Campus News

Law celebrates 125 years


Published September 27, 2012


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The UB Law School is celebrating 125 years of innovation in legal studies.

It’s a quasquicentennial, but don’t let the Latin trip you up. UB Law School is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding in plain English, with an extended series of events for alumni, faculty, students and friends of the only law school in the SUNY system.

The Law School’s first class was held on Oct. 3, 1887, during the first of former Buffalo mayor Grover Cleveland’s two terms as U.S. president. Established by visionaries who saw the limitations of the apprenticeship model of legal training, the school since has educated generations of lawyers—more than 10,000—with a special focus on public-interest work and innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship. It is estimated that eight of 10 lawyers working in Western New York learned their craft at UB Law, and alumni can be found working throughout the United States and worldwide.

The school is celebrating that legacy with a yearlong series of events, kicking off with an anniversary-weekend celebration Sept. 28-30. An open-to-all anniversary party on Friday will highlight the weekend, held in the Marquis Ballroom in the newly restored Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo.

The emphasis, says Vice Dean Ilene R. Fleischmann, is on pure enjoyment. “We didn’t want to have a formal black-tie dinner,” she says. “This party is all about having fun—for alumni, students, faculty and friends of all ages.” Music by The Informers, an open bar, food stations and various special surprises will start at 6 p.m.

Four groups of alumni—the Classes of 1972, 1982, 1992 and 2002—also will celebrate milestone reunions that weekend with class-specific events. In addition, the Dean’s Advisory Council, a national board of alumni and friends that provides advice and counsel to the dean, faculty and administration on future plans for the Law School, will hold its biannual meeting. Other attractions include tours of the Law School and Buffalo’s cultural “hot spots.”

Friday morning, alumni are invited to audit several law classes. Later in the day, a career-mentoring event will be open to all students and will feature alumni from other parts of the country. “It will be set up like speed dating in order for our students to make the maximum number of professional contacts in a short amount of time,” says Fleischmann.

As part of the anniversary, the school will unveil its newly redesigned website, including a micro site that wraps up the Law School’s history and anniversary events into a one-stop destination for the celebration. The anniversary micro site features:

  • A complete calendar of anniversary events
  • An extensive, illustrated, historical timeline
  • Stories and profiles of prominent UB Law alumni.
  • Selected video and audio clips from the Law School’s extensive oral history project, featuring some of the best-known names in Western New York’s legal community and beyond
  • An anniversary video
  • Congratulatory messages from friends of the school
  • Highlights of the school’s intellectual history
  • A look back at the Law School’s deans and prominent faculty
  • A wide selection of photographs, both vintage and modern, documenting the Law School’s progression from a handful of students in a downtown classroom to its current status as a major force in legal education

In addition, the school’s alumni magazine, SUNY Buffalo Law Forum, will devote a large part of its fall issue to a special anniversary section. Throughout the year, all publications and events will be branded to make note of the anniversary, citing the school’s “125 years of innovation in legal studies.”

The Law School will continue the celebration for a full year with enhanced social and scholarly events in Western New York and through the Law School’s regional chapters nationwide. For example, the Washington, D.C., regional alumni chapter is planning a private swearing-in ceremony for UB-trained lawyers wishing to be admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, with a reception to follow.

Another high-profile event will take place on Oct. 19 at UB with the James McCormick Mitchell Lecture, the Law School’s signature lecture series. This year’s topic, “When Caring Is Work: Home, Health and the Invisible Work Force,” will coincide with a major conference on domestic violence sponsored by the Law School and the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy. See story on the conference, “Intimate Partner Violence: The Ripple Effect of Education, Research and Advocacy,” in this week’s issue.

To register for the anniversary party, visit the registration website . For additional information or questions regarding the party, contact Amy Hayes Atkinson at, or Marc Davies at, co-chairs of the 125th Anniversary Party Committee.