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The Online Version
of the Magazine
of Cornell Law School


Fall 2015


Volume 41, No 2

Forum '14

2018 Students Orientation
Entering members of the Class of 2018 participate in Orientation, which included the Hoffman Challenge Course.

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Table of Contents Featured Article

Dear Alumni and Friends:

Cornell Law School is a school founded on twin commitments to both inclusion and excellence. And, from the beginning, it has been a global law school. (Our first graduating classes included a man who had been born in slavery as well as students who traveled to Ithaca from Meiji Japan.) A great law school like Cornell is always experimenting and innovating even while it remains true to its unchanging core values. In the stories that follow, you'll learn about how we are undertaking new initiatives that push the boundaries of legal education. You'll also read about how we are continuing to celebrate our long tradition of inclusiveness and promoting our global legal vision in remote corners of the world. You will read about an alumnus who has raised the bar for excellence in his work on behalf of award-winning journalists. Finally, you will become reacquainted with two recently retired administrators, who safeguarded Cornell's core values for decades.

Our cover story describes the recent launch of a first-of-its kind program to help students develop collaboration and leadership skills. These are not things law schools have traditionally taught. Yet they are essential to successful legal practice in any field. Armed with these skills, our students will be more effective lawyers who stand out in the employment marketplace.

The first step in this exciting initiative was a three-day Professional Development Orientation in which all entering members of the Class of 2018 participated. Guiding them were a group of 2L and 3L students who served as the first group of Professional Development Fellows. On the third day of the orientation, after two days of intense, interactive leadership lessons, the students tackled the Hoffman Challenge Course, run by Cornell Outdoor Education. As an active participant along with the students, I can attest to its tremendous impact. Students wholeheartedly embraced the team building exercises. They established friendships, learned about their distinctive strengths, and pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones. I saw a woman who was initially scared to leave the ground agree to be hoisted twenty feet into the air by her teammates. As our Professional Development Program grows, it's going to be one of the key things that distinguishes us as a law school.

In his article, Professor Kevin Clermont explores another chapter in Cornell Law School’s long history of inclusion. Following a previous article on Cornell’s early Japanese students and a book on Cornell’s first African- American graduate, George Washington Fields, Professor Clermont now introduces us to Mary Kennedy Brown, the first woman to graduate from Cornell Law School. He paints a compelling picture of a woman who, after graduating in 1893, practiced law in Chicago and Boston and championed progressive views.

In this issue, we also say “farewell” to two pivotal figures in the Law School’s recent history: Anne Lukingbeal, dean of students, and Rick Geiger, dean of admissions and communications. For nearly four decades, Lukingbeal was central to the life of the Law School. She had an enormous impact on the education, careers, and lives of generations of students. Geiger was the Law School’s longest-serving dean of admissions. For over 28 years, he was a key figure in selecting two-thirds of the Law School’s living alumni. Together, they exemplify the caring, dedication, and collegiality that have come to characterize the Law School.

To round things off, this issue finishes with articles on alumnus Mark Jackson’s role in helping the Wall Street Journal win a Pulitzer Prize and Professor Charles Whitehead’s work in Ukraine. One is an example of the versatility of Cornell lawyers, and the other shows how we continue to be a global law school.

Taken together, the feature articles comprising this issue provide snapshots of where we are, where we have been, and where we want to go. And, while there is much work to do, the future is promising. On behalf of everyone at the Law School, I thank you for your continued interest and support.

Eduardo M. Peñalver

The Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law

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