Alumni News

Bradley Tusk, '99: "Silicon Valley's Political Savior"

October 24, 2016 - 3:24pm

Bradley Tusk, '99, has been called the "Uber lobbyist" and "Silicon Valley's favorite political fixer."

Original source:

In 2011, Uber was a tiny transportation startup that, according to its blog, was "#superpumped" to have "officially gone multi-city." And, though he didn’t know it yet, Bradley Tusk was about to become one very lucky political consultant.

The manager of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s successful 2009 reelection bid, Tusk had just left the administration and started his own firm. As a favor to a friend, he agreed to meet with an unknown transportation startup that had just received a cease-and-desist from the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). "The founder comes in, it’s Travis [Kalanick]," Tusk remembers. "I’d never heard of him or Uber."

Tusk has an unbridled, matter-of-fact style of speaking, and when he recounts a story, even as its sole narrator, it often unfolds like a ping-pong match. "We have this conversation. He says, ‘Can I hire you?’ I say, ‘Sure, our minimum would be $25,000 per month.’ He comes back, ‘You know what? I can’t do $25,000 per month. Can we do some equity?’" Tusk said yes—which turned out to be the deal of a lifetime. His stake in Uber is now rumored to be worth around $100 million.

After helping the company win the TLC's blessing in New York City, Tusk moved on to cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Denver, and Washington, D.C. It was his first brush with the startup world.

Meanwhile, a bevy of well-funded, future-thinking startups began to encounter regulatory hurdles. Last week, Airbnb lost a campaign in New York to fight a law that makes listing entire homes on the site illegal. The daily fantasy sports site Fanduel has hired lobbyists in more than 30 states with hopes of protecting its business from charges that it constitutes illegal gambling. A burst of startups that aimed to sell homemade food had been shut down by health departments. And startups that want to "revolutionize" everything from garbage disposal to parking meters are trying to sell their products to municipalities.

Tusk saw an opportunity to position himself as Silicon Valley's political maneuvering expert.

Last year, he founded Tusk Ventures, a political consultancy aimed at getting local governments and technology startups to play nice—and, failing that, going to the mattresses instead. He's been dubbed the "Uber lobbyist," "Silicon Valley's favorite political fixer" and "Tech Startups' political mastermind."

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Categories: Alumni News

Jim Lewis, '66, to Retire as U.S. Attorney in December

October 24, 2016 - 10:16am

Jim Lewis, '66, the U.S. attorney for the central district of Illinois since 2010, is stepping down from that post as of Dec. 24.

Original source:

Jim Lewis, the U.S. attorney for the central district of Illinois since 2010, is stepping down from that post as of Dec. 24.

"I've been honored and priveledged to serve," Lewis said. "I think it's time in my life and time for the district that someone else step forward."

Lewis, 76, was chief of the civil division in the office when nominated by President Barack Obama to be the top prosecutor in the 46- county district, which spans from Indiana on the east to Iowa and Missouri on the west. A Springfield resident, he oversees more than 30 attorneys who prosecute criminal and civil cases from offices in the capital city as well as Peoria, Urbana, and Rock Island.

Patrick Hansen, the first assistant attorney general, will take over on an interim basis once Lewis retires, and until the next president appoints someone, subject to Senate confirmation.

Lewis and his wife, Arden Lang, have three children and two grandchildren.

"I plan to remain in the community and to remain involved in issues of social justice," Lewis said.

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Categories: Alumni News

Deepa Das Acevedo, '16: "Research from Sharswood Fellow Proposes 'Shadow 401(k)s' In Response to Retirement Crisis

October 21, 2016 - 12:18pm

Deepa Das Acevedo, '16, a Sharswood Fellow at Penn Law who writes and researches on employment law and new work models, has proposed a plan that would help workers navigate their impending retirement.

Original source:

As today’s working Americans approach retirement, a crisis is looming. Many will lack the financial resources to be comfortable after they retire. To confront this issue, Deepa Das Acevedo has proposed a plan that would help workers navigate this crisis. In a new article titled “Addressing the Retirement Crisis with Shadow 401(k)s” in the Notre Dame Review Online, she envisions a universally available, federally administered, portable 401(k) plan and annuity purchase that would alleviate some of the challenges faced by workers.

Acevedo is a Sharswood Fellow at Penn Law who writes and researches on employment law and new work models. In her research, she uses social science methods, including ethnographic fieldwork, to better understand changing employment relationships in the sharing economy. Acevedo holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

According to Acevedo, the retirement crisis isn’t just one complex problem — it’s actually two. First, most Americans aren’t saving aggressively enough for retirement, which will lead to them having insufficient funds when they finally do retire. And second, whether they’ve saved enough for retirement or not, most Americans aren’t properly managing — or sometimes even capable of managing — their savings when they do retire.

Acevedo identifies three reasons for the lack of saving: bad worker defaults, bad employer incentives, and low income. In other words, the current system doesn’t give workers the best incentives to save, it doesn’t encourage employers to help workers save, and it doesn’t matter if the system does either if workers don’t have any money to save.

One option, Acevedo suggests, is to authorize the Social Security Administration to create what she calls “Shadow 401(k)s.” She refers to them as “shadow” because “they’re meant to follow workers of all types throughout their professional lives, and also because they aren’t the main event or a one-size-fits-all solution to the retirement crisis.”

These federally administered — thought not federally guaranteed — defined contribution plans would have the kind of default enrollment mechanisms and age-appropriate fund selection addressed in the Pension Protection Act of 2006, she explains, as well as a default annuity purchase at retirement.

“Essentially, this approach encourages workers who lack employer-sponsored plans to save more than they pay in Social Security taxes, but spares them from having to select, establish, and maintain a plan themselves,” she writes.

And by using the Social Security Administration’s existing infrastructure, the plan would minimize administrative expenses without causing political debates on taxes.

The Shadow 401(k) could also address aspects of the management problem, she notes, which include poor decision-making before retirement, a lack of basic capacity and financial literacy, and trouble with decision-making while coping with physical or mental decline.

Many workers trigger what are called “leakages” — withdrawals before retirement — from their 401(k) accounts, Acevedo explains. These happen in times of financial hardship, or when they shift from one job to another and cash out their 401(k) plan. The Shadow 401(k) avoids the problem of workers having to make financial decisions — and possibly making bad ones — when they change jobs because the Shadow 401(k) follows them throughout their working life.

Acevedo notes that assessing financial progress and adjusting investment practice to match are “complex issues even for bright, educated, and financially literate folks, but the ungraceful truth is that many Americans lack the ability to tackle such problems.”

One survey she cites found that 16 percent of respondents couldn’t answer a basic question about percentages, one-third failed a question on division, and nearly 80 percent did not understand the concept of compound interest.

Cultural notions of responsibility also influence financial practices, she writes. For some, helping relatives in need outweighs saving for retirement, while for others, owning property may be the primary concern.

The Shadow 401(k) system, Acevedo explains, involves fewer decisions during a worker’s career and “mitigates the disparity between those who value saving and those who prioritize other things.”

But even if workers make all the right decisions and save enough money for retirement, they still must then manage their finances while facing the risks of physical and mental deterioration that come with aging, including memory loss and cognitive impairment.

Features of the Shadow 401(k), Acevedo explains, such as the default annuity purchase, mean “that retirees with memory loss needn’t go through this process every year unless, at retirement, they are so actively involved in managing their finances that they elect out of the annuity purchase.”

Yet for all of its potential benefits, the Shadow 401(k) is a stepping stone, not a permanent solution, she explains.

“This problem will not disappear,” she writes, “until we ask ourselves what workers need to earn so that they can cover both present spending and retirement saving in the way our system demands.”

To address the retirement crisis, she concludes, we must be open to multiple solutions that bring about incremental change — solutions that include plans like the Shadow 401(k).

Categories: Alumni News

Craig Boise, '94: "Most Interesting Man in the World"

October 18, 2016 - 12:05pm

Syracuse University College of Law Dean Craig Boise, '94, is a man of many talents.

Original source:

His friends describe him as the closest a real person could come to being James Bond.

Syracuse University College of Law Dean Craig Boise is a man of many talents. When he meets someone for the first time, odds are it’ll take that person a while to discover his collection of talents — he’s a skilled classical pianist, scuba diver, sailor, motorcyclist, corporate international tax law guru, salsa dancer, world traveler and a former SWAT team member whose roots lie in small-town Missouri.

“I don’t think there are many deans who have kicked down doors on drug busts and also played classical piano,” said Andrew Morriss, law school dean at Texas A&M University and Boise’s longtime friend and colleague. “He’s kind of like the most interesting man in the world from the tequila commercials.”

Boise began his post in July after coming to SU from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, where he was also dean. During his deanship, Boise’s main goals are to stabilize the law school financially during what has been a rough patch for law schools nationally, increase the school’s diversity, broaden the school’s education into new territory and increase students’ bar exam passage rate and job placements.

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Categories: Alumni News

Bradley Pearson, '14: Marries Anna Strom Thompson

October 17, 2016 - 1:51pm

Anna Strom Thompson, the daughter of Peter G. Thompson of Washington and the late Barbara Strom Thompson, was married Oct. 15 to Bradley James Pearson, '14, a son of Helen W. Pearson and Glenn W. Pearson of Chevy Chase, Md.

Original source:

Anna Strom Thompson, the daughter of Peter G. Thompson of Washington and the late Barbara Strom Thompson, was married Oct. 15 to Bradley James Pearson, a son of Helen W. Pearson and Glenn W. Pearson of Chevy Chase, Md. Porter G. Dawson, a friend of the couple who became a Universal Life minister for the event, officiated at the Columbus Club in Union Station in Washington.

Mrs. Pearson, 30, is a senior consultant who advises clients on organizational, talent, and leadership issues, in the consulting unit, at Deloitte, the professional services company, in New York. She graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth and received an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Her father is a partner in Sperduto Thompson, a Washington law firm. Her mother was a child development specialist.

Mr. Pearson, also 30, is an associate specializing in transportation finance at the New York law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. He graduated cum laude from Amherst College and received a law degree from the University of Chicago.

His mother is a tutor for children with learning disabilities in Chevy Chase. His father, a pianist and bandleader, is the president of Glenn Pearson Productions, a music and entertainment business in Chevy Chase.

The couple met in third grade at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, and went on their first date when they were in 10th grade, to the 2001 homecoming dance.

Categories: Alumni News

Mark Emison, '10: Honored for Pro Bono Work on Michael Politte Case

October 17, 2016 - 1:49pm

Langdon & Emison attorney Mark Emison, '10, was honored Friday as an "Up and Coming" Lawyer for the state of Missouri, with special distinction earned for both his personal injury practice and his pro bono work on the Politte case.

Original source:

Michael Politte is serving a life sentence for the death of his mother, who was found dead in their home in December 1998 after suffering blunt force trauma to the head and being set on fire. Michael was arrested days later at the age of 14.

Michael has consistently maintained his innocence. Today, the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) and the law firm of Langdon & Emison are working together to prove it.

Politte’s case gained national recognition when it was selected as one of three wrongful conviction cases featured in the MTV hit show “Unlocking the Truth.” The docu-series was co-hosted by Eva Nagao and Missouri exoneree Ryan Ferguson, who served eight years in the same prison where Politte is today. The show also featured MIP executive director, Tricia Bushnell.

The MTV series made public many question marks surrounding the fire investigation and analysis used to convict Politte. Langdon & Emison and the Midwest Innocence Project have brought in the two of the nation’s top fire science experts to review Politte’s case.

Langdon & Emison is a personal injury law firm nationally recognized for cases involving fuel-fed fires and propane explosions and routinely works with top experts across the country in personal injury litigation. The firm successfully litigated the landmark case of Baker v. General Motors, a post-collision fuel-fed fire case that resulted in a successful, unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Langdon & Emison attorney Mark Emison is working closely with Bushnell to litigate Politte’s case. Emison was honored Friday as an “Up and Coming Lawyer” for the state of Missouri, with special distinction earned for both his personal injury practice and his pro bono work on the Politte case.

“MIP has hundreds of cases under review, but we felt that our firm was a good fit to work on Michael Politte’s case because we believe in his innocence and can bring our experience and expertise in fire-related cases,” said Emison.

The fire investigation and evidence presented against Politte at trial are central issues in his innocence case; for example, at Politte’s trial, the prosecution presented that Politte had gasoline on his shoes. Michael Politte’s legal team strongly contests that fire evidence.

“A proper, scientific analysis of the chemical test results done at the time prove there was no gasoline on Michael’s shoes,” said Emison. “The tests only found solvents used in the shoe manufacturing process.”

Recently, developments in fire science led to the prosecution agreeing to a new trial for Adam Gray, who was convicted of an arson double-murder that happened in 1996 in Chicago. Adam Gray, like Politte, was just 14 years old at the time of the alleged crime.

Emison, while in law school at the University of Chicago, was a member of the Exoneration Project Clinic’s legal team investigating Gray’s case. According to Emison, prosecutors focused on fire investigators’ conclusions that deep burn patterns at the scene were evidence that the fire was set with an accelerant and therefore an arson.

Gray’s case parallels Politte’s case. Police believed a milk jug found in the alley behind the home contained an accelerant, and a gas station clerk said Gray bought gas shortly before the fire.  However, John Lentini, also serving as an expert in the Politte case, determined that the substance in the milk jug was not gasoline but was petroleum distillate – a substance commonly found in treated wood products and different than the substance in the wood at the scene.

Politte’s legal team believes that, like Gray’s case, a careful analysis of the fire evidence used against Politte will prove his innocence. The Midwest Innocence Project and Langdon & Emison intend to file a Missouri Rule 91 Habeas petition as soon as the investigation is complete. They believe they have a strong case to overturn Politte’s conviction.

"Michael Politte's wrongful conviction is a disturbing example of the state taking a young man's life away because of tunnel vision and unreliable evidence," said Emison.

Categories: Alumni News

Susan Phillips Read, '72: Renaissance Judge Retires from "Legal Heaven" and Returns to Practice

October 14, 2016 - 4:44pm

Susan Phillips Read, ’72, has been referred to as the “Renaissance Judge” for her broad range of nonjudicial interests as well as for her diverse legal experiences.

Susan Phillips Read, ’72, has been referred to as the “Renaissance Judge” for her broad range of nonjudicial interests as well as for her diverse legal experiences. She sat for more than 12 years on New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, stepping down from that bench last year. She is now of counsel in the Albany and New York City offices of Greenberg Traurig and a member of the commercial arbitration panel of the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Her earlier career included stints at a federal agency (the Atomic Energy Commission), a state agency (the State University of New York), a private company (General Electric), and a law firm (Bond, Schoeneck & King). She had also been deputy counsel to New York Governor George Pataki and had served on the state’s Court of Claims.

Read has made her home in upstate New York since she married Howard Read, ’69, in 1973. She describes her husband as “a native New Yorker who considered living more than 25 miles from the Saratoga [horse-racing] track a hardship too heavy to bear.” Mr. Read, who now remains of counsel at the law firm that he cofounded in 1983, had gone to Albany shortly after graduation to join New York’s Department of Public Service, which regulates public utilities.

“I was not at all thrilled by the prospect of living and practicing law outside a major metropolitan area,” Read recalls. She was heartened by the advice of her Law School mentor, Phil Kurland: “He told me to buck up—that Albany was, after all, a state capital, so I was bound to find interesting legal work. He was certainly right about that, although neither of us could have possibly imagined the career that took me to the bench of the preeminent common law and commercial court in the United States.”

Kurland was just one of many Law School professors who influenced her. She says, “I think of my time at the Law School as its Golden Age, with Soia Mentschikoff, Harry Kalven, Grant Gilmore, and so many other brilliant minds. I know that everyone who attends the Law School thinks of their time there as its Golden Age—there’s no better indicator than that of what a great school it has been and continues to be—but it’s no wonder that being immersed in that legal hothouse made me fall in love with the law and want to be as good at it as I could be.”

About the Court of Appeals, Read says, “Our Chief Judge was right in calling it ‘lawyer’s heaven.’ My extraordinary colleagues and I heard so many important cases argued by great advocates. I would like my legal epitaph to be something like ‘She advocated her position forcefully, but was always willing to consider compromise to achieve the clarity promoted by unanimity.’”

The nonjudicial activities that earned Read the “Renaissance” label include her energetic service as a director, and now board chair, of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which is the summer home of the New York City Ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She is also a trustee of the Historical Society of the New York Courts and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Raised in an arts-loving family, she studied ballet, piano, and voice and had anticipated a career in music until the law captivated her. She has acquired a not-inconsiderable knowledge of horse racing, and as a self-described “sports nut” she has been known to wear a favorite football team’s insignia under her judicial robes.

Busy though she is with her present responsibilities at Greenberg Traurig and the AAA, Read intends to find time for things she wasn’t able to fully attend to before, among them more service to arts organizations, more leisure time and travel with her husband, and more piano playing. “My lovely Yamaha upright just sits in the corner, looking lonely and muttering that it needs to be tuned,” she says. “I hope to change that soon.”

Categories: Alumni News

Lewis Collens, '66: Academic Entrepreneur Revitalized Higher Education in Chicago

October 14, 2016 - 4:24pm

During his career, Lewis Collens, ’66, revitalized and transformed two major Chicago higher education institutions.

During his career, Lewis Collens, ’66, revitalized and transformed two major Chicago higher education institutions. He also cofounded a bar review business that became immensely successful, and provided strong and innovative board leadership at several nonprofits committed to improving education. “People sometimes describe me as an academic entrepreneur,” Collens says. “I suppose that’s accurate, although I never really have thought of myself in that way. There were jobs to be done, and I did them the best I could, with a lot of help from a lot of people.”

In the year after he left the Law School, while he was practicing at a top Chicago firm, he cofounded the bar review company that is now known as BARBRI. “In those days, graduates of the University of Chicago Law School were among the least successful at passing the bar,” he recalls. “That didn’t seem to me to be consistent with the natural order of things, and I thought I could help find a better way.” He recruited an all-star cast of professors to teach the review classes, established strong quality controls, and helped make the company into the nationwide industry leader it is today.

In 1974, after teaching for four years at Chicago-Kent College of Law, he became the school’s dean. At that time, Chicago-Kent was not a highly regarded law school. Collens set about changing that, with support from the school’s new owner, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). “The University of Chicago Law School was the inspiration for what I wanted Chicago-Kent to become,” Collens says. “We needed to have the same commitment to scholarship, the same passion for the law, and the same focus on institutional excellence to ensure that our students had the best educational experience of their lives.” He upgraded the faculty, introduced new programming that included a three-year legal writing program and a novel fee-generating clinical program, and used scholarship money to attract top students.

By the end of Collens’s deanship, the school ranked in the top 30 in faculty scholarship, was named as the country’s foremost “up and coming law school” by US News & World Report, and had been praised for its clinical programs by the Chief Justice of the United States.

He became the president of IIT in 1990. The hundred-year-old university was in financial disarray. Collens convened a national commission of education and business leaders to recommend a path forward. The group’s primary recommendation was that the undergraduate curriculum be fundamentally restructured to emphasize team-based, multidisciplinary projects. When that distinctive approach to learning became established, two donors, Robert Pritzker and Robert Galvin, stepped forward to offer 60 million dollars each on the condition that the quality of the incoming students dramatically increased. Collens succeeded, the money came in, and when IIT’s research institute was sold, the school became fully solvent. Collens then led a further series of bold actions, including the creation of an expansive high-tech incubator and new buildings designed by internationally known architects.

When Collens stepped down from the IIT presidency in 2007, its project-based approach to learning had achieved national recognition, its endowment had surpassed 300 million dollars, scores of new academic programs had been introduced, and its quality rankings had soared.

During his career, he served on more than 30 corporate and nonprofit boards, often in leadership positions. In the education field, he currently chairs the executive committee of Advance Illinois, a leading advocate for improved statewide public education, he is a board member of WTTW, Rush University, and the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University, and he advises foundations committed to educational improvements. His civic leadership includes lengthy service as a trustee of the Civic Federation of Illinois and a recently completed board term at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.

“The Law School provided the greatest academic experience of my life, and that experience inspired me in everything I did,” Collens says. “Beyond that, Law School faculty were important advisors and mentors throughout much of my career. I am very grateful for all that the Law School community has done for me.”

Categories: Alumni News

Linda Hirshman, '69: From Law Practice and Teaching to the New York Times Bestsellers List

October 11, 2016 - 11:35am

Uniquely qualified to chronicle the legal, social, and political developments that shape American society, Linda Hirshman, ’69, is a renowned leader in the legal world.

Uniquely qualified to chronicle the legal, social, and political developments that shape American society, Linda Hirshman, ’69, is a renowned leader in the legal world. As an attorney, she helped create groundbreaking law, including a momentous Supreme Court decision. As a college and law school teacher, she won awards for her ability to develop and engagingly communicate important new ideas. With a doctorate in philosophy, she discerns the deeper patterns that others might miss.

Her 2015 book, Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World, won critical praise and a place on bestseller lists at the New York Times and Washington Post. “Carefully researched and enjoyably written,” said the Wall Street Journal, while Linda Greenhouse of the Times commented “For anyone interested in the court, women’s history, or both, the story of Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg . . . is irresistible.” National Public Radio named Sisters in Law as one of its “great reads” for 2015.

Hirshman’s 2012 book, Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution, earned similar recognition. “Her analysis of what makes social movements succeed is always thoughtful and sometimes profound,” a BusinessWeek reviewer enthused. “The result is always entertaining and frequently exhilarating.”

Victory didn’t just report what had already happened; it also accurately forecast what would come next, including the sweeping public and judicial affirmation of marriage as a right for same-sex couples. Hirshman is very good at seeing the future. In 2015, before the sudden death of Antonin Scalia, she wrote a Washington Post op-ed contemplating the likelihood that the Supreme Court would lose one of its justices, and she accurately foresaw the political dynamics that occurred after Scalia’s passing. Her earlier books, including Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex, also anticipated many of the struggles that would play out on the national stage.

After graduating from the Law School, Hirshman practiced union-side labor law in Chicago for 15 years. She was instrumental in crafting the arguments that led the Supreme Court, in Garcia v. SAMTA, to overturn its previous ruling and extend the Fair Labor Standards Act to the states. She held a professorship at IIT Chicago-Kent School of Law for many years, winning the American Bar Association’s annual award for scholarship in administrative law while she was there. At Northwestern Law School, she became the first visiting professor to win the school’s top teaching award. Earning a PhD in philosophy in the early 1990s, she went on to teach philosophy and women’s studies at Brandeis University until she retired from teaching in 2002.

“While I was writing about Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Sisters in Law, I saw a deep connection between her exemplary life in the law and something that is very admirable about the University of Chicago Law School,” Hirshman says. “The Law School values the role of the lawyer in society, and it teaches you to fulfill that role by seeing connections that others often don’t see and framing new developments in the law in the most effective way. It teaches you how to use whatever you have—your intellectual capabilities, your insight, your societal awareness—in the highest and best ways. You could see the full actualization of those qualities in Ginsburg during her time at the ACLU, as vividly as we have seen it on the Supreme Court. Not many of us possess the acumen and skills of a Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but the Law School really expected us to use what we have as fully as we can, and what we learned there helped us do that.”

Hirshman still presents her insights and forecasts regularly in major newspapers and online publications, and on television and radio programs. She’s working on a new book—a novel, this time—and she richly enjoys the time she spends with her children and grandchildren. “I’ve been blessed,” she says, “and I am very grateful.”

Hirshman’s book was published in September and is now available in paperback.

Categories: Alumni News

"Contract Catch" by Ross Guberman, '98, Recommended

October 10, 2016 - 3:19pm

Contract Catch is a natural outgrowth of his efforts in trying to improve how attorneys write and the words attorneys choose.

Original source:

Over the last few days, I was invited to use a program called Contract Catch.  Contract Catch is a tool that helps you catch errors in your contracts, and to also refine your contracts by eliminating inconsistencies and using more precise language.

Contract Catch was developed by Ross Guberman.  Ross is the president of Legal Writing Pro LLC, and he travels around the country world giving presentations to attorneys to help them improve their writing skills.  (I guess it beats my life of sitting in an office 24/7.)  Contract Catch is a natural outgrowth of his efforts in trying to improve how attorneys write and the words attorneys choose.

Categories: Alumni News

Robert Barnett, '71: "Political Chameleon Helps Candidates Test Debating Skills"

October 10, 2016 - 1:32pm

Robert Barnett, '71, is a lawyer who trades the courtroom for the campaign trail practically every election cycle. Earlier this year, the political chameleon was a stand-in for Vermont Sen. Sanders to prep Clinton for the primary debates and recently he assisted her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine by portraying Rebulican Gov. Mike Pence before their Tuesday matchup.

Original source:

His acting chops range from formidable conservative Dick Cheney to feisty liberal Bernie Sanders.

But Waukegan native Robert Barnett's actual role is a lawyer who trades the courtroom for the campaign trail practically every election cycle. Earlier this year, the political chameleon was a stand-in for Vermont Sen. Sanders to prep Clinton for the primary debates and recently he assisted her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine by portraying Rebulican Gov. Mike Pence before their Tuesday matchup.

In 2000 and 2004, Barnett played Vice President Cheney in debate practices for vice presidential hopefuls Joe Lieberman and Sen. John Edwards, respectively.

The influential Washington, D.C., attorney's cast of characters also includes President George H.W. Bush, whom he impersonated for VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and presidential nominee Michael Dukakis in 1988.

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Categories: Alumni News

The Flash of Discovery at the Beginning of a Career: A Visit with Nathaniel Grey, '57

October 6, 2016 - 3:34pm

In a book-lined law office conference room, Nathaniel Grey, ’57, trustee of the Bernard Heerey Family Foundation, leaned forward to look at the three recent Law School graduates before him.

In a book-lined law office conference room, Nathaniel Grey, ’57, trustee of the Bernard Heerey Family Foundation, leaned forward to look at the three recent Law School graduates before him.

Rachel Zemke, ’16, Brian Pflaum, ’16, and Anthony-Ray Sepulveda, ’15, had come to say thank you. Each had nurtured a deep commitment to public service while at the Law School—and each had launched a career, in part, because the Heerey Foundation had provided summer funding that opened a door to valuable public service experience.

“Without the stipend program there is absolutely no way I could have afforded to spend both summers doing [this] work, which is meaningful to my clients and which I love to do,” Zemke wrote in a letter that had been given to Grey before the meeting. She now works as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at LAF, the largest provider of legal aid in Cook County. “My experience was challenging, engaging, and incredibly rewarding. … I feel much more capable of being a public interest attorney.”

The graduates told Grey about the internships they’d pursued as Heerey Fellows—Zemke at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Sepulveda at the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, and Pflaum at the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney—as well as their postgraduate jobs. Pflaum, one of seven recipients of the Law School’s 2016-17 Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowship program, is working at Equip for Equality; Sepulveda is an Assistant Inspector General for the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor; and Zemke is using her two-year EJW Fellowship to launch a program representing survivors of domestic violence who are facing debt collection, identity theft, and credit history issues.

Grey seemed pleased by their determination and by the boost their Heerey Fellowships had offered. But he also had a question for each of them.

“Have you had the experience of the ‘aha!’ yet?” he asked. This, he told them, is one of the joys of lawyering—and one made all the more meaningful when it comes in pursuit of the public interest.

“The law gives you a chance to find a flash of light, a brilliance, a discovery. It happens when you’re handed a problem and asked to solve it somehow, or you read a case and you find the distinguishing fact,” he said. “When you do, it’s very exciting. It proves that what you’re doing in the law is worthwhile. And when it comes during public service, we have something more than just lawyering involved—we have the public good. That’s a good combination. It’s the reason why the Heerey Foundation is funding this program.”

The graduates understood; they’d had those moments. For Zemke, the thrill of discovery happened every time she experienced a breakthrough with a client, achieving a new level of trust or knowledge that enabled her to better understand the person’s motives and needs. For Sepulveda, a moment of awareness had come after a devastating loss while working in the US Attorney’s Office. The judge had thrown out a verdict because the crime hadn’t been charged correctly, which hammered home a critical and unforgettable point: procedure matters. “It wasn’t the right outcome for my client,” Sepulveda said. “But you have to respect the process.”

Pflaum had felt it twice: once when his deep dive into federal appellate case law helped his team successfully defend a motion for summary judgment in a disability case, and again when he found a statute that enabled his team to pursue criminal charges against a trustee who had stolen from a mentally disabled beneficiary.

Grey smiled as Pflaum spoke. “That discovery—that’s one of the pleasures of practicing law,” Grey told him. “It happens quite often, actually. There are all sorts of statutes out there, and lawyers know how to find them.”

The key, Grey told the group, is to revel in the discoveries that set their profession apart from others.

“You can either enjoy your work or not enjoy it,” he said, looking around the table. “Given a chance, I’m sure you’ll all do nicely.”

Categories: Alumni News

Raymond G. Feldman, '45: 1922–2016

October 6, 2016 - 2:18pm

A well-respected Tulsa attorney, Ray and his wife, Nancy, AB ’44, JD ’46, were lifelong volunteers and philanthropists, dedicated to the Law School and its public interest program.

Last fall, Ray Feldman, ’45, sat down with Susan J. Curry, Director of Public Interest Law and Policy, to talk about establishing new public interest programs in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Anyone can volunteer . . . students probably already tutor, coach, or babysit,” Feldman said. “But Law School students have a unique set of skills and knowledge that can be used to help people and communities in need.”

Raymond Guy Feldman died January 30, 2016, at the age of 94. A well-respected Tulsa attorney, Ray and his wife, Nancy, AB ’44, JD ’46, were lifelong volunteers and philanthropists, dedicated to the Law School and its public interest program.

When Ray and Nancy, who passed away in 2014, created the Raymond and Nancy Goodman Feldman Fund in 1975, it initially supported faculty research. Several years ago they altered the purpose to support students and graduates pursuing public interest work, after realizing how quickly and profoundly student culture, and the general student attitude toward public service, was changing.

From that original gift, to the establishment of the Feldman Pro Bono Directors Fund in 2013, which provides annual support for the manager of the Pro Bono Services Initiative, the public service program at the Law School has grown by leaps and bounds. The number of participants pledging pro bono legal service, and the hours of service rendered annually, continues to increase each year. Students have since created new signature pro bono projects, which serve a wide range of worthy causes, from low-income tax filers and Syrian refugees to veterans in need of wills and powers of attorney.

“Ray recognized one very critical guiding principle of the profession: that law students are privileged to have the educational opportunity to acquire legal training, skills, and abilities, and with that privilege comes great responsibility,” said Curry.

“By keeping in touch, Ray saw the Law School continue to respond to a changing world. He was impressed with how it evolved to meet the needs of students who wished to serve others and needed financial assistance in securing their own education,” said Ray’s niece, Barbara Geffen.

Geffen continued, “Ray and Nancy hoped to establish a legacy that would continue to give, so that the next generation of students would perpetuate Ray and Nancy’s generosity in their own individual way of giving to society.”

Ray, the son of Latvian immigrants, was born in Tulsa. He attended the University of Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma before serving in World War II. He came to Chicago, where he met Chicago native Nancy Goodman, also a Law School student. They married in 1946 and made their home in Tulsa.

The Feldmans, who were inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame for their contributions to the city in 1997, were true philanthropists. Ray used his legal training to serve the many causes in which he believed, including the Tulsa chapter of the American Red Cross, the Oklahoma Civil Liberties Union, the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, and the United Jewish Federation of Tulsa, as well as other arts and humanities causes.

“Ray lived a long and amazing life! His many achievements and contributions are truly remarkable and will live on as his legacy. I am grateful to him for having made the Law School a better place. He will be missed,” said Thomas J. Miles, Dean and Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics.

Ray is survived by his two sons, Richard Feldman and John Feldman, five grandchildren, and one step-grandchild.

Categories: Alumni News

"The Indomitable" Nancy Lieberman, '79: Featured in NYU Law Magazine

September 20, 2016 - 1:22pm

As "one of Wall Street's top dealmakers," Nancy Lieberman, '79, "has built a reputation for never backing down."

Original source:

On Christmas Eve 2007, Nancy Lieberman LLM ’81 was taking a ski vacation with her family in Telluride, Colorado. Riding the triple-chairlift with her husband, Mark Ellman, she had been planning to get off at an intermediate station until a fellow skier persuaded the couple to go to the summit. “‘Oh, it’s such a beautiful day,’” Lieberman recalls him saying. They continued on to the top of the mountain. 

Lieberman wasn’t one to be intimidated by difficult terrain. In her decades as an attorney, she had risen to the top of New York’s competitive mergers and acquisitions (M&A) field and was a respected dealmaker at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. She had just come off a banner year, racking up the most billable hours in her career. Consuming many of those hours was a complicated three-way deal in which her client, Great Plains Energy Inc., was trying to acquire another company while simultaneously selling off assets to a third. Shepherding this transaction required all of her keen technical and management skills—not to mention steely resolve. 

Terry D. Bassham, who was then chief financial officer of Great Plains and is now chief executive, says it was Lieberman’s fortitude that got them past a critical point. The target company, Aquila, was demanding more money and threatening to walk. “Nancy and I turned and looked at each other,” Bassham recalls. “We didn’t say a word. She just had, as only she can have, this very firm look that we didn’t need to budge one inch. I trusted her. We turned back to the lawyer and said, ‘Well, this is as far as we can go.’” 

Lieberman’s command of the negotiating table paid off; the deal closed in 2008 for $2.7 billion.

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Categories: Alumni News

Lyneir Richardson, '90: New Social Enterprise Company Chicago Trend Encourages Retail to Open on South and West Sides

September 15, 2016 - 9:43am

Lyneir Richardson, '90, CEO of Chicago Trend, or Transforming Retail Economics of Neighborhood Development, says his new for-profit social enterprise company, backed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Chicago Community Trust, has three advantages that will help it build top-tier retail developments in Bronzeville, Chatham, Pullman and other neighborhoods on the South and West sides: data, development contacts and dollars.

Original source:

Standing on the corner of 39th Street and King Drive on the site of the soon-to-open Mariano's in Bronzeville, Lyneir Richardson stares admiringly—not at the grocer's shiny new sign, but at the vacant lots across the street.

"Look at those 'For Sale,' signs," he says. "They weren't there a few months ago. (The Mariano's store) is a catalytic type of investment. The question is, what other retail should be here that will help continue strengthening the neighborhood?"

He says the adjacent properties, near the former site of the Chicago Housing Authority's Ida B. Wells Homes, should include a sit-down restaurant, perhaps a UPS store and an urgent-care or day care center, as well as a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.

What Richardson hopes won't materialize? Dollar stores, beauty supply stores, fast-food joints and check-cashing spots. It's tricky to prevent those players from overtaking an area, as many are operated by publicly traded corporations that move fast and pay top dollar for space that doesn't receive much other interest.

But Richardson, CEO of Chicago Trend, or Transforming Retail Economics of Neighborhood Development, says his new for-profit social enterprise company, backed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Chicago Community Trust, has three advantages that will help it build top-tier retail developments in Bronzeville, Chatham, Pullman and other neighborhoods on the South and West sides: data, development contacts and dollars.

To get independent businesses and major chains like Chipotle and Target to move into "transitional" neighborhoods, Richardson says, Trend is using sophisticated analysis and newly collected data about neighborhood buying power. It's also banking on relationships with retailers he and his co-founder, Robert Weissbourd, have formed over a collective 50 years in the real estate and development worlds, plus $7 million in prestigious MacArthur funding that will be used as an incentive for retailers to move into places they might otherwise overlook.

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Categories: Alumni News

Marvin Gittler, '63: 1938 - 2016

September 9, 2016 - 12:51pm

Marvin Gittler, '63, labor attorney with an outsized personality, has passed away at 77.

Original source:

In a career of more than 50 years, labor lawyer Marvin Gittler used not only legal skills but humor, charm and an outsized personality to advocate effectively for working people, while at the same time earning the respect of the management lawyers he faced.

"He had a very substantial ability to relate to workers, to be able to solve problems and to put together deals that workers could live with and ratify," said Joel D'Alba, his partner at Asher, Gittler & D'Alba in Chicago. "He was able to meet with management lawyers and work out problems and walk away with a solution that both sides could live with."

Gittler, 77, died of lung cancer and dementia early Thursday in his summer home in Union Pier, Mich., according to his daughter Dr. Michelle Gittler. He was a longtime resident of Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.

Gittler worked out contracts for officers and command staff of the Chicago Police Department, for workers in Chicago Public Schools and for building trades workers at McCormick Place.

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Categories: Alumni News

Judge Robert Martin, '69: Retiring from U.S. Bankruptcy Court

September 8, 2016 - 12:15pm

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Martin, '69, who has served for 38 years, most of them as chief judge of the federal bankruptcy court in Madison, announced Wednesday that he is retiring at the end of the month.

Original source:

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Martin, '69, who has served for 38 years, most of them as chief judge of the federal bankruptcy court in Madison, announced Wednesday that he is retiring at the end of the month.

Martin has been a bankruptcy judge in the Western District of Wisconsin since 1978, and was its chief judge until 2012. The district currently has two bankruptcy judges.

In addition, Martin has served as a visiting judge in bankruptcy courts in the northern districts of Illinois and Iowa.

Martin is a graduate of Cornell College in Iowa and in 1969, graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. He worked in private practice for Ross & Stevens in Madison from 1970 to 1978 before his appointment to the bench.

Martin is the former president of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and former national director of the Turnaround Management Association. He has co-authored several books on bankruptcy law and taught bankruptcy-related courses at the UW Law School. He also frequently lectures on bankruptcy and commercial law.

Bankruptcy judges in the Western District of Wisconsin are appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit on recommendations from the court's Judicial Conference.

Categories: Alumni News

Nancy Rotering, '90: "Hilary Clinton Isn't The Only Woman Shattering Political Glass Ceilings"

September 7, 2016 - 12:07pm

Nancy Rotering, '90, first female Mayor of Highland Park, was recently profiled for

Original source:

Nancy Rotering was first elected in 2011 as Mayor of the City of Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago with a population of about 30,000 people. Rotering had not quite two years of service experience on the City Council when she challenged the two-term incumbent Mayor, and successfully unseated him to become the City's first female Mayor. Highland Park's proximity to Chicago, its situation on the North Shore and its attractiveness to professional athletes, Hollywood movie makers and other notable figures, pose interesting challenges to those who govern and lead it. Largely an affluent suburb, the gulf here between rich and poor is daunting. Rotering tackles these challenges armed with the best piece of advice she has ever received: "Walk, don't run. Calmness backed by defined analysis inspires confidence."

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Categories: Alumni News

Lawrence Howe, '48: 1921-2016

August 31, 2016 - 10:02am

Lawrence Howe, '48, Chicago business and civic leader, dies at 94

Original source:

Lawrence Howe was a Chicago executive who was active in civic affairs, serving as executive director of the Commercial Club of Chicago's Civic Committee and championing school reform and airport expansion.

Howe sat on the boards of a raft of civic groups and was Winnetka's village president for one term in the mid-1960s.

"Much of what we see in Chicago, whether the vibrancy of the business districts, O'Hare International Airport or the business community's efforts to improve education at the elementary and secondary levels, can be traced to Larry Howe and the leaders of the Civic Committee," said Civic Federation President Laurence Msall, whom Howe hired at the Civic Committee in 1988. "And he didn't bring an ideology with him other than the goal of improving the government."

Howe, 94, died of congestive heart failure July 31 at Evanston Hospital, said his daughter Eliza Earle. A longtime Winnetka resident, he had moved to Evanston in 2008.


Categories: Alumni News

Asma Uddin, '05: "When a Swimsuit Is a Security Threat"

August 25, 2016 - 1:08pm

Asma T. Uddin, '05, is the director of strategy at the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom in Washington and a member of the Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Her article "When a Swimsuit Is a Security Threat" was featured in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times on August 24, 2016.

Original source:

Washington — Fifteen towns in France have issued bans on the full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women and nicknamed the “burkini,” citing public order and security concerns. According to the ordinance in Cannes, “Beach attire that ostentatiously displays a religious affiliation, while France and places of worship are the target of terrorist acts, is likely to create risks to public order.”

How do pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a head covering made of swimsuit material threaten public safety?

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Categories: Alumni News