Whether law school was five or fifty years in the rearview mirror did not matter to the 395 Columbus School of Law graduates and their families who returned to participate in Alumni Weekend 2013, held at the Law School and around the city during the weekend of Sept. 27-29.
Alumni from ten class years traveled from near and far to reconnect with friends and former professors, share laughs and memories, and to express their affection and support for an institution that most say has played a very significant role in their lives.
Gorgeous weather and a relaxed vibe marked the weekend, which kicked off with a Friday evening party for all alumni at P.J. Clarke’s, a pub in downtown Washington, D.C. Awards were presented to the reunion classes with highest dollars raised, highest class giving participation rate, and highest classmate attendance at reunion.
Alumni Weekend 2013 invited back members of the Classes of 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008.
The weekend was highly social but professional opportunities were mixed in. Attendees of an ethics discussion offered by Professor Leah Wortham, “The Ethical Implications of the Legal Profession in a Brave New World of Globalization, Technological Change, and Market Competition,” received CLE credit for the lecture.
Saturday also saw the inaugural meeting of the new Law Alumni Association hosted by Lauren McCaghren, the law school’s director of alumni relations. She outlined the mission and goals of the new organization and explained how it can benefit the entire law school community in the future.
Dean Daniel Attridge was seemingly everywhere during the alumni reunion festivities. At a formal setting on Saturday morning and at many other occasions throughout the weekend, he took the opportunity to answer questions from every corner about his priorities and the future of the school.
The dean’s message was upbeat on many fronts, even as he shared a realistic picture of the challenges facing the Columbus School of Law and legal education in general these days.
For example, the Law School’s enrollment this year exceeded projections in the face of an overall national decline in law school admissions. He also discussed employment statistics, new clinical offerings and other initiatives, and the essential role than alumni can play in fundraising for the Law School and as career mentors for current students.
The young children who accompanied their parents were treated to music, games, face-painting, a moon bounce and other delights during Saturday’s picnic on the lawn behind the law school building.
“There’s such a feeling of family and community here, we just love it!” said picnicker Brian Stolarz, Class of 1998 and a member of the new Law Alumni Council.
Stolarz and his wife, Anna, 2000, met during law school and made a point of coming back to the place where it all began.
“The alumni, the networking, the connections that we’ve made help keep both of our careers going,” said Anna.
Other events available for interested alumni on Saturday included tours of the law school building for those who had not seen it before, as well as a First Amendment Tour at the Newseum in downtown Washington guided by Professor Sarah Duggin, director of the Law and Public Policy Program.
In the evening, alumni fanned out across the city to attend one of seven class reunion parties held at various locations, including the Washington headquarters of J.P. Morgan. The dean managed the feat of dropping by nearly every gathering to chat with alumni and bring them up to speed on Law School news.
Alumni Weekend 2013 concluded on Sunday Sept. 29 with the William Callyhan Robinson Society Luncheon and Induction Ceremony. Named after the first dean of the Columbus School of Law, the special event and ceremony celebrated alumni who graduated 40 or more years ago, with special recognition offered to the Class of 1963. The ceremony was led by Convener Ralph Rohner, 1963, recently retired from the Law School’s faculty.