A Dean in Europe

When your alumni live all over the world, you must travel the world to see your alumni. And so, in March, Dean Michael Schill spent spring break visiting with alumni in London, Brussels, Zurich, and Paris. In each city, he met dozens of Chicago graduates and filled them in on news from the Law School.

“I was thrilled by the great show of school spirit among our alumni in Europe,” Schill said. “I loved getting to meet our alumni who, even though for many of them it’s been years since they went here, loved the Law School and had their lives forever changed by it.”

The cities were chosen because each has a vibrant alumni base and each requested a visit from the Dean. In addition to JD and LLM alumni, prospective students were invited to attend. “The idea was to use our alumni, who are really our most eloquent spokespeople, to encourage these students to come to Chicago,” Schill said.

The alumni he met said their strong ties to the Law School were strengthened by the visit.

“We highly appreciate that Dean Schill took the time to come to Switzerland to talk to the alumni and future LLM students here. Ours is a small jurisdiction, but it has a strong community of U of C Law School alumni to whom it is important to keep in touch with their alma mater,” wrote Franz Hoffet, LLM ’88, René Bösch, LLM ’91, and Daniel Daeniker, LLM ’96, partners in private practice at Homburger, a leading Swiss business law firm, in an e-mail. The firm hosted a group of about 35 at their Zurich office, in the tallest building in Switzerland. Afterward, they adjourned to a nearby restaurant in an arts center housed in a former ship engine building facility.

“The LLM at U of C has been the most impressive year of my legal education and staying in touch not only brings back good memories but also the opportunity to keep abreast of the newest developments in legal thinking,” Hoffet said.

In London, Schill mingled with alumni at the city’s Chicago Booth campus. In Brussels, the firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer hosted a reception in their offices, in a tower overlooking the city. The Paris reception was at the local Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom office, on a rooftop deck. Along the way, Schill browsed bookstores and indulged his prodigious sweet tooth, sampling delicacies ranging from Belgian waffles in Brussels to gourmet macaroons in Paris. Eric Lundstedt, Associate Dean for External Affairs, accompanied Schill on the trip.

Dean Schill's event in Brussels had an excellent turnout. In London, Schill and Lundstedt dined with Mimi Gilligan, JD/MBA ’91, and Sean Carney, ’90. Gilligan is Head of Legal and Business Affairs at Atlantic Productions, a company that produces historical and scientific documentaries. Carney is Chief Operating Officer at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the second-largest philanthropic foundation in the United Kingdom.

After meeting with Schill, Carney said the Law School “remains an important, exciting, and vibrant place, with interesting new plans in internationalizing law and economics and great initiatives for strengthening the faculty and student body even further.”

In Paris, recent alumnus Suhaib Al-Ali, LLM ’11, agreed. He was impressed with Schill’s update on the Law School, particularly plans for law and economics “boot camps” to take place around the world. But the visit also brought on a twinge of homesickness for Chicago for Al-Ali, who works at the French firm Bredin Prat, in the international arbitration department.

“To see Dean Schill again and to hear him and all the other alumni talk about the school in such an enamored way made me realize I wasn’t as alone in my nostalgia as I first thought,” Al-Ali said.

“My only question to the Dean,” Al-Ali said, “was whether I could do another LLM.”

Roger Orf, MBA ’77 and JD ’79, said it means a lot to the European alumni to see Dean Schill and hear, in person, his plans for the Law School. Orf works for Apollo Management International in London, where he is responsible for the company’s European real estate investments.

“As the world continues to get smaller, it is vital to travel and receive firsthand reports of what is happening in Europe,” Orf said. “I am very proud of my association and keen for the Law School to continue to prosper.”

Schill plans a trip to visit alumni in South America in the next 18 months. Last year, he traveled to India, China, and Japan.