teaching EU and International Law today. He will be missed, and he contributed tremendously to our community and many students’ careers and futures.

—Professor Cora True-Frost L’01

I can only echo what others have said: Peter was learned, kind, and gentle, a model of what a law school teacher ought to be. We have lost a great and dear colleague. May he rest in peace

—Professor Emeritus William Wiecek

I first met Professor Herzog in the Fall of 1952 at the law school then situated in an edifice directly southwesterly from the Onondaga County Court House. Our entering class included a cohort of Hobart College alumni (including Bill Burrows, Walt Ferris, and Peter and Ty Parr). What little I knew about Peter as an emigre to the US must have originated from them.

Fast forward to the Spring semester of 1955. We were the only two students in a Labor Law Seminar led by Dean Ralph Kharas. We sat side-by-side in front of his desk. Unlikea more rewarding class with Professor Robert Koretz, I can only say that both were most attentive to one another; I must have been a patient listener. As Editor-in-Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, he certainly passed judgment upon the trio of recent decisions I authored. We had a classmate named Lauren Colby (Aka “Citations Colby” or just “Cites” for short). The meter maids policing prized parking spaces on the Montgomery Street side of the law school did a land-office business issuing overtime parking citations. During our first year, “Cites” owned an old fin-tailed goliath of a car.

The next year, he was able to park his newer Crosley between otherwise “legally” positioned parking spaces. Between classes, all of us would act as cheering witnesses to the tussles between the ticket issuers and law students. Peter’s sotto voice comment to me about “Cites” ingenuity was, “Detroit should know better!”

—Lawrence M. Ginsburg L’55

My condolences to the Herzog family for the loss of Peter. He was a wonderful teacher who opened up my eyes to areas of the law I thought I’d never enjoy. Conflicts immediately come to mind. And, for those of us fortunate alums who had Peter as our teacher, who could ever forget that memorable voice? Thank you, Peter for influencing my life. Thank you for what you did for the College of Law.

—Shelly Kurtz L’67

I graduated from the College of Law in 1969. Professor Herzog taught us Conflicts of Law. To say that he was brilliant is an understatement. Even though my classmates and I were mostly young and wet behind the ears, Professor Herzog’s cultured character and mind were very evident, even to us. May God rest his soul.

—Kevin O’Shea L’69

I had Professor Herzog for Torts and Conflicts and enjoyed both courses. He was an excellent professor and a nice person. My condolences to his wife and family.

—David B. Weisfuse L’73

I had Professor Herzog for first-year torts in 1979. Had a great experience in his class learning about torts and the famous railroad case.

—Jay A. Press L’81

A real loss. He had a wicked and dry sense of humor. A great teacher.

—Bob Genis L’83

Condolences to his family, I took his class back in 1982.

—Clifford Feldman L’85

Professor Herzog was a mentor for all of the students in the International Law Concentration and International Legal Studies Certificate Program. His kindness, support, and availability to assist students were unsurpassed. His keen knowledge of Comparative Law and International Organizations made class more of enlightenment than scholarly endeavor.

—Andrew G. Weiss L’87

My condolences to the family. I remember Professor Herzog as my Comparative Law Professor in 1987-1988. It was a very good class. He was an expert on the European Union, and I learned a lot about the law of various states. I also learned through the legal publishing academic world and law writing. The law school community suffered a big loss.

—Ronald Nair L’88

It was an honor to have been taught by Peter. Thank you for

your dedication to the law and teaching.

—Elizabeth Morrow L’92

Professor Herzog was sterling intellect, an exceptional talent, and a fine human being—gracious, generous, and congenial. He was more than my teacher. He was my shining north star. I missed him when I graduated and left Syracuse in 1993, and I miss him even more now. Our lives have been made better for having known him. He now belongs to the ages.

—Gerald T. Edwards L’93

Heard the sad news about the passing of Professor Herzog. He was my favorite professor at the College of Law and the central character in my favorite law school story.

It was in Professor Herzog’s Conflicts of Law class, a field in which he was one of America’s leading scholars. Born in Austria, he never lost his accent, and so he had a very distinctive way of speaking, like a German scholar out of central casting. The class before our conflicts class was a legal history class taught by Dean Michael Hoeflich.

As Professor Herzog is discussing a point of comparison between EU and US law, one of the secretaries from the Dean’s office appears in the back of the lecture hall, trying to get Professor Herzog’s attention.

Professor: “Can I help you?”

Secretary: “Dean Hoeflich left his coat here and he has to be in Rochester in two hours for an alumni lunch."

Professor Herzog sees the coat, picks it up and walks it over to the secretary.

Professor: (in his Austrian accent) “Vell, ve vouldn’t vant the Dean to be coatless ven he goes and begs the alumni for money.”

The secretary gasps while we all start laughing.

Professor: “Vell, that is vaht a Dean does, he goes and begs the alumni for money”.

Rest in peace professor, you touched a lot of our lives.

—Anthony Calabrese L’93

I was sad to hear of the death of Professor Herzog. Back in the fall of 1990, I sat in the front row of Professor Herzog’s Torts class as a 1L. About midway through the semester, after reviewing a series of cases about slips and falls on railroad platforms (you know the cases!!) Professor Herzog was met with two very different banana peels on his podium! One was old and brown, and the other quite fresh. It was in his moment of recognition about our engagement with what we were reading about, and his obvious pleasure at the gesture, that the wall of separation between professor and 1L students in their first semester began to crumble.

His obvious delight at this attempt at humor helped us see Professor Herzog in a new and very human dimension. This was so wonderfully helpful, and I will always remember it, as well as his warmth and humanity. We were probably in no position to see that earlier in the semester. It informed my law practice and my teaching!

In gratitude for all my professors who informed my practice.

—Bruce Lee-Clark L’93

Professor Herzog was a true intellectual. I still have fond memories of taking his Comparative Law course in my final year at Syracuse. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wit. Rest in peace.

—Helen Moore L’94

I lived with Peter during my three years at Syracuse. He was a wonderful person and also my Torts professor.

Accordingly, my first year Torts class includes some the fondest memories of my time at Syracuse with many funny stories from Peter at the top of the list. I specifically remember the story of recalcitrant donkey that illustrated the doctrine of last clear chance, while the donkey didn’t survive the story, Peter had the entire class in hysterics while learning a lesson I still remember to this day.

I was lucky to have had him as a professor and also to have known him as a friend. My deepest sympathies to his


—David Moffitt L’96

Professor Herzog was my professor for The Law of the European Community at the College of Law. I could tell as soon as he entered the classroom on the first day that I would like him.

As the semester went on, I was impressed with the breadth and depth of his knowledge and the kindness of his nature. Through his stories and his teaching, he inspired me to want to study at The Hague Academy of International Law, where he once taught. Eventually, I was able to attend the academy and live in The Hague with my wife and our newly born son. 

Professor Herzog was definitely one of those few people that I hoped I could stay close to following studies. I wrote to him asking for mentorship, and he and Brigitte were so kind to me and my family. We went from teacher/student to Professor Herzog being a mentor and friend to me. During visits, we would discuss law, travel, children, their children and grandchildren, and The Hague Academy that was so special to all of us.

Professor Herzog was one of the few favorite professors of mine in my entire life. I am grateful for the time I was with him in class and outside of the classroom, and, for the wisdom that he shared. He was truly a special man and scholar. 

—Dominic DePersis L’98

Our Back Pages

Do You Remember? Help Us Caption Our Mystery Photos!

Mystery Photo!
Mystery Photo!

The College of Law’s photo archive is a fascinating visual history of your alma mater, full of nostalgia, anecdotes—and a few mysteries. That is, some of our prints and slides lack information or captions.

That’s where you come in. In this feature, we challenge you to help us recall the people and scenes in our mystery photos.

This time around, the scene is a snowy one that will be sure to bring back happy memories of Syracuse winters! There are no notes on this print at all, but as it is in our archives, we assume the three people battling the elements are law students.

If you know anyone in this photo and/or where it was taken (Marshall Street?), please email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@law.syr.edu, and we’ll publish what we discover in a future issue.

Here’s to “The Roommates”

Mystery Photo: Yearbook 2020
Mystery Photo: Yearbook 2020

Thank you to Andrew M. Wong L’94 for helping to identifying some of the people in the 2020 Yearbook mystery photo: "I know a couple of the people in the mystery photo. Seated in the front row on the left is Dena Narbaitz, next to her is Jan Folena, and I would guess next to them is Amy Collini, all Class of 1994. They were good friends and used to sit together in classes. In the back row seated is, I think, Anthony Calabreze L’93."

Alumna Jan Folena L’94, correctly spotted by Andrew Wong, helps to complete the picture. The photo, she says, was taken in Professor Marty Fried’s fall 1993 tax law class:

"The three women in the front row (L to R) are Dena Narbaitz, me, and Amy Collini. Many referred to us as ’The Roommates’ as we shared an apartment and were rarely seen apart,” explains Folena. “Dena, originally from California, now practices law and resides in San Francisco, CA. Amy, originally from New Jersey, now practices law and resides outside of Cleveland, OH. Also from New Jersey, I now practice law in Washington, DC, and live in Vienna, VA. 'The Roommates’ remain friends and are in regular contact.” 

Folena adds, “I’m not positive, but I believe the gentleman in the Syracuse Law sweatshirt is Ken Koh. Behind Amy Collini, reaching down for a backpack, might be Tony Collazzo. The Class of 1994 was a raucous bunch, highly opinionated, and always striving to improve the standing of the law school. In those years the school soared above the rest in trial and appellate practice under the guidance of Professor Travis H.D. Lewin. Thanks for pulling this photo out of the files. It brought back good memories and fun times at the ’Cuse."

Mary Roberts Bailey L’82 has a different take on the identity of the student standing over the open textbook: “He looks like Takahiro Miyata, an international student from Japan. If it is him, that was how he would look when he was deep in thought. I was Assistant Dean for Students during Takahiro’s time, and I knew him and the other international students fairly well. But I could be wrong. Takahiro would have graduated in either 1995 or 1996."

Thank you for helping us to enrich our College of Law archives!

Giving Through the Years

Our alumni's generosity underwrites the College of Law’s success.

For many alumni, a tradition of lifelong giving is often tied to personal stories and fond memories of their alma mater. And what better time to reflect on their College of Law days than on the occasion of a class anniversary! Below, alums celebrating years ending in zero share their philanthropic journeys. Tell us yours by emailing us at su-law@law.syr.edu.

Stephen Davis L'60

Stephen Davis L’60

After many years of experience in Real Property Litigation, Steve Davis concentrates his practice in Hudson Valley tax certioraris. He leads the Tax Certiorari and Condemnation group at McCarthy Fingar LLP, a leading White Plains law firm which inter alia represents owners of income producing and development property at redressing their valuation grievances and other abuses by municipalities. 

Davis still plays baseball, primarily in the Men’s Senior Baseball League (MSBL), offering local league play over the summer and weekend tournaments across the country over the fall and winter, including in Phoenix, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas. He has supported the College’s Annual Fund for more than 50 years!

What brought you to the College of Law?

After graduating from Queens College and living at home for those four years, I wanted to try living away for a few years. Since Harvard didn’t seem the right spot for me, I chose Syracuse. After my time at Syracuse, I concluded that Harvard would not have been any more difficult. I noticed that ease or difficulty at school seems directly related to inclination. I find competition and its rewards fascinating.

Any law school memories that stand out?

I enjoyed everything about the law school. In particular, I remember a Real Property test Dean Ralph Kharas sprung on us in the middle of the semester. It was the only Law School test on which I attained the highest grade in the class. By happenstance, I read about the topic the night before: equitable adjustment. Most of the class had no idea of the subject, and consequently failed!

My most cherished memory though, is meeting Sandra Rosenberg, the girl who ultimately became my wife for 50 years until she passed.

When and why did you start to give back to the College of Law?

For the same reason I love America—the pride of a first generation American in a leading American institution. The College of Law makes us better. I began giving back financially about four years out of school.

In what ways have you given back?

I make an annual gift to the Annual Fund. I also sponsored a seat in the Melanie Gray L’81 Ceremonial Courtroom in memory of Sandra. I also give back to Queens College in the same manner.

Why is philanthropy important to you?

At the time I attended law school, compared to today, it was a bargain. Consequently, I felt the need to give back to ensure it remained attainable.  Although the cost of graduate school today spirals higher, the need remains for keeping legal education costs within reach. The College of Law prepared me well for the rest of my life in general, and the ability to give back, in particular.

Do you have a message to recent graduates about giving back?

For law school graduates, I would say that law school is the vehicle that provides you with the tools you need to have a successful future.  The law school requires funds to survive and to attract the best professors and student.

Joe L'70 and Lee Vumbacco

Giuseppe Vincenzo "Joe" Vumbacco L'70

Joe Vumbacco stood down as CEO, President, Vice Chairman of Health Management Associates Inc.—a $4 billion revenue organization managing more than 60 hospitals in the southeast and southwest—in 2008. "But I don't consider myself retired." 

Since 2008, Vumbacco has learned to speak and write Italian; gained a Certificate of Finance from Harvard Business School to manage his own investment portfolio; and has turned his hand to writing novels. The Ghost of Bowdoin College was published to acclaim in 2018, and Vumbacco has completed the manuscript for his follow story of "money, murder, and the mob:” The Return of the Ghost of Bowdoin College.

What was your favorite class and professor at the College of Law?

More than one person gave me a break over the years, but I'll never forget what Dean Robert Miller did for me. I was married in my senior year at Bowdoin and my wife, Lee (pictured), and I had our first child in 1966. I wanted to go to law school, but coming from a factory background in Meriden, CT, I had little money, just enough to get through the first year and pay rent on married student housing.

But I felt responsible for my family, so I walked into Dean Miller's office in the summer of 1968 and asked him to save my place, so I could work to raise more funds. I thought he wouldn't know who I was, but he said he had reviewed class grades, saw I was near the top, and offered me a full scholarship. Not only that, he called his friend Gary Axenfeld in Syracuse and I went to work as a clerk at Axenfeld, Webb, Marshall, Bersani and Scolaro. From there I became Research Editor at Syracuse Law Review and was elected to Honor Court and the Order of the Coif.

My first year at Syracuse was also Professor Emeritus Travis H.D. Lewin's first year. He went on to have a brilliant career, and he is an outstanding teacher.

How did your SU College of Law degree help you reach your career goals?

I wanted to be one of those people who broke the ceiling of non-Ivy League law graduates getting a job with a Wall Street corporation. After graduating, I practiced law in Manhattan with Mudge Rose Guthrie & Alexander before joining the "tough and tumble" world of beer and bread as a senior vice president of the F. & M. Schaefer Corporation. I then became the Executive Vice President of the Turner Corporation—the largest general contractor in the US—before leading Health Management Associates.

When and why did you start to give back to the College of Law?

When Lee and I got to the point when we weren't poor, we started to give to certain causes, and top of the list was Syracuse. Later, I was asked to serve on the Board of Advisors during the period when Dean Hannah Arterian was raising money for Dineen Hall.

In what other ways do you practice philanthropy?

After leaving Health Management Associates, I became a Master Mason, and I helped to revive a scholarship program here in Maine. Plus, my wife and I helped to found a non-denominational "church without walls" in southwest Florida, the Jubilee Fellowship of Naples. I also try to do a lot of counseling with high school and college students. I have a cardinal rule for them: don't strive to be the smartest person, be the most organized. Work first, then play.

What advice can you share with recent graduates just starting their law careers?

I learned the following from Gary Axenfeld. If you want to be a successful lawyer or businessperson, there are four things you have to do—answer mail, return calls, have big ears, and a small mouth. I've practiced that for 50 years. I worked very hard on listening, for instance, not just listening to important things, but everything. An example of having a "small mouth" is from my Turner days when we managed top secret government contracts. I had a reputation for never breaching confidence, which goes back to growing up in a rough place.

The Class of 1980 Challenge

Jeri D'Lugin L'80

Jeri D'Lugin L'80

Jeri D’Lugin operates her own retirement planning practice in Greensboro, NC as the owner of a wealth management company. After beginning her law career at a large law firm in Miami, FL, she returned to North Carolina where she headed the tax division of a bank’s trust department and eventually became a regional trust officer …

D’Lugin counts herself as one of the many College of Law graduates whose law degree helped propel her career in different and unexpected ways. “A law degree is great for anything you do in life, as it provides you with a broad background of knowledge and skills. You understand liabilities, where you can make mistakes, and it provides you with the intellect to avoid making those mistakes. Being an attorney has helped me with every career move I’ve made.”

It was her first position out of law school, at a large Miami law firm, that set in motion D’Lugin’s continued engagement with the College of Law in many ways. “I felt fortunate to have the position at the firm, and the blend of my College of Law, Syracuse Law Review, and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Policy experiences played a big role in getting that position. As soon as I could, I started giving back to the law school,” explains D’Lugin.

D’Lugin is a consistent supporter of the Law Annual Fund, a fund that gives the law school maximum flexibility in addressing its most pressing needs. She’s also made a gift to dedicate a room in honor of her parents in MacNaughton and White halls.

Giving back to the law school encompasses more than monetary donations for D’Lugin. She welcomes any prospective or current College of Law student in her offices for discussions about law school and legal careers. She also served on the College’s Board of Visitors (now the Board of Advisors) during Dean Daan Braveman’s tenure.

To D’Lugin, giving back is an obligation to make the world a better place, if you are fortunate enough to be in a place to give back to your community and beyond. “I’ve heard a local gentleman put it best: ‘You need to put more wood on the pile than you have taken off the pile.’”

D’Lugin believes that recent graduates should begin to give back to the College as soon as they are able. “Recent graduates have benefitted from the alumni who preceded them and have given to the College, so they could get a good education at Syracuse with the best in technology and classrooms. Continuing that cycle is critical for those who will come after you,” she says. “And all alumni have a stake in the College of Law remaining a top law school because the reputation of the school reflects on all of us.”

When thinking about the challenges recent graduates face as they begin to make career decisions, D’Lugin looks to her career and the careers of her classmates for direction. “If you start in an area of law and feel that you haven’t found your niche, don’t give up,” she observes. “There are so many opportunities in front of you because of your law degree. A law degree is a door opener, whether it’s to leadership positions in non-profits, or financial services, or whatever.”

Her classmates and their diverse career paths continue to be an inspiration and point of pride for D’Lugin. “We have alumni who have gone on to be successful in real estate and financial services, a leading adoption law expert [that is, her dear friend Golda Zimmerman L’80] to a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. There is no one-size-fits-all career path.”

To celebrate everything the Class of 1980 has accomplished and to help the next generation of Orange law students make their mark, D’Lugin and Zimmerman announced a Class of 1980 Challenge shortly after their 40th anniversary reunion over Law Alumni Weekend.

Adds D’Lugin, “After issuing the challenge in October, we quickly heard from classmates that our message encouraged them to give back to the College. I really believe we’ll have a great showing by the end of the campaign, and I thank all who give to the College.”

The Class of 1980 Challenge

Golda Zimmerman L’80

Golda Zimmerman L’80

Golda Zimmerman is an internationally recognized expert and frequent speaker and lecturer on adoption law and family formation. She is currently retired from the active practice of law, but she continues to serve as an expert witness and consults on difficult cases nationally and internationally …

My story starts at the end of the 19th century. It begins with two left shoes. A young man is so poor that he could only afford two left shoes. He journeyed alone in steerage on a boat from his homeland. He came in search of freedoms, to worship as he desired, to have economic opportunity, and to be safe from the ongoing threat of attack and death.

He was a butcher and worked in New York City. He visited Syracuse to see some friends from his village. While in Syracuse he saw a beautiful young woman hanging clothes in her yard. So taken, he immediately asked her father if he could marry her. Her father said “no” as she was only 14 years old. He told the young butcher to come back in two years when she was 16. He did come back, and he married her. That young butcher and the beautiful young woman were my grandparents.

Perhaps this family story has been embellished over the years, but every new year for as long as I can remember we all were bought a new pair of shoes: one right and one left. The purpose of those shoes was to remind us of the wonderful opportunity and life we were blessed to have; to not forget where we came from; and most importantly to remember others and help them if we were able.

My family’s values and lifestyle have always encouraged philanthropy at whatever level is appropriate. My husband and I started to give back to the College of Law once we were somewhat established and knew that our family was secure. We began our efforts in the 1980s. (As an aside, one of my grandparent’s children and three of their grandchildren are graduates of the College of Law.)

I have always felt that my professional success started with the foundation I received at the College. Law school taught me how to ask the right questions and gave me the skills to seek out the answers. I have used these skills in my international and domestic practice.

My entire professional life has centered on children, especially international and domestic family formation. It was natural for us to support law students who were interested in pursuing the area of law most important to me.

Many of my closest friends are classmates from law school. Jeri D’Lugin L’80 and I have kept a close and important friendship these past 40 years. As we were not able to convene the celebration of our 40th reunion in person, we felt that a giving challenge might encourage our fellow classmates to remember that during these difficult times, the law school is especially in need of our financial support.

My advice to recent graduates starting their law career is simple. When the door of opportunity presents itself, have the courage to walk through it. The College of Law has well prepared you to be successful. Use what you have learned, remember your moral compass and life experiences, and be secure that you have the skills to succeed.

James Domagalski L'90

James Domagalski L'90

A partner in the Buffalo, NY, office of Barclay Damon LLP, Jim Domagalski is Chair of the firm's Construction and Surety Practice Area. He also practices in the Commercial Litigation and Labor and Employment practices, and he serves as the firm's co-marketing partner.

What brought you to the College of Law as a student?

Two things. First, after spending four years at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana, I wanted to return to New York State. Second, the College's Advocacy Program attracted me, and eventually I became a member of the College's National Trial team.

What law school memories stand out for you?

The Class of 1990 was a collection of terrific people. We socialized together and created great memories outside of the classroom. I made lifelong friendships at the College of Law.

When and why did you start to give back to the College of Law?

I started giving back soon after graduation because of my very positive experiences and my desire to help make the College stronger.

In what ways have you given back?

Over the years I have supported the Law Annual Fund, and more recently, I have supported the College through the University's Hill Society. I also serve as Chair of the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association Giving Committee.

Why is philanthropy important to you?

I strongly believe in the responsibility of citizens to give back to the cultural, civic, religious, and educational institutions that comprise the core of American life.

Do you have a message to recent graduates about giving back to their alma mater?

Some people might think that donating is only for more senior alumni, but a recent graduate should know that a donation of any size can make a difference as we pursue our fundraising goals.

Stephen L'00 and Margaret L'01 Jones

Stephen J. Jones L’00

Stephen J. Jones is a Partner at Peabody Nixon’s Rochester, NY, office. Jones leads the firm’s Labor and Employment Class Action Team and is regularly called upon to defend “bet the company,” high-stakes litigation. His experience includes defense of approximately 100 class actions and collective actions under the FLSA, ERISA, FCRA, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

What brought you to the College of Law?

I was drawn to the College for several reasons, including its strong reputation in oral advocacy, beautiful campus, an academic scholarship, and a big-time Division 1 college sports atmosphere.

What law school memories stand out for you?

My fondest memories are of the highly competitive moot court competitions (and even more competitive flag football league!); going to Cosmo’s Pizza with my good friend Roy Gutterman L’00; Professor William Wiecek’s intense lectures; nights out in Armory Square; and some great games in the Dome.  

When and why did you start to give back to the College of Law?

I believe it’s critical for the future of the College that alums stay connected and invested. I also met my wife, Margaret (Lyons) Jones L’01 (pictured), at the College 21 years ago during a moot court competition, and we now have three children together (ages 14, 12, and 10). So the College has deep personal significance for me as well.

In what ways have you given back?

My wife and I donate to the College annually, attend all of the Rochester alumni events, and return to the campus as much as possible for College of Law events and big games at the Dome.

Why is philanthropy important to you?

At the end of the day, all that matters in life is making the world a little better place than how we found it.

Do you have a message to recent graduates about giving back?

While it’s often difficult to give back soon after graduation, particularly when facing steep student debt, every little bit helps. Donations directly fund scholarships, facility improvements, and innovative programs. All of these factor strongly into the College’s reputation and standing in the legal community which, in turn, will be as asset on their career paths.  

Ted L'10 and Jennifer L'11 Townsend

Edward (Ted) Townsend L'10

As a Partner in the Health Care and Human Services practice group at Rochester, NY-based Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, Ted Townsend advises hospitals, physician practices, and other health care providers, facilities, and organizations with a variety of operational, compliance, and governance matters.

What brought you to the College of Law as a student?

I was living in Boston at the time and made the decision to return to school after working for five years. My search focused on schools that offered broad opportunities and strong programs across the board. In addition, I did not want to be pigeon-holed into a particular geographic market, or area of law, after graduation. 

After visiting Syracuse, there was really no other logical choice. I felt immediately comfortable. The students and staff were genuine. The programming was strong and diverse. Also, the collaborative nature of the student body was readily apparent, which was a distinction from other schools. In addition, although I did not end up pursuing it, the joint degree options with the Maxwell School were very appealing.

What law school memories stand out for you?

Without question, the day in February 2009 when I met my wife, Jennifer (Haralambides) Townsend L'11 (pictured, with children Henry (6) and Georgia (5)). We use our law degrees very differently today, which is a testament to the range of legal education the College of Law offers.

When it comes down to it, what I miss about law school is my classmates and the relationships we developed. I found a community that was invested in working hard and supporting each other, but also not taking itself too seriously. Coming back after five years, I was not anticipating making lifelong friends at Syracuse, but that’s exactly what happened.

I was also Editor-in-Chief of the Syracuse Law Review—as was Jenn, which she insists I add!—and, while I look back on that as quite a challenge, I also have great memories of working with our Executive Board and the other members of Law Review.

When and why did you start to give back to the College of Law?

If it wasn't the first year after graduating, it was certainly the second. We gave only what we were able to, but believe that participation, even at a low level, is important. Syracuse was an incredible experience for both of us.  Through our continued support, we have been able to stay connected and involved to ensure that others can have a similar experience.

In what ways have you given back?

We have given back financially, served on panels, and have helped out at Orientation. We both remember what it was like to be there, we remember the support we had, and we try and contribute wherever possible.

Another way I help is through the hiring process, by doing on campus interviews on behalf of my firm and connecting with students informally to talk through their career options. Even if they don't choose Harter Secrest, I try to make myself available as a resource for students who have questions about the next phase of their career.

Why is philanthropy important to you?

I think Jenn and I consider ourselves lucky to have had our opportunities, so our goal is to provide the same for others in any way we can.

Do you have a message for recent graduates about giving back to their alma mater?

It's important to remember that even if you are not top of the ladder in terms of dollars, you can add value nonetheless. Any financial contribution goes a long way, and to the extent you can, that’s a great avenue for support. However, it’s not the only avenue. For instance, you can reach out to prospective students or offer advice to current students. If you stay involved, you can find great opportunities to contribute.

Betania Allo LL.M.’20

Betania Allo LL.M.’20

After graduation, Argentinian Betania Allo was selected for a Syracuse University Robert B. Menschel Public Service Fellows Fund award. She is using her Menschel Fellowship to complete service at the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, specifically in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) coordination, conducting technical assessments of member states and helping to mitigate terrorist use of technology.

What brought you to the College of Law?

I was looking for a master of laws program that would allow me to specialize in cybersecurity and tech law. Unfortunately, few law schools acknowledge the importance of educating tech-savvy lawyers. Syracuse was my top choice because I loved the course offerings, the outstanding faculty, and the opportunity to work at the Institute for Security Policy and Law to dig deeper into the convergence of law and emerging technologies.

What law school memories stand out for you?

Representing my L.LM. cohort before the Student Bar Association and performing senator duties gave wonderful memories. In addition, being the commencement speaker and sharing the Class of 2020 tribute video with professors and remarkable alumni—such as President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68—were true honors. Also, the Boost the 'Cuse related events were so much fun! As Class Act! ambassador, I got the opportunity to get to know J.D. students and alumni better as we worked together toward a fulfilling cause.

When and why did you start to give back to the College of Law?

Ever since my first day at the College of Law, I started getting involved in projects, affinity groups, and student government to give back to the school and enhance my fellow students' experience.

In what ways have you given back?

Giving back does not only mean donating money. Giving back also means putting time and talent to the service of the school. During the Boost the 'Cuse events, I led the Class Act! fundraising efforts from LL.M. students, achieving an all-time record with 96.5% of my cohort donating to the College. In addition, I proudly represent the College of Law everywhere I go because I am grateful for the education I received. Here, I completed the competitive profile that today is awarding me so much professional success.

Why is philanthropy important to you?

Philanthropy is important because it opens opportunities. As an international student from Argentina, I wouldn't have been able to attend Syracuse and pursue my LL.M. if it wasn't for the generous donations to the College of Law Scholarship fund. Funds go to help students like myself pursue legal degrees to contribute toward a more equitable and just society.

Do you have a message to recent graduates about giving back?

Yes. Stay in touch and contribute with your time, leadership, talent, or donations to create opportunities for current and future students.

Message from SULAA Board President Mark O’Brien L’14

Mark O'Brien L'14
Mark O'Brien L'14

Dear Alumni and Friends of the College of Law:

“What a time to be alive!” No, I’m not talking about Drake and Future’s mixtape, nor am I using the phrase sarcastically. I lately find myself repeating these words often, and when thinking about the year 2020 (so far), it’s hard not to do so.

From social and racial justice protests to a global pandemic to a presidential election and everything else in between, we—collectively and individually—have confronted difficult questions, reexamined our values, and changed how we go about our daily lives. Amid the changes and the turbulence are unique opportunities for growth and engagement, and the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association is no exception. Here are but a few examples of how SULAA is responding to this year’s events:

  • In April, SULAA partnered with the College of Law to host virtual town halls for students about “How to Plan for the Future During a Time of Uncertainty.” We also gathered alumni from around the country and a variety of practice areas to record a special virtual roundtable discussion on “perspectives from the field” about adjusting our professional lives and mandates to the coronavirus crisis. 

My question to the alumni family is: What advice or perspective can you share with students and fellow alumni about navigating the law in the age of COVID?

  • In May, SULAA welcomed the Class of 2020 to our alumni family. The graduates faced remarkable circumstances—remote learning, delayed and virtually administered bar exams, and career launches in an uncertain job market. We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to their impacts on the legal profession, their communities, and our law school. We also recognize the challenge of launching a career is far from over. 

How can you help young alumni land that first job?

  • In June, outraged by the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other victims of police brutality and racially motivated violence, SULAA issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter and called on all alumni to fulfill the promise of Juneteenth by taking meaningful action in bringing an end to systemic racism and injustice. 

How can you use your influence and rise up to help bring justice and healing to people of color?

  • Also in June, SULAA welcomed six accomplished alumni to the SULAA Board of Directors: John F. Boyd II L’16, Lt. Thomas M. Caruso L’14, Joshua M. Goldstein L’16, Pamela C. Lundborg L’13, Brian J. Pulito L’06, and Chiora Taktakishvili LL.M.’19. Additionally, throughout the year, we have welcomed alumni participation across our many committees and initiatives. 

There are many ways to get involved in our alumni network—how will you participate?

  • In September, SULAA, the SULAA Inclusion Network, and the College of Law honored eight distinguished alumni and faculty during the annual Law Honors and Alumni of Color awards ceremonies during the first-ever virtual Law Alumni Weekend. The reunion saw record-breaking turnout and featured kickoff celebrations of two new alumni affinity groups: the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society and Advocacy Program Alumni Group and the Disability Law and Policy Program Alumni Group

How will you reconnect and reengage with the College of Law and your former classmates?

  • In October, SULAA partnered with the Board of Advisors to launch a first-of-its-kind initiative—a massive dollar-for-dollar match on the first $10,000 donated by law alumni during Boost the ’Cuse. In addition to the synergy of alumni commitment, beneficiaries of the campaign included a new endowed scholarship fund spearheaded by Felicia Collins Ocumarez L’98 in support of black law students in honor of William Herbert Johnson L’1903.

Which College of Law programs or initiatives will you support through your financial generosity?

  • In November, SULAA will launch a new outreach initiative to engage and empower our newest alumni through communication, knowledge, and resources. 

How would you like to see SULAA advance its mission of linking the past, present, and future of our College of Law family?

I don’t ask these questions rhetorically. On the contrary, I welcome your input and participation. SULAA is your law alumni association (remember, all alumni become members upon graduation).  We would love to hear from you; please contact Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@law.syr.edu. Help us make the most of the opportunities that 2020’s challenges have presented us.


Mark O'Brien L'14

Mark O’Brien L’14
President, Syracuse University Law Alumni Association

Message from College of Law Board of Advisors Chair Robert M. Hallenbeck L’83

Robert M. Hallenbeck L’83

Robert M. Hallenbeck L’83
Robert M. Hallenbeck L’83

Dear Alumni and Friends of the College of Law:

This year, 2020, marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of the College of Law. Today, as in a number of those prior years, the College faces global, societal, demographic, and technological challenges, which the coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharper focus and accelerated.

Yet, in the face of these challenges, the College has not only persevered but has grown in stature and relevance because of its pioneering efforts and a culture of innovation. The 2020 Yearbook highlights a number of innovations that have occurred over the rich history of the College, as well as the remarkable contributions alumni, faculty, and students have made to the legal profession and beyond. I would like to underscore two. 

Syracuse University, through the work of disability rights pioneer Dr. Burton Blatt, has been a leader in humanizing services for people with disabilities. Today, the College of Law, thanks to work of the Burton Blatt Institute and Director and University Professor Peter Blanck—as well as the scholarship of professors Arlene Kanter and Robin Paul Malloy, among others—continues to pioneer research and scholarship regarding not only how persons with disabilities are viewed and treated by society but also how laws, such as the American with Disabilities Act, can function as a force for change. 

Research by BBI has been instrumental in helping to shape policy for the promotion of inclusion opportunities. Similarly, Professor Kanter’s Disability Law and Policy Program and the Disability Law Clinic provide hands-on experience for students, here and abroad, while Professor Malloy has written extensively on the intersection of disability law and land use, as a way to ensure greater accessibility within our communities. The importance of these efforts to provide a more inclusive and accessible society cannot be understated.

Among the communities that are facing dramatic challenges due to the pandemic are institutes of higher education in general, and legal education in particular. In fact, their challenges began well before the pandemic. Traditional job opportunities for law school graduates have been reduced as firms downsize, leading in part to a reduction in the number of applicants to law schools. The landscape is ever changing.

“JDi has enabled our faculty to develop a deeper understanding of the multiple dimensions for effective online learning, far in advance of other institutions.”

The shifting landscaping creates pressure on all law schools to find innovative ways to compete. Our JDinteractive program—developed before the pandemic—has placed us at the forefront of online legal education now that it is experiencing a paradigm shift. JDi has enabled our faculty to develop a deeper understanding of the multiple dimensions for effective online learning, far in advance of other institutions. That effort, along with the immediate success of the program, has made the College a much sought-after resource for other institutions across the country as they try to grapple with the pivot toward remote learning.

These and our other extraordinary achievements over the past 125 years could not have come about without the dedication and persistence of the College community of alumni, faculty, students, and friends over these years.

Your unwavering commitment to the College, especially in these challenging and difficult times, is a testament to the role the College has fulfilled and will continue to fulfill in preparing generations of thoughtful, articulate, passionate, and compassionate leaders both within and outside our profession.

On behalf of the Board of Advisors and the faculty and students at the College today—and all those who will follow—I want to thank you for your generosity and support.

With gratitude,

Robert M. Hallenbeck L’83

Law Alumni Weekend Promotes New Scholarship

Part of College of Law’s Focus on Diversity

Felicia Collins Ocumarez L’98, G’98
Felicia Collins
Ocumarez L’98, G’98

Felicia Collins Ocumarez L’98 G’98—who received the 2020 Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Legacy Award at the Alumni of Color Award Ceremony during Law Alumni Weekend (LAW)—has generously spearheaded an effort to establish a new scholarship to expand diversity at the College of Law.

This scholarship initiative honors William Herbert Johnson L'1903. Johnson was the first African American to graduate from the College of Law.  With a steady call for action during LAW, College of Law alumni and friends have reached their first fundraising target of $150,000.“I thank Felicia Collins Ocumarez for her extraordinary leadership and generosity in spearheading this scholarship at the College of Law. This is a transformative investment in diversity and equity whose benefits will ripple out into the legal profession and society at large,” says Dean Boise.

Syracuse University Trustee and College of Law Board of Advisors Member Vincent Cohen Jr. L’95 says, “I am proud of the role my father, Vincent Cohen L’60, played in the diversification of ‘Big Law’ back in the early 1970s and I continue to build on his belief that the legal profession needs to reflect the people it serves,” says Cohen Jr. “With this new scholarship, the College of Law is set to further expand the diversity in the profession by attracting the best and brightest aspiring Black attorneys. I am proud to be a part of this urgent equal access to justice movement.”

“Felicia Collins Ocumarez is the epitome of a trailblazer who advocates for the Black community and does so with tenacity and excellence. I am grateful for her support of the Black Law Student Association,” says 2L Mazaher Kaila, president of the Black Law Student Association.

To support this scholarship, contact Assistant Dean for Advancement and External Affairs Sophie Dagenais at 315.560.2530 or sdagenai@law.syr.edu.

William Herbert Johnson L’1903
William Herbert Johnson L’1903

“So Extraordinarily Rewarding”

Martin Feinman L’83 Deploys Fellowships to Help Recruit Social Justice Lawyers

Marty Feinman L'83

“The idea has always been to do what I can to steer students in this direction,” says Martin R. Feinman L’83, Director of Delinquency Training in the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society of New York, the largest social justice law firm in the United States.

Over the years, Feinman has steered students toward a career in social justice law by funding stipends for students working in the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic, by encouraging The Legal Aid Society to host Syracuse interns and externs and to hire graduates, and by offering students advice and guidance, as he did at an Oct. 28, 2020, panel discussion on careers in social justice, hosted by the Office of Career Services.

Now Feinman is leveraging his generous financial contributions to promote careers in public interest with a focus on juvenile justice. Fellowships are awarded to students who secure externships or postgraduate positions providing criminal defense on behalf of indigent persons and/or legal advocacy on behalf of youth and young adults in the juvenile justice or welfare system.

Life-Saving, Difference-Making

With more than 30 years’ experience in the field—during which he has advocated for children and families, defended indigent adults, trained young attorneys, and advised policymakers—Feinman knows what he’s talking about when he says the need for social justice lawyers is enormous. “But needless to say this work isn’t for everyone and doesn’t always pay as well,” he adds.

“Students have loans to repay and might wonder whether a public interest career can meet their aspirations,” Feinman continues. “I say it can, and through this fellowship program, I want to motivate students to at least try this area of practice.”

Feinman admits that there can be barriers other than financial to a career in his field.

“I have had the thrill of making arguments that have changed people’s lives.
The potential for job satisfaction is tremendous.”

Martin R. Feinman L’83

“This work can be intimidating and emotionally overwhelming, especially when you are the difference between an adolescent or adult client’s freedom or incarceration, or when you are representing a young child who has been neglected or abused,” says Feinman. “Then, there are the overwhelmed court calendars and stressed-out judges pressuring you.”

“But on the flip side, it’s just so extraordinarily rewarding,” Feinman asserts. “You are engaged in work that can be life-saving and difference-making.”

Tremendous Need

When he trains young attorneys, Feinman emphasizes that The Legal Aid Society lawyers often support clients unconditionally in ways that nobody else has ever done, sometimes not even family members. “We are there to do everything we can to help the client,” Feinman explains, “and to be that kind of advocate is inspiring, motivating, and rewarding, but sometimes heartbreaking.”

Feinman admits he has been “crushed” sometimes when adults he has represented have been jailed or youths sent away from home, but that he’s also had “the thrill of making arguments that have changed people’s lives. The potential for job satisfaction is tremendous.”

The need for attorneys at The Legal Aid Society is tremendous too. Feinman explains that the Juvenile Rights Practice group represents children charged as delinquents in family court as well as children whose parents are being charged with abuse and neglect.

“We represent tens of thousands of kids a year, with a team of about 200 attorneys,” he says. “An attorney might be working with 150 clients at a time. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On the Criminal Defense side, the numbers are even greater. Then there’s The Legal Aid Society’s civil practice, the mental health side, the criminal defense side ... the list goes on and on.”

Exploring Paths to Success

How can a student discover if a social justice career is a good fit? Feinman says that the law school years are the perfect time to try different areas of practice “because once employed the more you establish yourself as one type of attorney, the greater the chance that that is what you’ll continue to do.”

“But in law school,” he observes, “there’s a great opportunity to experiment, to see what you are passionate about, and to see if something can work for you in a way you hadn’t anticipated.”

The foundation for that advice is Feinman’s own career. At one point, being a lawyer was the last thing on his mind. He started his career as a social worker, taking an M.S.W. from Syracuse University before working as a therapist and then becoming Program Director of the Adolescent Unit at Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse.

Feinman recalls interviewing with the social work director at Hutchings, who said he might want to consider law school. “At the time, that was furthest from my mind,” he says.

But a couple of years later, Feinman was enrolled at the College of Law. His advisor in the early 1980s, Professor Richard Goldsmith, soon set him on another career trajectory. “He said, you might think about being a litigator, to which I said, ‘You’re out of your mind!’”

But again Feinman kept his mind open and got involved with the College’s legendary Advocacy Program, then coordinated by Professor Emeritus Travis H.D. Lewin. He fell in love with trial work and criminal law, and his successful three-decade career combining social work, juvenile advocacy, criminal defense, and litigation ensued.

But not before he explored another route. “After a one-year federal court clerkship, I tried the private sector for one and a half years,” Feinman recalls. “I represented banks in foreclosure proceedings and building designers whose designs were flawed. They were entitled to representation, of course, but at the end of the day, I didn’t care for that work.”

Ultimately, Feinman’s advice to students is to expose themselves to the many kinds of law practice during law school. “You never know what will grab you and shake you. And like me, you might find there are unanticipated events that alter the career path you are on.”

Feinman says he hopes his new fellowships will be an incentive for students to explore his practice area, one whose rewards—in terms of changing lives, advocating for the vulnerable, and providing hope and justice—are priceless.

The Schuppenhauers: Making Their Legacy Count

John L'76, Betsy, and Erika Schuppenhauer
John L'76, Betsy, and Erika Schuppenhauer

Given his deep ties to his community, John A. “Jack” Schuppenhauer’s L’76 advice to law students should come as no surprise: “I’d say to students that the law is an honorable profession. It provides an opportunity for an attorney to help others and serve their community."

Jack has served his community as principal of the Canandaigua, NY-based Schuppenhauer Law Firm for 43 years. He was born a few miles from the picturesque Finger Lakes town, located on the northern end of Canandaigua Lake (pictured), attending Canandaigua Academy before taking a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and an M.P.A. from Northeastern University.

Jack returned to Central New York to study law at Syracuse. He entered the legal profession in 1977 and started his eponymous law firm in 1981. Six years ago, looking to the future, Jack took on a partner—his daughter Erika, a 2009 Syracuse University graduate with a double bachelor’s degree in political science and policy studies and a J.D. from University at Buffalo School of Law.

Now, to honor their family’s ties to Central New York, Syracuse University, and the College of Law, Jack, Betsy (his wife of 34 years), and Erika have created the Schuppenhauer Family Scholarship for College of Law students, through a bequest in their wills. “It’s our way of giving back to the University and College and to acknowledge the future it provided to us,” says Jack. 

“It’s easy as can be”

As a general practice law firm, estate planning, trusts, and wills are among the services the Schuppenhauer Law Firm offer their clients. To set up their own family bequest, Erika and her parents sat down to look over their wills and decide what legacy this community-minded family wished to leave. "I wanted my will to coincide with my parents’,” says Erika. “Syracuse University was on the top of our list of organizations to bequeath to, and dad especially wanted to donate to the law school.”

The next step was for the family to contact the College of Law Advancement and External Affairs team. "They walked us through the process," Erika continues. “It’s as easy as can be, and now our wills contain specific bequests to the University and College."

“Take every opportunity to learn something new every day.”

Erika Schuppenhauer ’09

Located along Canandaigua’s historical, picturesque Main Street—surrounded by nineteenth century brick buildings with mansard roofs and decorative cornices—Jack says his law firm “has given me a great opportunity to get to know people in my community and become involved in local organizations.” Both Jack and Erika volunteer for local charitable organizations, and Jack has served as a part time Canandaigua City Court Judge since 1996.

“Having a small practice provides you with a real identity in the community, as opposed to a large firm to which you might commute from another community,” Jack says, adding that both he and his daughter live only about a mile from their office.

“Take that challenge”

A family law firm in a pretty Upstate lakeside town might conjure up images of times past, but Jack and Erika acknowledge that technology is evolving the way they practice. “People Google everything now,” observes Erika. “Clients are internet educated, and they shop around. They are more likely to want ’drive by’ legal advice these days.”

“The nature of the law consumer has changed, and people are more astute, and more demanding,” agrees Jack, adding that since his career started in the 1970s, government and statutory regulations also have dramatically changed the legal profession.

Although a relatively new law graduate, Erika says these technological changes appear to have accelerated since she passed the bar. Students, she says, need to pay attention to them.

“I graduated six years ago, yet even I did research in books. Everything is online now, and you have thousands of cases at your fingertips to comb through. Students definitely need to be computer savvy,” she explains, adding that she’s also had to learn how to be a businesswoman as well as how to provide general law services. “Students need to gain customer service skills and business acumen, especially for a small practice.”

Erika admits that when she started out at the Schuppenhauer Law Firm, she had much to learn about how to practice law and help run a business. Then again, her relationship with her mentor is a pretty solid one. “I’ve been so lucky to learn under my dad and to have someone who has taken me under his wing, while being very patient!”

Given her learning curve since graduating law school, Erika’s own advice to law students shouldn’t come as a surprise either. “Take every opportunity to learn something new every day,” she says. “General practice challenges you every single day. So take that challenge and go at it. There will be bumps in the road, but you should keep going!”

An Impact Felt Around the Globe

The College of Law Continues Its Partnership with the J&K Wonderland Foundation and the JAF Foundation

Globe Icon

In 2019, the College of Law announced two new scholarship programs to enable and encourage talented law students from around the globe to pursue the advanced study of disability rights, policy, and law at Syracuse University.

As a measure of their programs’ success in their first year of deployment, both the JAF Foundation and the J&K Wonderland Foundation renewed their scholarship programs for the 2021-2021 academic year.

Meet the 2020-2021 J&K Wonderland Foundation Scholars

Kwabena Mensah
Kwabena Mensah

Two students have been named this year’s J&K Wonderland Foundation Scholars: LL.M. student Kwabena Mensah, from Ghana, and J.D. student Matthew Yanez, from California.

Mensah’s multi-disciplinary background combines his legal education and passion for human rights with his experience as a broadcast journalist, to tell the stories of marginalized people and persons with disabilities in Ghana.

“By the kind courtesy of the J&K Wonderland Foundation scholarship, it is possible for me to pursue my master of laws degree. I am profoundly grateful for this timely and generous gesture amidst the global pandemic,” says Mensah.

“I have benefitted from the scholarship award immensely given my desire to pursue a specialization in disability law, yet it wasn’t until I began that I fully realized how urgent the need is for me to further my studies so as to combat rampant violations of human rights and discrimination against the disabled worldwide.”

In 2016, motivated by his observations of the injustices against persons with disabilities, Mensah founded Spread Love Home & Abroad, an NGO that provides mentoring and skills-training to visually impaired persons who desire to enter the workforce. A master’s degree in law will not only open new professional opportunities for Mensah to advocate for the marginalized and vulnerable as a barrister, it will also qualify him to enter academia and teach future generations of disability and civil rights lawyers in his home country.

Mensah reports that after beginning his LL.M. studies at the College of Law, the National Council on Persons with Disabilities in Ghana invited him for a consultation on amending the Disability Law of Ghana (Act 715). He also has been made one of six steering committee members to direct a broad consultation on the preparation of a global report to the United Nations about the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons withDisabilities (CRPD).

In other words, Mensah’s College of Law studies are already paying off, and they are yielding exactly the results the J&K Foundation hoped to achieve through its scholarship program—a deep impact in his field, in service of persons with disabilities.

Matthew Yanez
Matthew Yanez

Matthew Yanez, a Class of 2023 J.D. candidate, is a young disability advocate who is determined to create an inclusive and equitable world for all. Before law school, Yanez worked with several non-profit groups in the field, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the National Association of the Deaf, and Arc of the United States.

Yanez also completed a Disability Law Fellowship with the Coelho Center at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. The Coelho Center’s mission is to cultivate leadership and advance the lives of people with disabilities by, among other things, working to create a pipeline of lawyers and leaders among people with disabilities.

“My journey to law school has been a bumpy road, but my passion for disability rights has never been stronger,” says Yanez. “Thanks to the generosity of the J&K Wonderland Foundation, I’m able to focus on securing summer internships and preparing for my career in law instead of worrying about how I will pay for next semester’s tuition. For people who have never been able to see themselves as legal professionals, this scholarship gives us validation on our own self-worth.”

In addition to his J.D., Yanez will pursue a joint master of public affairs degree at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Policy. He hopes his degrees will give him the tools he needs to help dismantle and eradicate injustices that people of color, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations face.

Yanez continues, “I intend to use the benefits of this scholarship toward a career in public service focused on the issues I care the most about. By not having to worry about student loans, I can invest my full attention towards a future of advocacy for equitable and inclusive public policies. My goal is to one day work with the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice. With the help of this scholarship, I am one step closer to realizing that goal.”

Meet the 2020-201 JAF Foundation Scholar

Isaac Onyango
Isaac Onyango

The JAF Foundation supports social welfare, conservation, and human rights programs, including academic scholarships. In the College of Law’s case, the Foundation provides scholarship support for scholars from Africa. Isaac Onyango, an LL.M. student from Kenya, received the JAF Foundation Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Dedicating his career to advocating for persons with intellectual disabilities, Onyango works as a consultant and strategist for the Downs Syndrome Society of Kenya. There, he leads the investigation of cases involving abuse and exploitation of persons with intellectual disabilities, often traveling to rural areas to interview and collect information for reports to the local police and governing authorities.

Onyango also conducts training for members of the judiciary, prosecutors, and police officers on the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities, and he writes on domestic and international legal frameworks designed to provide and protect these rights and proposed changes and improvements to the laws.

Not surprisingly, as an LL.M. candidate at the College of Law, Onyango is focusing his studies on disability law and international human rights. Explains Onyango, “The JAF Foundation scholarship is a beacon of hope to international students like myself, and it has enabled me to expand my field of vision and deepen my knowledge in international human rights and disability law, in order to defend the disabled.”

Deepening and translating knowledge into practice —that’s exactly what the Wonderland Foundation aims to promote.

Thank You for the “Boost!”

We are deeply appreciative of our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends who participated in the University’s fourth-annual day of giving—Boost the ’Cuse—on Oct. 1, 2020. From midnight to 11:59 p.m. we asked you to consider making a gift in any size to show support for the College of Law, and once again, you responded with generosity and enthusiasm!

When the dust cleared and the gifts were tallied, the College of Law received gifts from more than 360 unique donors totaling $74,841.53!

When comparing the unique donor counts among schools and colleges, the College of Law came in third place behind the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the College of Arts and Sciences, and ahead of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Given the significantly larger alumni, student, faculty, and staff population of those schools, there is much to celebrate!  Yet again, the College of Law punches well above our weight!”

Many thanks to everyone who made a gift toward the effort—and it’s never too late! Gifts of any size at any time will help to “boost” the programs and offerings that will help prepare the next generation of College of Law students for the legal profession.

Make your gift at law.syr.edu/giving

Last but not least, special thanks to our Board of Advisors and the Board of our Syracuse University Law Alumni Association for joining forces in a generous $10,000 matching challenge. Thanks to your generosity, these challenge funds were unlocked!




S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications46428,000
College of Arts and Sciences36270,000
COLLEGE OF LAW360+11,000
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs27031,000

The Law Firm Giving Challenge Is On!

And … they’re off!

Law Firm Giving Challenge Award
Law Firm Giving Challenge Award

The fiscal year 2021 Law Firm Giving Challenge kicked off on Oct. 1, 2020, coinciding with Boost the ’Cuse, the University’s annual Day of Giving. The Challenge is a friendly competition between Syracuse-area law firms, during which alumni working at each firm are asked to make a gift in support of their alma mater.

The idea behind the challenge is to continue to foster a culture of philanthropy among local Orange lawyers, help strengthen ties to the College of Law and, in turn, help meet the needs of local law firms and our legal community.

The rules are simple. Any size gift, to any College of Law fund, made during Syracuse University’s fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) counts toward participation. Participation rates among Syracuse alumni at each firm are then tallied, with firms competing in three categories: large firm, medium firm, and small firm. Bragging rights are at stake!

Congratulations to last year’s winners: 

    • Harris Beach (large firm category)
    • Bousquet Holstein (medium firm)
    • Bottar Law (small firm)

Will they take the prize again this year? Time will tell …

It’s easy to get involved. To learn more, contact Assistant Director of Development Fritz Diddle at fjdiddle@law.syr.edu. If you have not yet made your gift, there’s no time like the present!

Many thanks to all participating firms and firm challenge leaders, and to everyone who has already made a gift. Above all, many thanks to all our alumni who give so much of themselves in support of our mission.

As the pages of this Giving Book make clear, the impact of the time and effort our alumni give to teach, mentor, connect with, and volunteer for our students is immeasurable.

LAW 2020 By the Numbers

Thank you, alumni, faculty, students, and friends for making the 2020 Law Alumni Weekend Conference a resounding success!

Visit alumniweekend.law.syr.edu to view videos and photos from the conference!

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Law Honors Awards and Alumni of Color Awards—click on the links to access the respective nomination forms.

LAW 2020 By the Numbers

The Many Ways You Give Back

In addition to your financial gifts, loyal and engaged Orange alumni help their alma mater in many other ways—from hiring graduates and hosting externs, to guest lecturing and teaching, to coaching and judging advocacy teams.

Every way you contribute makes a difference for our students, not least in the personal and professional bonds that are formed among generations of Orange lawyers. Here we offer a few vignettes about how alums have been offering their time and talent in the past year, and why they do it.

Brian Gerling L'99
Brian Gerling L'99


Navigating Intellectual Property Legal Issues—Kinetically

Every semester, College of Law students in the Innovation Law Center (ILC) benefit from the extensive expertise and broad experience of practitioners who supervise student research projects for real-world clients.

Often those practitioners are drawn from the ranks of alumni who have graduated from the College’s preeminent technology commercialization and intellectual property (IP) law program. One such adjunct professor is Brian Gerling L’99, Senior Counsel at Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC (BSK).

“I found it fascinating”

At BSK, Gerling’s practice focuses on intellectual property, data privacy, cybersecurity, and economic development in the beverage, environmental, and plastics industries. He also is engaged with the autonomous systems industry, serving as legal advisor to local unmanned aerial vehicle businesses.

As an adjunct professor, Gerling oversees one of ILC’s experiential learning practicums, working with students, as well as ILC clients, to research the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

[Students’] intelligence and eagerness to learn is kinetic. It is just a different vibe and energy from working with—or against—other attorneys.

When did he first become interested in technology? “Even as a kid, I was curious how or why things worked,” recalls Gerling. “Whether it was electricity or the human body, I found it fascinating, and that’s what led me down the path to a degree in biology.”

During that process, Gerling studied medical and laboratory processes and equipment, which are often the result of innovative technological advancements. While studying for his undergraduate degree, he “discovered that I could marry my passion for biotechnology and the law, and that’s what brought me to Syracuse to focus on IP law.”

Hagelin and Rudnick: “True gentlemen”

Gerling’s reason for giving back to his alma mater—and specifically the Innovation Law Center—primarily came from wanting to settle back in Central New York after living away from the area after graduation.

In addition to his local roots, Gerling’s experience learning technology law under the late Professor Ted Hagelin drove his decision to get involved. While at the College of Law, Gerling says that he got to know Professor Hagelin through classes and by editing the Syracuse Journal of Science and Technology Law, and he marveled at not only Hagelin’s brilliant mind but also his character (“a true gentleman,” says Gerling).

“Professor Hagelin started the Technology Law Commercialization Program, the precursor to ILC, and he just left an indelible impression on me,” says Gerling. “I learned from him about navigating through legal issues, and even more about life. I have used the principles I learned while at the College of Law throughout my career.”

After a year or so back in Central New York, Gerling says he met ILC Director M. Jack Rudnick L’73 through local business circles. “After meeting Jack a couple of times, I thought to myself he was very much like Ted, a sharp legal mind and just a true gentleman,” says Gerling. “I then learned that he was running Professor Hagelin’s program. I discussed the ILC with Jack and ways that I could get involved, and here we are.”

“Really neat technologies”

When asked about his favorite part of joining the ILC team, Gerling says that his colleagues at the ILC are all accomplished, and it is just a joy to work with them. But he says his favorite part hands-down is working with the students. “Their intelligence and eagerness to learn is kinetic. It is just a different vibe and energy from working with—or against—other attorneys,” observes Gerling. “I look forward to class each week, and I enjoy and appreciate their perspectives on life and society. That is inspirational because it challenges me to be a more rounded educator and person.”

Gerling says the companies that he and his students have worked on recently include technologies ranging from protecting energy grids, to biosensor masks, to unmanned aerial systems operations, “so the students have been exposed to a wide spectrum of really neat technologies.”

As far as adjustments due to COVID-19, Gerling’s team has had to navigate the challenges associated with a hybrid learning environment, but this format worked well in Gerling’s view. That success in this trying time, he attests, is a testament to not only to College and University leadership but also to the students.


Communication Is the Key to Success

Cisco Palao-Ricketts L'03
Cisco Palao-Ricketts L'03

For Cisco Palao-Ricketts L’03—a Partner in US Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation at DLA Piper and a member of the College of Law Board of Advisors— contributing to the College of Law’s success begins with staying in touch with your alma mater. In Palao-Rickett’s case, that engagement led to a new externship opportunity for students at DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms.

“This new externship came about because Dean Boise visited the West Coast to meet with alumni,” says Palao-Ricketts. “We met over lunch to discuss how the school is doing. By being communicative like this, you can find out many different ways you can help.”

Palao-Ricketts took the initiative to create an applied learning opportunity at DLA Piper for Syracuse students passionate about learning tax law at a multinational law firm that represents leading companies across many industries.

To Palao-Ricketts, Syracuse’s tax program—and dedicated teachers such as professors Robert Nassau and Greg Germain—consistently produces strong graduates. “I told Dean Boise it would be good to let tax students showcase their wares at DLA Piper.”

The first DLA Piper extern to take on this formidable challenge—in spring 2021—will be 3L Ki-Jana Crawford, an Illinois native with an undergraduate degree in finance and business administration from the University of Kentucky and an Assistant Notes Editor at Syracuse Law Review.

Ki-Jana Crawford
Ki-Jana Crawford

“Ki-Jana is a very bright student with a strong academic background and a strong interest in doing tax law,” says Palao-Ricketts. “This externship will be a great opportunity for him to earn credits and gain practical experience. It will be very useful to him.” Palao-Ricketts adds, “I cannot tell you how quickly I would have been in line if this externship had been available to me!”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, DLA Piper offices in Palo Alto—where Palao-Rickets is based—won’t return to in-person business until at least Jan. 1, 2021. “So we’ve adjusted the externship to be done remotely, but the projects we work on won’t change,” Palao-Ricketts explains.

Echoing his advice for alums looking to help the College, Palao-Ricketts says online communication between extern and supervisor will be the key to success.


This Is a New Era

Joanne Van Dyke L’87
Joanne Van Dyke L’87

By all reckoning, the second annual Syracuse National Trial Competition—held online Oct. 16 to 18, 2020—went extremely smoothly.

That’s down to the organizational skills of Director of Advocacy Programs Todd Berger, long-time coach Joanne Van Dyke L’87, and Advocacy Program students; technology that enabled online argument and scoring; and scores of volunteer alumni who help to fill an awe-inspiring 150 judge and evaluator spots.

To fill that many positions, Van Dyke turned to Advocacy Program veterans. “We had alum evaluators from California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia—from all over the country,” explains Van Dyke, acknowledging the silver lining that virtual competition affords. “The fact we were able to bring back former students as judges and evaluators was huge. It was great to see them and their enthusiasm.”

Van Dyke adds that she received many emails and thank you cards after the tournament. “Former students said judging SNTC made them feel as though they were back in law school!”

One of those enthusiastic alums was Kaylin Grey L’06. “The tournament was really well run, and I had a blast,” Grey says. “I judged three rounds, and I couldn’t get enough!"

Kaylin Grey L’06
Kaylin Grey L’06

Now a partner in the Miami office of MG+M, Grey coached Syracuse trial teams when she lived in Rochester after graduation, and she was hoping to return to Syracuse to help judge SNTC in-person. “I missed coaching trial teams, so I’m grateful I could get involved this way,” she says. “I was able to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in a long time.”

According to Van Dyke, engaging the Advocacy Program virtually has inspired some SNTC judges to get even more involved with the Advocacy Program, coaching teams and judging other competitions remotely.

“I will continue to help out,” says Grey. In fact, since SNTC she has coached Syracuse Tournament of Champions and National Civil Trial Competition teams. 

Collaboration software isn’t just revolutionizing advocacy tourneys, adds Grey. “I’ve told the young advocates that online is the new thing. Recently, I’ve been doing virtual depositions and evidentiary hearings—this is a new era.”


The Great Experience

Erin Lafayette L'13 and Carly Rolfe L'20
Erin Lafayette L'13 and Carly Rolph L'20

Erin Lafayette L’13 is a prime example of why it’s a great idea for students and graduates to keep in touch with the Office of Career Services. She happened to inquire about openings at just the right time in late 2013 when alumnus the Hon. Robert D. Mariani L’76, US District Judge of the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, was looking to hire new clerks.

“I was living in California when I contacted Career Services and learned that Judge Mariani had lost a clerk,” recalls Lafayette. “So I sent in my résumé and was called in for an interview. That was in January 2014. I started two weeks later.”

Lafayette says that Judge Mariani had been on the bench in Scranton, PA, for two years at that point and decided to turn to his alma mater for law clerk candidates. “He also hired Matt Clemente L’14. Matt was hired before me, but I was the first to start. After six months of being a term clerk, it became a permanent job.”

Since Clemente and Lafayette, Judge Mariani has hired Dana Nevins L’16, Carly Rolph L’20, and Kathrine Brisson L’20. “Judge Mariani likes to hire Syracuse graduates because of the great experience he had at the law school and because of what he got out of his education,” explains Lafayette. “Syracuse professors taught him what he needs to know, he tells me.”

Lafayette says that the variety of cases—civil rights, personal injury, constitutional matters, and first and fourth amendment issues—is part of what makes her work so satisfying. 

As any clerk knows, that broad docket means plenty of research, reading, and drafting so the court runs smoothly and the judge has the information needed to pass orders and opinions. “My advice to students looking for a clerkship is focus on your writing skills,” she observes. “You must be able to write clearly, processing information and cases so you can synthesize what you learn and get to the point.”


The Optimism and the Energy

Kristen Smith L’05
Kristen Smith L’05

There’s an energy about the students that I love,” says Kristen Smith L’05. “It reminds me of what was exciting about law school—the optimism and the energy. It’s good to be around.”

That’s just one of the reasons why Smith, Corporation Counsel for the City of Syracuse, likes to help out with College of Law Orientation. In fall 2020, she was asked to join the student/alumni roundtable and break-out sessions to introduce the incoming class of JDinteractive students to Orange Nation.

“This was my second time helping out at JDi Orientation,” says Smith. “In 2019 it was in Dineen Hall, but this time it was via Zoom. In addition to an open forum, I discussed law school and legal careers. I was very impressed with the technology.”

The students, recalls Smith, asked questions about study habits, how externships work for students with full time jobs, and whether or not an online program graduate will be able to find employment.

Addressing this last question, Smith reminded students that there isn’t much data on employment for online program graduates, “but as long as they have a strong academic record and do well, employers will look at their credentials. Besides, now that law schools are online due to the coronavirus pandemic, a fully online law degree will be less unusual.”

Not only does Smith enjoy the energy and optimism of the matriculating students, she also likes staying connected to her alma mater. “I think that graduates have to stay connected for the sake of the classes that come after us,” she observes. “It’s an important thing to do for an institution we care about.”


Welcome to the Future

Pearl Rimon L’14
Pearl Rimon L’14

Pearl Rimon L’14 says she has a “legal job of the future.”

That description might be a little tongue-in-cheek, but consider this: her employer—San Francisco-based Rocket Lawyer, a cloud legal service for which Rimon is a Senior Legal Researcher—actually has seen significant growth in business during the coronavirus pandemic. “When everything goes online, that’s when we shine,” says Rimon.

The pandemic also changed Rocket Lawyer’s hiring practices, and Rimon was in a position to look beyond the Bay Area for a summer intern, the best candidate who could assist Rimon remotely, from any location. She reached out to Interim Director of Career Services Sam Kasmarek and together they tapped 3L Dominique Kelly (left, bottom) for the job.

Dominique Kelly
Dominique Kelly

“Dominique has been great and is staying on through December,” says Rimon, adding that Kelly helps her with the task of ensuring that Rocket Lawyer’s more than 1,000 legal templates are both legally sound and optimized for their clients.

One project the pair is currently working on is a new campaign for small business owners, self-employed individuals, and others looking for tax advice. “I would have loved to have done this kind of internship when I was a 3L,” admits Rimon, “because it would have combined my passion for technology and the law.”

The Big Board: Participation Rates by Class Year

Gifts to the College of Law by Class Year

Each year, your philanthropic engagement fills us with pride

In response to inquiries about how alumni giving to the College of Law stacks up by class year, in the 2018 Giving Book, we began publishing “The Big Board.” Here, starting with the Class of 1960, you’ll find a class-by-class giving participation breakdown, with arrows indicating an increase in percentage from last fiscal year, calculated by alumni who made gifts during Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020). You will also find lifetime giving by class, through June 30, 2020.

Annual giving is the lifeblood of the College of Law, and each year there are new successes to celebrate. Early in FY20, the classes of 1959, 1979, 1994, and 1999 kicked off reunion year class challenges with enthusiasm, boosting class participation rates and raising more than $65,000 from 72 donors.

Syracuse University’s third-annual day of giving in November 2019 saw another record performance, with 581 donors making gifts to Boost the ’Cuse, nearly 100 additional gifts compared to the previous year.

In spring 2020, we were filled with gratitude by the outpouring of empathy from alumni who wanted to support College of Law students during the COVID-19 pandemic. ’Cuse Law Cares—part of the larger Syracuse Responds COVID-19 student aid and relief initiative—raised more than $50,000 to provide emergency grants to students facing financial hardships. Thanks to many gifts from alumni and available grant funding, more than 200 of these emergency grants were awarded, and this work continues as the pandemic evolves. We are grateful to our many alumni who reached out with support during such a difficult time.

We are also grateful to the Class of 2020, which elected to make a special gift to ’Cuse Law Cares, as the University’s Class Act! senior class giving campaign was suspended due to the pandemic. Undeterred by the extraordinary events of 2020, the Class of 2021’s giving campaign is well underway, and class leaders are forging ahead with their philanthropic goals.

As we strive to overcome the new and unprecedented financial challenges for higher education, alumni support is particularly important. Your philanthropy fuels our innovation and progress. It helps us to build on what distinguishes our law school from the more than 200 nationwide. It propels our students into extraordinary careers such as yours. And gifts to the Law Annual Fund and scholarships assist our recruitment efforts by increasing selectivity and lowering class sizes.

Be sure to make your gift in time for next year’s participation report by donating today, and make sure to read next year’s Giving Book to see how your class did in FY21.

To learn more about becoming a Class Agent and spearheading a giving challenge for your class, contact Director of Alumni Affairs Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@law.syr.edu.

The Big Board 2020

An Open Letter to the Class of 2020

November 2020

Open Letter 2020

Dear Class of 2020: Thank You!

When we consider your legacy at the College of Law, one word comes to mind: resilience. Completing your final semester of law school virtually due to a global pandemic was probably not at all what you had envisioned, but your accomplishments have set a powerful example in strength and determination for those who follow in your footsteps.

As the incoming students to the College of Law, we represent three class years: the J.D. classes of 2023 and 2024 and the LL.M. Class of 2021. Seventy-three of us are enrolled in JDinteractive, 60 are first-generation college students, 32 of us are veterans or active-duty members of the military, and 28% of us identify as students of color. 

We represent 40 states and four nations, we hold a combined 47 advanced degrees, four of us hold Ph.D.s, and two of us are medical doctors. We’re proud to join the College of Law’s highly credentialed student body.

In addition to your academic achievements as law students, your philanthropy sets an example for future students. Please know that your support of the Class Act! campaign is an important part of the legacy you leave behind and another example you set.

Your individual gifts and the historic J.D. class gift to ’Cuse Law Cares in support of students impacted by the pandemic have been recognized prominently on the Class Act Giving Wall in the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Commons in Dineen Hall. Rest assured: when our time comes, we will continue this proud tradition.

We hope to meet many of you in Dineen Hall or virtually next fall during Law Alumni Weekend 2021, or as interns and externs in your firms. All our best wishes to you as you launch your careers—and Go Orange!


The J.D. Classes of 2023 and 2024, and the LL.M. Class of 2021

CLASS ACT! A New Legacy Begins

Class Act Giving Wall
Class Act Giving Wall

In Fall 2015, then-J.D. Class President Dustin Osborne L’16 and the Class of 2016 launched the College of Law’s first-ever Class Act! campaign, buoyed by the support of College of Law Board of Advisors Member Alan Epstein L’74.

A University-wide senior class giving campaign, Class Act! encourages students to make their first-ever gift to the University a symbolic amount in honor of their class year—$20.21, for the Class of 2021. We hope these gifts will be the first of many more as our students graduate, join our alumni family, and build their careers.

Five years later, the tradition continues, and—as with other aspects of the student experience at the College of Law—it grows in innovative ways.

A Historic Class Gift, and a New Participation Record for LL.M. Students

In spring 2020, the University suspended the Class Act! Campaign, in deference to students and in recognition that they were facing unforeseen financial and personal challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By that point, led by then-3L Class President Aubre Dean L’20 and the Class Act! Giving Committee, J.D. students had achieved a 32% giving participation rate.

Monetary gifts by students to any law fund of their choosing qualify for their Class Act! participation. Usually, most students elect to designate their gifts to the Law Annual Fund or the Scholarship and Financial Aid Fund.

But this year—making the best of an unusual situation— students voted to pivot their focus from a campaign of individual gifts to a class gift using funds raised collectively by the class earlier that year.

This new gift was earmarked for ’Cuse Law Cares, an emergency fund for College of Law students adversely impacted by the pandemic. For their part, the LL.M. Class of 2020, led by Betania Allo LL.M.’20, had already achieved a record breaking individual Class Act! giving participation rate of 97%.

All these achievements have been recognized on the Class Act Giving Wall in the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Commons in Dineen Hall. We are grateful for the generosity and philanthropic leadership of both the J.D. and LL.M. classes.

Class of 2021: A Tradition Reimagined

As of November 2020, the Class of 2021’s campaign is already well underway. The class voted to expand the scope of its campaign by adding new options for giving: donations of basic needs items to Hendricks Chapel and/or donations of casebooks to the Law Library for use by future law students, along with the traditional monetary gift.

The class will recognize these new giving options along with the traditional philanthropic gifts in its Class Act! participation rates. This is new territory for Class Act!, driven by students’ desire to leave a unique and meaningful legacy.

Best wishes to the Class of 2021 for a successful campaign!

Dean’s Message

Forever Orange

Dean Craig M. Boise
Dean Craig M. Boise

The College of Law boasts an ever-expanding, powerful alumni network: more than 11,000 law alumni in all 50 states and in 66 nations, making up part of a more than 250,000-strong Syracuse University alumni community. There’s no doubt that the vast Orange Network has a truly global reach, but these numbers would mean little if our alumni weren’t as thoroughly engaged with their alma mater as you are.

This issue of the Giving Book arrives at the end of a year of many social, political, and economic disruptions and inflection points. From my interactions with you throughout the year, it is apparent College of Law alumni throughout the world are meeting head-on the challenges of COVID-19, racial injustice, rapidly changing working conditions, and financial uncertainty. 

Behind the scenes, the perspectives you have shared with me and our students have informed our agile and targeted responses. Your support has enabled us to provide our students the highest quality legal education despite the pandemic’s many roadblocks, to support them financially, to advocate for them in matters of the bar, and to double our efforts to create a diverse, inclusive, and rich law school experience.

“Your optimism and energy drive our mission and inspire our students.”

You have been willing and at the ready when it comes to fostering community across new virtual networks, too. In addition to celebrating your generous philanthropy, this magazine includes stories and profiles that illustrate the extent to which our alumni have gone above and beyond in visible support of our students who are experiencing an unusual and stressful year of law school.

In September, we kicked off the semester with a memorable virtual Law Alumni Weekend conference that connected more than 600 of our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends from all over the world and showcased the expertise and leadership of our College of Law community.

Since the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, more than 300 students have met online with you, to discuss your career paths, explore emerging areas of law, and discover the extraordinary lives you have built on the foundation of a Syracuse law degree. In doing so, they are discovering the potential that is also theirs to achieve.

Then, to make the second annual Syracuse National Trial Competition in October run smoothly online for 22 nationally recognized advocacy teams, we recruited a staggering 150 judges and evaluators. As always, you stepped up, and in doing so you made the College of Law an exemplar for virtual advocacy competitions nationwide.

In this year’s “The Many Ways You Give Back” feature, Kaylin Grey L’06 recalls the “blast” she had judging the SNTC. “I missed coaching trial teams, so I’m grateful I could get involved this way,” she says.

Your optimism and energy drive our mission and inspire our students. Whether you serve on a board or committee, meet with a class or a student, mentor our students, judge or coach an advocacy competition, or supervise an extern across the country, you are making a difference in the lives and futures of our students. Thank you.

Wherever in the world you are reading this Giving Book, I want you to know that here in Syracuse we feel the powerful and positive force of our network of extraordinary alumni. In some ways, the coronavirus pandemic—and a significant strategic investment in technology—has brought us closer together than ever before. And together, we are stronger.

Very truly yours,

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law

Our Back Pages

Do You Remember? Help Us Caption Our Mystery Photos!

The College of Law’s photo archive is a fascinating visual history of your alma mater, full of nostalgia, anecdotes—and a few mysteries.  That is, some of our prints and slides lack information or captions.

That’s where you come in. In this feature, we challenge you to help us recall the people and scenes in our mystery photos.

This time we return to what looks like one of the White/ MacNaughton lecture halls, with students seemingly getting to grips with a particularly tough problem. 

However, there is nothing written on the reverse side of this print—if you know any of the students pictured, what class this is, and what year the photo was taken, please email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@law.syr.edu, and we’ll publish what we discover in a future issue.

Our Back Pages Yearbook 2020 Mystery Photo
Our Back Pages Yearbook 2020 Mystery Photo

A Transforming Experience

Thank you to Sharon O’Brien Allen L’73 for setting the record straight regarding the photo of five female students on the front cover of the 2020 Stories Book:

I am the student on the far right, not P.M. Orlikoff (Phyllis Orlikoff was a fellow student who graduated in 1963 and is now a prominent judge). My name then was Sharon O’Brien. I was originally a member of the class of ’65, but I took a leave of absence after that first year to marry a West Point graduate and become the mother of two daughters.

When our family returned to live in Syracuse, I finished my law studies, graduating in 1973. I have been a member of the New York bar ever since, and my name at that point was, and still is, Sharon O’Brien Allen. My father, William G. O’Brien, was also a graduate of the College of Law, earning his degree in the late 1930s. And my daughters are both lawyers now, too!

There were only seven women students in the law school back in 1963, and we five were photographed in connection with admittance to an honorary society. Louise Dembeck, standing next to me in the photo, was the only woman to graduate in 1965. She and I remain close friends to this day.

When I graduated in 1973, I first worked for the law firm of Bucci & Lockwood, formed by two of the women in the photo. I believe theirs was the first all-women law firm in the state. Soon, though, I accepted a position as law clerk to the Onondaga County Court judges, which was by far my most enjoyable career move.

I earned an M.L.S. from Syracuse in 1991 and worked as a librarian in law schools before retiring as librarian of the public law library in Leesburg, VA. Being a student at the College of Law was a transforming experience and was equally gratifying at two very different times in my life!

1965 female graduates
1965 female graduates

Faculty Publications

Discover faculty research at papers.ssrn.com.

Robert Ashford

Professor of  Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Universal Basic Income and Inclusive Capitalism: Consequences for Sustainability (with Ralph P. Hall, Nicholas A. Ashford & Johan Arango-Quiroga), 11 SUSTAINABILITY 4481 (2019).

Hon. James E. Baker

Professor of  Law
Director, Institute for Security Policy and Law
Professor of Public Administration, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (by courtesy appointment) 

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

National Security Law & Emerging Technologies: Toward a Decisional Framework – Key Takeaways from the ABA-OSU Symposium and Jirga, 15 I/S: J.L. & POL’Y FOR INFO. SOC’Y 65 (2019).

Reports, News, and Commentary:

Opinion, It’s High Time We Fought This Virus the American Way, N.Y. TIMES, April 3, 2020.

Use the Defense Production Act to Flatten the Curve,  JUST SECURITY, March 20, 2020. 

Peter D. Blanck

University Professor
Chairman, Burton Blatt Institute

Book Chapters:

“The Right to Make Choices”: Supported Decision-Making Activities in the United States (with J. Martinis), THE WILL OF THE PROTECTED PERSON: OPPORTUNITIES, RISKS AND SAFEGUARDS 27 (Montserrat Pereña Vicente ed., 2019). 

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Closing the Disability Gap: Reforming the Community Reinvestment Act Regulatory Framework, (with Michael Morris, Nanette Goodman, Angel Baker, and Kyle Palmore) 226 GEO. J. ON POVERTY L. & POL’Y 355 (2019).

Jennifer S. Breen

Associate Professor of  Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Labor, Law Enforcement, and “Normal Times”: The Origins of Immigration’s Home Within the Department of Justice and the Evolution of Attorney General Control Over Immigration Adjudications, 42 U. HAW. L. REV. 1 (2019). 

Keith J. Bybee

Vice Dean Paul E. and the Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72  Judiciary Studies Professor
Professor of Law
Professor of Political Science 
Director, Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media
Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

Book Chapters: 

Free Speech, Free Press and Fake News: What if the Marketplace of Ideas Isn’t About Identifying the Truth? (with Laura Jenkins), FREE SPEECH THEORY: UNDERSTANDING THE CONTROVERSIES (Helen J. Knowles & Brandon T. Metroka eds., 2020). 

Book Reviews: 


Christian C. Day

Professor of  Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Hamilton’s Law and Finance: Borrowing from the Brits  (And the Dutch), 47 SYRACUSE J. INT’L  L. & COM. 68 (2019).

Doron Dorfman

Associate Professor of Law

Book Chapters: 

Disability, Law, and the Humanities: The Rise of Disability Legal Studies (with Rabia Belt), THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF LAW AND HUMANITIES (Simon Stern ed., 2019).

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Can the COVID-19 Interstate Travel Restrictions Help Lift the FDA’s Blood Ban? 9 J.L. & BIOSCIENCES (2020).

[Un]usual Suspects: Deservingness, Scarcity, and Disability Rights, 10 U.C. IRVINE L. REV. 557 (2020).

Fear of the Disability Con: Perceptions of Fraud and Special Rights Discourse, 53 L. & SOC’Y REV. 1051 (2019).

Book Reviews: 

Review of Politics of Empowerment: Disability Rights and the Cycle of American Policy Reform. By David Pettinicchio, 54 LAW & SOC’Y REV. 530 (forthcoming 2020).

Reports, News, and Commentary:

COVID-19 May Help Lift FDA Policy on Gay Blood Donors, LAW360 (April 3, 2020)

David M. Driesen

University Professor

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Toward a Populist Political Economy of Climate Disruption, 49 ENVT’L L. 379 (2019).

Reports, News, and Commentary:

Fund Absentee Voting to Ensure Democracy,  SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, May 10, 2020, at E1. 

Opinion, NY Law Requires Absentee Ballots in Response to COVID-19, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, April 5, 2020, at E1.

Opinion, Trump’s Abuse of Office Clears Bar for Impeachment (with Thomas M. Keck), SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, December 15, 2019, at E4.

Opinion, Congress Could Impeach Trump Without an Investigation, So Why Bother?, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, October 6, 2019, at E1.

Opinion, Representative Katko Contributing to Anti-Immigrant Atmosphere, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD (Aug. 8, 2019).

A Hungarian Autocrat is Trump’s Role Model, THE DAILY STAR, August 1, 2019, at 6. 

Trump’s Role Model, PROJECT SYNDICATE (July 30, 2019).

Trump’s Persecution of His Investigators Follows Authoritarian Playbook, TRUTHOUT (June 22, 2019).

The Risks of an Impeachment Inquiry, NEWSDAY (May 23, 2019).

Book Review:

Book Review, 12 CARBON & CLIMATE L. REV. 338 (2018) (reviewing THE EVOLUTION OF CARBON MARKETS: DESIGN AND DIFFUSION (Jorgen Wettestad & Lars H. Gulbrandsen eds., (2018)).

Ian Gallacher

Professor of Law
Director, Legal Communication and Research

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Swear Not at All: Time to Abandon the Testimonial Oath,  52 NEW ENG. L. REV. 247 (2018). 

Shubha Ghosh

Crandall Melvin Professor of Law
Director, Syracuse Intellectual Property Law Institute

Book Chapters:



Intellectual Property and Economic Development: A Guide for Scholarly and Policy Research, RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON THE ECONOMICS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW (Ben Depoorter & Peter S. Menel eds., 2019).

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

The Antitrust Logic of Biologics, 2018 U. ILL. L. REV. ONLINE 46 (2018).

Book Review:

Layering Property, Disseminating Knowledge, JOTWELL (July 19, 2019) (reviewing RUTH L. OKEDIJI, A TIERED APPROACH TO TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE, 58 WASHBURN L. J. 271 (2019)).

Antonio Gidi  

Teaching Professor

Book Chapters:

Effectividad, Celeridad y Seguridad Jurídica: Pequeñas Causas, Causas No Impugnadas y Otras Materias de Simplificación de las Decisiones Judiciales y de los Procedimientos (Effectiveness, Speed, and Legal Certainty: Small Claims, Uncontested Claims, and Simplification of Judicial Decisions and Proceedings) (with Hermes Zaneti, Jr.), TENDENCIAS ACTUALES DEL DERECHO PROCESAL (2019).

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Incorporation by Reference: Requiem for a Useless Tradition, 70 HASTINGS L.J. 989 (2019).

O Processo Civil Brasileiro na “Era da Austeridade”? Efetividade, Celeridade e Segurança Jurídica: PequenasCcausas, Causas Não Contestadas e Outras Matérias de Simplificação das Decisões Judiciais e dos Procedimentos (with Hermes Zaneti, Jr.), 44 REVISTA DE PROCESSO 41 (2019).

Reports, News, and Commentary:

GUIA PARA O LL.M. DE SYRACUSE (SYRACUSE LL.M. GUIDE) (April 2020), https://ssrn.com/abstract=3543930.

Bar Finally Admits SU’s First Black Law Graduate, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, October 17, 2019, at A23.

Lauryn P. Gouldin  

Associate Dean for Faculty Research
Associate Professor of Law

Reports, News, and Commentary:

Opinion, Don’t Let Fearmongering Sabotage Criminal Justice Reforms: Senate Proposal for Judicial Discretion Open Door To Racial Bias, TIMES UNION, February 20, 2020.    

Roy Gutterman  

Director, Tully Center for Free Speech
Associate Professor, Newhouse School
Professor of Law (by courtesy appointment)

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Feiner and the Heckler’s Veto, ASS’N FOR EDUC. JOURNALISM & MASS COMM.: JOURNALISM HISTORY FIRST AMENDMENT HISTORY SPECIAL, (August 2019). Media Law (2017-2018 Survey of New York Law), 69 SYRACUSE L. REV. 937 (2019).

Reports, News, and Commentary: 

The Public Needs Information during a Public Health Crisis, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, March 29, 2020, at E1. 

The Answer to Hate Speech is More Speech to Expose it, Fuel Change. Hate Speech: Social Media Gives Global Platform to Speakers, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, December 29, 2019,  at E1. 

You Have a First Amendment Right to Follow Trump on Twitter, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, September 8, 2019,  at E1.

Villainous Hacker or Journalistic Informer? Julian Assange It’s too Early to Tell which Assange is. But His Case Threatens All Newsgathering., SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, June 16, 2019, at E1.

Paula C. Johnson

Professor of Law
Director, Cold Case Justice Initiative

Reports, News, and Commentary:

Bar Finally Admits SU’s First Black Law Graduate, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, October 17, 2019, at A23.

Arlene S. Kanter

Laura J. & L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence
Professor of Law
Director, College of Law Disability Law and Policy Program
Faculty Director of International Programs
Professor of Disability Studies, School of Education (by courtesy appointment) 

Book Chapters:

The Right to Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities Under International Human Rights Law, THE RIGHT TO INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW (G. de Beco, S. Quinlivan & J. E. Lord eds., 2019).

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Do Human Rights Treaties Matter: The Case for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, 52 VAND. J. TRANSNAT’L L. 577 (2019).

Nina A. Kohn

David M. Levy L’48 Professor of Law
Faculty Director of Online Education

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Online Learning and the Future of Legal Education, 70 SYRACUSE L. REV. 1 (2020).

A Framework for Theoretical Inquiry Into law and Aging,  21 THEORETICAL INQUIRIES IN L. 187 (2020).

Reports, News, and Commentary: 

The Pandemic Exposed a Painful Truth: America Doesn’t Care About Old People, THE WASHINGTON POST, May 10, 2020, at B4 (reprinted as Not Enough Care About Old People, SYRACUSE  POST-STANDARD, May 10, 2020, at E5).

Addressing the Crisis in Long-Term Care Facilities, THE HILL, (April 23, 2020).

Book Review:

Old Age in an Era of Migrant Elder Care, 15 INT’L J. OF LAW IN CONTEXT 234 (2019) (reviewing DAPHNA HACKER, LEGALIZED FAMILIES IN THE ERA OF BORDERED GLOBALIZATION (2017)).

Kevin Noble Maillard

Professor of Law

Book Chapters:

Commentary: Reber v. Reiss, 42 A.3d 1131 (2012), FEMINIST JUDGMENTS: REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE REWRITTEN (Kimberly Mutcherson ed. 2020).

Reports, News, and Commentary:

Parenting by FaceTime in Coronavirus Quarantine, N.Y. TIMES, March 20, 2020.

Giving In to ‘Let It Go’, N.Y. TIMES, November 20, 2019,  at C1.

Beyond a Mother and Wife, N.Y. TIMES, July 15, 2019, at C1. 

Robin Paul Malloy

Ernest I. White Chair and Distinguished Professor of Law Kauffman Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Director, Center on Property, Citizenship, and Social  Entrepreneurism
Professor of Economics, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (by courtesy appointment)

Book Reviews:


Mark P. Nevitt

Associate Professor of Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

The Operational and Administrative Militaries, 53 GA. L. REV. 905 (2019). 

Reports, News, and Commentary: 

Military’s Response to the Coronavirus Crisis: To 10 Principles, JUST SECURITY, March 25, 2020.

The Coronavirus, Emergency Powers, and the Military: What You Need to Know, JUST SECURITY, March 16, 2020. 

Trump’s Threats to Target Iranian Cultural Sites: Illegal Under International, Domestic, and Military Law, JUST SECURITY, January 8, 2020. 

Climate Change Denialism Poses a National Security Threat, JUST SECURITY, September 20, 2019.

The Missing Piece in US-Iran Drone Dispute: Navigational Freedoms and the Straits of Hormuz, JUST SECURITY, June 28, 2019.

Mary Szto

Teaching Professor

Reports, News, and Commentary:

Businesses Must Act Enhance Security to Protect Customers and Launch Restorative Justice, SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, April 19, 2020 at E4.

Monica Todd

Teaching Professor

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Let’s Be Honest about Law School Cheating: A Low-Tech Solution to a High-Tech Problem (with Lori Roberts), 52 AKRON L REV. 1155 (2019). 

Matchmaking in Law School: Practical Skills and Doctrine in Family Law Course Design, 46 W. ST. U. L. REV. 127 (2019).

C. Cora True-Frost

Associate Professor of Law

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

International Disability Law and the Experience of Marginality: Introductory Remarks, 113 AM. SOC’Y INT’L L. PROC. 287 (2019). 

Reports, News, and Commentary: 

Parenting in the Shadow of Scarce Ventilators, NEWSDAY (March 28, 2020).

A. Joseph Warburton

Professor of Law
Professor of Finance, Whitman School of Management

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles:

Mutual Funds that Borrow, (with Michael Simkovic) 16 J. EMPIRICAL LEGAL STUD. 767 (2019).  

Corrinne B. Zoli

Associate Teaching Professor
Director of Research, Institute for Security Policy and Law

Book Chapters:

Military Culture and Humanitarian Actions: Short-term Gains and Long-Term Losses (with Robert A. Rubinstein), CULTURE AND THE SOLDIER: IDENTITIES, VALUES, AND NORMS IN MILITARY ENGAGEMENTS (H. Christian Breede ed., 2019).

Civil-Military Relations from International Conflict Zones to the United States: Notes on Mutual Discontents and Disruptive Logics (with Robert A. Rubinstein), CIVIL-MILITARY ENTANGLEMENTS: ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES (Birgitte Refslund Sørensen & Eyal Ben-Ari eds., 2019).

Law Review and Other Scholarly Articles: 

ISIS Cohort Transnational Travels and EU Security Gaps: Reconstructing the 2015 Paris Attack Preplanning and Outsource Strategy (with Aliya Hallie Williams), TERRORISM AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE (2019), 

Reports to Governmental Bodies and Professional Associations:

Leviathan Revisited: Assessing National Security Institutions for Abuse of Power and Overreach, (Conference paper, International Studies Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada, March 28, 2019).

Terrorist Critical Infrastructures, Organizational Capacity and Security Risk, (Conference paper, International Studies Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada, March 27, 2019).

Terrorist Critical Infrastructures: A Public Service and Disaster Management Approach to Global Insecurity, (Conference paper, American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., March 10, 2019).

Reports, News, and Commentary: 

World War III Alarmism: It’s Time to Press for Sober, Rational, & Contextual Analysis of the Iran Situation, NEWS AND EVENTS (Syracuse U. C. of L., Syracuse, N.Y.), January 13, 2020. 

The Soleimani Airstrike: An End to His Signature Middle East Strategy?, NEWS AND EVENTS (Syracuse U. C. of L., Syracuse, N.Y.),  January 6, 2020.

The Burden of a Militarized US Foreign Policy, NEWS AND EVENTS, (Syracuse U. C. of L., Syracuse, N.Y.), November 1, 2019. 

Second Thoughts About Taliban Peace Talks, NEWSDAY (September 9, 2019). 

Faculty Books

The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution

Hon. James E. Baker

Brookings Institution Press, 2020

In The Centaur’s Dilemma, Baker addresses how national security law can and should be applied to the novel challenges, threats, and opportunities posed by the rapidly advancing field of artificial intelligence (AI). The book assesses how the law—even when not directly addressing artificial intelligence—can be used, or even misused, to regulate this emerging technology.

The book covers, among other topics, national security process, constitutional law, the law of armed conflict, arms control, and academic and corporate ethics. Using his own background as a judge, Baker examines potential points of contention and litigation in an area where the law is still evolving and does not yet provide clear and certain answers.

The Centaur’s Dilemma

Investigative Criminal Procedure in Focus

Professor Todd A. Berger

Wolters Kluwer, 2020

Investigative Criminal Procedure in Focus provides law students with a thorough understanding of investigative criminal procedure, combining complex legal concepts and providing hands-on exercises.

The book provides a general introduction to the world of criminal procedure; explains the differences between substantive criminal law and criminal procedure, as well as the differences between the investigative and adjudicative stages of the criminal justice process; and focuses on the sources of criminal procedure law, Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, interrogation law, and eyewitness identifications.

Investigative Criminal Procedure in Focus

LexisNexis Practice Guide: New Jersey Collateral Consequences

Professor Todd A. Berger, et. al.

LexisNexis, 2019

Written by experienced practitioners, the Practice Guide offers concise explanations of collateral consequences flowing from specific New Jersey criminal convictions, general classes of offenses, and types of offenses, as well as practice strategies, checklists, and appendices to help practitioners identify and address all the collateral consequences across the New Jersey crime topology.

Practice Guide

Supported Decision-Making: From Justice for Jenny to Justice for All

University Professor Peter D. Blanck (With Jonathan Martinis)

Something Else Solutions, 2019

In this book, Jonathan Martinis and Peter Blanck tell the story of Jenny Hatch, a young woman with Down syndrome who fought for the right to make decisions for herself in a case where her parents sought to place her in full guardianship. She eventually prevailed, in part by demonstrating how she uses supported decision-making (SDM) to make her own decisions with help from people she trusts.

Blanck and Martinis offer practical tips and model language to help request, receive, and use SDM in the programs and life areas people with disabilities use every day, including special education, vocational rehabilitation, person-centered planning, health care, money management, and more.

Supported Decision Making

Understanding Intellectual Property Law (4th Edition)

Professor Shubha Ghosh (With Tyler T. Ochoa & Mary LaFrance)

Carolina Academic Press, 2020

There have been a number of important developments in US intellectual property law since the third edition of Understanding Intellectual Property Law. Congress enacted the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 to provide a federal civil cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets, and it enacted the Music Modernization Act of 2018, which creates a blanket license for digital music providers and extends federal protection to sound recordings fixed before Feb. 15, 1972.  

In addition, courts continue  to work through the implications of earlier statutory revisions, such as the landmark America Invents Act of 2011. The US Supreme Court has reviewed IP cases during the past four years, deciding 18 patent cases, four copyright cases, and five trademark cases. In addition, the federal Courts of Appeals decided more than 1,000 patent cases, 230 copyright cases, and nearly 300 trademark and false advertising cases. Updated to reflect this new material, the fourth edition covers all topics and issues likely to be addressed in an IP survey course.

Understanding Intellectual Property Law

Learning Contracts (2nd Edition)

Professor Jack M. Graves

West Academic Publishing, 2019

Learning Contracts provides 50 discrete lessons covering the full body of basic contract law, including a comparative approach to coverage of the common law, Uniform Commercial Code Article 2, and the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods. 

Each lesson includes expected learning outcomes followed by highly structured presentations, detailed explanations, illustrative examples, and helpful summaries, all designed to make the doctrine more readily accessible to students than the traditional case method. 

Learning Contracts includes carefully selected teaching cases, allowing class time to be used for the application of newly introduced doctrinal materials to the problems at the end of each lesson. While some well-known cases are presented in their original form, many other cases are presented in the form of examples or problems.

Learning Contracts

Elder Law: Practice, Policy, and Problems (2nd Edition)

Professor Nina A. Kohn

Wolters Kluwer, 2020

Elder Law: Practice, Policy, and Problems combines a client-focused approach with in-depth discussions of elder law-related policy issues. Designed to be simultaneously practical and theoretical, it provides students with specific legal knowledge and a conceptual framework for understanding key issues facing older adults and the attorneys who represent them.

New to the second edition are comprehensive updates that capture changes in law and policy, including major revisions to nursing home regulations, new developments in guardianship law, and an emerging line of cases on age discrimination in hiring. There is also new coverage of caregivers’ rights, “gray divorce,” supported decision-making, and social service interventions that address elder abuse.

Elder Law

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Professor Kevin Noble Maillard (With Juana Martinez-Neal)

Roaring Brook Press, 2019

Told in lively and powerful verse by Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal:

Fry bread is food. It is warm and delicious,  piled high on a plate.

Fry bread is time. It brings families together  for meals and new memories.

Among the book’s honors to date:

  • Winner, 2020 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
  • Winner, 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book
  • A 2020 ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • A 2019 Publishers Weekly Best Picture Book
  • A 2019 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book
  • A 2019 National Public Radio Best Book
Fry Bread

Disability Law for Property, Land Use, and Zoning Lawyers

Professor Robin Paul Malloy

ABA State and Local Book Series, 2020

In Disability Law for Property, Land Use, and Zoning Lawyers, Professor Robin Paul Malloy explains how to navigate one of the fastest growing areas of concern for local governments: the intersection of disability law with land development, planning, and regulation. 

This is an area of law that is both complex and confusing. Malloy simplifies the task of learning disability law by sorting through and organizing numerous provisions of our federal disability laws and explaining how these provisions relate to everyday practice and decision-making.

Among its features, the book includes straightforward discussion of relevant provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Architectural Barriers Act.

Disability Law

How the Clinics Continue to Serve Clients and the Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Deborah Kenn Associate Dean of Clinical and Experiential Education

Clinic Director’s Report

Deborah Kenn
Deborah Kenn

Student attorneys enroll in one of the  College’s eight law clinic courses to practice  law and represent clients for the first time in their legal careers. They look forward to face-to-face meetings with clients and advocating for them in court and with administrative agencies, doing so in a supportive environment supervised by faculty members while brainstorming on cases  with their law clinic colleagues.

In spring 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on our daily lives, the impact on the practice of law and with it clinical legal education was no exception. Teaching and learning throughout the law school pivoted to online after spring break. So too did our practice of law and the representation of clinic clients. Although the experience the student attorneys received was not at all what they thought it would be, it was powerful.

As disruptive as the virus was, it was also an incredibly teachable moment. Law clinic faculty rose to the challenge of teaching our students how to lawyer in a time of a grave crisis, how to exercise good judgment in the face of uncertainty, and how to utilize skills in the remote practice of law that some faculty were only just learning themselves. 

Teaching classes remotely was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for law clinic faculty. Supervising students on actual cases with real clients was the ultimate challenge. We were not alone: Lawyers throughout the country—if not the world—were learning how to work and represent clients remotely. Our student attorneys now continue in summer session, building on their experience in real time during a national crisis. 

Importantly, during this pandemic, students have had to overcome the obstacles faced by people who are historically disadvantaged in our society. Many of our clients do not have smartphones, let alone a computer, and cannot access Zoom or other remote communication applications. Some courts and administrative agencies were closed except for emergency legal matters. With the guidance of supervising faculty, our student attorneys rose to the occasion with creative problem-solving in every aspect of our legal representation.

It has been a scary, stressful, and challenging time for most people throughout our country. In the best of times, lawyers must put their own self-interest aside and get out of their own way to be effective advocates for their clients. In this time of a global pandemic—when civil and legal rights are of utmost importance—our ability to help others with our legal skills and effectively represent clients is paramount. In our clinics, student attorneys have continued without interruption to receive an unparalleled legal education while providing critical legal representation to clients. They will call upon the skills and experiences they have gained here and now throughout their legal careers. I am very proud of them.

Children’s Rights & Family Law Clinic

Each year, the work of the Children’s Rights & Family Law Clinic (CRC) is characterized by select themes. This past academic year, these themes included adoption issues, custody, and child support matters as well as providing comprehensive legal representation to clients also represented by the Veterans Legal Clinic. 

The year began with the continuing representation of a mother needing legal assistance obtaining health insurance for her children who had been continuously in her care and custody. The client had been covering her children through Medicaid but subsequently learned that two of her children having specialized medical needs had their health coverage terminated after their father, who had been abusive to the client, had enrolled them in an out-of-state plan that they would never be able to use. 

This resulted in the children not being able to obtain medically necessary services. After many months of discovery, research, communications with state agencies, and filing extensive pleadings with the court, the Clinic was able to obtain this necessary coverage. 

CRC also participated in its first adult adoption matter. Specifically, CRC retained a client for an adult adoption where the client wished to preserve his sense of family with the only family he has ever known. The client wished to have the same relationship reflected legally. We continue our work with the clients. 

Criminal Defense Clinic

Student attorneys in the Criminal Defense Clinic (CDC) represented more than two dozen people charged with misdemeanors or violations in Syracuse City Court during the 2019-2020 academic year. In the fall semester, Nathan Wagner L’20 and rising 3L Kayla Wheeler successfully defended their client by invoking a provision in the criminal code that allowed their client to avoid conviction by taking an alcohol training course. 

Furthermore, Taylor Carter-Disanto L’20 and rising 3Ls Michaela Mancini and Matt Cohan had charges against their client dismissed on the eve of trial by arguing that the trial would violate the speedy trial rule due to the prosecution failing to comply with the new criminal discovery rules. CDC students were some of the first attorneys in Onondaga County to successfully get a charge dismissed under the 2020 discovery amendments.

Disability Rights Clinic

Connor Haken L’20 and Philip M. Lee L’20
Connor Haken L’20 and Philip M. Lee L’20

Disability Rights Clinic (DRC) Director Michael Schwartz is the only culturally Deaf law professor in the United States. While there are a number of law professors with diminished hearing, none are fluent in American Sign Language nor identify as belonging to the Deaf community of the United States and overseas.

In collaboration with Schwartz , DRC students Connor Haken L’20 and Philip M. Lee L’20 successfully petitioned the New York State Division of Human Rights to allow student attorneys, practicing under the guidance of a licensed lawyer, to represent clients in a public hearing. 

In addition, the DRC successfully negotiated a settlement allowing a Deaf warehouse employee of a national retail chain to drive a forklift on the job; DRC students edited a Korean Disabled People’s Organization’s shadow report to the UN under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and students have been engaged in ongoing negotiation with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to install a videophone for Deaf and hard of hearing inmates in state custody. 

Transactional Law Clinic

Transactional Law Clinic student attorneys and Director Jessica Murray concluded the Clinic’s inaugural year by assisting clients affected in various ways by the COVID-19 crisis. In one matter, a not-for-profit client wondered if it could shift its organizational focus to COVID-19 relief, from its previous mission. This inquiry led to review by the Clinic of the organization’s governance documents, various state and federal laws, as well as practical considerations. 

Several clients approached the Clinic about the interpretation of agreements and how they would be affected by the pandemic. Not surprisingly, among other matters, the clinic examined the meaning and applicability of force majeure clauses.  “It was very rewarding for student attorneys to provide helpful legal advice related to these unprecedented times,” says Murray.

Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic

3L Madeline Cardona and VLC staff in Washington, DC.
3L Madeline Cardona and VLC staff in Washington, DC.

In November, Beth G. Kubala became Director of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic (VLC). Kubala was most recently Senior Director for Strategy and Performance at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). Before joining the University, Kubala retired from the US Army as Lieutenant Colonel following 22 years of active service.

Among VLC’s work in 2019-2020, rising 3L Madeline Cardona presented before a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC. Cardona offered opening and closing arguments, interviewed three witnesses, and provided testimony and evidence in support of a disability benefits issue. 

In April, Jonathan Pilat L’20 submitted public comment on a proposed legislative change by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, to amend the VA regulations that limit student attorney access to electronic records kept by the Veterans Benefits Administration.  

Pilat’s comment voiced dissent for this change and communicated VLC concerns. Pilat also advocated for continued access to veterans benefits records under the current regulation or under an amendment that would enable clinic students to qualify for read-only access.

ILC Powers Up an Innovation

Innovation Law Center Students & Faculty Help Hoplite Power Commercialize Its On-the-Go Smartphone Chargers


It’s a frustration many can relate to. You’re on the go with your smartphone, juggling business and personal calls and texts, when you suddenly realize you’re low on power. 

No worries. Just dip into a friendly café with your charger and power up while you are getting coffee’d up. So you reach into your bag for the charging cable … Of course, it’s not there. Enter Hoplite Power, a Long Island, NY-based startup company that has created a remarkable and convenient solution for those inevitable times when you leave home without your charger or when there are no power outlets nearby.

Assisted by students and faculty at the New York State Science and Technology Law Center (NYSSTLC)—part of the Innovation Law Center (ILC)—Hoplite Power has developed a smartphone charge-sharing system. “Any customer who is low on battery can go to one of our kiosks in network and rent a portable battery pack to charge their phone on the go,” says Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Nikolas Schreiber, adding that the kiosks operate in a similar way to a RedBox DVD dispenser or CitiBike bike rental kiosk.

Each kiosk—called a Hoplite Hub—stores, dispenses, re-accepts, and automatically recharges Hoplites, which are small, ergonomically designed, universal battery packs for smartphones. These packs can be rented from and returned to any Hoplite Hub in the network.

“This means the customer can charge when and where they need it, not having to remember to bring a battery or be tied down to an outlet. This system is perfect for high-density and high-value areas such as sports stadiums, live venues, and convention centers,” notes Schreiber. Schreiber discussed how NYSSTLC—and specifically rising 3L Viviana Bro and Adjunct Professor Dominick Danna ’67, ’71—have helped Hoplite Power commercialize its novel technology:  

How did you discover the NYSSTLC/Innovation Law Center and the services it provides businesses and entrepreneurs?

We are working with NYDesigns Incubator, Futureworks, FuzeHub, the Industry Trade Advisory Committee, the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium, the Manufacturing and Technology Resource Consortium, and finally the Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (CEBIP). It was CEBIP that made the direct introduction to the Innovation Law Center and NYSSTLC.

What assistance has Hoplite Power received from NYSSTLC?

We were able to consult with NYSSTLC on a full intellectual property (IP) strategy, including prior art, freedom to operate,  and patentability.

How useful has the NYSSTLC research and proprietary report been for your commercialization process?

It was incredibly assuring to look through some patents and understand that we did have freedom to operate where before we had some concerns. Not just that, we learned that there might be specific aspects of our technology—especially given a number of unique mechanisms—that could be patented, where, again, we had had doubts.

Now that you have engaged NYSSTLC, what are the next steps for Hoplite Power?

Following the launch of our version two pilot, we plan to file additional IP protections, including both design and utility patents. A strong IP and a functioning pilot will allow us to raise more capital.

What advice do you have for an entrepreneur looking to commercialize a new technology, based on your experiences so far?

There are so many ways to go with this, but I think one thing that gets lost is proving the product market fit. Your new technology might be cool, but if it does not serve a market need, then it is not a company. n


NYSSTLC Projects 2019-2020

Every semester, law and graduate students assist the New York State Science and Technology Law Center (NYSSTLC) by writing proprietary reports on intellectual property, regulations, and markets for clients bringing emerging technologies to market.

Students work under supervision in the Innovation Law Center—which has housed NYSSTLC since 2004—gaining critical practical experience in a real-world context. Addressing novel technologies across the green tech, health care, and cloud computing industries, as well as unmanned aerial systems, the following inventions and  new products were among those that students engaged in 2019-2020:

  • AX Enterprise: A system to enable beyond-line-of-sight drone operations
  • Cath Buddy: An improved system for at-home catheterization and sterilization 
  • DVIN: Innovative amphibious all-terrain vehicles
  • Exotanium: Improved cloud resource management
  • Halomine: Hydrogels for improved health care
  • MABL: An additive manufacturing process to enable  free-form fabrications of cellular lattice structures
  • NUAIR: A wind tunnel simulation testing tool
  • Orion: Durable anion exchange membrane technology 
  • Prolivio: A heating and cooling headband for migraine sufferers 
  • Sentient Blue: Gas turbines for unmanned aerial systems 
  • SUNY-ESF (Dr. Brian Leydet): A method for testing chemical repellents to create effective tick bite prevention and disease transmission
  • Super Clean Glass: Self-cleaning technology removes dust from solar panels and retains up to 95% of lost energy
  • Syracuse University Tech Transfer Office: Assessment of University research
  • Vistrada: Student internship identification and matching software
  • WindowWare: Software for remote, accurate window measurement

Institute for Security Policy and Law Expands Its Mission

“Our new identity recognizes the essential interdisciplinary nature of contemporary security challenges,” said the Hon. James E. Baker in November 2019, announcing a new identity for the College of Law’s national security institute, which he directs. 

“As the Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law (SPL), we continue our mission to conduct leading-edge policy and law research and analysis across disciplines and to educate and inspire the next generation of security thought leaders and practitioners.”

Founded as the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism in 2003 by Professor Emeritus William C. Banks, the Institute has become a national leader in the teaching and analysis of a spectrum of security topics, including homeland security, the law of armed conflict, violent extremism, postconflict reconstruction, disaster response, the rule of law, veterans’ affairs, diversity in the intelligence community, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emerging technologies.

The Institute’s new identity reflects the breadth of its activities, and it acknowledges the Institute’s longstanding flexibility in addressing novel security challenges—both within the United States and around the world—through multidisciplinary research, teaching, public service, and policy analysis.

“A prime mover in national security policy and law, the Institute for Security Policy and Law is poised for the future,” says Dean Boise. “I am particularly excited about SPL’s expansion into emerging technologies, the private practice of security, and diversity in the intelligence community. These changes are transforming the workplaces our students are entering. By staying abreast of these trends, the Institute will remain a premier training ground for future practitioners.”

SPL continues to offer three groundbreaking, interdisciplinary certificates of advanced study: Security Studies, National Security and Counterterrorism Law, and Postconflict Reconstruction. More than 700 students have earned SPL certificates since 2003. Alumni work across national and international security sectors, including for US and foreign governments, international humanitarian organizations, intelligence agencies, think tanks, NGOs, and they serve in all five branches of the US military.



SPL Deputy Director Robert B. Murrett presides over a kickoff meeting for the Syracuse University Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (ICCAE). SPL led an effort that resulted in the University being designated an ICCAE, a highly competitive, congressionally mandated program that is funded by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence and that partners with universities to diversify the US intelligence workforce.

ICCAE Kick Off Meeting July 2019.
ICCAE Kick Off Meeting July 2019.

SPL students pose on a tour of historical sites during their graduate study abroad program in Israel and Palestine. Through SPL’s long-running Program on Security in the Middle East, graduate and law students experience firsthand the dynamic and enduring security challenges facing the region. Study abroad fellowships are funded by Gerald B. Cramer ’52, H’10 and Carol Becker ’76. 

Israel Mitvim Group July 2019.
Israel Mitvim Group July 2019.

FALL 2019

In September 2019, Professor Emeritus William C. Banks spoke on the Institute for Counter-Terrorism World Summit panel “When Conflicts End and How: ISIS as a Case Study.” The panel—the inaugural meeting of “The End of War Project”—was offered in memory of longtime SPL supporter Gerald B. Cramer ’52, H’10. Banks offered a remembrance of Cramer’s life and career.

ICT Panel Sept 2019.
ICT Panel Sept 2019.

SPL Distinguished Fellow Avril Haines, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and Deputy Director of the CIA, spoke at Dineen Hall on October 8. She discussed the structure of national security law and policy in federal government and her experience as both a recipient and provider of national security legal advice.

Avril Haines
Avril Haines

In October 2019, SPL Director the Hon. James E. Baker was named a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow. NAPA is a congressionally chartered academy providing expert advice to government leaders. Induction is considered one of the leading honors for public administration scholars. 

Hon. James E. Baker
Hon. James E. Baker

The inaugural Carol Becker Lecture was held at Syracuse University’s Lubin House in New York City on October 20. In front of a packed audience, award-winning journalist George Packer and Judge Baker discussed “American Leadership in the 21st Century.” Dean Boise, University Trustee Christine Larsen G’84, and Carol Becker ’76 were among the special guests. 

George Packer speaks in October 2019.
George Packer speaks in October 2019.

During an October 22 visit to Dineen Hall, SPL Distinguished Fellow Steve Bunnell, former General Counsel of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), discussed careers in national security and the US government’s approach to cybersecurity, which he helped to oversee at DHS.

Steve Bunnell visits Dineel Hall in October 2019.
Steve Bunnell visits Dineel Hall in October 2019.

University benefactor Andrew T. Berlin ’83 (center) joined an Andrew Berlin Family National Security Research Fund Scholars Workshop in Dineen Hall on October 26. Subjects workshopped included nuclear deterrence, autocratization in Turkey, postconflict Sierra Leone, and the history of refugee crises.

Andrew T. Berlin with Berlin Scholars.
Andrew T. Berlin with Berlin Scholars.

In November, SPL announced a $500,000 research partnership with the Center for Security and Emerging Technology to assist CSET in investigating the legal, policy, and security impacts of emerging technology.


During SPL’s second annual Veterans Day Celebration, 100-year-old World War II veteran Stan Stanley thrilled the audience with his tale of being rescued from a crashed bomber by the Dutch Resistance. Afterward, Judge Baker presented Stanley with a US flag recently flown over the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Also honoring advocacy group Clear Path for Veterans, the celebration was organized by SPL, the National Security Student Association, and the Veterans Issues, Support Initiative, and Outreach Network (VISION).

Veterans Day Celebration in November 2019.
Veterans Day Celebration in November 2019.


The Hon. John E. Sparks, US Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, was a guest of honor in February 2020. Judge Sparks related his experiences as a marine, Deputy Legal Advisor in the National Security Council, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture, and military judge. The talk was co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association.

Judge Sparks visits in February 2020.
Judge Sparks visits in February 2020.

On March 2, ICCAE held a day-long symposium in the University’s Hall of Languages. The first panel of the day—“Teaching Intelligence: Policy, Law, and Ethics”—featured Judge Baker, Professor Robert  B. Murrett, and Professor Laurie Hobart.

ICCAE Symposium March 2020.
ICCAE Symposium March 2020.

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko was a guest in Professor Tom Odell’s Rule of Law in Postconflict Reconstruction class on March 10. Sopko, Odell, and Professor Cora True-Frost L’01 explored lessons learned in reconstruction, fighting corruption, and peacebuilding in Afghanistan since 2001. Sopko’s visit was part of the David F. Everett Postconflict Reconstruction Speaker Series.

John Sopko addresses students in March 2020.
John Sopko addresses students in March 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in April 2020, Judge Baker appeared on CNBC’s Markets in Turmoil to discuss the Defense Production Act and the powers it gives to the president to ameliorate a public health crisis. 

Judge Baker appears on CNBC.
Judge Baker appears on CNBC.

In his new book—The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution, published by Brookings in June 2020—Judge Baker addresses how national security law should be applied to the emerging field of artificial intelligence. Learn more in the Faculty Books section on p54.

The Centaur's Dilemma
The Centaur's Dilemma

Andrew Bakaj L’06: On Protecting, Being, and Representing a Whistleblower

The Attorney Who Represented the Ukrainian Whistleblower Describes His Path from Syracuse to the Impeachment of a President

Andrew Bakaj L'06
Andrew Bakaj L'06

In August 2019 a government whistleblower made a formal complaint alleging that President Donald J. Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden L’68, Trump’s political opponent in the 2020 presidential election. That official complaint set off a series of events that led to Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives in January 2020 and to his Senate trial and eventual acquittal a month later.

Many Americans followed only the third impeachment trial of a president intently, but perhaps none more so than  Andrew Bakaj L’06, the Ukrainian whistleblower’s lead counsel. Bakaj was a student of Professor Emeritus William C. Banks in the early days of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT), now the Institute for Security Policy and Law. That’s where he learned the laws that would inform his subsequent work on whistleblower law and policy in the Intelligence Community.

As an intelligence officer and criminal investigator, Bakaj also represented state department officials impacted by “Havana Syndrome.” Today, as Founding and Managing Partner of Compass Rose Legal Group PLLC, he is a leading expert in security clearance matters and has advised and counseled numerous senior US government officials in a variety of legal and investigative areas. In this interview, Banks and Bakaj catch up to discuss Bakaj’s fascinating career, including his public service, the importance of strong whistleblower laws, what happened when Bakaj was himself the subject of retaliation, the founding of Compass Rose, and the impeachment of a president. 

Professor Emeritus William C. Banks: Tell us what brought you to Syracuse and how your legal education prepared you for your career.

Andrew Bakaj L’06: When researching law schools, what genuinely stood out about Syracuse was INSCT. The more I researched the program and looked at the school as a whole, the more I felt that Syracuse was the perfect fit for me. I knew that Syracuse was going to prepare me to be a lawyer, and I knew that the Institute’s professors would have an impact on me for years to come. However, what has surprised me is how my education had such a direct, positive impact on my career.

Obviously, law schools typically don’t have courses on “whistleblower law,” but the legal concepts we study prepare us to work as advocates and advisors. The Institute offered an opportunity to delve deeper into real-world issues impacting our nation’s security. 

WCB: What national security path did you take after graduation?

AB: My education and training resulted in me being hired as an investigator with the US Department of Defense (DOD) Office of the Inspector General (OIG). My OIG leadership was looking to create a program to protect DOD civilian whistleblowers, particularly those within the defense intelligence community.

After conducting a number of investigations, I was tasked with developing the legal and investigative framework to protect whistleblowers within and outside that community who hold security clearances. 

Additionally, I worked closely with the National Security Agency (NSA), overseeing its internal whistleblower protection program. Our program became the model for President Barack Obama to expand whistleblower protections to members of the larger Intelligence Community and those who hold security clearances.

WCB: Tell me more about your time at the CIA Office of Inspector General and the path toward founding your own firm …

AB: When I joined CIA OIG in 2012, I was directed by Inspector General David Buckley to lean forward and develop a program to comply with the presidential directive. What’s more, not only did he want me to lead at CIA, he wanted me to lead and coordinate within the greater Intelligence Community. This led me to work with the recently established Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General (OIC IG).

While successfully creating the program at CIA, my colleagues disclosed to me that senior CIA OIG officers were manipulating evidence in order to obtain a false prosecution, which resulted in someone pleading guilty.

After attempting to resolve the issue at the lowest level, CIA OIG leadership was not taking any action, and it was, in fact, targeting colleagues for raising concerns. Unable to merely sit on evidence that CIA leadership was violating the law, I coordinated with the OIC IG to have independent eyes look at the matter.

The matter was immediately referred to the FBI for investigation, and the case where the individual pleaded guilty was reversed. Moreover, the CIA IG and Deputy IG began targeting me and my colleagues. In 2014, David Buckley suspended my security clearance and placed me under investigation because of my communication with the OIC IG, which is protected whistleblower activity.  

Over a year later, I resigned from CIA and filed a whistleblower reprisal complaint against the CIA OIG, using the rules and regulations I developed.

Shortly thereafter I began working as Special Of Counsel for Mark Zaid—who happens to be my attorney—and I eventually went on to found Compass Rose Legal Group.

WCB: How did you become involved as counsel for the Ukrainian whistleblower in 2019?

AB: Quite simply, the client was a referral from a trusted friend. 

WCB: Were you surprised that the whistleblower’s claims would lead to impeachment?

AB: Candidly, I was surprised that the claims resulted in impeachment. When I first learned about the underlying issues back in early August 2019, I suspected that the matter would have legs because it involved the President. I certainly expected a congressional investigation. Impeachment isn’t something I considered would happen.

WCB: Based on your experience with the Ukraine case and others in recent years, what changes, if any, would you like to see in laws protecting whistleblowers?

AB: First, I would like to see it codified that the identity of whistleblowers are protected from public disclosure, and that this extends to members of Congress and other US government officials, including the President. 

Second, given the complexity of the issues involved, I think it would be wise to create an Intelligence Community administrative court to ensure consistency in the agency application of laws and regulations protecting whistleblowers.

WCB: What advice do you have for law students aspiring to a career in national security law?

AB: While it’s important to have overarching career goals, it’s important to be flexible and to keep options open. As you can see from my own story, there is no way I could have predicted the twists and turns my life took. Opportunities come around when you least expect them, and there are times when something relatively minor can have significant meaning down the road.

Externship Program: “Rarely a Dull Moment”

As a White House Intern, Sergio Rumayor Had a Front-Row Seat to History

Sergio Rumayor in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Sergio Rumayor in the Eisenhower 
Executive Office Building.

Impeachment. Flood. Pandemic. Rising 3L Sergio Rumayor’s spring 2020 externship in the Office of White House Counsel did not lack for excitement. 

Then again, as Rumayor explains, when it comes to the highly competitive White House Internship Program (WHIP), only students prepared for hard work and challenges will do. “I believe White House interns are students and professionals who are team players: outgoing, articulate, and capable,” he says. 

All that drama was still to come when Rumayor, a native of Staten Island, NY, was assessing his externship options as a 1L. “My interest in an externship at the White House happened on a whim,” he says. “Originally, I wanted to work in the private sector, but I thought it would be cool to get out of New York City.”

Rumayor learned that the White House was on Faculty Director of Externship Programs Terry Turnipseed’s list of DCEx choices, and specifically the Office of White House Counsel, where Rodney Dorilas L’19 worked the year before. “I later found out that Rod was well-liked in that office, and the image of a Syracuse intern he left behind set a high standard.”

Offering honest advice, Dorilas explained to Rumayor that WHIP and the Office of White House Council were difficult to get into. Rumayor was up for that challenge. After a rigorous application process, he learned he had been accepted around Thanksgiving 2019. In January 2020, he moved into a short-lease DC apartment along with rising 3L Anoop Kahlon—who was externing at DC firm Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP—and reported to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. 

Rumayor joined the Executive Branch team during the third ever impeachment of a US president in American history. 

“From a law student’s perspective that was amazing,” says Rumayor. “I was able to observe and appreciate the extensive hours of research on constitutional and American history necessary to perform everyday duties at the Office of White House Counsel, as well as the professionalism required to  succeed in such an environment.” 

Working under “some of the most brilliant legal minds and scholars in the country,” notes Rumayor, “made it an  unforgettable experience that I will carry with me forever. I feel extremely blessed to have served in the Executive Branch  during this time in history.” 

“There was rarely a dull moment,” Rumayor adds. “I woke up every morning eager to get to work and see what was in store.” 

Often what was in store were critical Executive Branch tasks, such as researching and writing memoranda on constitutional issues and federal statutory law, tracking Freedom of Information Act litigation, assisting with Presidential Records Act compliance and federal judiciary nominations, and helping with government oversight requests, questions of executive authority, and government ethics. “I applied skills I learned in the classroom—such as in constitutional law, legal communications and research, and professional responsibility—in a high-stakes and demanding, practical environment,” he notes.

Despite being an intern in such a high-level Executive Branch office, Rumayor says that he and his two fellow interns were treated exceptionally well. “The interns are treated like part of the team. It was an incredible experience that has made not only an impact on my career as a law student but also on my future career as a Syracuse lawyer.”

Unfortunately, Rumayor’s externship was cut short by the COVID-19 health crisis in March. And that wasn’t the only adjustment he had to make that month. “March 10 was my last week at the White House. That same week, my apartment was flooded, so I had to live in a hotel for a month!” Ever resourceful, Rumayor applied for another externship to fulfill his curriculum requirements. “This summer I am working remotely for HBW Resources, a DC energy lobbying firm, as well as for the Office of the Richmond County District Attorney in Staten Island in the Criminal Court Bureau.”

Thanks to his work at the White House and the Richmond County DA, Rumayor says he is now considering a public service career.

“I am very grateful for the time I spent at the Office of White House Counsel and the relationships and bonds I made there,” Rumayor says. “My experience gave me a clearer understanding of how the law operates in the three separate branches of government. There is simply no other place in the world that you can do work like that.”

Externships 2019-2020: DC, London, Philadelphia ... and Cyberspace

Ins & Outs of UK Law

The 42nd LondonEx summer externship program wrapped up in July 2019, with an all-female group of 15 externs returning Stateside after an intensive six-week immersion in the UK legal, judicial, and political systems. The 2020 LondonEx program was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LondonEx externs at the UK Supreme Court in 2019.
LondonEx externs at the UK Supreme Court in 2019.

Applied Learning

The seminar room was packed on Sept. 18, 2019, for an Externship Program Information Session. Hosted by Faculty Director of Externship Programs Terry Turnipseed, students learned about the College’s applied learning opportunities in a growing number of cities, including in Central New York, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and San Francisco. The Externship Program continues to be highly popular among students, as more than 100 students engaged in at least one externship in 2019-2020.

An Externship Meeting in September 2020.
An Externship Meeting in September 2020.

Learning About Prosecuting in DC

In January 2020, Principal Assistant US Attorney Alessio Evangelista L’95 hosted DCEx and PhillyEx students at the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Evangelista explained the role of the DC office and its mission to prosecute all adult federal crimes in the district and to represent the United States in civil proceedings filed in DC federal court. A central message to the students: pursuing work you are passionate about will lead to career success. In April, Evangelista received the Alumni Achievement Award at the 2020 Syracuse Law Review banquet.

DCEx and PhillyEx students together in January 2020.
DCEx and PhillyEx students together in January 2020.

Take It in Stride

The final guest lecture of the academic year was held online. Former Judge Advocate General’s Corp officer and ethics expert Scott de la Vega L’94 described his work as Director of the Departmental Ethics Office at the US Department of the Interior. De la Vega imparted to students the importance of keeping an open mind about practicing in different areas of law: an open mind can lead to unexpected opportunities.

Meeting with Scott de la Vega online in April 2020.
Meeting with Scott de la Vega online in April 2020.

Office of International Programs Adds Advanced Degree Option

In April 2020, the College announced the launch of its new Doctor  of Juridical Science in Law (Scientiae Juridicae Doctor, or S.J.D.) degree program. 

An advanced research doctorate, the S.J.D. program is similar to Ph.D. programs in other disciplines. While pursuing their advanced legal studies, S.J.D. students will work under the supervision of faculty advisors to produce an original dissertation that will make a substantial contribution to the field of law. 

“Doctoral students will discover that Syracuse is a thriving academic community,

where the breadth and depth of our faculty’s expertise will complement

their own advanced intellectual inquiry.”

Dean Boise

“The launch of the program has been met with excitement by institutional partners and alumni from around the world,” says Assistant Dean of International Programs Andrew Horsfall L’10. “Many of our LL.M. alumni are particularly interested, and three of them already have applied and been admitted for the fall 2020 semester.” Horsfall adds that his team also has reviewed applications from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

“Our doctorate program will foster original research on pressing  legal and policy topics by outstanding legal scholars and aspiring academics from around the world,” says Dean Boise. “Doctoral students will discover that Syracuse is a thriving academic community, where the breadth and depth of our faculty’s expertise will complement their own advanced intellectual inquiry.  In turn, their contributions and perspectives will enhance our reputation as a  global center for legal research.”  

The program requires students to take a year-long colloquium course and elective coursework in support of their dissertation research. During their residency, S.J.D. students also will engage in research activities across Syracuse University. After their first year, students may pursue optional residential semesters or field placements away from the College. Students are expected to complete the program within three to five years, culminating in an  oral defense of their dissertation open to the University community. 

“The S.J.D. builds on our highly successful LL.M. program that offers unique specialties in international and comparative disability law, national and international security law, technology and innovation law, and other disciplines,” explains Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor and Faculty Director of International Programs Arlene Kanter. “Syracuse also offers S.J.D. students the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary coursework and academic engagement with other academic programs at the University, an R1 research institution.” 

Making Global Connections

In addition to managing the master’s and doctoral programs, the Office of International Programs organizes regular scholarly exchanges—expanding students’ understanding of comparative legal concepts—with partner universities and researchers from across the globe, including:  

In August 2019, Professor and Vice Dean Ivana Kunda of the University of Rijeka Faculty of Law in Croatia spoke to students and faculty about developments in European Union laws that focus on regulation related to digital and internet-based industries.

Ivana Kunda
Ivana Kunda

In November 2019, Professor Lea Querzola of the University of Bologna Law School in Italy joined Professor Antonio Gidi for a moderated discussion on “Civil Justice: A European Perspective.”

Lea Querzola
Lea Querzola

In February 2020, it was standing room only for a timely presentation on “Blockchain Implementation and the Current Political Situation in Hong Kong.” Presenters Donghoo Sohn LL.M.’13, Associate Attorney at Reed CNY Business Law PC, and Visiting Scholar Kyoungtae Hwang, Manager of Spring & Partners, Seoul, South Korea, provided analytical context for understanding blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, along with their social and political ramifications for states in conflict. 

Donghoo Sohn LL.M.’13 and Kyoungtae Hwang
Donghoo Sohn LL.M.’13 and Kyoungtae Hwang

In April 2020, Professor Martyna Kusak of Adam Mickiewicz University, in Poznan, Poland, and Professor Todd Berger taught a short course on International Criminal Procedure. The course was delivered in a mixed online/live format and, thanks to videoconferencing technology, students on both sides of the Atlantic worked together on sample extradition scenarios. The photo shows Kusak during a visit to Syracuse in 2017. 

Martyna Kusak
Martyna Kusak

Professor Emeritus Peter Bell Retires from Teaching After 42 Years

For Peter Bell, who retired from teaching in November 2019 after 42 years at Syracuse, law school was a way to affect societal change during the tumultuous times of the late 1960s. 

He found it intellectually stimulating, although his interest in journalism led him to a fork in the road during his second year at Stanford Law when he pursued two main summer job opportunities: one as a journalist for Time magazine and one as a lawyer with the US Commission on Civil Rights General Counsel in Washington, DC. The Commission offered him the job first and Bell took it, making his path in law clear.

After law school graduation, he clerked for US District Court Judge Joseph S. Lord III in Philadelphia, which Bell says saved him from the military draft. He got the idea to teach as an attorney at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in DC, when he was looking for further opportunities and saw his colleagues taking university jobs. 

“Incredibly Exciting” 

First, however, Bell practiced law for lower-income populations with the Greater Upstate Law Project, a statewide legal services backup center, and taught at Cornell and Buffalo as an adjunct professor. Bell’s friend and colleague at the Upstate Law Project, Daan Braveman (later College of Law Dean from 1994 to 2002), encouraged him to apply to Syracuse. In the fall of 1978, Bell began at Syracuse as a visiting professor and “found what I wanted to do when I grew up.”

“There is laughter and some degree of lightness in my classes.

I do silly things to illuminate points."

Professor Peter Bell

Bell says he was fortunate to be a torts law professor during a time when new ways of analyzing law—economic analysis, feminist analysis, and critical legal analysis—were developing. “Torts was and remains a field that is incredibly exciting. I could run as fast as I wanted intellectually, and there would still be people ahead of me,” Bell observes. His writing on tort theory, medical liability, and tort recovery for psychological harm gained the attention of his colleagues in the field.

In 1997, Bell co-authored Accidental Justice: The Dilemma of Tort Law for Yale University Press with University of Virginia Professor Jeffery O’Connell (whom Bell describes as the father of modern state no-fault laws). The book was nominated for the Littleton-Griswold Prize in American Law and Society.

Bell says he leaned on his journalism background for the project, an explanation of tort law for the lay reader. “I got to be creative with this project,” Bell says. “In a large sense, I was trying to write this book for my father, who was an intelligent man but knew nothing about law.” 

In the 1980s, Bell and three faculty colleagues created the  Public Interest Law Firm, one of the College’s earliest clinical offerings, to take on public interest cases and work with the students to represent clients. 

He was also one of four professors to create the Law Firm course in 1986, which dramatically changed the way the College taught legal writing and research, bringing full-time faculty to the task. 

The course encouraged students to think of themselves as lawyers in a firm and solve problems based on areas of the law they were studying in the first year, while simultaneously providing fuller and more professional feedback to the students about their writing.  This course led to the eventual creation of the Legal Communication and Research (LCR) program. 

“Some Degree of Lightness”

Humor has always been a crucial part of Bell’s teaching style. “There is laughter and some degree of lightness in my classes,” he says. “I do silly things to illuminate points. I’m not above climbing on a table or throwing things in class to drive a concept home!”

Inspired by a colleague, Bell instituted a first-semester tradition, inviting students to wear a silly hat and perform a musical number on the last day of torts class. Among the most memorable  student performances, he recalls, were a rap, a vamp song, and Sikh devotional drumming. As a teacher, Bell has helped students understand that just because they are studying to be lawyers, they don’t have to behave in ways that are inconsistent with their  personal values. 

That spirit is especially true for Bell when it comes to intermural basketball. In 2004, male and female Syracuse students approached Bell to coach their teams at an annual law school basketball tournament held at Western New England University in Springfield, MA. Bell coached the College of Law women’s team to no fewer than five championships over the next decade, and Bell’s brother coached the men’s team.

Although future plans are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in retirement, Bell says he and his wife, Deborah Rogers, may remain in Syracuse or move to a less harsh climate in the mountains of North Carolina. He is interested in helping to create an institute for the study of women in sport. He and his wife are both fans of women’s sports, inspired originally by their daughters and, beginning in 1999, by the World  Cup Champion US Women’s  Soccer team. 

“Coaching is the same as teaching,” Bell observes. “In sports, you get knocked down and you learn to get up. That, in my mind, better equips you for certain aspects of any kind of work life.” 


Tracking Pandemic Icon

Up through fall 2019, Professor Emeritus Peter Bell taught an interdisciplinary seminar, Public Health Law and Policy, to law and SU/SUNY Upstate’s Masters in Public Health students, which included sections on emergency preparedness and pandemics, a prescient topic then as now.

According to Bell, there is a certain cycle to pandemics: a new threat emerges—such as Ebola, SARS, H1N1, or COVID-19—and the federal government creates a stockpile of whatever resources were lacking. 

“Then when the next pandemic doesn’t hit, people relax,” says Bell, and resources are redistributed where they are needed more. 

For instance, under President Barack Obama’s administration, the federal government deployed supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile for both H1N1 and Ebola outbreaks. When President Donald J. Trump came into office, the threat of these viruses was ignored.

“Then in 2018, Trump disbanded the National Security Council’s Global Health Security and Biodefense Unit, the office that would have been responsible for central pandemic response,” explains Bell.

Likewise, the depleted Strategic National Stockpile of equipment was not able to handle the volume of requests from COVID-19. “So many deaths in this country right now would not have happened if the government had continued those kinds of preparations,” he notes.

“Writing Is Thinking”

Professor Ian Gallacher Launches The Legal Writer's Toolkit

Ian Gallacher
Ian Gallacher

Professor Ian Gallacher believes the world needs good lawyers, and he wants them to be good legal writers too. To this end, he is developing The Legal Writer’s Toolkit for all current College of Law students and alumni, and he hopes it will eventually be available to prospective students as well.

According to Gallacher, writing is thinking: “You can’t write well unless you think well. It is important for lawyers to write well because it allows them to show the quality of their thinking.”

Hosted online, The Legal Writer’s Toolkit will be organized by writing topic with both video and non-video-based content. Gallacher says he hopes the toolkit will help legal writers at any point in the writing process. “When they encounter problems, they can start here,” he says.

The traditional model for legal writing assistance at law schools has been the writing center, notes Gallacher, which is typically a faculty-led, student-staffed physical space. In a writing center, support happens in person when a student has an assignment due. After making an appointment, the student will get general help on their assignment through peer-to-peer counseling. 

“A writing center model is a fine one,” Gallacher observes, “but it’s an expensive option and would be difficult to manage in a future that includes COVID-19 social distancing.” So at a time when centers of learning and student support are transitioning online, The College of Law is well-positioned to adapt its writing assistance rapidly to this change. Gallacher says the project was conceived before the COVID-19 crisis occurred, but that it’s certainly timely.

Gallacher notes one complication of COVID-19 closures, however: “My plan was to use the campus video production facilities to record a lot of this content, but I suspect this will be happening in my basement now.” 

As of June 2020, initial non-video content for the toolkit—a reading list—is complete and available to incoming students. Gallacher asked several faculty—including Dean Boise and Vice Dean Keith Bybee—to select books they thought incoming students should read before law school, and he encouraged Bybee to select his own book, How Civility Works. 

Focus questions accompany each title to help students understand the texts and “move their reading approach to the more active style required in law school, where students need to ask questions of the texts they’re reading in order to get the most out of them,” Gallacher explains. 

If students complete the entire reading list, they will have a tremendous advantage in their first year of study, Gallacher says, with subjects ranging from negotiation techniques to technology’s impact on the law. The first iteration of the complete toolkit will be available this fall, with plans for the site “to grow as quickly as I can add material,” he says. 

"It is important for lawyers to write

well because it allows them to show

the quality of their thinking.”

Professor Ian Gallacher

Gallacher joined the College of Law faculty in 2004 to lead  the Legal Communication and Research (LCR) program. “Syracuse has a very liberal and engaged approach to legal writing education, which made joining the faculty extremely appealing,” Gallacher says. 

Gallacher explains that Daan Braveman—College of Law Dean from 1994 to 2002—wrote in the December 1989 Journal of Legal Education about the importance of doctrinal professors teaching legal writing, a program he named Law Firm. “Daan’s article was groundbreaking,” says Gallacher. “It was one of the first signs that doctrinal faculty were alive to the importance of legal writing as part of the first-year curriculum. That made Syracuse a very exciting place for someone dedicated to the teaching of legal writing and for research to come.”

Professor Richard Risman came to Syracuse in 1998 and directed the Law Firm program until 2002. That was at that time legal writing was becoming a discipline in its own right, so Risman decided to teach more and the College made his position a tenured appointment, which was rare. 

“The LCR program evolved from the idea of doctrinal teachers teaching writing as part of their courses. They came to learn that teaching legal writing is really hard, so once there were enough people identified as legal writing educators, LCR was possible,” Gallacher recalls. 

Now at 63 years old, Gallacher has decided to try something new with The Legal Writer’s Toolkit, and Professor Aliza Milner has been named the new LCR Director. Teaching at Syracuse since 2006, Milner is described by Gallacher as “incredibly experienced and fabulous. She will take LCR and drive it into the future.” 

With a stable writing faculty core and a continuing desire to create better legal writers, Gallacher—who in 2018 was awarded the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing by the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors—sees The Legal Writer’s Toolkit as a natural next step for the College. 

“Syracuse is a place where we care about people. I obviously care about Syracuse students the most, but I also care about anyone who wants to be a better legal writer,” Gallacher says. n

New Faculty Build on the College’s Reputation as a Leader in Traditional and Online Education

In April 2020, the College welcomed five new professors who continue to broaden the College’s academic and research capacity in key strength areas and who expand the bench of highly experienced legal scholars teaching in JDinteractive.  

“The teaching, practice, and research interests of these new faculty members will be critical to guiding our students toward academic and career success,” says Dean Boise. “I’m particularly pleased to have hired two professors—Jack Graves and Linda Whitton—who will focus their teaching within JDinteractive. Both are recognized scholars in their fields and—as online pioneers—they are profoundly dedicated to providing quality online legal education for the 21st century.” 


Courtney Abbott Hill L’09

Courtney Abbott Hill L'09
Courtney Abbott Hill L'09

Most recently Associate Director of Student Affairs, Courtney Abbott Hill L’09 joins the faculty as a teaching professor of legal writing. In the Office of Student Affairs, she was responsible for helping students reach their full academic potential with an emphasis on bar exam preparation. She also designed and implemented academic success programming, and she taught a third-year law seminar.

Abbott Hill earned her J.D. magna cum laude from the College in 2009, where she was Managing Editor of the Syracuse Law Review and a member of the Justinian Honor Society and the Order of the Coif. After graduation, she served as a court attorney with the New York State Appellate Division, Fourth Department, before transitioning to a career focused on law student success as a regional director with a national bar review provider.

Why did you decide to teach law? 

I love working with students! I spent time teaching before law school and decided early in my law career to pivot toward helping law students achieve their full potential.   

What is the most important aspect of the law that students should know? 

When reading the facts and circumstances of the cases you are assigned in law school, remember that the people involved are not fictional. Consider this human element rather than simply looking for the rules established by the cases. Not only will that help you read and think critically, it will help you become a better lawyer. 

What interests do you have outside of teaching and the law?

I have two young children, so when I’m not working you can usually find me cheering on a Little League team, watching a dance recital, or volunteering at their school.

Jack Graves

Jack Graves
Jack Graves

Jack Graves joins the College as a teaching professor and will develop and teach JDinteractive courses in commercial transactions and evidence. A visiting professor at the College in 2005, Graves was most recently at Touro Law Center, where he served as Professor of Law and Director of Digital Legal Education, launching its hybrid J.D. program.

A law graduate of the University of Colorado (1994), Graves has played a significant role developing online legal education in J.D. programs nationwide. His recent writing focuses on teaching materials tailored to the online environment, including Sales Law (2020), Learning Contracts (2019), and International Sales and Commercial Arbitration (2017).

Graves was an original member of the Working Group on Distance Learning in Legal Education. He developed and delivered two fully asynchronous courses through iLaw Distance Learning, and he serves as a frequent speaker at online legal education conferences, including Syracuse’s April 2019 symposium on 

“Online Learning and the Future of Legal Education.”

Why did you decide to teach law? 

I thoroughly enjoyed the law school experience and environment as a student, and I found the opportunity to return to that environment as a faculty member to be irresistible. Although I loved practicing law, I found the most rewarding aspects of my job to be attorney development and associate training. 

What is the most important aspect of the law that students should know? 

Reading and applying statutes is one of the least developed skills for law students and lawyers. While there is much to be said for the common law, we often become so immersed in case methodology that law students (and lawyers) can easily overlook the value and importance of direct statutory interpretation.

What interests do you have outside of teaching and the law?

I love outdoor sports, including cycling, skiing, climbing, kayaking, and other adrenaline-inducing activities. Adding twins to our family a few years ago slowed me down a bit, but as they get older, I am returning to the outdoors.

Mark P. Nevitt

Mark P. Nevitt
Mark P. Nevitt

An expert on the intersection of national security and climate change, Mark Nevitt will teach national security law, climate change law and policy, environmental law, and constitutional law.

A contributor to the Just Security blog and Penn Law’s Regulatory Review, Nevitt has published widely on climate change, environmental law, and national security law in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, Washington University Law Review, Boston College Law Review, and elsewhere. His chapter on “Environmental Law in Military Operations” is included in the influential operational law analysis US Military Operations: Law, Policy, and Practice (Oxford, 2016). 

Nevitt has served as the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Law at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and Sharswood Fellow, Lecturer-in-Law, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Before his academic career, he was a tactical jet aviator and a Judge Advocate General’s Corps attorney in the US Navy. As a legal advisor, he helped with the US Navy’s investigation into the Iranian detention of sailors on Farsi Island in 2016. His military awards include the Air Medal and Meritorious Service Medal (four awards).

Why did you decide to teach law? 

First, I view teaching law as a continuation of my public service that began when I was 18 years old and joined Navy ROTC at the University of Pennsylvania. Second, I love legal research, scholarship, and going deep on issues that are not just theoretically interesting but that are grounded in real-world practice and that require innovative legal solutions. 

What is the most important aspect of the law that students should know? 

Be inquisitive, never stop learning, and keep an open mind about where your Syracuse law degree may take you. I’m a case study. I started out as a military attorney with a variety of assignments throughout the world, and each exposed me to a new and interesting aspect of the law.

What interests do you have outside of teaching and the law?

My wife, Sara, and I love to cook, travel, read, and explore the environment. We are both environmentalists at heart, and we are looking forward to finding our new winter sport. Sara grew up in Upstate New York, so Syracuse is bit of a homecoming. At least once a year, I take a long bicycle ride in beautiful countryside. In 2019 that was Nova Scotia, and the year before that, the Green Mountains in Vermont.

Monica Todd

Monica Todd
Monica Todd

Monica Todd becomes a teaching professor of legal writing. Most recently, she was a legal writing professor at Western State College of Law in Southern California, and she served as a visiting professor at California Western School of Law in 2019-2020. She has taught courses in family law, community property, and academic support, and she served as Director of Western State’s Family Practice Certificate Program.

A specialist in family law practice and crossover social and legal issues related to family law and domestic violence, Todd has published research in Akron Law Review and Western State University Law Review. 

Before her law career, Todd attended graduate school at the University of California at Irvine, completing both a master’s degree in social ecology (with an emphasis on Human Development Studies) and the Elementary Education Teaching Internship Program. She taught elementary school before earning her J.D. at the University of California at Los Angeles in 2007. At UCLA she was Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Fellow and Copyright Editor of the Women’s Law Journal. After law school, she practiced at Stegmeier & Gelbart LLP and the Law Office of John A. Bledsoe. 

Why did you decide to teach law? 

Teaching law is the perfect blend of two very creative, important, and challenging professions. I taught elementary school for several years before becoming a lawyer. While being a lawyer was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, I missed being in the classroom. I feel fortunate to have combined my two passions into a fulfilling career, and I am honored to have had a role in the development of many young lawyers over the years.

What is the most important aspect of the law that students should know? 

Words are everything. Subtle nuances in the written word and slight changes in punctuation can have a drastic impact on the meaning of legal rules and how they apply. It is crucial that students take time to not only understand the law but to learn how to use it to craft effective legal arguments. Words are power, and in harnessing this power, lawyers can change the world!

What interests do you have outside of teaching and the law?

I enjoy gardening, camping, and spending time with my family. I am looking forward to learning about the flora and fauna of Upstate New York and to discovering new places of natural beauty.

Linda S. Whitton

Linda Whitton
Linda Whitton

Linda Whitton is Professor Emerita of Law at Valparaiso University Law School, where she held the Seegers Distinguished Professor Chair. Joining Syracuse as a lecturer, she will teach property law in JDinteractive. She is known nationally and internationally for her scholarship on durable powers and guardianship, and she is the Reporter for the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (2006) and the Uniform Recognition of Substitute Decision-Making Documents Act (2014).

Whitton is a retired Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and she has served in numerous leadership positions within the ABA Section of Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law and the AALS Section of Aging and the Law.

A graduate of Valparaiso University Law School, before commencing her academic career, Whitton served as law clerk to the Hon. S. Hugh Dillin, United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, and practiced business and commercial real estate law.

Why did you decide to teach law? 

I enjoy the challenge of demystifying legal concepts and making them accessible to students and the public. Following the examples of my mentors, 

I want to inspire others to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves.  

What is the most important aspect of the law that students should know? 

The development of professional judgment. Studying the law is the vehicle through which professional judgment is honed, and it is the compass by which lawyers navigate change in laws and the circumstances in which laws are applied.

What interests do you have outside of teaching and the law?

I am an avid kayaker and gardener, and I enjoy all types of design.

College of Law Student News


Otasowie Receives Commandant of Cadets Award

Rising 3L Sharon Otasowie received the Commandant of Cadets Award, presented as part of the 103rd Chancellor’s Review and Awards Ceremony to recognize the distinguished performance of cadets in the Army and Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs. 

The Commandant of Cadets Award is “presented to a cadet in the top 25% of their Aerospace Studies class who demonstrates exceptional leadership, appearance, bearing, and character.”

Sharon Otasowie
Sharon Otasowie

Krastev and Marcellino Secure Best Ever Tax Challenge Result

Brian Krastev L’20 and Matthew Marcellino L’20 finished second out of more than 80 teams from around the country competing in the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Student Tax Challenge competition. This is the College of Law’s best result ever in this annual competition. Professor Robert Nassau, Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, coached the team.

Brian Krastev L’20 and Matthew Marcellino L’20
Brian Krastev L’20 and Matthew Marcellino L’20

JDi Student Hosts ABA Law Student Division Podcast

Meghan Stapleton Steenburgh, a rising 2L student in the JDinteractive program, was chosen as a host of the American Bar Association Law Student Division podcast for 2020. Throughout the year, Steenburgh has been contributing interview-style podcasts to the ABA’s series. 

Among her interviews to date are conversations with Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Dean Boise and Professor Nina Kohn. Boise and Kohn were interviewed in March 2020 about making legal education more accessible through online programs and other innovations, just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the remainder of the spring 2020 semester to be conducted online. The two-part podcast also featured JDi 2Ls Mandy Mobley Li, Katy Morris, and Ernie Sawyer.

Meghan Stapleton Steenburgh
Meghan Stapleton Steenburgh

Students Join Professor Gouldin to Present on Bail Reform

Matt Taghavi L’20 and Katherine Brisson L’20 presented with Professor Lauryn Gouldin on bail reform as part of the Criminal Justice Educators Association of New York State Annual Conference. “Matt and Katherine did an excellent job comparing New York State’s new bail reform legislation with the new bail reform law in California,” says Gouldin.

Matt Taghavi L’20, Katherine Brisson L’20, and Professor Lauryn Gouldin.
Matt Taghavi L’20, Katherine Brisson L’20, and Professor Lauryn Gouldin.

Dowling Published Twice in the NDNY Federal Court Bar Association Newsletter

While working as an extern at the Office of the Federal Public Defender of the Northern District of New York (NDNY), John J. Dowling III L’20 had two articles published in the bar association’s newsletter. 

“US Supreme Court Cabins Sentencing Courts’ Deference to Sentencing Commission” was published in the fall newsletter, and “Circuit Split Deepens over Whether Inchoate Drug Crimes Trigger Career Offender Enhancement” ran in the spring 2020 newsletter. 

John J. Dowling III L'20
John J. Dowling III L'20

Cohn Places Second in Student Writing Competition

Samuel Cohn L’20, a dual degree graduate with a master’s in the Newhouse School New Media Management program, won second place in the student writing competition for the Law and Policy Division of the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communications. Titled “‘Funding Secured:’ A Forty Million Dollar Tweet that Highlights First Amendment Issues Associated with Regulating Speech on Social Media,” Cohn’s paper examines the legal fight surrounding Tesla owner Elon Musk’s use of social media. 

BLSA Hosts Conversation on People of Color in the Legal Profession

Addressing the important topic of diversity in the law during Black History Month, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) held “A Conversation About Being a Person of Color in the Legal Profession” in Dineen Hall on Feb. 20, 2020. 

Moderated by Professor Paula C. Johnson, the panel included Alyssa Campbell, Director of Equal Opportunity and Employment, Syracuse University Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services; Melanie Cuevas-Rodriguez, Syracuse University Equal Opportunity and Title IX Investigator; and David L. Chaplin II L’13, Director of Employee Relations, Onondaga County.

“A Conversation About Being a Person of Color in the Legal Profession," February 2020.
“A Conversation About Being a Person of Color in the Legal Profession," February 2020.

College of Law Celebrates Diversity in Law and Society, Engages Community

In fall 2019, the College of Law community came together to learn from each other and celebrate the many ways diversity contributes to a vibrant Dineen Hall. 

Thanks to Student Bar Association Diversity Chair rising 3L Ken Knight and his committee, events included “A Conversation with the Onondaga Nation”; an informational discussion with Barclay Damon on its Diversity Mentor Program; a 

“Diversity and the Law” professor panel; the William Herbert Johnson L’1903 bar admission ceremony; and a day of volunteering at the We Rise Above the Streets Sandwich Saturday in downtown Syracuse.

On February 28, the College of Law celebrated Diversity Law Day, in collaboration with the New York State Bar Association, the William Herbert Johnson Bar Association, Law School Admission Council, and the Syracuse Civics Initiative. 

Students from Syracuse-area school districts visited Dineen Hall and met with College of Law faculty and students, as well as local practicing attorneys, who discussed the importance of diversity, inclusion, and representation in the law. 

Among the activities, law students gave a presentation to the high school students about the famous espionage trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg during the Cold War, followed by a brief reenactment of the trial and small group work.  

The students also heard from the Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, who spoke about her passionate interest in civics education. Later in the day, the high schoolers had the opportunity to ask law students about college, law school, and diversity during a panel discussion in the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom. 

Diversity Programs
Celebrating diversity at the College of Law.

College of Law Faculty News


Mock Trial Provides Courtroom Experience for College of Law and Newhouse Students

Two Syracuse University professors have teamed up in an innovative cross-campus collaboration to allow future television reporters and lawyers to experience the drama of a high-profile murder trial. College of Law Professor Todd Berger and Professor Elliott Lewis of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications convened their respective classes for the mock trial of People v. Mitchell, a fictional case involving the shooting death of a young woman. 

In this cross-disciplinary class, law students played the roles of prosecutors and defense attorneys, questioning witnesses and making objections during testimony. The Newhouse students honed their skills as television journalists, performing live updates during breaks in the trial and producing a narrated report after its conclusion.

“I honestly don’t know of another law school that offers such a unique opportunity in a beginner’s trial advocacy class,” Berger says.  “It gives law students an early taste of what it’s like to represent a client in the media as well as in the courtroom.”

Mock trial of People v. Mitchell.
Mock trial of People v. Mitchell.

Dean Boise Raises the College of Law’s Profile at the Annual NYSBA Meeting

At the New York State Bar Association’s (NYSBA) Annual Meeting in January 2020, Dean Boise moderated the Presidential Summit panel, attended by more than 500 people. The panel tackled head-on one of the most disturbing and enduring trends of our time—the rise of white nationalism and domestic terrorism. The topics and remedies discussed are resonating far beyond the discussion.

Boise also gave the Keynote Address to NYSBA’s Judicial Section. “Preparing Students for a 21st Century Law Practice” examined how Syracuse and other law schools are innovating curricula and programs and adapting to the future of law practice.

Dean Boise speaks at the 2020 NYSBA Annual Meeting.
Dean Boise speaks at the 2020 NYSBA Annual Meeting.

Professor Dorfman Spearheads New Empirical Study

Professor Doron Dorfman and a team of researchers from the aChord Center: Social Psychology for Social Change at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been conducting research for the 2019 Municipal Accessibility Index in Israel. 

The study examines the Israeli public opinion toward people with disabilities, as well as perceptions of accessibility in different areas of life (including social life, labor market participation, and health care) among disabled individuals.

Doron Dorfman
Doron Dorfman

Professor Kohn Joins Yale Law During Spring 2020 and Serves as Advisor to the American Law Institute

Professor Nina Kohn, David M. Levy L’48 Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Online Education, spent the spring 2020 semester as a Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School. A faculty affiliate with Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute, Kohn taught a seminar on Law and Aging at Yale. Kohn’s research focuses on elder law and the civil rights of older adults and persons with diminished cognitive capacity. 

Kohn also accepted an invitation from the American Law Institute (ALI) to serve as an advisor on the ALI’s Restatement of the Law Third, Torts: Concluding Provisions project. This project focuses on medical liability, vicarious liability, statutes of limitation, and wrongful death and survival actions. 

“This project will play an important role in clarifying some of the most dynamic areas of tort law,” says Kohn.

Nina Kohn
Nina Kohn

Professor Emerita Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke Remembered

Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke
Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke

Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, Professor Emerita of Law and an influential leader at Duke University, died October 22. She was 72.

A native of South Carolina, Reuben-Cooke was one of the first five African American undergraduate students at Duke University and was active in the civil rights movement.

She graduated from Duke in 1967 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1973. After graduation from law school, she worked in communications, antitrust, tax, securities, criminal, and general corporate law. 

She served as Associate Director of the Institute for Public Representation (IPR) at the Georgetown University Law Center and was responsible for litigation before the Federal Communications Commission and the federal courts, including the US Supreme Court, at IPR and the Citizens Communication Center.

Reuben-Cooke began her teaching career at the College of Law in 1986. While at the college, she drew on her experience to develop a summer externship program in Washington, DC, building the program to include studies in communications law, federal legislature advocacy, disability law, labor law, and civil rights. She also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and directed the college’s academic programs. Reuben-Cooke left the College of Law in 2003 to become Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia, a position she held until 2007.

“Wilhelmina was a pioneering woman—here on the faculty at the College of Law and earlier as one of the first five black students to enroll at Duke University in 1963,” says Professor Paula Johnson, professor in the College of Law. “We first met at Georgetown University Law Center when she was Associate Director of the Institute for Public Representation and I was an LL.M. student with the Center for Applied Legal Studies. She was here when I first came to the College of Law and supported so many of us across the SU campus and throughout the Syracuse community. She will be greatly missed. May she rest in peace and power.”

“When I think of her, I think of her ability to maintain grace and warmth in spite of adversity and under pressure,” says Sarah Ramsey, Professor of Law Emerita. “She was a splendid presence at the College of Law and a wonderful friend and colleague.”

Professor Christian Day says Reuben-Cooke was a warm, bright, and infectious colleague. “Her smile lit up the room,” he says. “She was principled and fair, and her expertise in communications law established links with Newhouse. She was an exceptional mentor for many of our students.”

“Wilhelmina was a remarkable woman and role model in every way. She enriched the College of Law environment by her enormous contributions to our ways of interacting with one another and by living her commitments and values,” says Professor of Law Emerita Leslie Bender. “She enriched my life by the warmth, grace, intelligence, and friendship she offered. Those of us who were privileged to have been her colleagues and friends know how lucky we are.”

Reuben-Cooke served as a trustee of Duke University for two terms, and she held numerous honors, including the Duke University Distinguished Alumni Award and the Sojourner Truth Award from the Syracuse University chapter of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.

She is survived by her husband, Edmund D. Cooke Jr.; two daughters, Wilhelmina Nilaja Cooke and Shani Malika Cooke; and several siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

College of Law News


Class of 2020 Celebrates Virtually with Friends, Family, and Alumni

On May 8, 2020, at 11 a.m., the College of Law Class of 2020—along with faculty, staff, alumni, and guests—would have donned caps and gowns to share the joy and tradition of Commencement exercises in front of family and friends.

However, the COVID-19 crisis meant that the College of Law community was not able to gather together on that spring morning. But we were together in spirit, both on the evening on May 7 for an awards ceremony and on May 8 with a special video send-off for the J.D. and LL.M. graduates.

“I am very proud of all you have accomplished in our three years together, and I know much more lies ahead,” said Dean Boise. “I am not alone, as evidenced by the many special messages to the Class of 2020 from teachers, mentors, friends, and supporters. While our celebration of the class was virtual, our pride is palpable.”

The special video featured congratulations from 47th Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr L’68, a message from Commencement speaker Joanna Geraghty L’97, along with comments from Class President Aubre Dean L’20, LL.M. Student Bar Association Representative Betania Rodriguez Allo LL.M.’20, and SBA President Omar Mosqueda L’20. Well wishes from faculty and staff rounded out the video.

Visit lawcommencement.syr.edu to view the video, a slideshow, and more. Be sure to check the website for updates on our in-person celebration of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 in May 2021.

Aubre Dean L’20, Betania Rodriguez Allo LL.M.’20, and Omar Mosqueda L’20.
Aubre Dean L’20, Betania Rodriguez Allo LL.M.’20, and Omar Mosqueda L’20.

Class of 2019 Achieves NYS Bar Exam Pass Rate of 88%; Class of 2017’s Ultimate Pass Rate Exceeds 95%

Graduates who took the New York State Bar Exam for the first time in July 2019 achieved an 88% pass rate. This first-time pass rate is significantly higher than 2018’s first-time pass rate of 83% and also surpasses the average of all New York State ABA law schools (85%) and all ABA law schools nationwide (86%).

2017 graduates also garnered great news. More than 95% of 2017 grads passed the bar exam regardless of jurisdiction, according to “ultimate bar pass rate” data released by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The 2017 ultimate bar pass rate of 95.6% places Syracuse in the top 20% of ABA-accredited law schools nationwide.

“We continue to invest in our students with continuous improvements to our curriculum, bar readiness programs, and other academic support initiatives. Our goal is, and will always be, to help our students achieve a 100% bar passage rate,” says Dean Boise.

College of Law Introduces Third Year Away Option for Residential J.D. Students

Starting with the Class of 2023, students in the College’s residential J.D. program will have the option of spending their third year entirely off-campus while still taking courses from College of Law faculty. Specifically, students in good standing will have the option to enroll in the Third Year Away program, which will allow them to satisfy their remaining graduation requirements by completing a supervised externship in a legal practice setting and by taking up to 12 credits of interactive online courses.  

The Third Year Away program builds on the College’s established Externship Program, and it also capitalizes on the infrastructure of JDinteractive, which enables students to participate fully in the academic, intellectual, and social life of the College off-campus.

College of Law and Whitman School Launch Nation’s First Online Joint J.D./M.B.A. Degree Program

The nation’s first online joint J.D./M.B.A. degree program—in partnership with Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management—combines the JDinteractive program with the Whitman School’s highly ranked MBA@Syracuse online program.

“As we’ve learned from decades of success with our joint residential .JD./M.B.A. with the Whitman School, there is strong demand for a joint law and business education,” says Dean Boise.

JDi students will be eligible to apply to the joint J.D./M.B.A. degree program starting this year. Before starting the online M.B.A. portion of the joint degree, JDi students must be separately admitted to the Whitman School, have completed 34 credits of law school, and meet all defined academic requirements.

AccessLex Institute Supports the College’s Diversity Initiatives

A Diversity Pipeline Research Grant from the AccessLex Institute will allow the College of Law to create a Jump-Start Program to help ensure that students in the College’s 3+3 Program with three Atlanta-based HBCUs: Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta will be successful in their 2020 legal studies.

The program will provide participants with access to the College’s faculty, law students, and alumni; an introduction to the legal profession; and training sessions to prepare them for the LSAT and the College’s rigorous curriculum.


Advocacy Program Continues to Deliver Results

Leading up to mid-March 2020, the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society was on a significant roll through regional and national competitions, and the intracollegiate mainstays delivered our students their fair share of competitive opportunities to hone their courtroom skills.

By then, teams and individuals had attained numerous wins, high placements, and personal accolades, with several final competitions yet to go, when the COVID-19 pandemic effectively brought the season to a premature end, including scheduled trips to the National Trial Competition, the American Association of Justice Competition, the Williams Institute Moot Court, and the Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Competition.

Two intracollegiate competitions were impacted by COVID-19: the Entertainment and Sports Law Negotiation Competition was canceled, while the Mackenzie Hughes LLP Edmund H. Lewis Appellate Advocacy Competition changed its format. With the written brief portion of Mackenzie Hughes already complete, Competition Director Julia Wingfield L’20 and Appellate Division Director Chanan Brown L’20 creatively turned the oral advocacy tournament into a writing competition. 

“The students delivered great results in the

competitions, and many pulled double duty

contributing countless hours behind the scenes.”

Professor Todd Berger

Earlier in the academic year, students and advisors hosted three intercollegiate competitions—the ABA Regional Negotiation Competition, the National Trial Competition regionals, and the inaugural Syracuse National Trial Competition—furthering the College of Law’s reputation as a hospitable, well-organized host.

“I join our students in feeling that there’s unfinished business due to COVID-19, but I am very proud of their accomplishments this year nonetheless,” says Professor Todd Berger, Faculty Director of Advocacy Programs. “The students delivered great results in the competitions, and many pulled double duty, contributing countless hours behind the scenes as we successfully hosted three competitions. The pandemic required quick adjustments, and some competitions, such as the prestigious Top Gun, were held online.  All in all, it was a great learning experience.”

U.S. News Ranks Advocacy Program at #15

The College of Law’s advocacy program was ranked #15 in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2021 ranking of law school specialty programs, tied with three other schools. This ranking is a significant jump from Syracuse’s #27 ranking the previous year. “U.S. News voters—influential faculty from around the nation—are noticing our continued focus on this program, as well as the excellent results earned by our students,” says Dean Boise. 

College of Law Holds Inaugural Syracuse National Trial Competition

In early October 2019, 11 trial advocacy teams from across the country descended upon Syracuse, joining our advocacy team to compete in the inaugural Syracuse National Trial Competition (SNTC). After several rounds of grueling competition, Loyola Law School Los Angeles prevailed over Samford University Cumberland School of Law in the first-ever final. Student directors rising 3Ls John Mercurio and Troy Parker, as well as faculty co-directors Professor Todd Berger and Joanne Van Dyke L’87, collaborated on this event that further raised the College’s national profile as a top trial advocacy school.

Celebratory Banquet Goes Virtual 

COVID-19 did not stand in the way of the annual Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society (AHS) banquet. Dozens of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others joined together virtually to celebrate a successful year and bestow award honors and scholarships that are a part of the  AHS tradition. 

AHS Online Banquest, May 2020.
AHS Online Banquest, May 2020.

2020 Award and Scholarship Winners

  • Ralph E. Kharas Award: Joseph Mallek L’20
  • AHS Executive Director Award: Rising 3Ls Troy Parker and John Mercurio
  • Richard Risman Appellate Advocacy Award: Aubre Dean L’20
  • Emil M. Rossi L’72 Scholarship Award: Rising 3L Joseph Celotto
  • Models of Excellence in Advocacy Award, given in honor of Lisa Peebles L’92: Rising 3L Allison Kowalczyk 
  • 2020 Lee S. Michaels Advocate: Rising 3L Joseph Tantillo
  • CourtCall Scholarship Award: Chanan Brown L’20 and Kevin Risch L’20
  • The Order of Barristers: Ariel Blanco L’20, Aubre Dean L’20, Davida M. Hawkes L’20, Adam Leydig L’20, Joseph Mallek L’20, Richard Miller L’20, Jill Tompkins L’20, Julia Wingfield L’20, and William Wolf L’20


Alternative Dispute Resolution Division

  • American Bar Association Arbitration Competition: William Wolfe L’20 and rising 3Ls Nabil Akl, Savraj Gill, and Frances Rivera Reyes advanced to the quarterfinals of the regional, finishing sixth.
  • American Bar Association Negotiation Competition: The College of Law hosted a regional round with 20 teams competing. Rising 3Ls Jacqueline Chilbert and Alison Kowalczyk advanced to the national round, with Professor Daniel Cantone  L’ 81 coaching all teams.

Appellate Advocacy Division

  • The National Moot Court Competition: Aubre Dean L’20 and Joseph Tantillo L’20 won their regional competition, with Tantilo being named Best Oralist in the final round. Coached by Professor Emily Brown L’09 and David Katz L’17, the team finished in the top 16 at nationals.
  • American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition: Natalie Switzer Maier L’20 and rising 3Ls Carly Cazer and Clee Malfitano advanced to the octofinals.
  • National Tax Moot Court Competition: Jeanine Cryan L’20 and Carly Rolph L’20 advanced to the quarterfinals.
2019 National Moot Court Competition team.
2019 National Moot Court Competition team.

Trial Advocacy Division

  • National Black Law Students Association Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition: Davida M. Hawkes L’20, William Wolfe L’20, and rising 3Ls Ken Knight and Sharon Otasowie advanced to the quarterfinals at the national round after winning their regional. Wolfe was named Best Advocate at the nationals. John Boyd L’16, Alphonse Williams L’17, and Stephanie Martin-Thom L’18 coached the team.
Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition team, 2020.
Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition team, 2020.
  • The Tournament of Champions: Ariel Blanco L’20, Adam Leydig L’20, and rising 3Ls Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil advanced to the semifinals, and Leydig was named Best Advocate for the preliminary rounds. Joanne Van Dyke L’87, Joseph Cote L’87, Justin St. Louis L’17, Dennis Scanlon L’19, and Professor Emeritus Travis H.D. Lewin were coaches.
  • Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition: Davida Hawkes L’20, Richard Miller L’20, and rising 3Ls Joe Celotto, Chris Doak, and Troy Parker advanced to the semifinals, coached by Jeffrey Leibo L’03, Jennifer Pratt L’17, Peter Hakes, and Professor Emeritus Lewin.
  • Syracuse National Trial Competition: Kevin Risch L’20 and rising 3Ls Alex Eaton, Tyler Jefferies, and Evan Pfeifer advanced to the quarterfinal round.
NTC regionals were held in Syracuse in 2020.
NTC regionals were held in Syracuse in 2020.
  • National Trial Competition: Two teams advanced to nationals from the regionals held in Syracuse—Adam Leydig L’20 and rising 3L Joe Celotto on one team, and Ariel Blanco L’20 and rising 3Ls Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil on the other. Leydig won Best Open for the preliminary rounds, while Celotto won Best Advocate for the final round. The College also won the Tiffany Cup for second year in a row, and is now most winningest advocacy program across New York State. The coaches were Joanne Van Dyke L’87, Jenny Pratt L’18, and Peter Hakes.
  • National Online Trial Advocacy Competition: At an online competition created to fill the void left by COVID-19 cancellations, rising 3Ls Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil represented Syracuse, with O’Neil advancing to the semifinals.
Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil
Lisa Cole and Christy O’Neil
  • Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition: Adam Leydig L’20 placed fifth, with rising 3L Tyler Jefferies his co-chair. This is the fourth time in five years that this prestigious tourney has invited Syracuse. 
Tyler Jefferies and Adam Leydig
Tyler Jefferies and Adam Leydig


  • 42nd Annual Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition: Davida M. Hawkes L’20 and Richard Miller L’20 prevailed over Alecia Frye L’20 and Troy Gayle L’20 in the Grossman Trial Competition in October 2019, Frye receiving the Frank H. Armani L’56 Advocacy Award for the best individual advocate. The Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby L’85, Chief US District Court Judge, Northern District of New York, presided over the final round, joined by evaluators the Hon. Brenda K. Sannes, US District Judge for the Northern District of New York; the Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, US Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of New York; Professor Emeritus Lewin; and Ed Menkin L’77.
42nd Annual Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition.
42nd Annual Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition.
  • 8th Annual Bond, Schoeneck & King Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition: Andrew Weekes L’20 and rising 3L Kenneth D. Knight prevailed over Sara Pielsticker L’20 and Ju-Juanna Perkins L’20 in the BSK ADR Competition Perkins was named the Best Advocate for the final round. Final round judges were Judge Dancks; Brian Butler L’96, Member, Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC; and James L. Sonneborn, Member and Head of the Litigation Department, Bousquet Holstein PLLC.
8th Annual Bond, Schoeneck & King Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition.
8th Annual Bond, Schoeneck & King Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition.
  • 10th Annual Hancock Estabrook LLP  1L Oral Advocacy Competition: Rising 2L Brady Turner prevailed over fellow rising 2L Christopher Martz in the Hancock Estabrook Oral Advocacy Competition. Final round judges were Judge Sannes; the Hon. Mae A. D’Agostino L’80, US District Judge for the Northern District of New York; Judge Dancks; Dean Boise, and James P. Young, Esq., Partner, Hancock Estabrook LLP.
  • Mackenzie Hughes LLP Edmund H. Lewis Appellate Advocacy Competition: In-person arguments were canceled due to COVID-19, and the Mackenzie Hughes Appellate Advocacy Competition became a written brief competition,  won by rising 3Ls Joseph Tantillo and Thomas Finnigan. 

The ADA@30: 15 Years of the Disability Law and Policy Program

ADA at 30 logo

Helping to Make the World a Better Place for All

Arlene Kanter
Arlene Kanter

In 2002, a first-year law student arrived in Syracuse from Texas after hearing about a new course in disability law, taught by Professor Arlene Kanter (pictured at left). She and other students soon prodded Kanter to offer more disability-related courses so they would be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to secure a job in the relatively new field of disability law. 

It took little prodding for Kanter to agree. By 2005, the faculty had approved the nation’s first Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP), one that included the first joint degree in law and education, with a concentration in disability studies. 

The Texan student was Julie Morse G’05, L’05. She and Crystal Doody G’05, L’05 became the DLPP’s first graduates. Both work at Legal Services of Central New York in Syracuse, representing individuals and families with disabilities, as well as clients with low incomes, on a broad array of legal issues confronting them. Over the past 15 years, DLPP has enrolled more than 300 students from the US and 14 other countries.

Passion & Persistence

Responding to the growing student interest in disability law with passion and persistence, Kanter worked closely with faculty in the School of Education to establish a new University-wide Disability Studies Program as part of her project for the 2005 Meredith Professor of Excellence in Teaching Award. 

“Students bring questions that I would never think of,

due to their geographic diversity, familiarity

with technology and social media, and often their

lived experiences as young adults with a disability.”

Professor Arlene Kanter

In fact, Syracuse University’s long history of disability research and advocacy was one of the reasons Kanter accepted her tenure track position in 1988. Faculty from the University’s Center on Human Policy had been experts in cases she worked on as a lawyer at a national disability law organization in Washington, DC. Today, Kanter holds a courtesy appointment in the School of Education. 

Over its 15 years, DLPP has grown to include more collaborations across campus, as well as a curricular program for students who wish to specialize in disability law but who do not seek a joint degree. DLPP also offers students real-world legal experience through the Disability Rights Clinic, research positions, study abroad opportunities, and externships in London and cities throughout the US. Original graduates Morse and Doody are now externship supervisors for the program and continue to hire DLPP graduates at their office.  

In 2014, with funding from the Open Society Foundation, DLPP started a master’s of law program for international students. Lawyers from such diverse countries as Argentina, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Syria have participated, returning to their countries to work in the disability law field. In 2020-2021, the College will welcome scholars of international and comparative disability law into its new Doctor of Juridical Science program.

DLPP also hosts visiting scholars, including this year’s Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Smitha Nizar, a law professor from India who is working with Kanter on a project regarding the reproductive rights of women with disabilities. 

Every Step of the Way

“No other law school offers such an array of disability-related academic programs and co-curricular opportunities,” Kanter observes. “We even have a student organization, the Disability Law Society. This, too, was a national first.”

DLPP strives to connect scholarship with the classroom, with Kanter inviting her students to work with her on projects and co-author articles. She sees her students as colleagues and future leaders in the field. “Working with the students is my favorite part of my job,” Kanter says. “Not only am I realizing my professional goal of working for the rights of people with disabilities, but I get to bring my students with me every step of the way.” 

Kanter continues, “When I helped draft the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) at the United Nations, for example, my students were active participants in the process.” For the past several years Kanter and her students have been invited to present their research at the UN General Assembly, the CRPD Committee, the Commission on the Status of Women, as well as a congressional committee. 

“Students bring questions that I would never think of, due to their geographic diversity, familiarity with technology and social media, and often their lived experiences as young adults with a disability.”

Remarkable Success

Currently, Kanter is working with the Association of Higher Education and Disability and rising 3L Lillie Hiegel on a project assessing inclusion of students with disabilities in US law schools, and with advocacy organization Humanity and Inclusion (HI) on a project to raise awareness about violence against women with disabilities. 

With HI, Kanter and Lucky Mahenzo Mbonan LL.M.’20 have built a research tool to assess the rate at which different countries are adopting policies to protect girls and women with disabilities from gender-based violence. Two years ago, she and Everlyn Milanoi Koiyiet LL.M.’15 worked with Disability Rights International on a report about abuse of children with disabilities  in Kenyan orphanages. 

Kanter says the first student she had who was blind—Koert Wehberg L’08—may have taught her more than she taught him. “He taught me how he experiences the world and the importance of universal design and technology, such as text-to-speech software, which allowed him to participate in class on an equal basis with other students,” Kanter says. 

DLPP graduates have gone on to remarkable success. For instance, Wehberg is now Executive Director of the city of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, and he teaches disability law at Temple University Law School. He also was one of only a handful of graduates to receive the Equal Justice Works Fellowship. 

Another DLPP joint degree student—Robert Borrelle Jr. G’13, L’13—also received the Equal Justice Works Fellowship and is now a staff attorney at Disability Rights California. Julie Morse has the distinction of being the only College of Law graduate to have been awarded the highly competitive Skadden Fellowship.

Sense of Belonging

To Kanter, disability rights is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when people with disabilities may be treated as expendable. 

“Disability rights is about equal rights and ensuring access, inclusion, and a sense of belonging for all people, regardless of how they may walk, talk, or learn,” she says. “That is not easy within the highly competitive law school culture.”  

DLPP has now been recognized as one of the most innovative disability-related academic programs in the world. On Feb. 20, 2020, at the office of the United Nations in Vienna, the Program received the Essl Foundation’s Zero Project Prize for Innovative Practices, the only US law school to receive this prestigious international award. 

“It is really quite remarkable and exciting,” Kanter says of the award. “I attribute it—as I do all of our successes—to my extraordinary students, with and without disabilities. I think Zero Project recognized our program because we strive not only to teach disability rights but also to recruit and support future lawyers with disabilities.”

Looking to the future—and at the suggestion of alumni—a new DLPP alumni association is in the works. Kanter wants to see it develop into a formal mentoring program: “Ultimately we will want to raise money for scholarships to support more students with disabilities and for students who want to go into disability rights law.”

At its core, Kanter says DLPP is a tight-knit program, assisted by professors Cora True-Frost L’01, Michael Schwartz, Doron Dorfman, and Suzette Melendez. To this end, she spends countless hours urging colleagues and DLPP alumni to hire her students because they have skills and experience that can be gained practically nowhere else. 

“My goal is for our graduates not only to find a job but to find one that will mean something to them and that will, I hope, help to make the world a better place for all,” Kanter says.


In addition to 2020 marking the 15th anniversary of the Disability Law and Policy Program, the year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

DLPP will mark the double anniversary with two special fall programs.   

Firstly, the Syracuse Law Review will publish a special symposium volume on disability law, which Kanter will guest edit. Secondly, Law Alumni Weekend in September 2020 will include a panel discussion, moderated by Kanter, on “Disability Rights at the College of Law: A Retrospective Look at the ADA and the DLPP, ” featuring several of the program’s alumni.   

Kanter observes that the panel will be a virtual program due to public health concerns “but that will allow many alumni from all over the world the opportunity to participate, and it will model the importance of making online education and events fully accessible.”

Professor Arlene Kanter and her spring 2020 students with the Zero Project Award, awarded to the DLPP by the Essl Foundation in February 2020. The DLPP was recognized as one of the most innovative education programs in the world, the only law school in the US so honored.  

DLPP with the Zero Project Award.
DLPP with the Zero Project Award.

DLPP graduates Carla Villarreal Lopez LLM’18 and Khawla Wakkaf LLM’18 visiting Professor Arlene Kanter at Harvard University, where Kanter was a visiting professor in 2017.

Carla Villarreal Lopez LLM’18, Khawla Wakkaf LLM’18, and Professor Arlene Kanter.
Carla Villarreal Lopez LLM’18, Khawla Wakkaf LLM’18, and Professor Arlene Kanter.

Professor Kanter with colleagues and students at the Syracuse ARISE awards dinner in 2017, where Kanter was honored as a Champion of Independence. 

Professor Kanter at Syracuse ARISE.
Professor Kanter at Syracuse ARISE.

Burton Blatt Institute Celebrates the ADA@30

ADA at 30 logo

BBI Continues Its Work on Behalf of the Landmark Legislation

July 26, 2020, marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life—including jobs, schools, and transportation—and all public and private places that are open to the public. 

For the Burton Blatt Institute, the anniversary is a time for celebration and reflection. While the landmark legislation and related legislation (including the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008) have done much to accommodate and integrate disabled persons—and to change society’s views and attitudes toward disability—barriers to full inclusion still exist.

Stephen Kuusisto
Stephen Kuusisto

Helping to oversee BBI’s ADA 30th anniversary commemoration—including at the website adaanniversary.org—University Professor Stephen Kuusisto, Director of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at BBI, discusses the ADA’s profound effect on society, education, and culture, and what the future holds.

Thirty years on, how would you characterize the effectiveness of the ADA?

The ADA has been remarkably successful as a change agent for American culture, which isn’t surprising because one of its goals was to assist the disabled to enter public life. It’s no longer unusual to see wheelchair users, guide dog travelers, the deaf, and autistic folks participating in every area of civic life. 

Along with this participation we see changes in the arts and popular culture. In the 1970s no one would have imagined prime time television shows featuring characters with autism. Disability is now better understood as a part of who we are as a nation. 

One also could argue that the ADA created a new geographical imagination. That is, the legislation induced needed changes to public spaces; along with that came a host of new features for architecture, design, and cyberspace.

Observers talk about an ADA mindset among a new generation of disabled persons growing up after the legislation passed—can that idea be extended to the rest of the population? 

It’s no longer acceptable to shrug off disability, although some might still wish to do so. For younger folks who’ve grown up after the adoption of the ADA, there’s an expectation that disability will be properly accommodated and that inclusion is to be expected. 

That’s a sea change from my childhood, which took place pre-ADA. People in my generation had to fight to get into the room. I had a professor in graduate school tell me that I shouldn’t be in his class, owing to my blindness. That discrimination might happen today in some places, but I think it’s mostly a thing of the past. Society is more engaging and accepting of disability in general and of the disabled in particular. There’s still much work to be done, but a lot has been accomplished. 

You’ve alluded to examples of the positive effects of the ADA for the general population. Can you expand on that idea?

Many people are unaware that some of the technologies they use daily are the products of disability design work. For instance, Siri and Alexa come out of work by Ray Kurzweil in the 1970s and 1980s. He invented talking optical character recognition systems for the blind. 

The Kurzweil Machine was originally as big as a washing machine, and it had a copying machine glass top. You’d lay a printed book on the plate, and it would scan and read the pages aloud. That technology became the foundation for all kinds of contemporary talking devices. It’s also the case that once Apple decided to make every one of its products accessible for the blind, they found numerous ways to use text-to-speech to benefit every customer. 

What improvements to the ADA and the integration of disabled persons into society can we look forward to in the next 30 years?

We desperately need to see new forms of pedagogy based on the understanding that in fact no two persons actually learn in precisely the same way. Work being done now to accommodate neurodiverse students or folks who are blind or deaf will likely lead to better integrated and inclusive forms of teaching and digitization. 

If you were made ADA czar for a new presidential administration, what recommendations or actions would you take in your first 100 days?

I would tackle the disability-unemployment problem. Even 30 years after the passage of the ADA, the unemployment rates for the disabled remain terribly high. A figure that’s routinely accepted is that 70% of the disabled who are of working age remain unemployed in the United States. This can be changed with real incentives to small businesses and larger companies to hire the disabled. This solution is feasible, and it would get people off of Social Security disability and into the workforce. The long-term benefits would be remarkable. 

How would you characterize BBI’s ADA-related work to those unfamiliar with your mission and projects?

BBI is named for Burton Blatt, a foundational scholar and activist who pioneered the field of disability studies here at Syracuse University. Dr. Blatt helped to revolutionize how we think about disability and helped us understand that disability is not what it seems. 

One way to think about this perspective is that just as we understand people are not defined by gender or race, Burton Blatt showed us that the disabled body and our attitudes toward it are merely societal ideas and have nothing to do with the disability itself. Today, BBI works globally to promote inclusion and opportunity for the disabled by breaking down such barriers. 

How is BBI helping to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA?

Even as we speak I am working with the US Department of State to create a virtual poetry reading featuring some of our nation’s leading poets—with and without disabilities—to celebrate the cultural dimensions of disability art and civil rights. BBI is also planning future events that we hope will occur on the University campus once we’re able to convene in person again. n

Law Library By the Numbers

2018-2019 data

7,449 Hours of operation per year
157,800 Visits to the library per year
44,211Linear feet of shelving
42Law Library computers for research and study
558,439 Total volumes and volume
9,284 Titles added in 2019
41,532Number of electronic titles
567,612Electronic documents retrieved
39Percentage change in investment in electronic resources, year over year
17,359Visits to law.syr.edu/law-library
678Total number of law and other databases available to students (49 law-related)
431Total interlibrary loan transactions (items borrowed from, and loaned to, other libraries)
32Custom guides maintained by law librarians help students discover and use legal research tools
81Instructional sessions provided to classes and groups on legal research tools and methods
44.5Total library staff

The Law Library Today & Tomorrow:  A Commitment to Service

By Jan Fleckenstein G’84, G’86, L’11

Jan Fleckenstein
Jan Fleckenstein

Over its long history the Law Library has been shaped by librarians, faculty, students, and by the generosity of donors into a vital resource for the study of law and for faculty research that explains and develops the law. Our commitment to service supports all members of the College community, and that commitment is the driving force behind the collections and programs that the library offers. 

The library is responsive to student and faculty needs for research and study. It is creative in the way it provides print and electronic resources to support research and the curriculum. And it is collaborative in nurturing networks with the Syracuse University Libraries and other law libraries, as well as with law library consortia across the country and around the world, to maximize our access to the broadest possible range of legal information resources. 

Dedicated to Learning

A spectacular Bernard R. and Carol K. Kossar Library Reading Room, divided from the Levy Atrium by a glass wall that soars 19 feet, makes the Law Library a visible symbol of the College’s dedication to study and learning.

A mixture of reading tables, research carrels, study tables, and computer workstations provides students with a choice of study spaces that best meet their individual needs. Wood-paneled, high-density mechanical book stacks, enough to hold 350,000 print volumes, fill the west end of the main floor and the center of the upper floor, leaving room around the perimeter to give library users access to natural lighting and expansive views overlooking the Onondaga Valley and the city of Syracuse. With card-swipe access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, law students can use the Law Library on a schedule that meets their needs: around classes, jobs, and family obligations.

“I most certainly envision a bright future

in the law for generations of students to come.”

Jan Fleckenstein

When the library moved to Dineen Hall, it gained its first dedicated special collections space—the Peter Herzog 

L’55 and Brigitte Herzog L’75 Special Collections Room—as well as space to house College archives. We are now actively growing and curating not only the general collection but also our own collection of items that represent the College over its 125-year history. 

The contours of the library’s collection are shaped by requests from students and faculty, by purchases to support specific courses in the curriculum, and by careful monitoring by law librarians of developments in legal scholarship and trends that must be reflected in a broad-based academic library collection. 

Interdisciplinary Collection

The permanent print collection forms the backbone of the Law Library’s information resources, including historical collections for research into the evolution of law and legal systems over time in local, state, federal, international, and comparative law. We house 65,521 print titles, augmented by a substantial collection of historical documents on two million pieces of microform. High-quality scanners enable us to convert documents stored in print or on microform into searchable PDFs and send them to users anywhere  in the world. 

The Ronald L. ’54, L’56 and Joanne J. Goldfarb ’57 Family Collection.
The Ronald L. ’54, L’56 and Joanne J. Goldfarb ’57 Family Collection.

The library is interdisciplinary in its collection policy, supporting research and scholarship in law and economics, politics, history, public policy, and the arts and humanities. This interdisciplinarity is reflected in recent donations such as the Ronald L. ’54, L’56 and Joanne J. Goldfarb ’57 Family Collection, which contains works that represent every intersection of law and society. While the library is open to the University community, the local legal community, and the general public, interdisciplinary works in our collection most often draw library users from outside the College.

To enhance our services, the library takes advantage of every new development in legal information databases and every advance in information technology. Our 247,625 print volumes are complemented by 41,532 electronic books, along with the general legal database services Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law, and Hein Online, plus individual databases in specialized subject areas. 

Moreover, a mix of electronic and print resources provides a comprehensive platform for effectively teaching legal research skills and for helping students find the right information to complete their course assignments and their research projects. 

Rapidly Evolving

Although alumni may not remember it this way, learning to do legal research used to be fairly straightforward: use digests to find cases, use indexes to find statutes, and use the library catalog to find books on specific areas of the law. 

That all changed with the introduction and growth of legal databases, which continue to rapidly evolve in content and features. Law librarians now focus on helping students choose the right databases, develop effective search strategies, discern the strengths and weaknesses of various online sources, and develop a sense of how different algorithms affect search results in different legal information products. 

The JDinteractive online degree program provided the opportunity for the library to implement its vision of a service model for the future by creating an electronic counterpart to every in-person library function. Law librarians and library support staff leveraged that experience to pivot quickly to providing remote support for the College’s residential programs when the spring 2020 semester unexpectedly moved online during the COVID-19 crisis. 

We were ready. By then, in addition to our services inside the Law Library, we already took reference questions through the library website—law.syr. edu/law-library—by email, phone, and text message. We consulted on research questions over Zoom. We checked out books remotely, shipped books to students, and provided shipping labels to make it easy to send books back. We already scanned and sent documents from the print collection to remote users. In anticipation of the future and continued demand for rapid service, we had already invested heavily in electronic resources and added a few new databases to replicate highly used portions of the print collection. 

Suite of Services

The Bernard R. and Carol K. Kossar Library Reading Room.
The Bernard R. and Carol K. Kossar Library Reading Room.

The library provides the same robust suite of services to students and faculty remotely as if they were using the library in person.

The library has grown, adapted, and innovated over the past 125 years, in keeping with the mission of the College of Law. Law librarians are versatile in crafting collections and services that support student learning and faculty research. Law librarians who are technical specialists take advantage of new legal information products and electronic services that prepare students to be confident researchers in practice. 

Because of our expansive view of the services that an academic law library should offer, our Law Library fulfills the legal information needs of its users, in person and around the world, wherever our academic and research interests take us. 

I am honored to serve the College of Law, our students and faculty—and our profession—as Director of the Law Library. Above all, as I walk through the library, browse through our collections, and take stock of what we have built, 

I can almost hear the quiet whisper of generations past, and I most certainly envision a bright future in the law for generations of students to come.

Stacks of History

Browsing the Growth of the Law Library from Bastable Block to Dineen Hall


  • Jeffrey A. Unaitis. The Syracuse University College of Law: A Ninety Year Commitment to Excellence, 36 Syracuse L. Rev. 895 (1985). 
  • Margery C. Connor L’84. 100 Years: Syracuse University College of Law (1995). 

“Pressing Wants”

An artist’s impression of Bastable Block c.1895.
An artist’s impression of Bastable Block c.1895.

When the College of Law opened in the Bastable Block in downtown Syracuse in 1895, students had access to the Court of Appeals Library. Containing approximately 20,000 volumes, this library was located nearby in the Onondaga County Courthouse, on the comer of Clinton and West Genesee streets.

The necessity of a dedicated and well-stocked law library to the educational and research mission of the College was evident from its founding, a fact expressed by University Chancellor James Roscoe Day in his 1896 report to the Board of Trustees: 

“The College of Law immediately stepped out beyond  experiment, and the report of the dean will show a remarkably loyal support of our renowned legal talent of the  Onondaga Bar ... It will find friends in due time to endow its library and meet other pressing wants. In the meantime, by the generosity of its friends, it has access to our noble law  libraries and assistance to do its work in a satisfactory manner.”

A Growing Collection

The library was central to plans for growth when, in the fall of 1898, the College moved into the newly erected University Block on East Washington Street. Specially designed second- floor quarters included classrooms, office space, an assembly hall—and a library.

With space to expand its collections, in 1899, Louis Marshall, an eminent New York City lawyer and long-time friend and law partner of College of Law Dean James B. Brooks, dedicated a gift of 1,500 volumes to the memory of their mutual law partner, the Hon. William C. Ruger. 

Later additions from the Marshall and Ruger collections, as well as from the Brooks Library, formed a new nucleus for the growing collection that now included full sets of the Reports of the US Supreme Court; court reports of the states of New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Connecticut; and an entire set of English Reports, said to be a “verbatim reprint” covering 1307 to 1865.

“Make It Worthy”

In 1927, Harvard Law Scool Dean Roscoe Pound released his 25-page Survey of the College of Law of the University of Syracuse and Project for Its Reorganization. Known as “The Pound Report,” it found that the College had the  “foundation” of a good library, but that a $25,000 investment would be needed to “make it worthy of the school.” 

Illustrating the importance of research to the modern law school, Pound noted that law teachers were now expected to do more than “simply deliver a set number of lectures each week” and that part-time teachers couldn’t be expected to also perform legal research, work that “cannot be divorced from the teaching function.” 

A “Working Tool”

Surrounded by library volumes, members of the Syracuse Law Review staff gather, possibly in the 1950s.
Surrounded by library volumes, members of the Syracuse 
Law Review staff gather, possibly in the 1950s.

Modernization of the Law Library continued in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Generous appropriations made by the University helped update the treatise section and supplement statutory services and the reports of court and administrative decisions. At this time a review of the library considered it an “adequate working tool” for its students, but needs continued to grow, especially after World War II.

In June 1953—thanks to a principal gift from Syracuse lawyer and businessman Ernest I. White—groundbreaking took place for a University campus building dedicated to the College of Law. Opened in September, this was the first time in its history that the College had occupied a facility built expressly for the study of law, with the 60,000-volume Law Library as its focal point. 

The dedication of White Hall included the following description of the library: 

“… for effective legal education, the building centers about  a law library in which the William Rubin Memorial Reading  Room on the second floor opens directly into four decks of  library stacks ... the reading room has comfortable study  space for 80 students and in the stacks are window-lighted  carrels providing research space for an additional 44 students.”

Approaching Capacity

The Barclay Law Library was dedicated in 1985.
The Barclay Law Library was dedicated in 1985.

By 1974, with enrollment approaching 600 students, the original White Hall library had doubled its capacity to 120,000 volumes. Strategy for the next 10 years would be critical if the College was to maintain its growing position as a trailblazer in legal education. 

In 1979 planning began in earnest—under the direction of Dean Craig Christensen and Law Library Director Thomas C. Kingsley—for a new library, along with a major renovation of White Hall. 

Led by N. Earle Evans ’42, The Campaign to Build a Law Library started in 1981. By May 1983, 1,400 alumni and friends had contributed $2.3 million and ground was broken, with construction taking about 18 months. A generous gift from H. Douglas Barclay L’61, H’98 capped the campaign, and in March 1985 both the H. Douglas Barclay Law Library and the newly renovated White Hall were dedicated. 

The Barclay Law Library was designed to hold 200,000 volumes, and it wasn›t long before yet another expansion was required. A 1990 survey found that the College now lacked adequate student workspace, seminar rooms, and courtrooms, so along with plans to build what became Winifred R. McNaughton Hall, the library was built out once again, taking over the fifth floor of White Hall.

Technologically Advanced 

In May 2012, the College of Law broke ground on a new headquarters across Irving Avenue from White and MacNaughton halls. The new building would provide a LEED-certified, high-tech living/learning environment to deliver a 21st century legal education. The 200,000 square foot Dineen Hall—named for the family that provided the lead gift in the fundraising campaign—was opened in September 2014. 

The nearly 32,000-square-foot state-of-the-art library within Dineen Hall includes 44,000 linear feet of shelving; 560,000 volumes in print and microform, including sets of books received from law firm and private family collections; advanced study spaces; 42 computers; the spacious Bernard R. and Carol K. Kossar Library Reading Room; and the Peter Herzog L’55 and Brigitte Herzog L’75 Special Collections Room. All these assets are complemented by the library’s growing online presence, which maintains 41,532 electronic titles and 49 legal topics databases.

Eye Toward the Future

The Peter Herzog L’55 and Brigitte Herzog L’75 Special Collections Room.
The Peter Herzog L’55 and Brigitte
Herzog L’75 Special Collections Room.

The Law Library always operates with an eye toward the future. Today, the library serves not only those students and faculty located in Syracuse but also students, faculty, alumni, and other legal practitioners throughout the world.

As with all libraries, the Law Library continues to digitize and provide access to analog and print resources that are critical components of a legal education and legal research. Digital stewardship, also referred to as digital preservation, will not only preserve the library’s unique materials but also will ensure continuous access to the collection, at any time, from anywhere, physically or remotely. 

For example, recordings of moot court competitions, negotiations, and presentations are an excellent  resource for the students in the Advocacy Program, and they must be preserved to keep them usable. Similarly, the library archives reflect not just the history of the College, but the history of the development of American law over the past 125 years.  

Searchable text greatly increases capacity and ease of use for research, for students, faculty, and the legal community at large. Thus, the library will continue to leverage technology and expertise in order to make the records that document the law’s evolution available and accessible to all.  

Extraordinary Work in an Extraordinary Time

The College of Law Meets the COVID-19 Challenge

Throughout March, as many law schools transitioned to online instruction because of the coronavirus pandemic, the College of Law’s rapid transition was that much smoother thanks in large measure to extensive experience with JDinteractive, the College’s interactive online law degree program.

“We’re very fortunate that we’ve already spent years thinking through how you bring law school online in a way that works for students,” explains Faculty Director of Online Education Nina Kohn. 

The best practices that faculty and staff developed through JDi’s careful development enabled a relatively seamless transition to teaching and supporting all students remotely. Throughout this magazine, you will read many examples of the College’s successful pivot to online learning in the second half of the spring 2020 semester.

Here we gather more of the extraordinary work that met the challenges of an extraordinary time... 

In March the College rapidly stood up Law Preparedness, a website resource for the College community that provides up-to-date information on changes in campus operations, academic continuity resources, tips about staying healthy, travel guidance, and more. As leader of the College of Law’s COVID-19 Planning and Operations Group, Dean Boise pledged in a memo—announcing the unprecedented move to online instruction—that the College would “both push ourselves and support one another through this crisis.”

Law Preparedness

The 2020 College of Law Commencement ceremony—originally scheduled for May 8 at the Oncenter in Syracuse while the Dome is under construction—has been postponed to May 2021. Nevertheless, the College held a proud awards celebration for graduating students on May 7, despite being kept physically apart. The next day—the original commencement date—the College published a moving tribute to the resilient and talented Class of 2020, watched more than 1,500 times on YouTube. 47th Vice President of the United States Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 and Commencement speaker and JetBlue President and COO Joanna Geraghty L’97 joined Dean Boise, faculty, and staff in the tribute. To watch the video, visit lawcommencement.syr.edu. You can send a congratulatory message for the Class of 2020 to SyracuseStrong@law.syr.edu.

47th VP Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 and Joanna Geraghty L’97.
47th VP Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 and Joanna Geraghty L’97.

Student life continued online smoothly, according to Director of Student Affairs Sarah Collins, thanks to existing infrastructure that remotely integrates JDi students into the Student Bar Association, clubs, and other activities. 

“We were able to pivot quickly and effectively,” observes Collins. “Annual end-of-year events occurred virtually, including the Syracuse Law Review and Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honor Society banquets, as well as the Justinian Society Induction Ceremony (pictured). For the annual elections of student leaders, candidate speeches were delivered via Zoom, and the passing of the gavel to newly elected officers also happened virtually.” 

Collins adds that the Blue Book exam—which must be completed if a student wants to work on a student-run journal—was conducted via Zoom, with Q&A sessions offered beforehand to explain this year’s process. 

Justinian Society Induction Ceremony, May 2020.
Justinian Society Induction Ceremony, May 2020.

Throughout March and April the Office of Student Affairs held online coffee hours titled Camaraderie with Collins. Special guests, including Dean Boise and Associate Director of the Office of Student Affairs Academic and Bar Support Programs Courtney Abbott Hill L’09, answered student questions, offered support, and continued “the open door practice that we use when we are physically together,” according to Director of Student Affairs Sarah Collins. 

Camaraderie with Collins

Alumni were also resilient and flexible—and characteristically supportive of their alma mater—during the move online —even as their own work and family lives were severely disrupted—continuing to teach, lecture, and coach advocacy teams via teleconferencing platforms. On April 16 and 22, the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association convened two town hall discussions with students on “How to Plan for the Future During a Time of Uncertainty.” 

SULAA virtual town hall meeting.
SULAA virtual town hall meeting.

Offering an essential service to the disabled community, the Burton Blatt Institute Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach (BBI OIPO) established the New York State COVID-19 Online Resources webpage, gathering and curating Syracuse, Central New York, and New York State COVID-19-related information centering “on the rights, access, and experiences of disabled people during the pandemic,” according to BBI OIPO Associate Director Diane Wiener.

Burton Blatt Institute Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach.
BBI Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach.

Executive Director of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic Beth Kubala spoke on WSYR’s Dave Allen Show on March 30, describing how her clinic’s essential work continued online during the shutdown. “We’re still able to keep in touch with clients via telephone and access case files remotely,” Kubala told Allen. “We’re still able to provide quality representation to veterans in our community.” In April alone, the clinic recovered more than $500,000 to help assist its clients.

Beth Kubala on WSYR’s Dave Allen Show.
Beth Kubala on WSYR’s Dave Allen Show.

The pivot to online learning was sudden and dramatic, leaving law school faculty members nationwide asking questions about the nuts and bolts of virtual classrooms. Professor Nina Kohn’s experiences designing JDi and supporting the College’s faculty in preparation for its launch made her a sought-after expert. During March—as a free public service—Kohn offered a series of web conferences for law school faculty across the country who wanted to learn more about how to do online right. “Through these virtual workshops, the knowledge we’ve accumulated in Syracuse was on full display,” Kohn says. 

Nina Kohn's virtual seminar.
Nina Kohn's virtual seminar.

The COVID-19 crisis left Innovation Law Center students and faculty in uncharted territory as their spring end-of-semester research for start-up companies had to be presented virtually. Students, professors and clients came together to finish the semester strongly, with presentations held via video conference. “Although it was a somewhat sudden shift from preparing in-person presentations, the experience was a good one,” says rising 3L Sohela Suri. “In practice, we will likely utilize technology to communicate with colleagues and clients regularly, so it was a unique and timely experience to conduct a presentation via Zoom with a real client.” The virtual format had at least one unexpected benefit: allowing more students to attend client presentations.

ILC virtual presentation.
ILC virtual presentation.

Among other examples of alumni and students helping their communities, Christopher Jennison L’16 has been volunteering with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad during the crisis. His work is described in the ABA Journal article “Lawyer Certified as Emergency Medical Technician Calls on His Experience During COVID-19 Crisis” (June 1, 2020). “For someone like Chris, who is a lawyer, now married with a family, to have that all going and still commit to this organization, that’s dedication,” says Rescue Squad President Ken Holden.

Christopher Jennison L’16
Christopher Jennison L’16

Although in-person conferences and symposia were put on hold, faculty went online to offer their research-based perspectives in web conferences and other online forums. The photo shows Professor Corri Zoli discussing the “Islamic Law of Armed Conflict” during an Anethum Global webinar on May 19. Among other virtual presentations, Professor Kristen Barnes spoke on “Homelessness and Cities” at the Real Property Trust and Estates Virtual Conference on May 14. Professor Nina Kohn joined the African American Policy Forum’s “Under the Black Light: COVID in Confinement” webinar on April 29. On April 23, Professor Doron Dorfman led a UMass Law/OUTLaw discussion on the FDA’s blood ban policy and recent changes in light of the pandemic. And on April 22, Professor Mary Szto took part in Syracuse University’s online “COVID-19 Anti-Asian Racism Panel Discussion.” 

Corri Zoli at the Anethum Global webinar on May 19, 2020.
Corri Zoli at the Anethum Global webinar on May 19, 2020.

Law Faculty Provide Meaningful Insight During Coronavirus Pandemic

As the COVID-19 health crisis took hold across the globe and in the United States, College of Law experts were on hand to provide relevant commentary and perspectives on topics as diverse as national security, elder care, voting, higher education, and the national blood supply. 

This list is a sampling of dozens of media appearances, many in high-profile outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Consumer Reports, and CNBC.

  • Professor Nina Kohn: “Law Schools Shift Classes Online Amid COVID-19, But Can They Do It Successfully?” (Law.com, March 10, 2020)
  • Professor Kevin Maillard: “Parenting by FaceTime in Coronavirus Quarantine” (The New York Times, March 20, 2020)
  • Professor David Driesen: “Why NY Law Requires Absentee Ballots in Response to COVID-19” (syracuse.com, March 30, 2020)
  • Hon. James E. Baker: “Why Is Trump So Timid with the Defense Production Act? ” (The New York Times, April 3, 2020)
  • Professor Mary Szto: “Businesses Must Act to Stop COVID-19 Anti-Asian Racism” (syracuse.com, April 13, 2020)
  • Professor Doron Dorfman: “COVID-19 May Help Lift FDA Policy on Gay Blood Donors” (Law 360, April 23, 2020)
  • Professor Nina Kohn: “Addressing the Crisis in Long-Term Care Facilities” (The Hill, April 23, 2020)
  • Professor Cora True-Frost: “Parenting in the Shadow of Scarce Ventilators” (Newsday, April 28, 2020) 
  • Professor Peter Blanck: “Going Back to Work While COVID-19 Is Still Spreading” (Consumer Reports, May 8, 2020)
  • Professor Doron Dorfman: “Being Anti-Mask Doesn’t Make You Disabled” (Newsday, May 21, 2020)
  • Professor Arlene Kanter: “Can Faculty Be Forced Back on Campus?” (Chronicle of Higher Education, June 16, 2020)

On April 1, Professor Greg Germain, an expert in business and corporate law, appeared on a live syracuse.com webcast to discuss “What is essential work in New York State during the COVID-19 crisis.” 

Greg Germain speaks to syracuse.com.
Greg Germain speaks to syracuse.com.

Disability Law for Property, Land Use, & Zoning Lawyers

By Professor Robin Paul Malloy

One of the fastest growing areas of concern for local governments involves the intersection of disability law with land use planning and zoning.

Many of the legal issues for property, land use, and zoning lawyers involve interpreting rules and guidelines requiring improving the accessibility of the built environment, while other important issues relate to the defenses available to local governments and businesses when charged with complaints of discrimination based on lack of accessibility or failure to accommodate.

In this essay, Professor Robin Paul Malloy—E.I. White Chair and Distinguished Professor of Law, Kauffman Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the author of several books on disability law and land use—examines an area of law that can be complex, confusing, and underdeveloped, and sometimes the source of costly and prolonged litigation.

Robin Paul Malloy
Robin Paul Malloy

In practice, accessibility is an important issue confronting our cities, but under US disability laws, accessibility is balanced with numerous other interests, including property rights and the ability of local governments or private parties to pay.

In advancing accessibility in our communities, it is important to know the actual legal requirements of an action and to frame arguments in response to these requirements.

To begin with, land use planning and zoning involve a system of public and private land regulations that connect and coordinate physical places and social spaces into communal networks. These networks include the places and spaces where people work, play, shop, entertain, eat, receive health care, vote, raise their families, and otherwise live their lives as individuals and as members of communities.

Access to these networks is important because these networks shape people’s opportunities and influence their quality of life. Having a disability can often limit one’s access to these important communal networks, either as a result of physical barriers or as a result of discrimination. Therefore, it is important for planning and zoning officials to think beyond inclusive design issues at specific property locations and work for connectivity between and among the venues within which community life takes place.

“Disability law at the intersection of land use and zoning is not just

about designing doorways, bathrooms, and office space. It’s about

interpreting, classifying, and applying regulatory standards.”

The importance of addressing accessibility is highlighted when we account for the fact that 25% of Americans have a disability of some type. More specifically, when considering only disabilities that effect mobility, close to 20% of American families have a family member with a mobility impairment.

The rate of mobility impairment is significant when we are managing and coordinating land uses across the built environment. Moreover, the rate of disability and of mobility impairment increases with age, and America has an aging population. Currently 64% of the US population is 50 years and older, with 23% being 65 and older.

Demographic trends indicate a need for greater planning so that our communities are safe and easy to navigate by everyone, including people with disabilities and people seeking to age in place.


Malloy Article Illustration

In working to make our communities more accessible, we need to start by acknowledging three key points:

  1. The problems of accessibility are big, and not small. People often think that disability affects only a small percentage of the population because they associate disability with the iconic image of a person in a wheelchair, and only 1% of the population uses a wheelchair. In reality, the statistics cited above on the rate of disability in America tell the true story of the needs confronting our communities.
  2. Some property lawyers are unaware  that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation apply to state and local land use planning and zoning activities. Others are aware but lack clarity as to exactly what the disability laws may require of property, land use, and zoning lawyers, since they perceive such matters as the work of disability rights lawyers.
  3. Many of the planning and zoning issues concerning the rights of people with disabilities have little to do with accessible designs. Moreover, designing accessible buildings and spaces are matters better addressed by  architects and code enforcement officers than lawyers. While compliance with these codes and standards is important, the key concerns of land use  and zoning lawyers go beyond compliance with design guidelines. Disability law at the intersection of land use and zoning is not just about designing doorways, bathrooms, and office space. It’s about interpreting, classifying, and applying regulatory standards and advising local governments on avoiding actions that may be found to be discriminatory.


Many of the legal issues involved at the intersection of land use law and disability have to deal with mediating competing interests and rights with respect to accessibility and its cost.

From a property, land use, and zoning perspective, it is important to recognize both the requirements and limitations of our disability laws. Local governments, in particular, need good legal advice on the specific requirements of our disability laws so that they can meet their obligations to residents while defending against claims of noncompliance.

In discussing these issues, I consider three examples. All three are related to public land use and zoning activities focused on the application of Title II of the ADA. Title II applies to programs, services, and activities of state and local governments. This has been held to include all of the activities and functions of local planning and zoning officials.

To the extent that housing is involved, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) is also applicable. The FHA requires planning and zoning officials to afford people with disabilities an equal opportunity to obtain and enjoy housing in the same way as people without disabilities. In recognition of space limitations, I do not address issues arising in the context of private places of public accommodation as covered by Title III of the ADA, nor do I discuss the Rehabilitation Act or the Architectural Barriers Act.

The ADA requires “new construction” and “alterations” of existing facilities to be accessible to the maximum extent possible. The only defense to a complaint of noncompliance is, structural impracticability, which is extremely difficult to demonstrate. Nonetheless, local governments can make out a case of structural impracticability by focusing on engineering and other difficulties.


As to programs, services, and activities, these must be accessible to the maximum extent possible, and the defense to a claim of lack of accessibility is a showing of an undue administrative or financial burden. This is demonstrated by financial and economic evidence and is much easier to demonstrate than is structural impracticability.

In addition, the ADA and the FHA prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. There are three methods of demonstrating discrimination:

  1. Disparate treatment (or intentional discrimination).
  2. Disparate impact (showing, with the use of statistics, that a planning or zoning policy has a disparate impact on people with disabilities as compared to people without disabilities).
  3. Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation or modification when requested.

Currently, most litigation involves the alleged failure to provide a reasonable accommodation or modification. Some disability rights advocates assume that persons with disabilities are entitled to an accommodation by simply demonstrating that they have a disability. Some also mistakenly believe that the person with a disability should be granted the particular accommodations/modifications being  requested. This, however, is not what the law requires.

Reasonable accommodations/modifications only need to be granted if the plaintiff can make a prima facie case with respect to three criteria that will be discussed below. If the local government planning or zoning board is able to carry the burden in countering the assertions of the plaintiff, the requested accommodation/modification may rightfully be denied.


Judicial opinions have clarified the term reasonable accommodation as meaning the making of an adjustment or exception to local planning and zoning rules, policies, plans, or procedures, whereas the term reasonable modification means making an adjustment to a physical space, facility, or environment.

“Local planning and zoning officials need to be knowledgeable about

our federal disability laws and account for them in their practices.”

Below, I provide three examples of zoning matters addressing the requirement for reasonable accommodations. One of these situations involves what zoning people will recognize as an area variance, and the other two involve use variances. There is one significant difference. A variance, of either type, runs with the land (runs to future owners), whereas a reasonable accommodation/modification is personal to the person and does not run with the land. 

First, let us consider an example of a typical area variance request. To begin with, a variance involves a petition for

an exception from a rule, policy, plan, or procedure. In the zoning context, state and local law establishes the specific criteria to be considered in reviewing a petition for a variance.

A request for a reasonable accommodation/modification by a person protected by the ADA and FHA often starts as a petition for a standard zoning law variance. Failing to meet the requirements for a standard variance, the person then typically petitions for an exception based on the right to a reasonable accommodation/modification under federal disability law.

The accommodation claim is one of asserting that notwithstanding the inability of petitioner to meet the criteria for a variance as provided for under state and local law, the petitioner as a person with a disability is entitled to an exception to the land use requirements as a reasonable accommodation. Failure to provide a “reasonable” accommodation, when requested, is an act of discrimination in violation of federal law. The difficult legal question is one of determining what is reasonable.

So, let us assume that a city has a zoning code that provides for all structures to be set back from the front property line by at least 25 feet. The petitioner has a home that is set back 26 feet from the front property line but now petitioner seeks to add a ramp to the front of the house so that a wheelchair user can easily and safely navigate ingress and egress to the front door of the home.

The proposed ramp is to be constructed by the petitioner from two-by-fours and when completed will extend 12 feet into the required front yard setback. Since this encroachment on the setback is a violation of the code, the property owner must seek an area variance. Assume that after evaluating the requirements for an area variance under state and local zoning law, the variance petition is denied. Now, if the petitioner affirmatively requests an accommodation, the local zoning board must move forward to evaluate the petition on the criteria for a reasonable accommodation. There are three criteria for a reasonable accommodation and they include:

  1. It must be reasonable (using a cost and benefit analysis).
  2. It must be necessary (using a “but for” test to show that “but for” the accommodation and its ability to address the person’s disability, the person will not be able to enjoy an equal opportunity to live in this community).
  3. It must not fundamentally alter the plan for the development and regulation of the community.

The zoning board needs to take evidence on each of these three factors and then, based on the totality of the evaluation, determine whether or not the requested accommodation is reasonable. While each case is fact specific, the requirements as to probative value of  evidence as to each of the three factors must be gathered from various case opinions. A decision against the petitioner may be appealed to state or federal court. On appeal, a zoning board determination is reviewable on a rational basis standard, meaning that if the zoning board denial is rational and supported by competent evidence in the record, the accommodation can legally be denied.


Thus, a local zoning or planning board must be prepared to apply state and local zoning law to a variance request and also federal disability law if the petitioner is protected by our disability laws. It is important to note that in making its determination, a planning or zoning board may consider alternative ways of accommodating the petitioner even if the petitioner has only requested one way of addressing an accommodation.

In this process, second level issues also arise and need to be addressed. For example, assume a board determines that the request for a ramp is reasonable, then the issue arises as to can they control the design of the ramp and the materials used in the construction of the ramp? In other words, can the board impose requirements that make the construction of an approved ramp twice the cost of the ramp proposed by the petitioner?

The answer is “yes,” the board can impose conditions that raise the cost to the petitioner. Beyond this, consider yet another issue that may arise. In as much as interpreting the code to allow for a reasonable accommodation does not involve a granting of a zoning variance that runs with the land, might the board require the petitioner to remove the ramp when the petitioner leaves the property? Again, the answer seems to be “yes.”

A petitioner granted an accommodation can be required to bear the cost of rehabilitation of the property when they leave, unless the rehabilitation cost is perceived as so burdensome that it would cause a person not to exercise their right to request an accommodation in the first instance.


The above described analysis has been applied to petitions for ramps, decking, pathways, and even therapeutic swimming pools. Many of the cases illustrate that local planning and zoning boards are underprepared to handle even simple disability petitions, and as a consequence they end up being pursued on charges of discrimination. 

As a second example, consider a request for a use variance. This is a request to use a property for a use that is not otherwise permitted under the zoning code. Assume a city has designated a downtown zoning district for commercial redevelopment and has identified a variety of commercial and business uses as permitted within this zone. A not-for-profit agency identifies a building within this zone in which it would like to open a clinic to provide services to people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. The clients of this clinic are protected under the ADA

On application for a permit to open a clinic, the agency is denied on the grounds that such a clinic is not a permitted use

in the redevelopment zone but would be appropriate in another zone. The agency then seeks a reasonable accommodation to permit the use within the zone, notwithstanding the provisions of the code and their inability to meet the criteria for a use variance under state and local zoning law.

The planning and zoning board must then be prepared to evaluate the petition for a permit on the basis of the three criteria for a reasonable accommodation. The cases are clear that such challenges can be made and litigated (imposing time and costs) and less clear on when and if the use accommodations are required.

Disability Law
Professor Robin Paul Malloy’s new book—
Disability Law for Property, Land Use, and Zoning Lawyers (ABA, 2020)–explains how to navigate one of the fastest growing areas of concern for local governments: the intersection of disability law with land development, planning, and regulation. Learn more in our Faculty Books section.


Third and finally, consider another use accommodation request. In a single-family residential zone with home lots of one to one-and-a-half acres, only domestic pets are permitted. 

Farm animals are specifically excluded. One property owner generates complaints because she has recently purchased a miniature horse as a service animal for her young daughter. Her daughter has difficulty with her balance and with walking. The miniature horse has been trained to walk with the young girl so that she can lean on the horse for stability and balance. Working with the horse, she is able to walk in her backyard and obtain much needed exercise. Neighbors complain to the city about the presence of the horse and all that goes with housing a horse on a one-acre residential urban lot.

In this situation, a miniature horse—just like a service dog—is specifically covered by the ADA as a service animal. If the miniature horse is trained to provide the assistance, is controllable by the owner, and poses no danger to others, it will be permitted to be on the property.

For this case, the local planning and zoning board will need to make findings as to the qualification of the miniature horse in terms of training, being under the control of the owner, and posing no harm to others. Part of the posing no harm determination will include looking at the steps taken to ensure sanitary conditions on the property.

If the service animal criteria are met, the property owner will be entitled to maintain the miniature horse on the property under both the ADA and  FHA.


As this essay illustrates, local planning and zoning officials need to be knowledgeable about our federal disability laws and account for them in their practices. Adjusting for accommodations can be disruptive to the process of planning, but it is sometimes necessary to ensure the protection of the rights of people with disabilities.

There are, of course, many more issues than these involved at the intersection of land use law and disability. For example, lawyers need to determine who is a protected person under each of the various disability laws, and they must assess standing, particularly in situations of third-party standing in bringing a lawsuit on behalf of clients who may be protected persons under these acts.

In addition, special rules apply to historic buildings and historic preservation districts, and additional regulations apply to places of public accommodation and to private land restrictions operating in such settings as residential subdivisions and condominiums.

Lawyers must also classify and define such concepts as:

  • New construction
  • Alterations
  • Programs, services, and activities of state and local government
  • Facilities
  • Reasonable accommodations/modifications
  • Accessible to the maximum extent possible
  • Structural impracticability 
  • Readily achievable
  • Undue administrative and financial burden

My research, writing, and teaching cover each of these areas at the intersection of land use law and disability, and I believe strongly that the ability to handle these issues is essential to the future practice of property and land use law.

At the College of Law, I educate property development and land use students to navigate disability law. The next step for legal education is to build out the capacity for educating and training all future property, land use, and zoning lawyers, so that as a profession we can effectively represent local governments and the people protected by our disability laws.

By the Numbers

Dean’s Message

An Inflection Point

Dean Craig M. Boise
Dean Craig M. Boise

The 2019-2020 academic year was destined to be momentous:  January 1 began our 125th anniversary year. Throughout this issue of the Yearbook, you’ll find visual and descriptive milestones of our proud history—achieved in no small part by you, our alumni.

But 2020 also will be remembered as a year marked by tumultuous events. It has been said, with little irony, that this year has combined the worldwide pandemic of 1918, the Great Crash of 1929, and the civil unrest of 1968. As I write, I see our nation at an inflection point, marked by an ongoing public health crisis and the economic devastation it has caused, as well as continued senseless violence directed at Black people and other people of color, to which citizens around the globe are reacting with anger.

The end of our academic year unfolded against this backdrop.  

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dineen  Hall was shuttered to all but a handful of staff, and our residential  students pivoted to online learning. Reflecting on this transition, 

I appreciate how much easier it was because of the strategic investment we have made in online learning over the past four years. In fact, as our faculty helped to advise and train faculty from other  law schools, our reputation as a successful pioneer in online education further solidified. 

The silver lining of the disruption caused by COVID-19 was the opportunity to observe how the entire College of Law community pulled together with characteristic resilience, adaptivity, and creativity. Examples of how faculty, students, and alumni rose to the moment can be found throughout this magazine and especially in our COVID-19 round-up on p10.

As has been typical over its long history, the College’s mainstay—our Law Library—was exemplary in the way it adapted to the sudden online learning environment. Expanding on our faculty’s efforts with robust online resources and assistance is just the latest example of the library’s decades-long commitment to service, a history we review here. Read it with pride, remembering your own relationship to the library, and enjoy a personal reflection by Director Jan Fleckenstein L'11.

Despite being physically apart, our community came together in force to celebrate online the myriad accomplishments of our advocacy, externship, and clinical programs in 2019-2020. 

Our faculty’s scholarship—visible and groundbreaking—was influential throughout the year and continued remotely in spring:  An extensive list of new books, articles, and media appearances begins on p54.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of historic civil rights legislation for the Disabled community—the Americans with Disabilities Act. Our College is a world leader in disability law and policy, and in this Yearbook we describe how the Burton Blatt Institute and Disability Law and Policy Program—which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year—have been central to national and international efforts toward the inclusion of people with disabilities. 

This magazine observation of the ADA@30 begins with our cover story, in which Professor Robin Paul Malloy investigates the evolving and complex intersection of disability law and land use planning and zoning. I hope that Professor Malloy’s scholarship is of practical interest to you. 

The success of the ADA at home and as a model abroad illustrates how the law can change lives and society for the better. Mass protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing in May, calls for police reform, and recognition of the suffering of our African American population have led to sweeping police reforms signed into New York State law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in early June. These reforms are also examples of law’s immense power, power that we teach our students to wield with precise care and a sense of justice for all citizens. 

As a former Kansas City, MO, police officer and a former commissioner on the Cleveland, OH, Community Police Commission—and as a lawyer and a father—I care deeply about building positive community/police relations. As our nation reflects on this historic time, I pledge to continue to educate a diverse and inclusive body of students to be caring and professional advocates and to do our part to ensure the long overdue achievement of equal justice under the law, once and for all. Your support in this important endeavor is critical—always—and deeply appreciated. 

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law

The College of Law at 125: A Tradition of Innovation

What the College of Law’s Founding Committee—Syracuse University Chancellor Alexander Winchell, Judge George Comstock, and Judge Charles Andrews—wrote in their Statement of Purpose still holds strong today:

“Syracuse is a peculiarly favorable point for the establishment of a School of Law, since, besides being a large and enterprising city, it is the site of one of the largest law libraries in the country … [and] the school would be immediately gifted with all the prestige of a great University.”

One hundred and twenty-five years later, we can thank the committee and other pioneers for the strong foundation they laid. 

COVID-19: Support for Our Students

A Special Message from Dean Boise

Dear College of Law Alumni Family,

I hope this note finds all of you and yours well during this unprecedented public health crisis.

Today, Dineen Hall is eerily quiet. There are no students, faculty, or staff in the building, but for three of us deemed essential. As unfamiliar as this situation is, I know that wherever they are, our always-resilient students, faculty, and staff are rising to the occasion. Thanks to our faculty’s familiarity with online learning, the College of Law was ready for our rapid pivot to distance education.

Our residential students are now online, learning and engaging in classrooms and meeting rooms, planning annual spring banquets on Zoom, representing clients in our clinics, adding a new dimension to their externships by working remotely, supporting our faculty whose contributions to the national dialogue on the crisis are making the headlines, and supporting one another virtually.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 has displaced students and created deep and unforeseen financial hardships—and new student needs continue to emerge every day. For example, the mandated closure of the Law Library has meant that many students don’t have the ability to print documents they need for class or to acquire necessary books and other materials. Whether as a result of bar examination deferrals, job market shifts, medical expenses, family care, or social distancing mandates, our students are facing unprecedented financial burdens.

Even as we have been working to help them meet the challenges they face, safeguard their wellness, and ensure their academic success, many of you have asked how you can support our students during this difficult time.

I am deeply moved by your concern for our students because I know that you also are coping with the impacts of this virus.

In response to your outreach, we have decided that while our students are weathering this crisis, we will use gifts from the Law Annual Fund to support them in this time of need. 

To make a gift to the Law Annual Fund, click here.

With your support of this fund, we can assist students with their most immediate needs and help them access the basic tools that are the foundation for student success.

With the resources you share, we’ll make sure they have the hardware, the internet access, and the connectivity they need to continue their studies, work with student organizations, and interact with their loved ones.

I understand that not all in our alumni family are in a position to help at this time. COVID-19 knows no boundaries, and many of you are experiencing serious difficulties as well. Our thoughts are with you. Know that we and our students are deeply appreciative of whatever gift you can provide.

I am profoundly grateful to alumni, parents, friends, and other supporters who in an unprecedented time of disruption have asked how they can help others, even as they grapple with the impacts of this crisis in their own lives.

I wish you and yours continued good health and optimism.

Best regards,

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law

Accesslex Institute Distributes $5m In Student Emergency Funding

The College of Law is one of AccessLex Institute’s partner law schools. AccessLex recently announced the creation and distribution of a $5 million Law Student Emergency Relief Program that will provide direct resources to law students in need of emergency funds during this global crisis.

As part of our partnership, AccessLex will donate up to $25,000 to Syracuse University College of Law for this purpose. This funding will be combined with other available resources in the Law Annual Fund to provide meaningful and much-needed emergency support to College of Law students.

Our Back Pages

Do You Remember? Help Us Caption Our Mystery Photos!

The College of Law’s photo archive is a fascinating visual history of your alma mater, full of nostalgia, anecdotes—and a few mysteries. That is, some of our prints and slides lack information or captions.

That’s where you come in. In this feature, we challenge you to help us recall the people and scenes in our mystery photos.

This time, we honor Professor Peter Bell, seated at center, who retired from teaching in December 2019. This photo appears to have been taken in one of Professor Bell’s classes, but there is no other information included with the photo.

If you know when this photo was taken, what class is pictured, or any of the students in the photo, please email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@law.syr.edu, and we’ll publish what we discover in a future issue.

Back to the Nineties

Erika Barnes Holliday L’93 helped identify the mystery photo from the 2019 Giving Book: “I think the young woman three rows back on the right with glasses and a lot of curly black hair is my first-year roommate, Jayne Turner L’93, so this photo was taken between 1990 and 1993.” Thank you, Erika!

Please let us know if you recognize anyone else in this photo, or you know which class is pictured.

Lawyers in Love

Eric Klee L’97 & Jennifer Klee L’98

Jennifer Klee L’98 & Eric Klee L’97
Jennifer Klee L’98 & Eric Klee L’97

When one reminisces about their first day of school, they’re likely flooded with memories of meeting new people, learning new names, finding classrooms, and undertaking their first assignments.

However, when one alum looks back on her first day in White and MacNaughton halls, a special memory comes to mind: meeting her husband.

Jennifer and Eric Klee met on the law school’s third floor. Jennifer, a new student, was assigned the orientation group that Eric led as a 2L. The two became close as they discovered what they shared in common, not just a passion for the law but childhoods spent on Long Island. Eric graduated in 1997, Jennifer followed in 1998, and the two wed that August. Now, the Syracuse-made couple resides in the Westchester County community of Somers, NY, with their two daughters—Alyssa and Sammy—and their dog, Brody.

Together as a couple for more than 20 years, Jennifer and Eric practice in different areas of law. Eric’s background is in consumer and business law, with expertise in mergers and acquisitions, securities, and corporate governance. He is Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at American Media LLC, a New York-based publishing company specializing in news and entertainment publications, including Men’s Fitness, The National Enquirer, OK!, and Star. As head of the legal team, Eric’s role includes branding, trademark, and copyright issues.

Jennifer’s practice, on the other hand, has included work with the New York City Law Department and with law firms specializing in insurance defense and real estate. Now a stay-at-home mom, Jennifer’s interest in the law is undiminished. “Eric and I have this common history and bond, along with shared experiences,” Jennifer explains. “Even though we practice different areas of the law, we are both attorneys, so we can always relate to each other.”

Whether it be understanding the pressures and demands that lawyers endure, or picking each other’s brains on legal issues, the Klees believe their shared background in law makes their personal bond that much stronger.

The couple’s favorite relationship quote is “Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.” The Klees' relationship has had no shortage of those moments, thanks to that fateful day back at their alma mater!

Patrick Kennell L’02 & Dawn Krigstin L’03

Patrick Kennell L’02 & Dawn Krigstin L’03
Patrick Kennell L’02 & Dawn Krigstin L’03
Since the mid-1980s, the College of Law has been home to countless trial practice classes taught by Adjunct Professor Donald J. Martin L’68, Principal of The Donald J. Martin Law Firm PC.

For two alums, one particular class stood out from the rest: It was where a future husband and wife met.

Patrick Kennell and Dawn Krigstin joined Professor Martin’s trial practice class in fall 2001. The rest, as they say, is history. The two spent the remainder of law school together, and they look back upon their law school experiences with fond memories.

One particular memory stands out to the couple—meeting in New York City for the first time when Patrick was on the school’s trial team. Little did the couple know at the time that the city would be their future home.

Patrick and Dawn say their relationship is stronger thanks to their Syracuse bond. “Syracuse means a lot to our marriage, and our shared connection with the College has kept us very involved with our alma mater,” Dawn explains. “We visit it more frequently than our friends, and we have turned one of our sons into a diehard Orange fan!”

Beyond their love for all things Orange, Patrick and Dawn say that learning their profession in Syracuse has given them a deep appreciation and respect for each other. “We speak the same language, we argue well, and we even use our negotiation skills on our kids,” Dawn observes. “Our kids have learned so much. They now think like lawyers and out-negotiate us!”

The children the couple speaks of are 12-yearold Gabe and 9-year-old Teddy, who it appears may have a future at the College of Law like their parents. The family—which includes puppy Leah—live in lower Manhattan, where Patrick is a partner at Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck LLP, whose headquarters are close to Wall Street. At Kaufman, Patrick is Co-Chair of the Insurance Coverage and Litigation Practice Group, and he represents US and UK market insurers in professional negligence, breach of contract, fraud, conspiracy, and other cases.

Dawn runs her own business. As CEO of Envoy Specialty—a company she founded three years ago—she handles specialty claims for a wide variety of policies, including commercial general liability, environmental liability, professional liability, and contractor’s pollution insurance. In addition to her work at Envoy, Dawn is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Development School for the Youth, a nonprofit educational organization.

As a couple, Dawn and Patrick have one simple piece of advice for their children, fellow lawyers, and couples alike: “Be kind.” Although this advice may seem simple, they say you never know where kindness may lead you—perhaps even to falling in love in your trial practice class!

Syracuse Graduates Find a Home in New Jersey

The Hon. Rodney Thompson L’93 Builds a Tradition of Hiring Orange Law Clerks

Front Row (l to r): William Gould L’19 and Tanner Kingston L’19. Back Row (l to r): Athena Pantelopoulos L’19, Isaac Signorelli ’20, Judge Thompson, and Luke Edmondson ’19.
Front Row (l to r): William Gould L’19 and Tanner
Kingston L’19. Back Row (l to r): Athena
Pantelopoulos L’19, Isaac Signorelli ’20,
Judge Thompson, and Luke Edmondson ’19.

The Hon. Rodney Thompson L’93, G’93 graduated in 1993 with a J.D. from the College of Law and a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, both of which he earned while on a full tuition scholarship. Now a New Jersey Superior Court Judge, Thompson grew up in Trenton, NJ, and pursued a legal education so he could give back to the community that raised him.

“Most of the people I grew up with—people who look like me—were good, honest, hard-working folks,” says Judge Thompson. “It was often difficult, however, to locate an attorney who was from where you were from and who understood your circumstances. I just really wanted to help my community.”

“I needed a law clerk—a Syracuse law clerk.” 

That spirit of service and giving back extends to graduates of Judge Thompson’s alma mater, who have assisted him since his elevation to the Superior Court. Thompson’s gubernatorial appointment to the Superior Court was confirmed in November 2016. Judicial clerks usually start their clerkships the last week of August, so Thompson was worried.

“I knew I needed a law clerk, and I wanted it to be a Syracuse law graduate,” he says. Thompson called his College of Law contact and friend, Director of Development Melissa Cassidy, and she immediately thought of Anna Maria Castillo L’16. A perfect match for the position, Castillo started in November 2016 and served until 2018. “She did very well, and she took over at an extraordinarily challenging time,” Thompson recalls. “She had to jump into a very difficult docket, and she did an outstanding, phenomenal job. After Anna, it was a wrap.” Judge Thompson decided he would only look to Syracuse for his clerks moving forward.

Since Castillo, a number of Syracuse graduates have worked for Judge Thompson. Lishayne King L’18 was his second clerk, and Ursula Simmons L’19 served as an extern in his chambers. William Gould L’19 is his third and current clerk, while Isaac Signorelli L’20 started a nine-month externship last September. Omar Mosqueda L’20 is set to become his fourth clerk in August 2020.

“They all liked her.”

Castillo got to know the other family court judges, and her relationships and job performance continue to benefit College of Law students and graduates. “They all liked her and appreciated her work ethic,” Thompson says, “Anna was the perfect clerk. She was tough. She was smart. I could depend on her to work independently, including day-to-day assignments, drafting opinions, and dealing with court staff, attorneys and stakeholders. She also had excellent sports IQ.”

Thompson says he travels to Syracuse every September for the College’s annual Law Alumni Weekend and interviews an average of 10 students during his visit. He can only hire one clerk, but he distributes the information he acquires on other quality candidates to his colleagues. “Students get hired partly based on my recommendations, but partly based on the fact that my judicial colleagues knew Anna,” Thompson says.

To date, three other Syracuse graduates have been hired at the Mercer County Courthouse because of Judge Thompson’s recommendations. Current clerk William Gould says by hiring Syracuse graduates, Thompson has demonstrated to his colleagues that Syracuse graduates “have a strong work ethic, are critical thinkers, and are effective communicators.”

“Nothing is ever too serious.”

Castillo says clerking for Thompson was one of the best experiences she has had. “Walking into his chambers is like walking into your father’s living room. Nothing is ever too serious. He is very relaxed, which made for a good work environment.”

On Castillo’s last day, Thompson called her into his office, Castillo recalls, “It was like a family goodbye, like ‘talk to you later.’” Gould describes Thompson in the same terms, “as a well-liked and down-to-earth person” making Gould feel like part of the team.

Thompson takes the time to mentor his clerks. “I encourage them and take them to various bar association functions so they can make connections. I see it as my responsibility to mentor clerks, to get them out into the legal profession.” Gould says that the opportunity for mentorship is why he took the position with Thompson. “I appreciated the chance to learn from Judge Thompson about what attributes make an attorney effective” he observes.

“I couldn’t be prouder.”

Castillo is currently an appellate attorney at the US Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC. The high workload and outputs of Thompson’s docket prepared Castillo for her current position. “He provided me with the type of independence I need here,” she says. “I was not micromanaged, and that sort of independence to address a problem on my own really helps me in this job.”

Gould adds, “Judge Thompson has a demanding docket of cases, and each day presents a different challenge that I must work through. However, from day one, he has offered his advice and support.”

Thompson says he feels that Syracuse uniquely prepares graduates for clerkships because of the strong legal writing and research curriculum. “Most of the students I interview participate in some sort of law journal. Many of my clerks have also participated in one of the College’s legal clinics or externships and therefore bring valuable real-world experiences on day one,” Thompson explains.

Thompson, Castillo, and Gould emphasize the need for excellent writing, communication, and interpersonal skills for law clerks, as well as being calm under pressure. “Dean Boise and the current leadership team are moving the College in the right direction, preparing lawyers for the future,” Thompson notes. “I couldn’t be prouder of my Syracuse education.”

Lishayne King L’18, Anna Castillo L ’16, and Ursula Simmons L’19 with Judge Thompson.
Lishayne King L’18, Anna Castillo L ’16, and Ursula Simmons L’19 with Judge Thompson.

A Family Legacy That Spans a Century

Sarah Shepp L’19
Sarah Shepp L’19

Syracuse University was a major part of Sarah Shepp L’19’s childhood in Allendale, NJ, situated close to the New York state border. She recalled family gatherings to watch Syracuse games as a child when she and her cousin would wear cheerleading outfits and root for the Orange.

“Syracuse was always an important place for our family,” Shepp says. She is keenly aware of following in the footsteps of her family members who have attended Syracuse for undergraduate study, and for a law degree from the College of Law.

Family Tradition

The family tradition began with Sarah’s great-grandfather Walter Rose, who attended Syracuse on an athletic scholarship. Rose lettered in cross country and graduated in 1919. Rose then graduated from the College of Law in 1922. He went on to take over his father’s furniture store, Joseph Rose & Sons, which was originally located in Manhattan and then relocated to Astoria, Queens.

Rose continued to support the Orange and attended homecoming games up until he was 99 years old. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 101, when Shepp was 4 years old. Walter Rose was not Shepp’s only family member to attend Syracuse, however. On her maternal great-grandmother’s side, Shepp had two great uncles who graduated from Syracuse: Bill Gold who graduated from the College of Law in 1922, the same year as Walter, and Abe Gold, whose graduation date is unknown. Bill introduced Walter to his sister Rose Gold who later became Walter’s wife. Walter and Rose were married for over 60 years.

Loyalty & Service

The Shepp Family
The Shepp Family

Walter had two sons, Martin and Stanley Rose. Stanley studied business and graduated in 1952, and Martin studied communications and graduated in 1967. Bill and Abe Gold’s nephew Barton Stein graduated from Syracuse University in 1960. Shepp’s uncle Kenneth Reichner graduated in 1984, and Shepp’s cousin—and Walter Rose’s grandson—Gordon Rose graduated from the College of Law in 1993.

Walter, Stanley, Martin, and Kenneth were all active in the Sigma Alpha Mu (Sammy) fraternity at Syracuse, and there is a Sammy scholarship named after Walter. In 1990, Walter received the Melvin A. Eggers Senior Alumni Award, which honors alumni whose leadership and service to society have been joined with loyalty and service to the University.

For Shepp, Syracuse University has been a family tradition for four generations, and the tradition is set to continue. Shepp currently has a second cousin, Margaret Rose, who is a freshman at Syracuse in the honors program majoring in Public Health. Margaret is the great-granddaughter of Walter Rose, the granddaughter of Stanley Rose, and the daughter of Gordon Rose. That makes 10 Syracuse University connections in her family.

Continue the Legacy

Shepp says she pursued a legal education in order to advocate for individuals and to help people with complex issues in their time of need. The College of Law seemed the supportive, collaborative environment that Shepp was looking for, and she found that the professors wanted their students to succeed.

“To top all that off with this family history, it just seemed appropriate for me to go to Syracuse and continue the legacy,” she explains, praising the quality of the legal education she received at Syracuse.

Currently, Shepp works as a law clerk for the Hon. Alan G. Lesnewich, J.S.C., a civil division judge in Union County, NJ. She passed the New Jersey bar exam and works on a variety of civil cases, from contract disputes to personal injury litigation.

Walter Rose L'1919
Walter Rose L'1922

Shepp is interested in insurance defense, medical malpractice defense, and product liability, and she hopes to pursue that work in the future. She notes that her education at Syracuse prepared her for her current position thanks to opportunities such as the Hancock Estabrook 1L Oral Advocacy Competition, the Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition, and the Bond, Schoeneck & King Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition, as well as her service as the Associate Editor of the Journal of International Law and Commerce. Her article “Priceless Kidney: The Ineffectiveness of Organ Trafficking Legislation” was published in the Spring 2019 edition.

When reflecting on her family’s Orange history, Shepp says, “I hope I made Walter Rose proud. It’s really nice to be involved in a profession that so many of my relatives chose for themselves.” Before she arrived in Syracuse, she imagined being on the same campus they lived on decades before her and reading the same legal cases that they did. Reflecting on what it felt to be at the College, and reading those cases, she says, “It’s been a blessing and an incredible experience.”

Home Away from Home

Michelle Rafenomanjato LL.M.’19 is Building Her IP Career on Her Syracuse Training—And Missing the Snow!

Michelle Rafenomanjato LL.M.’19
Michelle Rafenomanjato LL.M.’19
It’s a long, long way from Madagascar to Syracuse, NY, but intellectual property lawyer Noro Michelle Rafenomanjato LL.M. ’19 is living proof—both in her cosmopolitan education and her burgeoning internationally focused career— that in a global economy, distance is just another number.

Since graduating from Syracuse—where she pursued a master of laws degree as a Fulbright scholar—Michelle has been appointed Director of the Intellectual Property (IP) Department of Madagascar Conseil International (MCI). A Malagasy law firm founded in 1999, MCI advises international clients on legal and tax strategies when doing business in the French-speaking island nation.

“The work I perform is diverse: clearance searches, drafting and filing applications, IP due diligence, and legal advice on trademarks, designs, and patents,” explains Rafenomanjato, who also holds a master’s in public international law from Versailles University, France, and a Ph.D. in international law from Zhongnan University, China. “I also attend international conferences, the most recent one being the January 2020 Innovation & IP Forum and Awards in Paris.”

In addition to being in charge of the IP department, Rafenomanjato works with the rest of her team on business law-related issues—such as arbitration and contracts—and, given her language skills, on cases involving English-speaking clients.

How has your training at the College of Law helped you in your position at MCI?

My training has helped me deepen my knowledge of IP law, and it complements the legal training I did in France and China. First, my courses—in legal writing, contracts, international business transactions, and business associations—provided me with a solid legal background in business law and legal English. As a lawyer working with international law firms and English-speaking clients, I now feel more confident communicating in English, both orally and in writing.

I also took IP and trademark courses with professors Shubha Ghosh and Howard Leib. I truly appreciate Professor Ghosh’s cross-cutting approach and his close-to-real-life assignments. Plus, I benefited from Professor Leib’s out-of-the- box thinking and practical tips from his 35 years of experience as a trademark attorney. Apart from the courses, conferences with IP practitioners organized by the Office of Career Services and the Intellectual Property Law Society were a unique opportunity to meet like-minded people and build a network of IP experts. This comes in handy as my firm’s IP department wants to increase collaborations.

How would you compare US and Malagasy law?

One difference lies in our respective legal systems. The United States is a common law country with a federal system, whereas Madagascar is a civil law country with a unitary system. Thus, the US has 51 legal systems— the federal system and the legal systems of 50 states—whereas Madagascar only has one legal system. Plus, unlike the US, Madagascar has courts that handle public law-related cases and courts that handle private law-related cases. Despite those differences, there are common legal concepts that are encountered in both legal systems: privity of contract, force majeure, and due process, to name a few.

What is your fondest memory of studying at the College of Law?

My fondest memory was an event called the United Nations of Food. Inspired by an eponymous website, the event was initiated by Aili Obandja LL.M.’19, our class senator, and organized by LL.M. students. Each student brought typical foods from his or her country. I brought rice, greens stew, beef strips (kitoza) and peanut sauce (rougail). Our senator made a flag for each country, which made each student beam with pride. Professors and J.D. students also attended. It was an original way to celebrate our differences, share our uniqueness, and allow people to discover new cultures.

What do you miss most about Central New York?

Although this may sound cliché, I miss the snow. Since we do not have snow in Madagascar, it was always mesmerizing to watch it fall and to admire the already breathtaking campus covered with a white blanket. Living in a snow globe for six months was an unforgettable experience. I also miss Christmas in Skaneateles, NY—a snowy village, with people dressing as characters from A Christmas Carol.

What advice do you have for a foreign lawyer who wishes to study the law in the United States?

Studying in a language different from yours, in a country with a culture different from yours, or in a country with a legal system that is different from yours can be quite daunting and perhaps disorienting at times. Preparation is key. The more prepared you are, the better. Before you leave, gather as much information as you can about academic and non-academic expectations and requirements.

Once you are in the United States, build and rely upon a strong support network, including administrative and teaching staff, classmates, and associations. I counted on Assistant Dean of International Programs Andrew Horsfall L’10 and International Programs Academic Coordinator Kate Shannon, my family and friends, my classmates, the Fulbright family, Orange Orators members, the Success Saturday team, MCI colleagues, as well as the US Embassy in Madagascar. This support network made Syracuse and the US feel like home, and I must acknowledge that those people played a tremendous role in helping me adjust, succeed, and grow as a professional.

“Over the Years, I’ve Seen it all”

Brian Bauersfeld L’04 Brings Justice To The NYS Correctional System

Brian Bauersfeld L'04 (left) hooded his father Nelson L'14 at his Commencement ceremony.
Brian Bauersfeld L'04 (left) hooded his
father Nelson L'14 at his Commencement ceremony.
According to Brian N. Bauersfeld L’04, there is rarely anything routine about his job at the Auburn Correctional Facility in Auburn, NY. “Every day you might happen upon a new obstacle, and just when you think you’ve seen it all, you can get a shock!”

Bauersfeld is one of a new generation of lawyers working inside the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision as a commissioner’s hearing officer. His task is to ensure that prisoner discipline is performed professionally and justly.

“Hearing officers preside over disciplinary hearings of inmates who have violated the prison’s internal rules,” says Bauersfeld, explaining that inmates must abide by a rule book they receive when they enter the prison.

Although prison officials from various departments may preside over a disciplinary hearing—a deputy superintendent, say, or an education supervisor—in the early 1980s, New York State pledged to hire more trained lawyers to act as hearing officers in order to bring more expertise to the work.

As an experienced attorney, Bauersfeld conducts some of the more difficult cases, and not just at Auburn. “Occasionally, I go on the road to Sing Sing, Attica, Clinton, and Great Meadow.”

Typically, a prisoner accused of violating rules will be issued a misbehavior report. “That acts as a charging report,” explains Bauersfeld. “Then, in the hearing, I act as prosecutor, defense advocate, and judge. I must remain fair and impartial, holding inmates accountable yet keeping their limited due process rights intact.”

Infractions Bauersfeld encounters can be as simple as a refusal to follow orders “all the way up to assaults on an officer and even one inmate beating another to death,” he says. “Over the years, I’ve seen it all. Nothing is ever routine, and every day is different.”

On the other hand, explains Bauersfeld, there are strict rules against taking casework beyond the facility’s walls, so his is an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. job. “That helps me recharge my batteries.”

How did Bauersfeld’s legal training qualify him to be a hearing officer? “I pretty much checked every box when it came to preparing for this career, doing defense, appellate, and prosecutorial work,” he says. “Given my career trajectory, I encourage students to embrace law school for everything it can offer. Pigeon-holing yourself can be a disservice.”

Bauersfeld was on a financial career path at first, working for Morgan Stanley after receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. That was until a colleague suggested that the law might be a better fit for him. At Syracuse, he enjoyed courses in contracts and business law, and—after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks—he embraced national security law, becoming one of the first students to earn a Certificate of Advanced Study in National Security and Counterterrorism.

“Because of the ‘all-in-one’ nature of my current role—prosecutor, advocate, and judge—I’d have to say that everything in law school prepared me,” adds Bauersfeld. “When I write dispositions, for instance, I recall Professor Richard Risman’s legal writing course. I have to remember the importance of audience, although my audience is a prison inmate!”

Bauersfeld adds that he also must be mindful of the appeals process and make a complete record of the hearing and evidence. “So my training in criminal procedure and rules of evidence comes into play.”

After law school, he worked for McMahon & Grow in Rome, NY, practicing corporate and business law, as well as criminal defense work. Bauerfield subsequently opened his own defense practice in Auburn and acted as an assigned counsel throughout Cayuga County. This work put him into contact—albeit across the table—with the Cayuga County District Attorney, and soon he was working inside the busy DA’s office. “I was there for almost seven years, working on every type of case—financial crimes, drug cases, and felonies—in 26 city, town, and village courts.”

A contact in Auburn encouraged Bauersfeld to apply for the commissioner’s hearing officer job, citing the state's need for more lawyers to work within the prison system. Today, he is among 16 hearing officers across 52 facilities whose background, experience, and skills are bringing more rigor and integrity to prison discipline.

“We are invested in rehabilitating prisoners, so they must trust that the system is going to work for them," explains Bauersfeld. "Therefore, prisoners must be treated fairly, their version of the story must be heard, the process must be impartial, and appropriate penalties must be given.”

Like Son, Like Father

According to Nelson Bauersfeld L’14, if he and his son Brian L’04 ever go into practice together, they’ll have to call the firm Bauersfeld & Father. That's because, in this twist of the typical legacy story, Brian got his degree first, followed by Nelson 10 years later.

Readers who attended Syracuse between 2011 and 2014 will recall Nelson, a retired school administrator who always went to class in a shirt and tie and who helped found the Veterans Issues, Support Initiative, and Outreach Network (VISION).

In a May 2014 Syracuse Post-Standard profile, Nelson recalled that a speech by Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps inspired him “to do something crazy” and “find a way to give back.” That led to his 10-year plan: get a law degree and then use it to provide pro bono assistance for veterans and others. Nelson received his law degree—Brian hooded his father at graduation—but what about the rest of the plan?

“Since graduating, my wife, Barbara, and I moved to The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida,” says Nelson. There—in addition to typical retirement activities such as playing cards, golfing, and traveling—Nelson helps community members with their legal needs. “I do wills and trusts, advocate for people who believed they have been scammed, help military veterans secure benefits, and represent them in appeals.”

Nelson says his goal was to never make a dollar practicing law— “and I’ve succeeded!” he exclaims. “I’m very satisfied, except when paying off my student loans, but I am paying them off and enjoying my time.”

Says Brian of his father: “He’s living the dream—I’m absolutely proud of him. He’s still the smartest man I know.”

That pride is mutual, says Nelson, although it's not without a hint of friendly family competition. “My goal at law school was to get a slightly higher GPA than Brian’s, yet he tells me he can’t remember his GPA!”

Justice Served: More than 100 Years in the Making

William Herbert Johnson L'1901
William Herbert Johnson L'1901

The Onondaga County courtroom was packed. Standing room only. Voices cracked. Tears flowed. The justices of the appellate division were about to hand down a decision that would make history. As Presiding Justice Gerald Whalen, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, proclaimed: “We are going to right that wrong in the only way we can.”

“That wrong” involved the first African American graduate of Syracuse University’s College of Law. William Herbert Johnson L'1903 excelled in his studies. He passed his bar exam, but he was denied admission to the New York State Bar. “The challenge facing him was the character and fitness part of the bar admission process,” explains Dean Boise. “Admission to the bar required references, and white lawyers were unwilling to sign a statement confirming the good character and fitness of black graduates.”

Hearing the judges speak of such blatant racism and injustice was “overwhelming” for William Johnson’s grandson Tom Johnson, who, together with his brothers Calvin and Donald and cousin Dorothy Jefferson, had submitted affidavits to the court in support of their grandfather’s posthumous admission to the bar. “During his lifetime, lawyers in the community sought his legal opinion on cases,” says Tom Johnson. “If he was good enough to assist them with their cases, why didn’t they have the intestinal fortitude to write those character references he needed to practice?”

According to Paula C. Johnson (no relation), Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative, William Johnson expressed his disappointment to his family. Professor Johnson writes in a 2005 article in the Syracuse Law Review: “William Johnson once remarked to his grandson Calvin, ‘I may not be able to do this now, but there are others who are going to do these types of things.’”

Those “others” were indeed instrumental in “righting the wrong” more than a century later. Black alumni of the College of Law, members of The Syracuse Black Law Alumni Collective (Syracuse BLAC), petitioned the court for the posthumous admission. The New York Court of Appeals granted the application. “The ceremony held in Onondaga County Court (on Oct. 18) was a historical display of community unity and commitment to justice,” says Felicia Collins Ocumarez L’98, G’98, co-founder of Syracuse BLAC. “We are committed to the Syracuse community and contributing to a positive narrative of hope and new beginnings.”

Though denied admission to the bar more than a century ago, Johnson found ways to use his legal acumen to help others. Though his official job was as a mail room clerk for the New York Fire Insurance Rating Organization, an underwriting firm, he remained active in legal circles, doing research for some of his white classmates. He offered legal guidance informally to many who sought his counsel, was active in the Syracuse community advocating for fair treatment of black residents in housing and financial matters, and helped clear the way for African Americans to be employed in law enforcement and firefighting.

William Johnson persevered. By his death in 1965, at age 90, he was a Syracuse legend who fought to right wrongs in the town he loved. Despite its history of anti-slavery activism and as a stop on the Underground Railroad, Syracuse was not a city where blacks could easily break through into the professional ranks. They worked mostly in manual labor or service industries. Johnson was born in Syracuse in 1875, went to Boston University, served in the Spanish- American War of 1898, and returned home to Syracuse to marry Katherine Simmons. When he got a job working as a clerk in a law firm, his passion for the law was ignited.

Syracuse nurtures a similar passion in Professor Johnson, whose writings and advocacy helped keep the William Johnson story alive. “I do this work as a matter of legal theory,” she explains. “But it is also about uncovering the important history that is here in Syracuse. Harriet Tubman lived her final days nearby in Auburn. Abolitionists did their work here. The suffragist movement found a home not far from here in Seneca Falls. There’s a rich history that we must not forget. William Johnson is part of that history as a trailblazer.”

Professor Johnson points to examples of the living legacy left by the trailblazer. The minority bar association of Central New York was named the William Herbert Johnson Bar Association in his honor. The Syracuse University Black Law Students Association (BLSA) presents the William H. Johnson Legacy Award to a distinguished alumnus during Law Alumni Weekend at the Alumni of Color Reception. The College of Law provides to a woman of color in the graduating class an award for outstanding achievement, jointly named for William Johnson and Bessie Seeley, a suffragist and the only woman in a class of 64 men.

Kristian Walker is the graduate who received the 2019 Seeley-Johnson Award. “His perseverance built a foundation for many African American students to pursue their dreams of law school. And the injustice he faced taught us that mastering law school courses is only part of the battle,” Walker says. “He taught us that it is what we do with the knowledge we gained after we leave the halls of the college that creates change. I think honoring William Herbert Johnson will shed light on his very important story and be a step in the right direction of rectifying injustices. I also hope it brings awareness to the fact that it took 116 years to right this wrong, yet in 2019 racial injustices are still very prevalent.”

“The fact is that the legal profession remains one of the least diverse of all professions today,” notes Dean Boise. “We have many more African American students pursuing a law degree, and the number of black associates at law firms has certainly increased. But we are not well represented at the partner levels of law firms and in leadership roles. I am hoping that by bringing greater awareness to what happened to one of our graduates in 1903, we are shining a spotlight on a problem still facing the graduates of today.”

In the days following William Herbert Johnson’s posthumous admission to the bar, his grandsons reflected on what had become far more than a family campaign to give their grandfather the validation he so deserved.

“I was talking with my brother Don, and he told me, ‘Tom, do you realize that we were a part of history being made?’” Tom Johnson says.

Their grandfather had, indeed, blazed a trail for others. His descendants, with the support of so many others, had made that trail easier to follow.

Tom Johnson, Don Johnson and Calvin Johnson, grandsons of William Herbert Johnson L’1903, with College of Law Professor Paula Johnson (no relation) at the Onondaga County Courthouse following the ceremony in which William Johnson was admitted posthumously to the New York State Bar.
Tom Johnson, Don Johnson and Calvin Johnson, grandsons of
William Herbert Johnson L’1903, with College of Law Professor
Paula Johnson (no relation) at the Onondaga County Courthouse
following the ceremony in which William Johnson
was admitted posthumously to the New York State Bar.

The Write Stuff

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Elizabeth Strout L’82 Examines Law School’s Influence on Her Writing Career.

Elizabeth Strout L'82 Photo: Leonardo Cendamo
Elizabeth Strout L'82
Photo: Leonardo Cendamo

By her own admission, Elizabeth Strout did not do well in her legal writing class.

“I received a C+, and my teacher was never able to communicate to me what I was doing wrong. I found the conflict between legal writing and creative writing tremendously difficult, although I could never figure out why.”

That first-year setback was not an impediment to Strout’s law school or her writing career. Dropping out after her first year, she eventually returned to law school and graduated cum laude in 1982, “which still tickles me,” she says.

Amy and Isabelle (1998) was the beginning of Strout’s career as an acclaimed novelist, a career which to date includes seven works of fiction; a Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge (2008), and its adaptation into an Emmy Award-winning mini-series starring Frances McDormand; a Story Prize for Anything Is Possible (2017); and an Oprah’s Book Club pick for her latest novel, Olive, Again (2019).

Taking a Chance

Like the eponymous character of Olive Kitteridge, Strout is a native of Maine. Born in Portland, she grew up in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire. As an adolescent, she wrote avidly in notebooks and received her degree in English from Bates College in 1977. Two years later, she arrived in Syracuse.

“When I went to law school, I knew I wanted to be a fiction writer, but no one at that point was interested in my writing,” recalls Strout. “So I thought, I have a social conscience. I will be a lawyer during the day and write at night.” Strout admits—with some modesty—that her application was perhaps not the strongest Syracuse reviewed that year. “But I am grateful to Syracuse for taking a chance on me.”

Strout also admits that her lawyer-by-day/writer-by-night idea was a little “ill conceived." Nevertheless, she says, “going to Syracuse changed my life. For many years, I did not realize the extent of this truth, but time has gone by and many different dusts have settled, and I see how much the law school helped shape me as a person and a writer of fiction.”

Learning at Syracuse, continues Strout, “taught me to think differently. It helped strip me of that excessive emotion which I have always felt, an emotion that is necessary for a fiction writer but not one that should be brought to the page in all its sloppiness.”

Strout says she noticed herself thinking differently even after her first semester. “When I went home for break, I realized that friends and family—people who were intelligent—were somehow not thinking that well. They were thinking with emotions and not with solid thoughts.”

Eager to Do It

After graduation, Strout worked for a Syracuse legal services office. “I think I was not a good lawyer,” Strout admits. “I was in charge of the Developmentally Disabled Unit. I remember one client who fell asleep on a bench while an administrative law judge told me I had good legs, and then found against my client.”

Always the observant writer, Strout preferred doing office intakes. “I was eager to do it. It involved listening to people who had come in with any number of problems. My job was to figure out whether their problems were legal or not, and often they were not. Their stories were so meaningful to me! They spoke of not being able to pay their bills, having their electricity turned off, and things of that nature.”

Syracuse became close to Strout’s heart for another reason: her daughter was born in the city. “I met my first husband in Syracuse and had my daughter. But I was let go from my legal services job after about six months because of cuts, and then my husband, daughter, and I moved to New York City, where he had a clerkship.”

At that point—graduate degree in hand and some short stories published—Strout began teaching English at Manhattan Community College. Her class had a legal flavor: “The department chair allowed me to teach my composition class around the concept of criminal law.”

Many, Many Things

Strout taught at Manhattan for 13 years, leaving this vocation once she published her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, an “expansive and inventive” story of a teenage daughter’s alienation from a distant mother. The novel—which introduces readers to the fictional town of Shirley Falls—was a finalist for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award.

“After that, I wrote full time,” says Strout. “If I had not gone to Syracuse, I would never have ended up in New York City, and if I had not ended up there, I would never have been able to write as I have about New England. I needed that distance from it; the two cultures are stunningly different.”

Continues Strout, “There were times when I thought, ‘What was that all about?’ Meaning my short legal career. But it was about many, many things—mostly, it was about learning to think differently and the exposure it gave me to many different kinds of people.”

Although she does not write procedurals, Strout notes that her legal training has been useful for her novel writing, especially The Burgess Boys (2013), a story of two brothers from Shirley Falls: Jim, a corporate lawyer, and Bob, a legal aid attorney. “When I wrote The Burgess Boys, the legal aspects of the case the plot hinges on were clear to me only because I had gone to law school,” says Strout. “I was tremendously relieved when I realized how the case would unfold because it meant I could concentrate on understanding the Burgess family and the Somali community, both of which are crucial to the story.”

There’s one more advantage that a lawyer-turned-writer can count on: advocating for oneself when it comes to contracts. Strout explains: “When I was approached about movie rights for Olive Kitteridge, I took the contract to a fancy entertainment lawyer, thinking someone like that should look it over.”

Strout continues, “I paid him a great deal of money, and he had no objections. But after reading it, I realized I did. I didn’t want the stage rights to be deferred for five years, which the contract stipulated—so all by myself, I negotiated that with the other party.” “I learned how to negotiate in law school, and I loved that class,” says Strout. “What I remembered so clearly from it was this, ‘Know your bottom line and stick with it!’”

By Elizabeth Strout

Olive, Again (2019)
Oprah’s Book Club Pick

Anything Is Possible (2017)
The Story Prize

My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016)
Malaparte Prize

The Burgess Boys (2013)

Olive Kitteridge (2008)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Abide with Me (2006)

Amy and Isabelle (1998)
Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction


The profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Elizabeth Strout L’82 began with a central question that moved Strout to think about how her law school training influenced her writing career: To what extent does a background in law and legal writing help an author find success writing fiction? We posed the same question to three other alumni who have found success both as lawyers and writers. Like Strout, the question led to deep reflection— not surprising, given their love of the written word.

Ronald Goldfarb L’56

Ron Goldfarb L'56
Ron Goldfarb L'56
For Ronald Goldfarb, the law represents his education, while he describes writing as his “passion." “I never consider them distinct skills,” he says. “They are a natural combination, so when asked what I do, I answer in a trifecta: lawyer, author, literary agent.”

Goldfarb says his writing career began in earnest at the College of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review. It further developed at Yale Law School, where he collaborated with a criminal law professor on an article about contempt for a British journal. “That led to my master's and doctorate thesis on ’The Contempt Power.’ At New York University Law School, a Hays Fellowship allowed me to complete that manuscript, which Columbia University Press published while I was working at the Department of Justice.”

“Writing about law became an integral part of what I have done ever since, and still do,” explains Goldfarb. He wrote on legal subjects for The New Republic, and one cover story on bail reform led to a book offer from Harper and Row. More books on legal topics of national significance followed: Crime and Publicity: The Impact of News on the Administration of Justice (1967), written with The Washington Post Managing Editor Alfred Friendly; After Conviction: A Review of the American Correction System (Simon & Schuster, 1973), about prison reform; and Jails: The Ultimate Ghetto (Doubleday, 1975).

At the same time, Goldfarb’s career as a literary agent blossomed. “I was seen as a lawyer who knew about book contracts and publishing, so writer clients came to me. I also became counsel to the Washington Independent Writers (representing more than 2,000 freelance writers) and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, the national organization for teachers of writing.” Goldfarb turned teacher himself with Clear Understandings: A Guide to Legal Writing (1982), a project sponsored by the Association of State Trial Judges. He returned to legal subjects with Migrant Farm Workers: A Caste of Despair (Iowa State, 1981), written as a result of his two-year court appointment by a federal court to oversee the reform of migrant farmworker laws; In Confidence: When to Protect Secrecy and When to Require Disclosure (Yale, 2009); and After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age (St. Martin’s, 2015).

Recently, Goldfarb has turned to fiction—as the pseudonymous R.L. Sommer—with Courtship (2015) and Recusal (2020). “My two novels—a third is in the works for next year—come at a perfect time in my life,“ Goldfarb observes. “Nonfiction writing is work; fiction is fun. It can be done wherever I sit with a pen and a pad."

Through writing fiction, Goldfarb says he has learned how autobiographical a novel can be. “It’s a conclusion I denied until I re-read my novels and realized that while they were not about me, only I could have written them. What I write evolved from my life in law.”

“Recusal blew out of Zeus’ forehead,“ Goldfarb continues. “I was watching the Kavanaugh hearings, sat down, and wrote it in about a month. While writing, I imagined its sequel—The Gender War—which will be published in 2021.”

When writing Recusal, Goldfarb says he “wrote and edited endlessly, following my imagination." His advice to young lawyers thinking of writing themselves is to “learn the basics so they come naturally to everything you write. Never mimic a writer you admire. And between heart and gut and brain, follow your heart and gut.”

Jodé Millman L’79

Jodé Millman L'79
Jodé Millman L'79
Asked about the connection between legal writing and creative writing, legal writing expert Professor Ian Gallacher observes that while the law prizes logical thinking, “good legal writing also relies heavily on narrative skill. There’s even a branch of legal writing scholarship called legal storytelling, which studies how narrative theory can be applied to the documents lawyers write so as to improve their communication.”

That’s an idea that Jodé Millman subscribes to. “I have been an attorney for many decades,” she says. “During that time, I realized that whether it was a divorce, personal injury, or contested will case, it was not only important to be an advocate for my clients, it was equally important to be a storyteller.”

For Millman, storytelling is an extraordinary tool because it contains the power of persuasion. “As champion of my client’s story, it was my job to weave a tale that would convince the court or my adversary that my client was in the right,” she says. “A successful writer understands the power of storytelling and can transcend from legal writing into the creative realm.”

Millman is the author of legal thriller The Midnight Call (2019), praised as a “must-read” by USA Today. “It was my first attempt at crime fiction, and honestly, I didn’t have a clue how to do it,” she admits. The craft of legal writing and creative writing sometimes clashed for Millman—“legal writing is objective, while fiction writing is deeply subjective”—but nevertheless she found that her legal training provided four essential tools for novel writing: discipline, vocabulary, plotting, and research.

“Unfortunately, attorneys are not trained to be brief,” she adds. “Overwriting can be a difficult habit to break. In fiction writing, less is more. As poet Allen Ginsberg wrote, writers must ‘kill their darlings.’”

Millman says her writing life began in earnest when she became semi-retired. With her children in high school and her family relocated to Ann Arbor, MI, she decided she wasn’t interested in practicing law in a new jurisdiction. Instead, she took a master’s in English literature from Eastern Michigan University, continued a project of her father’s—the “Seats” theater guides—and began teaching part time at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School.

“I’ve been fortunate to begin a new career at a stage in life when I’m in control of my time, most of the time!” she says.

Like other Syracuse law authors, Millman says her legal training is useful when it comes to the contractual side of the writer’s life. “While it’s best not to represent yourself, having the ability to draft and understand contracts has been priceless in negotiating my various agreements for fiction and nonfiction projects,” she says. “Most publishing agreements are drafted in favor of the publisher. Caveat Emptor. In fact, based upon my suggestions, my fiction publisher— Immortal Works—incorporated my contract changes into their standard contract.”

“The law and literature are demanding disciplines” Millman adds. “They require a resource that is limited to us: our time.” That limitation was evident when Millman first attempted a creative writing project—a middle grade children’s novel—while she was in practice and raising her children. “I felt like I was stealing hours to write by staying up late and rising early to put my creative time in. That novel remains unpublished, but maybe someday I’ll return to it.”

Tim Green L’94

Tim Green at Central Square School District, New York.
Tim Green at Central Square
School District, New York.
Called the “Renaissance Man of Sports,” Tim Green graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a degree in English in 1986 and from the College of Law cum laude in 1994. A legendary member of the Orange football team from 1982 to 1985, Green enjoyed success in the National Football League before becoming a football commentator, an accomplished attorney at Barclay Damon, a legal commentator for NPR, a TV host, and a best-selling author. Green’s diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis was the subject of a 60 Minutes profile in November 2018.

After writing more than a dozen best-selling books for adults, Green began a series of novels for young readers set in a world of sports. Football Genius reached The New York Times best-seller list of children’s chapter books. Then, in 2017, Green and baseball legend Derek Jeter teamed up to write the Baseball Genius series. Green has traveled the United States speaking at schools, inspiring thousands of kids to discover the joys of reading.

Passionate about children becoming kinder people and being more understanding of other people through the act of reading, he has used his speaking fees to buy books for children, schools, and libraries that can’t otherwise afford them.

Green cites Professor Emeritus Travis H.D. Lewin as a major influence on both his legal and writing career. “Professor Lewin taught me evidence,” says Green. “He gave me confidence to write about courtroom drama, so I began writing a series of legal thrillers—instead of sports thrillers—and my book sales went from the tens of thousands to the millions. Thanks, Professor Lewin!”

Green’s expertise in contracts also has had a positive effect on his writing career: “My legal training has helped my writing, especially with my ability to read complex contracts and understand the terms, which I am then able to discuss with my agent.”

“I have been fortunate that my legal career has been as a rainmaker,” continues Green. “This has afforded me the flexibility during workdays to carve out time for writing.” Green says that through his books he has been able to build strong relationships—“really, friendships”—with clients. “Whether it’s suspense novels for them, or middle grade sports novels for their kids, my writing has paid for itself 10 times over.”

As for the influence of legal writing on his creative writing, Green is adamant that it’s had a compelling, positive effect. He uses, appropriately, a sports metaphor to describe the relationship: “Legal writing requires discipline and accuracy. It’s like weightlifting for football: the exercise enhances your performance.”

Gloves Off!

From Sparring in the Courtroom to Sparring in the Ring— How John V. Elmore L’84 Divides His Time

John Elmore L'84
John Elmore L'84

John Elmorel L’84 works in Buffalo as a managing attorney, practicing personal injury law at the Law Offices of John V. Elmore. Outside work, his hours are split between volunteering as a mentor, presiding over special committees, and traveling throughout Western New York in roles as a certified USA Boxing referee and police academy instructor.

He’s even the go-to guy for Spectrum News Buffalo on legal commentary. 

“I consider myself to be busy,” Elmore says, “but at 63, I’m now at a point in life that I don’t do anything I don’t want to do. If I’m doing it, it’s because I enjoy it and I love it.”

Navigating a Path

At least twice a week Elmore can be found in a boxing gym on the city’s East Side. Some Friday mornings, he flies to New York City in his role as Chair of New York State’s Fourth Department

Judicial Screening Committee. Appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he helps to interview, screen, and vet New York State Supreme Court judge appointees.

Elmore always wanted to be a lawyer, but he didn’t feel he had the confidence or understanding of how to apply to law school. Instead he joined the state police with a plan to apply later.

Elmore says he is eternally grateful for help from Thomas Maroney L’63, a College of Law professor who was on leave and running the state attorney general’s Syracuse Regional Office while Elmore was a New York State trooper. That chance meeting next led to an introduction to Paul Richardson, the first African American lawyer Elmore ever met. Their guidance, he says, was instrumental in navigating his path to the law.

Once a student, Elmore says he was laser-focused on his studies because he gave up a career to be there. He most enjoyed Professor Emeritus Travis H.D. Lewin’s advanced trial practice class that he credits for preparing him for his career as a litigator.

“When I was interviewing at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, I met with Professor Lewin beforehand,” Elmore recalls. “One of the questions he prepared me for was, ‘If you’re a prosecutor and your main witness in a homicide dies, do you have an obligation to tell the defense attorney even though you’re confident you have the right person?’ The answer was Brady v. Maryland, a US Supreme Court case that established the prosecution must turn over all exculpatory evidence that might exonerate the defendant to the defense.”

He continues, “I answered the question very, very well, made it to a second interview, and was hired.”

Give 100%

After leaving law school, Elmore spent three years in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which he says was great courtroom experience. “It offered incredible training on criminal procedure law, how to try a case, plea-bargaining, and search and seizure law.”

However, Elmore says he prefers Upstate living, so his next job was in the attorney general’s office in the Environmental Crimes Unit in Western New York, where he investigated illegal storage and disposal of hazardous waste. He remained there a couple of years. This work, he says, strengthened his investigative skills, but he missed the fast pace of the courtroom.

Moving on to private practice in criminal defense, Elmore tried the only death penalty case in Western New York, which resulted in a life without parole for Jonathan Parker, who shot and killed one police officer and wounded another. “As a criminal defense attorney, that is where all my skills as a police officer, prosecutor, and defense attorney came together,” he says of the case. “I had to give 100% to keep him off death row.”

A judge pushed Elmore to take the case but warned him it would be life-changing. “But I felt like I had to take it,” he says. “You’re placed on this Earth with a purpose. Being a lawyer is a privilege, so sometimes we have to take on unpopular cases because that’s what makes our system work.”

After more than two decades of handling very serious criminal cases, Elmore now focuses his practice on representing individuals who have been seriously injured in accidents caused by the negligence of others. “Ironically my law partner, Steve Boyd, was a news reporter who covered the Jonathan Parker death penalty trial,” says Elmore, adding Boyd enrolled in law school after the trial.

Staying Focused

No matter his case, Elmore says he feels he is fighting for each client’s life. “If it's a criminal case,” he notes, “there are so many collateral consequences.” He says that you are not only fighting to prevent a person from being placed into a cage, but as a defense attorney, you are there to help that person change his or her life.

Helping to change lives is what Elmore does in his off-hours, too. When coaching 32 kids at the Bomb Squad Academy Center, his focus is to toughen them up and provide discipline, but he observes, it’s also to give life lessons. Bringing his skills as an amateur boxer, he helps run the program as a way to mentor local youth. Elmore started boxing at age 13. By 16—the youngest age to compete—he made the semifinals of the Golden Gloves in the welterweight division, where he knocked out a 27-year-old to take the title.

“Boxing gave me just a little bit of toughness, confidence, and maybe swagger,” he says of his training. “And those have helped me in all aspects of my life.”

As far as his own mentors, Elmore says Maroney and Richardson are high on that list for their help in navigating his path to law school. But at the very top is his father Herbert Elmore, the first African American firefighter in his hometown of Olean, NY. Herbert never attended college, but he knew the importance of education.

His father’s advice that most resonated with Elmore: “It’s better to get an education and use your brain than work hard and use your back.”

In the Paint

Sports Agent Kevin Belbey L’16 Is the Vision Behind Boeheim’s Army— The Orange’s “Other Team”

Kevin Belbey L'16 celebrates.
Kevin Belbey L'16 celebrates.

Kevin Belbey ’13, G’16, L’16, Vice President of Sports Broadcasting with The Montag Group, might have more orange clothing in his wardrobe than Jim Boeheim '66, G'73, the storied men’s basketball coach.

That’s because Belbey created the fan- favorite team Boeheim’s Army that competes in The Basketball Tournament (TBT), a single-elimination, winner-take- all competition with a $2 million payout broadcast each summer on ESPN. Summer 2020 will be the sixth year Belbey has served as the general manager for Syracuse’s alumni team that he launched while a second-year law student.

Too Good to Be True

First approached by TBT organizers before the tournament’s inaugural year, Belbey says the offer “sounded too good to be true.” It wasn’t until he watched the first games on ESPNU in 2014 that he took the organizers seriously. After witnessing The Fighting Irish win the $500,000 championship title, Belbey thought to himself, “If this is something Notre Dame can do, this is something SU should do for sure.”

Belbey was an excellent fit to pull together a Syracuse team because of the connections he made as an undergraduate at Syracuse while serving as the Head Manager for the Men’s Basketball Team. “While the tournament is open to anyone who wants to organize a team, the guys who created it thought that to have the greatest exposure and broad appeal, they needed to have teams with built-in fan bases,” he says. Thus, for the organizers, collaborations with individuals having strong ties to alumni players were key.

With the tournament’s prize money doubled in 2015, Belbey recruited his first two players: Eric Devendorf '09 and Hakim Warrick '05, both highly respected by former and current players and fans. “Having them on board made my job easier to recruit the rest of the team,” he says.

The Best Fans

Since Notre Dame’s initial win, a team called Overseas Elite has dominated TBT, winning five consecutive titles as the prize money grew over the years. Still, Belbey says he feels SU’s alumni teams have the strongest chemistry and greatest fan base.

Belbey says he uses social media to create interest and attract fan votes, finishing with almost 1,000 more fan votes than any other team last year, which just happened to be the first year tournament games were played in Syracuse. The fan base in TBT is important because top fans—those whose dedication is shown by garnering votes in support of their team—receive a cut. Fans must register online, and the top 1,000 supporters of the winning team share $200,000.

“Last summer, with the tournament coming to Syracuse, it was a real testament to what we’ve built and the demand our fans have for this tourney,” he says. “We have the best fans in the entire tournament.” 2019 was also the first time the team’s namesake watched from the stands. “That was awesome and a little nerve-wracking,” Belbey says of Boeheim’s presence. “I think he gets a real kick out of it, and it’s really special for him to see all these guys he’s brought into the program coming back to Syracuse and wanting to play with each other for no guaranteed money.”

Everybody on Their Toes

TBT is like an NCAA tournament with 64 teams competing in games held over two weekends. To make it to the prize pot, teams must win six games. In summer 2020, three games are planned for Syracuse, from July 31 through Aug. 2, at the SRC Arena on the Onondaga Community College campus. The championship games will be held the following weekend elsewhere.

To make TBT games as friendly to fans and as exciting as possible, some rules have been adjusted. A shorter game clock is used, for instance, and then there’s the “Elam Ending” - at the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter, the game clock shuts off and a target score is set by adding eight points to the leading team's score. The Elam Ending format was recently used in the 2020 NBA All-Star game for the first time.

“So instead of playing to zero on a timer, you’re playing to a target score, and the first team to that score wins,” Belbey explained. “This makes games more exciting for fans because you don’t have to sit through foul shots. Also, every game ends on a game- winning shot. It just changes the whole energy of the game and puts everybody on their toes”.

Never Regret It

In addition to his J.D. from the College of Law, Belbey received his bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and his Master's Degree in new media management from Newhouse. As a senior at SU, he knew he wanted to go into the business side of sports and media and thought law school might be a good fit. It was ESPN announcer Jay Bilas who convinced him.

Belbey met Bilas during a Syracuse basketball game. Bilas, who works as an attorney when he’s not on air with ESPN, advised Belbey to attend law school without hesitation. “He told me I’d never regret it a day in my life, even if I never end up practicing,” Belbey recalled. He said, "The skills I would learn would help me think critically, take me to a whole other level, and help separate myself.”

Once he heard Bilas’ advice, Belbey’s decision was made. Belbey now works as a sports agent, representing broadcasting clients from national networks to local markets, including play-by-play announcers, analysts, radio hosts, writers, and reporters.

Now, Belbey says his law degree helps in his current role and in running the tournament. “Once, I was trying to convince a player to play for us and he wasn’t sure. But we really needed a center, and this guy was about 7 feet tall and 245 pounds. He was going to be a big difference-maker for us,” Belbey shared. “He ended up committing to us and told The Post-Standard later – ‘yeah, Kevin pulled some of that lawyer stuff on me in negotiations.’ So it worked out great.”

That Next Step

Boeheim’s Army isn’t Belbey’s only service to his alma mater. He currently serves on several Syracuse boards including the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association,

In 2019, Syracuse University honored Belbey during the Orange Central weekend with a Generation Orange Alumni Award for his continued University involvement in support of Boeheim’s Army, students, and the community.

While Boeheim’s Army hasn’t won the big money yet, Belbey says he finds camaraderie each year in reuniting with alumni players and visiting Syracuse. The team spends a week in Syracuse to run a clinic, sign autographs for fans during special appearances, and partner with the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation. “They supported us from the beginning, so we want to give back that support,” says Belbey, noting that last year, members of Boeheim’s Army helped raise close to $20,000 for the Foundation.

“TBT is like Orange Central but with $2 million on the line,” observes Belbey. “This summer, I’m looking forward to us taking that next step. We want to win the championship and take home the prize money!"

Kevin Belbey receives a Generation Orange award in 2019.
Kevin Belbey receives a Generation Orange award in 2019.

The View from the Corner Office

Alums Reflect on Their Journey from Law School to the C Suite

The College of Law has produced countless leaders throughout its 125-year history. These include a vice president of the United States, a state attorney general, college presidents, numerous judges, public servants, business and nonprofit executives, entrepreneurs, and many others in positions of influence.

In this new Stories Book section, we celebrate some of the journeys that alums have taken from the classroom to the business executive suite, and we learn that for an Orange lawyer, almost any career is advantaged by a Syracuse law diploma.

We present four alums in this issue. Look for more stories in future issues!


President, COO, JetBlue Airways jetblue.com
Joanna Geraghty
Joanna Geraghty L'97
The College of Law’s 2020 Commencement Speaker Joanna Geraghty is no stranger to leadership challenges, especially during the COVID-19 public health crisis that has dramatically affected her industry, as well as her plans to visit her alma mater in person in May 2020

Nevertheless, the College of Law community looks forward to a memorable and inspiring Commencement address shared via the College’s online channels and in the 2020 Yearbook this summer.

A trailblazer in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Joanna Geraghty joined JetBlue Airways in 2005, working her way up to become the company’s President and COO in 2018. Today, JetBlue is the sixth largest airline in the US and a Fortune 500 company, with a fleet of more than 250 planes, a workforce of more than 20,000 employees and service to more than 100 destinations across the US and internationally. Demonstrating her leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, in late March 2020 JetBlue began offering free flights to medical professionals volunteering to help fight the pandemic.

In her role, Geraghty oversees the airline’s day-to-day operations, including customer experience, flight operations, technical operations, and commercial functions. She is the first female president at a large US airline since the early 2000s. Her job has been described as one of the most challenging in the airline industry.

“Through her rise in a competitive industry," observes Dean Boise, “Joanna has never forgotten the value of a Syracuse law degree, citing it as important training for the problem-solving and leadership required in her high-profile career."

A joint degree student at Syracuse, Geraghty earned a master’s in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs along with her juris doctor degree. Before joining JetBlue, she was a partner at Holland and Knight, a New York law firm. She was a member of the airline’s legal department, before being promoted to Associate General Counsel. She then became head of the company’s human resources team—what JetBlue calls its “Chief People Officer”—before being named Executive Vice President of Customer Experience in 2014.


President and CEO, Loretto Management lorettocny.org, drkimberlytownsend.com
Kim Townsend. Photo: Ana Gil.
Kim Townsend L'01.
Photo: Ana Gil.
Kim Townsend is President and CEO of Loretto Management, a continuing health care organization that provides services for older adults throughout Central New York. Townsend oversees 19 specialized programs throughout Onondaga and Cayuga counties, more than 2,500 employees, and more than 9,000 individuals and their families who are under Loretto’s care.

In addition to her J.D. (magna cum laude) from the College of Law, Townsend holds Master of Business Administration and Executive Master of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University and an Ed.D. in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College. An expert in health care management, governance, and leadership, she is the author of Lifecircle Leadership: How Exceptional People Make Every Day Extraordinary (Advantage Media Group, 2018).

Did you imagine in law school that you’d eventually land in a corporate leadership role?

Absolutely! I felt strongly that my experiences at the College of Law would prepare me for executive leadership. I thought I might land in a general counsel or a chief legal officer role, but chief executive officer is close enough!

How did law school prepare you for your current role?

I had so many great professors during my time at the College. It would be hard to pick one, but I tried to take every course that professors Lisa Dolak L’88 and Margaret Harding offered. Professor Christian Day was an extraordinary mentor to me. He also introduced me to Professor Jack Rudnick L’73, then General Counsel at Welch Allyn and now Director of the College’s Innovation Law Center. Jack hired me at the end of my first year of law school.

What elements of your legal training do you apply in your position at Loretto?

Law school teaches you to think about problems differently than other disciplines. The precise and systematic evaluation of data, as well as the brevity and clarity of presentation, are skills that I honed in law school and that I continue to use every day.

In a rapidly changing world, what innovation has most affected your industry?

The use of business intelligence tools in operations and artificial intelligence in health care delivery.

It’s an exciting time to be in health care, with the growing demand for high quality at low cost. That is a quadrant of the cost-quality matrix that was viewed as unachievable when I got my M.B.A. at Whitman in 1999. Through intelligent use of data, health care can meet both cost and demographic challenges.

What memory from your law school days is dearest to you?

My favorite memory is of then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden L’68 speaking at my graduation in 2001. Who knew that one day he would become Vice President of the United States?!


CEO and Founder, Fixt fixt.co
Luke Cooper
Luke Cooper L'01
Luke Cooper is CEO and Founder of Baltimore-based Fixt, the first enterprise-level, on-demand device repair platform that supplies “concierge technicians” to businesses as a cost-effective tech solution. A renowned entrepreneur, Cooper has been named EY Entrepreneur of the Year and one of Baltimore's “40 Under 40” business leaders.

Before Fixt, Cooper was a founding team member of CTS Inc.— a leader in cybersecurity information assurance systems that was acquired by Paradigm Holding Solutions and CACI International.

Did you imagine in law school that you’d eventually land in a corporate leadership role?

Yes. Being a lawyer puts you right in the mix of things, but you need to see the whole picture. To build something great, you need a holistic perspective of your business, your market, and yourself. I learned this from a mentor at Skadden Arps. This aspect of my journey was very intentional.

How did law school prepare you for your current role?

Two professors in particular stick out for me: professors Travis H.D. Lewin and David Dreisen. As a 21-year-old black kid from one of the toughest housing projects on the East Coast, I was certainly a little rough around the edges. Both men spent time outside of class feeding my intellectual curiosity, coaching up my oral and critical thinking skills and, most importantly, encouraging me to have purpose in everything I do. I still recall much of my evidentiary rules and use strong oratory excellence to advocate for outcomes in my own company.

What elements of your legal training do you apply in your position at Fixt?

Critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and time management are just a few I use daily. Additionally, research skills are quite important to all aspects of my business. This is a skill I did not have before law school but—after a great first year Legal Research and Writing class—my strength in this area has never stopped flourishing. Consequently, I know

I can get to 70% of the right answers by knowing how to access the most accurate data really fast.

In a rapidly changing world, what innovation has most affected your industry?

Cloud computing has hugely impacted the way people interact with the goods and services they buy. For Fixt, cloud-based payment solutions like Stripe are embedded in our product, making it possible to automate payments to our techs. Plus, machine learning has unlocked huge benefits by allowing our logic to automatically dispatch the right tech for any job in four hours or less, globally. Advanced GPS and map capabilities have helped us achieve a 95% on-time rate. Today, if you are not a technology company first, you die. As a trustee of the University of Maryland Baltimore, I know this applies to law schools too.

What memory from your law school days is dearest to you?

I once convinced Wegmans to stay open until 2 a.m. so a fellow law school friend and I could continue sparring over contracts law in preparation for finals.

A close second: I remember one football game when Donovan McNabb, sacked with five seconds to go, tosses one up to the tight end for an amazing win—so deeply emblematic of our underdog culture. Go Orange! 


President and COO, Young Living Essential Oils youngliving.com
Jared Turner
Jared Turner L'06
Jared Turner has been President and Chief Operating Officer of Young Living Essential Oils for four years. He joined the company as Associate General Counsel in charge of international legal affairs. “But within weeks, the owner and board promoted me onto the business track,” he recalls.

Young Living is a nearly $2 billion company based in Lehi, UT. It has 3,500 global employees, 25 farms, and does business in 25 countries. The Young Living Foundation supports around 250,000 children a year with malaria abatement, trafficking rescue, education, and other initiatives.

“We’re very focused on sustainability and are currently working toward a goal of zero waste,” says Turner. Recently, his company donated more than 19 square miles of Utah wilderness in the Uintah Mountains to the Nature Conservancy. “It will be called the D. Gary Young Wildlife Sanctuary, to honor the founder of Young Living,” Turner says.

Did you imagine in law school that you’d eventually land in a corporate leadership role?

From the time I decided to attend law school, I wanted to practice international business law.  I loved the idea of working with multinational companies. I probably knew early on that this passion for international law and business could translate into a business-related job; what I didn’t realize was how advantageous my legal training would be for a corporate leadership role.

How did law school prepare you for your current role?

Professor Donna Arzt’s international law courses were my foundation, and the Community Development Law Clinic was invaluable, as it taught me creative problem-solving strategies to help create value for Syracuse community nonprofits. The corporate law classes were very important for helping me understand how the corporate world operates within legal frameworks, something I deal with every day as an executive.

What elements of your legal training do you apply in your position at Young Living?

The mindset and practices built into me as a law student, and then leveraged heavily while practicing law at a large regional firm, were instrumental in allowing me to succeed. The drive, resilience, critical thinking, discipline, and time management that are demanded by legal studies and practice are hugely beneficial too.

In a rapidly changing world, what innovation has most affected your industry?

The digital world is changing how we do business. Amazon has established consumer expectations for product range, price, and availability, along with shipping and customer interaction. If companies aren’t willing or able to adapt to this new digital shopping landscape, it’s very difficult to keep up with competitors.

What memory from your law school days is dearest to you?

Lifelong bonds are formed in the challenging work, and I still maintain friendships from this time in my life. I had special relationships with professors Deborah Kenn and Donna Arzt. I was a graduate assistant to Professor Arzt at the Global Law and Practice Center, and I enjoyed dialoging with her on international legal topics when I assisted her at the school and at her home helping her to landscape her backyard.

To current law students, I recommend building relationships with faculty mentors, immersing yourself in the adventure of legal practice, and canoeing on the Finger Lakes!

At the Forefront of Shaping the Future of the Legal Profession

Hank Greenberg L’86 Concludes His Term as NYSBA President

Hank Greenberg L'86
Hank Greenberg L'86
At the end of May 2020, Henry (Hank) Greenberg will conclude his term as New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President.

It’s been a highly productive term, with Greenberg addressing diversity in the profession, launching global initiatives, embracing emerging technologies, and—as his term comes to an end—responding to COVID-19’s impact on our profession and law students.

Among the many accomplishments during Greenberg’s tenure:

Diversity in Leadership Roles

> Appointed a diverse chair, co-chair, or vice-chair to all 59 of NYSBA’s committees.

> Adopted an association-wide diversity and inclusion plan.

Hank Greenberg: “I am most proud of our diversity initiatives, among these many other achievements.”

Global Membership Initiative

> Entered into memoranda of understanding with bars associations in Seoul, Tokyo, and elsewhere to meet its members–180,000 who work outside of New York–where they live and work.

> Launched a quarterly global newsletter to international members.

While NYSBA is the voice of the New York state legal profession, the Association has members in all 50 states and in more than 100 countries, making it a global organization. These global initiatives will contribute to the Association’s Virtual Bar Center.

Virtual Bar Center

> Launched Virtual Bar Center initiative, which involved deep investments in technical infrastructure for virtual meetings, online education, and enhanced communications with and among members and the public at large.

> Launched a new website, online store, and member database.

The Virtual Bar Center currently provides information about COVID-19 and serves as a command center for COVID-19 related communications with members and other constituencies worldwide.

Cutting-Edge Public Policy Initiatives

> Rural Justice (investigating the impact of rural attorney shortages on access to justice, challenges in delivering legal services in rural areas, and the unique practice needs of rural practitioners).

> Free Expression in the Digital Age (examining how free expression has evolved in the digital age and, in particular, how the law has impacted—and can impact— this evolution).

> Autonomous Vehicles and the Law (investigating how the law and legal profession adapt to the rise of autonomous vehicles, as autonomous vehicles raise novel and potentially far-reaching challenges to the law in a variety of areas).

> Legalization of Cannabis (providing NYSBA lawyers with shared educational resources, and otherwise helping New York set the highest possible legal and business practices, including advice to medical professionals and standards for legalized cannabis products).

> Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes (examining the factors that have led to the increase in hate crimes, including legislative and policy recommendations, suggestions for improvements to the federal and state legal system’s response to hate crimes, and helping to better educate the public on the value of diversity and inclusion).

> Parole Reform (studying the current system of parole, focusing on release practices and revocation and reincarceration).

> Future of the New York Bar Exam (investigating the experience and impact of New York’s adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination).

Hank Greenberg: “The Association has never been more prolific in developing policy positions on cutting-edge topics that lawyers are grappling with now. From our groundbreaking initiatives to support and save local news outlets to our efforts to examine autonomous vehicles, NYSBA is at the forefront of shaping not only the future of the legal profession but also the societal trends impacting us all.”

National and State Leadership

> Led the American Bar Association’s adoption of a resolution to explore innovative approaches to expand access to justice and the adoption of a resolution encouraging online providers of legal documents to adopt the ABA’s “Best Practice Guidelines for Online Legal Document Providers.”

> Led effort to successfully remove mental health questions from the New York bar admissions application.

> Worked with the chief judge of the court of appeals of the State of New York to announce a future convocation on civics education.

> Influenced nationwide policy dialogues through op-eds, commentaries, and interviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, Northeast Pubic Radio, The Capitol Pressroom, and elsewhere.

Hank Greenberg, on the New York State Unified Court System’s decision to remove mental health-related questions from the state bar application: “Future generations of New York lawyers no longer need to live in fear that bravely and smartly seeking treatment for mental health issues could one day derail their careers.”

Rapid Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

> Oversaw transformation of NYSBA’s website, social media outlets, and other digital platforms to provide real-time information regarding the crisis through eblasts, webinars, publications, and an online information center.

> Partnered with the NYS Court System to build and coordinate a statewide pro bono network of lawyers to handle the expected surge in legal matters resulting from pandemic and enduing economic fallout.

> Recommendations from Task Force regarding next bar exam in New York immediately adopted by the Court of Appeals.

. > Created an Emergency Task Force for Solo and Small Firm Practitioners impacted by the crisis.

NYSBA’s communications channels continue to provide updated resources to assist attorneys, law firms, the court system, and others navigating the crisis.

A Boost to the Annual Meeting

> Posted record attendance at dozens of events at the 2020 Annual Meeting.

> Held a centerpiece Presidential Summit on Domestic Terrorism, moderated by Dean Craig M. Boise.

> Hosted a sold-out Gala Dinner at the American Museum of Natural History honoring US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and the judges of the New York Court of Appeals.

Greenberg says he is confident that president-elect Scott Karson L’75 will maintain NYSBA’s momentum: “Scott’s many years of leadership experience in bar associations— from the local level to the national level—and his forward-thinking agenda will continue NYSBA’s upward trajectory as we face new challenges and opportunities.”

Lawyers Are the Guardians of Justice

Scott Karson L’75 Reflects on Becoming NYSBA President-Elect and on an Ethos to Live by

Scott Karson L'75
Scott Karson L'75

For Scott Karson, a partner at Lamb & Barnosky LLP in Melville, NY, being active in bar associations at any level is a defining part of being a lawyer. “Bar associations enable me to be involved with the community of lawyers,” he says, looking back on 40 years of local, state, and national bar participation.

Karson’s rise through the ranks of the Suffolk County Bar Association started after his seven-year stint as a county assistant district attorney, during his career as a law secretary to Justice Lawrence J. Bracken of the Appellate Division, Second Department. “As a prosecutor, I spent a significant portion of my time in court and regularly interacted with my peers in the profession. However, as a law secretary, you lead a monastic life, spending hours alone in a law library researching and writing. After being so visible in court nearly every day, I seemingly disappeared. That’s when Justice Bracken suggested that I get involved in the bar association.”

And get involved he did. In addition to attaining the presidency of the Suffolk County Bar Association in 2004, Karson became more involved with the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) over the years. His involvement included, among other things, election to the NYSBA House of Delegates, serving as chair of the Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction and the Audit Committee, serving on the Committee to Review Judicial Nominations, and election to three one-year terms as Treasurer. He also became a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates.

Unique Position

This ascension up the ranks will culminate on June 1, 2020, when Karson becomes the 123rd President of NYSBA. He will take over from fellow alum Henry (Hank) Greenberg L’86, marking the first instance of back-to-back College of Law alums serving as NYSBA President, and he will be the 10th graduate overall to hold the position.

Giving back to the legal community and supporting bar associations are important to the partners of his firm. “My partners at Lamb & Barnosky understand that the NYSBA presidency is virtually a full-time job, and they are supportive of me and my service to our bar association,” he says. In fact, two of his partners currently serve as chairs of NYSBA sections, and another is a county bar committee chair. At the firm, Karson is a commercial, municipal, and real estate litigator concentrating on appellate work, taking advantage of his experience in appellate courts. He has argued more than 100 appeals during his career. Upon taking office, Karson says he plans to maintain the same mantra that has guided him throughout his career: Lawyers are the guardians of justice. “By virtue of a license to practice law, attorneys are in a unique position to ensure that we live in a just society, representing clients and resolving disputes in accordance with the rule of law.”

To that point, Karson says he wants to place an emphasis on civic education. He and Greenberg have agreed to work together—along with New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore—on a joint bar/bench convocation around this topic. “We have many citizens who can name all the judges on American Idol but who can’t name a justice of the US Supreme Court,” he observes. “A viable democracy requires an informed citizenry.”

Varied Audience

Gun violence is another focus area for Karson. “NYSBA has had two task forces looking at the topic of gun violence. The reports and recommendations of those task forces will be evaluated to determine what NYSBA’s next step ought to be in its continuing effort to curb the horrific and all-too-frequent incidents of gun violence that we have witnessed.”

Having practiced his entire career on Long Island—but with substantial time spent on statewide NYSBA activities—Karson says he understands the challenge of bringing together an organization that stretches over a geographically large and diverse area, from metropolitan Manhattan to rural Upstate.

“The state bar association serves a varied audience of practitioners,” notes Karson. “Topics such as gun violence may mean something different to someone in Upstate New York compared to a New York City attorney. It’s not always an easy task to develop positions that fairly represent all voices, but I am confident we can establish agreeable policy positions on guns and other important issues.”

While at the College of Law, Karson served as the senior editor of the Syracuse Law Review Annual Survey of New York Law. He returned for Law Alumni Weekend in 2019 to reengage with alums and to see Dineen Hall for the first time. Karson observed, “The new building is magnificent and will serve future generations of law students well.”

Karson concludes, “Representing the members of NYSBA as its President is truly an honor. I look forward to leading the association and building on the important work of advancing our great profession, the public which it serves and, of course, the cause of justice.”

Dean’s Message

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” —Winston Churchill

I write this letter from my office in Dineen Hall, where I am one of only three “essential” people still permitted in the building as a result of COVID-19 and the global public health crisis that has brought a swift end to residential learning this semester, closed the doors of Dineen Hall, and profoundly affected our lives and work.

Wherever they may be, like you, our always-resilient students, faculty, and staff are rising to the occasion and writing the stories we will read about for years to come.

Normally, spring is when we take time to appreciate in print our alumni and your stories. The Stories Book is our compendium of your fascinating achievements, your contributions to law and your communities, and your deep connections to your alma mater and one another.

This year our plan is no different. Because of COVID-19, however, our 2020 Stories Book must be an electronic edition, but rest assured, it is no less filled with inspiring histories and anecdotes.

The health crisis has led me to reflect about how much a law school education prepares us for leadership and management challenges, both predictable and unforeseen. In moments of crisis, that legal training comes to the fore and we have an opportunity to shine as leaders. It is serendipitous, then, that we chose leadership as a theme for this Stories Book—which also celebrates the College’s 125th anniversary this year.

In these pages, we profile four alumni whose path from law school has led them to the executive suite, where—in the words of one of them—“the drive, resilience, critical thinking, discipline, and time management that is demanded by legal studies” are indispensable. These profiles include that of 2020 Commencement speaker Joanna Geraghty L’97, whose consummate leadership skills are helping her pilot JetBlue—where she is President and COO—through these turbulent days.

In this edition, we also catch up with leaders in another field: literature. Communication is a key element of leadership, and the superior communications skills of these four alums have led them to publish critically acclaimed and best-selling works of both fiction and nonfiction. Starting with Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout L’82, our four writers examine how their law school careers influenced their life’s work.

Our quasquicentennial celebration continues with profiles of our first African American alumnus, William H. Johnson L’1903 and of the President and President-Elect of the New York State Bar Association, both proudly Orange. Sarah Shepp L’19 reflects on her family’s long history with the University and College, stretching back more than 100 years. And we meet two alums—John Elmore L’84 and Kevin Belbey L’16—whose connections to sports and the law have strengthened their community ties.

These are your stories. Let them inspire and warm you during these challenging times with the knowledge that across many industries—and in many communities around the world—there are Orange lawyers doing their best work and always making us proud.

Very truly yours,

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law

Dean Craig M. Boise
Dean Craig M. Boise

On the Cover

A picture tells a thousand words: To celebrate the College of Law's 125th anniversary, this year's Stories Book cover gathers snapshots of our journey together! A few of the archived photos don't identify

their subjects, so let us know if you recognize the people or the scenes in photos marked with an* below (email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@law.syr.edu).

Front Cover (clockwise from top left): JDinteractive students gather in Dineen Hall during their January 2019 residency; a classroom scene from the 1970s*; students recite the Student Oath at the 2019 Convocation; fine weather sees the bike rack full outside Dineen Hall in 2014; a gathering of law students in the 1960s: Portia L. Strausman L’64, Rosemary Bucci L’64, M.J. Lockwood L’63, Louise E Dembeck L’65, and Sharon O'Brien Allen L'73; on the way to Commencement 2019; the 1905 Debate Club.

Back Cover (clockwise from left): Former College of Law headquarters Hackett Hall in the 1940s; “Where the vale of Onondaga / Meets the eastern sky”; the opening of Dineen Hall in 2014; studying in the 1980s*; Davida M. Hawkes L’20 arguing during the annual Lionel O. Grossman Trial Competition; a student outside the law clinic building on Irving Avenue in 1971*; and inside the clinic suite with Professor Suzette Meléndez and students in 2016*; LL.M. students at the 2019 Commencement; Professor Travis H.D. Lewin presides at a mock trial*.

A correction to the identities in—and more information about—the second photo from left, bottom row:

I am writing to correct the identification of one of the students in the 1963 photo of five women students on the cover of this year's Stories Book.

I am the student on the far right, and my name then was Sharon O'Brien, not P.M. Orlikoff (Phyllis Orlikoff was a fellow student who graduated in 1963 and is now a prominent judge). I was originally a member of the class of '65, but took a "leave of absence" after that first year to marry a West Point graduate, become a reluctant army wife and eventually the mother of two daughters. 

When our family returned to live in Syracuse I finished my law studies, graduating in 1973. I have been a member of the NY bar ever since, and my name at that point was, and still is, Sharon O'Brien Allen. By the way, my father, William G. O'Brien, was also a graduate of the College of Law, earning his degree in the late 1930s. And those daughters I mentioned are both lawyers now, too!

There were only seven women students in the law school back in 1963, and we five were photographed in connection with admittance to an honorary society. Louise Dembeck, standing next to me in the photo, was the only woman to graduate in 1965. She and I remain close friends to this day.

When I graduated in 1973 I first worked for the law firm of Bucci & Lockwood, formed by two of the women in the photo. I believe theirs was the first all-women law firm in the state. Soon, though, I accepted a position as law clerk to the Onondaga County Court judges, which was by far my most enjoyable career move.  

I earned an M.L.S. from SU in 1991 and worked as a librarian in law schools before retiring as librarian of the public law library in Leesburg, VA. Being a student at the College of Law was a transforming experience and was equally gratifying at two very different times in my life!

—Sharon O'Brien Allen L'73


Class Notes Have Moved Online!

Looking for the Class Notes? Now you can find all the up-to-date Notes on the College of Law website!

To view Class Notes, click here.

Class Notes Page

Please send us your career moves, professional milestones, awards, and significant accomplishments. Make sure to include a high-resolution portrait photograph.

You can submit your Notes ...

by email to:


by mail to:

Syracuse University College of Law
Office of Advancement
Dineen Hall Suite 402
Syracuse, NY 13244.

We look forward to hearing about your successes!

Class Notes Example

In Memoriam

In Memoriam
In Memoriam 2019

Our Back Pages

Do You Remember? Help Us Caption Our Mystery Photos!

The College of Law’s photo archive is a fascinating visual history of your alma mater, full of nostalgia, anecdotes— and a few mysteries. 

That is, some of our prints and slides lack information or captions.

That's where you come in. In this feature, we challenge you to help us recall the people and scenes in our mystery photos of the past.

This time, we print one of several classroom photos in the archive with no identifying information whatsoever. If you know when this photo was taken, what class is pictured, or any of the people in the photo, please email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby at klduggle@law.syr.edu, and we'll publish what we discover in a future issue.

Classroom Photo
Mystery Classroom Photo

Thank you to alumni who helped solve the mystery photo in the 2019 Yearbook!

Students at the Carrier Dome
Students at the Carrier Dome

The photo on p56 of the 2019 Yearbook jogged the memories of a few of our readers.

Anne (Griffin) Paxton L’88 writes, “I graduated in 1988 with these four gentlemen, and I married one of them. They are Larry Barsky, Ken Hayman, John Ingrassia, and Mike Paxton. The photo was taken in fall 1987 at a basketball game. I married Mike in 1992, and we often visit the campus. We loved our time in Syracuse and miss going to games. It is definitely Penny Gray in the photo. We shared a locker in our first year.”

Ken Hayman L’88 confirmed he was in the photo: “I was pleasantly flabbergasted to see the photo. From left to right is my former roommate Larry, yours truly (with hair back in the day), John, and good friend Mike wearing the SU hat. Penny is above John and me. We are definitely at a basketball game, but which game is beyond my memory. What an incredible blast from the past!”

Helping further solve the mystery, Warren Hare L’88 adds: “I graduated in 1988 and helped Andrew Gould (now deceased) with the Yearbook for the 1986 grads. I may have taken that photo, and it may be my scrawl on the back!”

Giving Through the Years

Our alumni's generosity underwrites the College of Law’s success. 

For many alumni, a tradition of lifelong giving is often tied to personal stories and fond memories of their alma mater. And what better time to reflect on their College of Law days than on the occasion of a class anniversary! Eleven alums—of years ending in nine—share their philanthropic journeys. Tell us yours by emailing us at su-law@law.syr.edu.

Arthur I. Sherman L’59 & George T. Bruckman L’59

Arthur I. Sherman L'59 and George T. Bruckman L'59
Arthur I. Sherman L'59 and George T. Bruckman L'59

For George Bruckman and Arthur Sherman, philanthropy is part of their families’ traditions, a custom they both learned growing up in an era of austerity and sacrifice.

“I was raised in the Great Depression,” says Bruckman. “But as little as my parents had, they still gave. It was part of the Jewish tradition.” Sherman continues, “My father didn’t have much, but he always gave to charity, and he taught me to do the same.”

Given this proclivity for charity, it isn’t a surprise that Bruckman and Sherman remain organizing forces behind the Class of ’59 Scholarship, which got its start 50 years ago.

“The Class of ’59 Scholarship was a graduation gift for the school,” explains Sherman. “We thought it would be a nice idea to help give other kids a legal education. I’m beholden to the law school because it took me in after my military service, and my education helped me get a job on Wall Street. I felt I owed something to others coming after me.”

Before law school, in the mid-1950s, Sherman served in the US Army as an Infantryman. After graduation, he went to work on Wall Street as a financial advisor. The firm where he started eventually became Morgan Stanley. “I worked as everything except CEO,” Sherman notes.

In addition to the Class of ’59 Scholarship, Sherman and his wife support the Arthur I. Sherman L’59 Scholarship. Their other philanthropic interests include civil rights and art, especially decorative art glass.

“The objects of my philanthropy are education, health care, religious programs, and food banks,” observes Bruckman. “I want to ensure that my kids and grandkids continue this tradition of giving.” Like his friend, Bruckman served in the military, doing a stint in the Air Force Reserve after law school. “That was a humbling experience. It made me realize how fortunate I had been.”

Bruckman then began a successful business law practice, representing companies in the food services industry. “I'm still working,” admits Bruckman, who now concentrates his practice on estate and tax planning. “I happen to love the law, and the law has been good to me. I still enjoy getting involved in new projects. Now I use my money for philanthropy and for educating my grandkids.”

These long-standing friends returned to Syracuse in September 2019 for their 60th class reunion. Asked how they felt to be celebrating this significant milestone, both expressed a mixture of pride and amazement. “It seems like yesterday,” said Sherman, thinking about his law school days. Added Bruckman, “In a flash of a second, 60 years have gone by.”

David Miller
David Miller L'69

David Miller L’69 

David Miller enrolled in the College of Law out of a need to stay in New York and because of an offer he could not refuse.

His soon-to-be wife Elizabeth—remembered by his classmates as “Bebes”—held a New York state teaching certification, which required Miller to find a graduate school in the state, so she could teach while he attended school. The law became his pursuit when Dean Ralph Kharas offered him a full scholarship.

Dean Kharas gave me a wonderful opportunity for which I forever have been grateful,” Miller recalls.

A partner at California law firm Hanson Bridgett for nearly 50 years, Miller believes in supporting the College of Law for several reasons. “Foremost, Syracuse invested in me before I even arrived on campus by offering me a full tuition scholarship and subsequently providing me with the platform that has led to a fulfilling and stimulating career.”

Miller recalls one mentor in particular: Professor George Alexander, who had a profound impact on Miller’s career. In the summer before Miller’s second year, Alexander asked if he would assist on a project funded by NASA.

This exciting job took Miller across the country to Ames Research Center in the Bay Area, which Miller says was the beginning of his transformation from thinking of himself as a New Yorker to being a Californian. He assisted the “space race” by researching regulations in outer space the year before the moon landing.

He joined Hanson Bridgett particularly because he was interested in the firm’s public sector practice representing government agencies.

For more than 35 years Miller served as outside general counsel to four Bay Area public transportation authorities, including the agency that operates the world renowned Golden Gate Bridge. “My practice has covered a wide range of legal matters together with those unique to the public transportation industry,” he says.

“After recently meeting with Dean Boise it is clear to me the College is on the rise. It has a very accomplished and diverse faculty, and the programs it is focusing on appear appropriate for the times.”

Jodé Millman L’79

Jode Millman L'79
Jode Millman L'79

When it came to getting a jump-start on law school Jodé Millman had a clear advantage over her classmates. “I started working in a law office when I was 14 years old,” Millman recalls. “I was in a summer job program for schoolchildren. I started out as an assistant to a legal secretary and learned the processes and language of law.”

This early advantage informs one of the objects of Millman's philanthropy. In addition to supporting the Syracuse Public Interest Network, Millman also supports the College’s Clinical Legal Education program. “The clinics give students critical real-world experience that was only just being introduced when I was in law school,” says Millman. “That's why I believe in them. Not everyone is going to have the same opportunities I had.”

After she graduated, Millman returned to the law office she started with. After that experience, she worked as a corporate counsel in Poughkeepsie, NY. “I then worked for a small tax firm before creating my own law office, which I maintain to this day,” she says, adding that she is now mostly retired from the law—and pursuing another passion.

“I've always been interested in writing,” explains Millman. Her first foray into publishing came in 1998 when she took up a non-fiction project of her father's, a “pocket concierge” guide to Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.

Millman then tried young adult fiction before penning a novel in 2010. As is typical for new authors, it took Millman some time to interest a publisher. In the end, brevity was the soul of wit. “I entered a Twitter pitch contest,” Millman says. Her “micro synopsis” caught the interest of a publisher in March 2018. By June 2018, her debut thriller—The Midnight Call—was published by Immortal Works. The novel has since been short-listed for the Clue Award and named “Best Police Procedural” by chantireviews.com.

Law Alumni Weekend 2019 was a chance for Millman not only to catch up with her friends but also to give a reading from her novel during a special Saturday morning breakfast program on September 21.

“Dineen Hall was a very special stop on my book tour,” Millman says. “It meant a lot to me.” There was another item of business for Millman during her visit—to drum up support from her classmates for a $10,000 giving challenge to celebrate the Class on ’79’s 40th anniversary.

Jeff Capwell L’89

Jeffrey Capwell L'89
Jeffrey Capwell L'89

In 2018, Jeff Capwell retired from Charlotte, NC-based McGuireWoods, where he was a partner and head of the firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice group, to pursue his passion for teaching, stepping into a new career as a middle school teacher with 55 pupils. Capwell’s aptitude for teaching had been identified three decades earlier by College of Law Professor Samuel Donnelly.

“I think becoming a teacher was in part influenced by Sam who told me I had a facility for it and encouraged me to pursue a number of different interests while in law school,” Capwell recalls. “It’s funny how things come full circle. He wanted me to consider entering into the profession to train lawyers. I’m not teaching law, but I am teaching sixth graders.”

Capwell remembers Donnelly as the professor who had the most profound impact on him. “He was one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. Not only was he a fantastic lawyer, he also had a wonderful mind, a tremendous depth of compassion and commitment to social justice that came from his Catholic faith, a faith we both shared.”

Helping others is a trait Capwell embraces. While he gives regularly to the College of Law to support student scholarships, he dedicates considerable hours of his time as a mentor to students.

“My contributions have been primarily focused on scholarships,” he says. This focus lies in a philosophy he developed over his years of practicing law. “I really felt it was my responsibility to find opportunities for, and to promote, younger lawyers. We work in a profession in which people succeed when others take an interest in their careers and actively work to help them reach their full potential.”

Several students have reached out to Capwell for advice on career options, interviewing tips, and areas of law to consider. “One of the things I’m proudest of with respect to my career is what I’ve been able to do in terms of mentoring and providing opportunities for younger lawyers,” he says. “It is really satisfying to hear from them periodically about how things are going in their careers and their lives.”

Greg Sobo L’99

Greg Sobo L'99
Greg Sobo L'99

Greg Sobo says he was drawn to the competition inherent in litigation. “While not a sport, litigation has winners, losers, and a referee—or judge,” he says, smiling. Sobo notes that before law school, he was extremely competitive in sports, and the practice of law provides him a great outlet for this side of his personality.

It is the sporting side of Sobo that delayed his entry into law school. A rare deferment allowed him time to pursue his Olympic dream before attending law school. “I was a competitive springboard diver, and the College of Law was kind enough to defer my admission for two years to allow me to train for the 1996 Olympic Team,” he says. “I will always appreciate that courtesy, and I want to return the favor by supporting the College.”

Sobo says he hires students at Middletown, NY-based Sobo & Sobo Personal Injury Attorneys from a variety of law schools, and one way he supports his alma mater is by often turning to its students. College of Law graduates tend to have a better pulse on connecting with clients, he observes, adding, “I find they explain the law to clients in a way that makes sense,” attributing that distinction to the instruction and faculty attention they receive at the College of Law.

During his time in law school, Sobo says two highlights stand out: facing off against Temple University in the Tournament of Champions advocacy competition and being published in the Syracuse Law Review.

“Competing on the national trial team was a real thrill,” Sobo says. During the tournament at Temple University, Sobo recalls the packed courtroom. “I will always remember the feeling I had standing up to begin my cross-examination of a key witness, and the intensity and drama of the moment,” he says.

Sobo says the College of Law provided him with the educational background to excel immediately upon entering the legal community. “Thanks in no small part to the lessons I learned in law school—including in Professor Lewin’s classes, civil procedure classes, the trial team, and Syracuse Law Review—I was able to develop a strong reputation as a trial attorney within the first few years of graduating.”

“That reputation is the foundation for my success,” Sobo adds.

Matthew Lyons L’09 & Anna Lyons L’09

Matthew L'09 and Anna Lyons L'09
Matthew L'09 and Anna Lyons L'09

You could say that the Lyons family literally bleeds orange.

In addition to Anna and Matthew Lyons, several of Matthew’s relatives also graduated from the College of Law, including Gary Lyons L’75 (his father), Paul Lyons L’09 and Andrew Lyons L’12 (his brothers), Laura Dixon L’13 (his cousin), and her husband Bryan Dixon L’13.

For this pair, orange became the color of love when the College of Law served as their matchmaker. “Matt and I had all of our classes together our first year and played on the same flag football team. I believe its name was Assault and Battery,” Anna recalls. The team’s name proved telling as Anna’s intramural sports career was short-lived, ending when she sustained a cut to her lower lip requiring stitches. Yet it was the way she nursed herself back to health that won over Matthew.

“The evening of the injury, I attended one of the school’s bar nights where Matt noticed me drinking beer from a straw out of the stitch-free side of my mouth,” Anna says about her ability at the time to leave an impression.

Both see the College of Law as a strong community that they believe in supporting. They’ve been donating consecutively for five years, and they also give back by helping current students and recent alumni explore career paths.

The Lyons feel they have been fortunate to find fulfilling work in corporate law and public service, and both enjoy corresponding with students and alumni to guide them on non-traditional legal careers.

“I think it’s very important for students and alumni to understand the breadth of opportunities that come with a law degree,” says Matthew, who serves as Compliance Counsel for Royal Caribbean Cruises in Miami, FL.

This year, Anna’s employer—the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)—will support an expansion of the College of Law’s Externship Program by offering positions in its Boca Raton office.

“When we are in the position to hire individuals full time or through an externship, we let the law school know,” Anna says. “Matt and I have been fortunate to find amazing employers, and we hope to help others in their job.”

Yasmeen Eesa LL.M.’19, Brian Kim L’19, & Aili Obandja LL.M.’19

Yasmeen Eesa LL.M.'19
Yasmeen Eesa LL.M.'19
Brian Kim L'19
Brian Kim L'19
Aili Obandja LL.M.'19
Aili Obandja LL.M.'19

Three recent graduates say they were inspired to study law through personal experiences.

2019 J.D. Class President Brian Kim L’19 wanted to help others after an error in an immigration filing forced his parents to return to Korea five years ago. Kim stayed, but his family was forever altered. “I am grateful to have experienced how a lawyer can make their clients’ lives better,” Kim says.

As a child, Yasmeen Eesa LL.M.’19 saw the impact divorces have on children. “In Syria, children can’t give their opinion about whether to live with their mother or their father. I want to make changes to benefit children because, unfortunately, they are the biggest losers in divorce cases.” Eesa graduated from Aleppo Law School in Syria before enrolling in Syracuse’s Master of Laws program to help her better understand the American legal system and take this knowledge back home.

Syracuse had the most to offer Aili Obandja LL.M’19. She had worked as a public prosecutor in Namibia before pursuing her master’s. “Foreign educated LL.M. graduates of ABA-approved law schools can take the bar in about five states on the basis of having attained an LL.M. degree alone,” she says. “New York is one of those states. Picking Syracuse was a no brainer.”

Together, Kim, Eesa, and Obandja take great pride in the performance of the 2019 Class Act! campaign. Kim led his class to a record 80% participation rate, and Eesa and Obandja steered the LL.M. class to an astonishing 94% participation rate—a Syracuse University record.

Kim says he is motivated to give back to Syracuse University because of the generous support he received during his time here. “I feel motivated to continue the process,” he says. Says Eesa, “I always say we have to support future students because, as students, we were supported by the school when we started our journey.”

For Obandja, giving back is based on the African philosophy of “Ubuntu,” which she translates to mean “I am, because of who we are all.” Her Namibian upbringing taught her that people are the cornerstones of any institution. “I take pride in being a College of Law graduate,” she says, “and if I can help another student fill a financial gap, I will do as much as I can.”

Alumni Association Report

Dear Alumni and Friends of the College of Law:

Amy Vanderlyke Dygert L'06
Amy Vanderlyke Dygert L'06
First of all, on behalf of the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association, I want to welcome the Class of 2019 to the alumni family. We are proud of your outstanding New York State Bar exam accomplishments, and we’re looking forward to the impact you will have on the legal profession, your communities, and your alma mater.

Welcome, also, to all College of Law alumni who have become reengaged with the College over the past year. I’m extremely pleased by the robust leadership and hard work demonstrated by the SULAA Board of Directors—which includes six new board members—to increase alumni participation.

Specifically, our Board has developed a new committee structure that welcomes all alumni to become engaged with their colleagues and students without requiring membership on the Board of Directors. Please reach out to me to get involved!

SULAA’s committees have been extremely busy in the past year, as these snapshots illustrate.

  • The Giving Committee, chaired by Komoy Jones L’05 and now James Domagalski L’90, has raised philanthropic participation by driving two Boost the 'Cuse campaigns and demonstrated leadership in giving by participating in the Class Act campaign and calendar and fiscal year-end campaigns.
  • The Engagement Committee, chaired by Upnit Bhatti L’15, has assisted the Office of Student Affairs by developing a Bar Mentor Support Program that matches recent alumni with students studying for the bar and offers strategic studying and encouragement during bar preparation. SULAA also creates and distributes care packages to recent grads studying for the bar in Dineen Hall during the Fourth of July “study slump.”
  • This year, the Inclusion Network was born, chaired by Staci Dennis-Taylor L’14. The Inclusion Network promotes professional and personal friendship, association, and affiliation among alumni to support future generations of College of Law students and to strengthen the College by celebrating our diverse population.
  • The Syracuse Law Honors and Reunion committees, chaired by Mark O’Brien L’14 and Rich Levy L’77, selected five distinguished alumni to honor at Law Alumni Weekend 2019, an event that saw record turnout and offered wonderfully diverse programming, comradery, and nostalgia.
  • Our Membership Committee, chaired by Matt Policastro L’02, brought six accomplished new board members to SULAA: Lauren Blau L’17; Ryan Goodwin L’11; Brendan Hall L’16; Astrid Quiñones L’18; Jill Sherman L’00; and our first LL.M. alumni Board Member, Donghoo Sohn LL.M.’13.

Impressively, on top of all this hard work, board members also spent time attending law school forums across the country, where they met prospective students and discussed the value of a Syracuse law degree—and, when in Southern California, enthusiastically explained all about our marvelous snow!

Importantly, the SULAA Board of Directors can proudly boast 100% giving for the past three years. We know that the law schools with the highest giving participation rate have the highest rankings, so it is important to recognize the value of participation, at any level, and to celebrate the way it demonstrates an affinity for our College and an investment in its success.

It is so gratifying to lead our dynamic alumni association and Board of Directors. The community we created during our time at Syracuse should and does support us throughout our professional careers, and I hope SULAA’s work to engage you, our fellow classmates, as your careers blossom will have a broad and meaningful impact among all alumni. Please consider joining us on this journey.


Amy Vanderlyke Dygert L’06
President, Syracuse University Law Alumni Association

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

Law Alumni Weekend 2019: A Fall Spectacular

Law Alumni Weekend 2019—held September 19-21—was a spectacular success. We enjoyed record attendance and a festive and joyful atmosphere, with the sunny fall weather and a successful Orange football team both playing their parts.

Our alumni were an integral part of the weekend’s programming. From joining panels to engaging with students and faculty, we could not have done it without you. Law Alumni Weekend is your weekend, and this year it showed!

Our photo essay recalls some of the many highlights, from the Afternoon with the Corporate Law Society, Lunch with the Judiciary, and the Supreme Court Preview, to the Law Honors Awards, Orange vs. Western Michigan Tailgate Party, and the second annual Alumni of Color Reception. For the first time, Dean Boise delivered his annual State of the College Address during alumni weekend with the goal of better informing the alumni family about the College’s strategic direction and progress towards our goals.

Thank you to sponsors who supported a full and diverse program: Bottar Law (Law Honors Awards title sponsor and lunch sponsor); Hancock Estabrook, William Mattar Law Offices, Wladis Law Firm, and Mackenzie Hughes (lunch sponsors); and the NDNY Federal Court Bar Association, Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media, and the Syracuse Civics Initiative (Supreme Court Preview CLE sponsors).

It’s never too early to start planning for the next Law Alumni Weekend. Mark September 24-26 on your calendar for 2020’s celebration, which will coincide with the College’s 125th Anniversary!

LAW 2019 kicked off with a standing-room-only event: An Afternoon with the Corporate Law Society. The first of two panels, “Inside the Minds of Inside Counsel,” featured Scott Boylan L’85 of StoneTurn, Beth McKee L’04 of StaticControl Components, and Jennifer Townsend L’11 of The Aristo Company. The second panel, “Practicing Corporate Law,” was moderated by Faculty Fellow Danielle Stokes and featured Peter Alfano L’94 of Winston & Strawn; Eileen Millett L’74 of Phillips Nizer; Paul Sharlow L’03 of Sharlow Law Firm; and Linda Romano and Kate Chmieloweic L’16 of Bond, Schoeneck & King.
LAW 2019 kicked off with a standing-room-only event: An Afternoon with the Corporate Law Society. The first of two panels, “Inside the Minds of Inside Counsel,” featured Scott Boylan L’85 of StoneTurn, Beth McKee L’04 of StaticControl Components, and Jennifer Townsend L’11 of The Aristo Company. The second panel, “Practicing Corporate Law,” was moderated by Faculty Fellow Danielle Stokes and featured Peter Alfano L’94 of Winston & Strawn; Eileen Millett L’74 of Phillips Nizer; Paul Sharlow L’03 of Sharlow Law Firm; and Linda Romano and Kate Chmieloweic L’16 of Bond, Schoeneck & King.

Members of the Class of 1979 rallied with good humor and gathered for their 40th anniversary. Their class reunion photo was taken in the Law Library. It’s hard to miss John Jay DeLaney, of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper PC, in his orange suit. In the middle of the front row sits Jodé Millman, who gave a reading from her thriller The Midnight Call at a Saturday morning breakfast event.
Members of the Class of 1979 rallied with good humor and gathered for their 40th anniversary. Their class reunion photo was taken in the Law Library. It’s hard to miss John Jay DeLaney, of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper PC, in his orange suit. In the middle of the front row sits Jodé Millman, who gave a reading from her thriller The Midnight Call at a Saturday morning breakfast event.
Representing the Class of 1969, The Hon. J. Jeremiah Mahoney, traveled from Washington, DC, where he is Chief United States Administrative Law Judge at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. He celebrated his 50th with enormous pride, given the number of class buttons he is wearing!
Representing the Class of 1969, The Hon. J. Jeremiah Mahoney, traveled from Washington, DC, where he is Chief United States Administrative Law Judge at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. He celebrated his 50th with enormous pride, given the number of class buttons he is wearing!
There was a full house on September 20 for the annual Lunch with the Judiciary and Alumni. This year's keynote speaker was the Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby L’85, Chief US District Judge, Northern District of New York.
There was a full house on September 20 for the annual Lunch with the Judiciary and Alumni. This year's keynote speaker was the Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby L’85, Chief US District Judge, Northern District of New York.
The annual Supreme Court Preview Lecture and Panel Discussion heard Wall Street Journal SCOTUS correspondent Jess Bravin’s reflections on the 2019-2020 SCOTUS term. The subsequent panel, moderated by Vice Dean Bybee, featured (l to r) Bybee; Associate Dean for Research Lauryn Gouldin; University Professor David Driesen; Bravin; R. Reeves Anderson, Partner, Arnold & Porter; and the Hon. Rosemary Pooler, Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
The annual Supreme Court Preview Lecture and Panel Discussion heard Wall Street Journal SCOTUS correspondent Jess Bravin’s reflections on the 2019-2020 SCOTUS term. The subsequent panel, moderated by Vice Dean Bybee, featured (l to r) Bybee; Associate Dean for Research Lauryn Gouldin; University Professor David Driesen; Bravin; R. Reeves Anderson, Partner, Arnold & Porter; and the Hon. Rosemary Pooler, Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a moving Law Honors Awards ceremony, the College community celebrated five outstanding individuals: (l to r) the Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, Richard M. Alexander L’82, Bernard T. King L’59, Lt. Thomas M. Caruso L’14, and Eileen D. Millett L’74.
In a moving Law Honors Awards ceremony, the College community celebrated five outstanding individuals: (l to r) the Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, Richard M. Alexander L’82, Bernard T. King L’59, Lt. Thomas M. Caruso L’14, and Eileen D. Millett L’74.
The Student and Alumni Networking Reception is a popular event where students make connections that could last a lifetime.
The Student and Alumni Networking Reception is a popular event where students make connections that could last a lifetime.
The second annual Alumni of Color Reception celebrated a strong network and proud community. This year, the Black Law Students Association gave its William Herbert Johnson L’1903 Legacy Award to the Hon. Theodore A. McKee L’75, while members of the Class of 2007 Alex Galvez and José Perez received the inaugural Hon. Sonia Sotomayor alumni award from the Latin American Law Students Association.
The second annual Alumni of Color Reception celebrated a strong network and proud community. This year, the Black Law Students Association gave its William Herbert Johnson L’1903 Legacy Award to the Hon. Theodore A. McKee L’75, while members of the Class of 2007 Alex Galvez and José Perez received the inaugural Hon. Sonia Sotomayor alumni award from the Latin American Law Students Association.

Changing Lives One Gift at a Time

Lee Michaels L’67 (right) with 3L Adam Leydig, the recipient of the 2019 Advocate of the Year award.
Lee Michaels L’67 (right) with 3L Adam Leydig, the recipient of the 2019 Advocate of the Year award.

The impact that scholarships have on the lives of students and the reputation of the College can never be overstated, as this update of five recipients of the College's more than 100 named scholarships attests.

“Scholarships have paved the way for students for decades,” says Director of Financial Aid Kristin Shea. “The College has a proud history of providing aid, and our mission remains to offer more than 90% of students merit- or need-based grants.”

In fact, the availability of financial aid is an important influence for students deciding which law school to attend. Scholarships help the College attract top talent while keeping law school accessible and affordable. For our philanthropic alumni, endowing or giving to a scholarship creates a lasting legacy and deepens connections among them, their alma mater, and generations of students.

As for their impact on the students themselves ...well, let them explain:

Class of 1996 Scholarship

“One of the key factors in my decision to choose Syracuse was the connection between alumni and their alma mater,” says 3L Nolan Kokkoris, the 2019 recipient of the Class of 1996 Scholarship.

"Conversations with alumni energized me about studying law and broadened my understanding of the profession, and alumni helped make my goal of obtaining a law degree tangible,” Kokkoris adds. “The support of alumni-funded scholarships, such as the Class of 1996 Scholarship, has helped me pursue my dream.”

The Class of 1996 Scholarship benefited from a timed Class Challenge in 2018, boosted by the promise of a match to maximize the impact of individual donations. The challenge, to reach either a 40% participation rate or $10,000, proved effective and fruitful: the Class of 1996 raised $10,535 to unlock the $25,000 match.

Class of 1968 Scholarship

While the Class of 1996 fundraising effort relied on the power of social media and other electronic connections among classmates, friends from a different Orange generation organized their fundraiser around their class reunion.

During its 50th get-together, the Class of 1968 not only shared memories, but they also challenged each other to continue the Syracuse tradition of giving back. This class raised an impressive $103,650 toward its scholarship fund—and boosted its participation rate to 34% in the process!

Maria Zumpano L’19 was the grateful 2019 recipient of the scholarship. “I was thrilled to learn of my selection, and I am deeply appreciative of the support from the Class of 1968,” says Zumpano. “Without financial assistance, my success in law school would not have been possible.” And Zumpano’s success continues. She graduated magna cum laude in 2019 and joined Bousquet Holstein PLLC, where she continues to build on her passion for business law.

Advocacy Scholarships

Sometimes students get to express their appreciation in person. That was the case at the Travis H.D. Lewin Advocacy Honors Society Banquet in May 2019. Among the awards conferred that night were two scholarships created by Professor Lewin: the Emil M. Rossi L’72 Scholarship Award and the Model of Excellency in Advocacy Award.

Honoring Syracuse-based trial attorney and Adjunct Professor Emil M. Rossi L’72, the Rossi Award was presented to 3L Courtney Thompson, the student who most demonstrated “excellence in trial advocacy.” Thompson was part of the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition team that won the regional round in 2019.

Third-year student Aubre Dean captured the 2019 Model of Excellency in Advocacy Award as the student who “demonstrates excellence in advocacy and who exemplifies leadership, sportsmanship, and professionalism.” Dean was a member of the third-place 2019 Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition team and co-winner of both the College’s inaugural Entertainment and Sports Law Negotiation Competition and the 47th Annual Mackenzie Hughes LLP Edmund Lewis Appellate Advocacy Competition.

The 2019 Model of Excellency award was presented in honor of Joanne Van Dyke L’87, a long-time coach of College of Law advocacy teams. “This award recognizes the efforts of our students and the contributions of the program’s alumni,” says Professor Lewin. “I beamed with pride as Joanne stood alongside Aubre!”

Another alum present at the 2019 banquet was Lee Michaels L’67, who teaches a popular trial practice course. To help continue the Advocacy Program’s stellar legacy, Michaels has established the Lee S. Michaels Advocacy Fund, which underwrites the Advocate of the Year Award. In May 2019, the award was presented to rising star 3L Adam Leydig. Leydig and his teammate Dennis Scanlon L’19 won the regional round of the National Trial Competition and brought the Tiffany Cup back home to Syracuse.

Following the Footsteps

Scholarships not only have a profound impact on the academic lives of our students, as the recipients often explain, they also inspire future giving.

“I couldn’t have made it without the help of those who preceded me,” says Kokkoris. “Thank you, Class of 1996, for inspiring me every day. As an alumnus, I too will help the next generation of lawyers who follow in my footsteps.”

Echoes Zumpani, “I hope one day I will be able to help other students achieve their goals, just as the Class of 1968 helped me.” 

To give to any of the scholarships mentioned in this article, to establish a scholarship, or to spearhead a Class Challenge, please contact Assistant Director of Development Fritz Diddle at fjdiddle@law.syr.edu or 315.443.1339.

The Global Impact of Scholarships

International Scholars Committed to Human Rights and Disability Law

(Left to right) LL.M. students Rencie “Mercy” Xie, Lucky Mahenzo Mbonani, and Jin “Jason” Xi. Xie and Xi are recipients of scholarships from the J&K Wonderland Foundation; Mbonani received her scholarship from the JAF Foundation. All three scholars are focusing their LL.M. studies on disability law.
(Left to right) LL.M. students Rencie “Mercy” Xie, Lucky Mahenzo Mbonani, and Jin “Jason” Xi. Xie and Xi 
are recipients of scholarships from the J&K Wonderland Foundation;  Mbonani received her scholarship from the JAF Foundation. All three scholars are focusing their LL.M. studies on disability law.

In Fall 2019, the College of Law welcomed three new international scholars who are each committed to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities.

Rencie “Mercy” Xie and Jin “Jason” Xi, both from China, are pursuing master of laws (LL.M.) degrees with concentrations in human rights and disability law. Both are already pioneers in the field. Xie was the only student with a disability at her university in China, and in 2017 she delivered a speech about the lives of persons with disabilities in China at the United Nations. “I intend to work to improve the system of laws impacting persons with disabilities in China,” Xie says. “Many people in China are not aware of their rights, which is compounded by the fact that law schools do not teach specialized courses in disability rights and disability law. I am confident that the impact of my time in Syracuse will be substantial and transformative in China.”

Xi is the first visually impaired student to enroll in law school in China and also the first to request reasonable accommodations for the bar exam. While pursuing his Master’s thesis, he identified gaps in Chinese disability law, which led to discrimination in education, employment, and daily life. “The courses at Syracuse University College of Law have been enlightening and have encouraged me to think about solutions to these challenges, which I intend to bring back with me to China,” Xi says. “It is a true honor for me to study and live in these accessible surroundings, and my experience at the College gives me hope for the future.”

Lucky Mahenzo Mbonani has spent her career working for the rights of children with disabilities in her native Kenya. Upon completion of her LL.M. degree, she plans to return to her community on the Kenyan coast to continue that work. “I believe my studies at the College of Law will be of great importance in bringing about change in Kenya with respect to the rights of persons with disabilities and, most significantly, children with disabilities who are more vulnerable in Kenyan society,” Mbonani says. “The College’s impact will not end with me, but it will be felt in the local Kenyan community for generations.”

The academic pursuits of all three students were made possible in part through generous scholarship grants from the Taiwan-based J&K Wonderland Foundation, whose scholarship grants are designed to support Taiwanese or Chinese students interested in disability law, and the JAF Foundation, a charitable foundation that funds social welfare, conservation, and human rights programs, including academic scholarships, which in the College of Law’s instance, are designed to support law students from Africa.