New York Annual Luncheon Highlights Faculty

On a warm January day in midtown Manhattan, with seven Cornell Law faculty members taking their place on the dais at Convene, Donald Frederico ’79 set the tone for this year’s New York Annual Luncheon, called “Cornell Law School Faculty: The LifeBlood of Our Community— Past, Present, and Future.”

“So much in our society, in our country, and in the world depends on our profession. And so much of how we lawyers meet our obligations to society depends on the quality of the teaching we receive.” 

Donald Frederico ‘79 

“So much in our society, in our country, and in the world depends on our profession,” said Frederico, president of the Alumni Association’s Executive Board of Directors. “And so much of how we lawyers meet our obligations to society depends on the quality of the teaching we receive.”

To underline the point, Jens David Ohlin, Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, opened by calling the Law School’s faculty “the cornerstone to the success of our students as our world continues to change.” Ohlin described a consistency throughout those years in the faculty’s commitment to its students. “I often hear alumni reminisce about moments when their professors did extraordinary things for them,” said Ohlin. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way, and I’m confident that thirty years from now, people in your seats are going to revere and remember their professors the same way you do now.”

Introducing the panel, Ohlin asked faculty about the lessons learned in their time teaching at the Law School. Winnie Taylor, professor of law and associate provost emerita, talked about bringing more of her life into the classroom, adding cases about minority plaintiffs and defendants to her courses. Sheri Lynn Johnson, James and Mark Flanagan Professor of Law, emphasized the importance of giving students more time in front of the class, sometimes as long as fifteen or twenty minutes, to deepen their answers to her questions.

Donald Frederico ‘79, president of the Alumni Association’s Executive Board of Directors, introduces a panel of Cornell Law School faculty.

For Celia Bigoness, clinical professor of law, expanding Cornell’s clinical offerings has helped students learn about building relationships with actual clients and working as part of a team, experiences she didn’t have until after graduating law school. For G. S. Hans, associate clinical professor of law, encouraging students to spend three or four semesters doing hands-on clinical work has been the key to developing greater confidence, initiative, and skill as young alumni begin their careers.

Teaching at Cornell Tech has shown James Grimmelmann, Tessler Family Professor of Digital and Information Law, the benefits of bringing together J.D. and LL.M. students, welcoming a wider variety of perspectives and real-world experiences. Joining the faculty last fall, Alexandra Lahav, professor of law, has been encouraged to find a culture where 1Ls are deeply engaged in helping one another, getting along, and supporting each other through the challenges of the Socratic method.

Turning to the audience, Ohlin and the panelists fielded a series of questions about artificial intelligence, diversity, and social media, before the last word went to Hans, talking about their shared responsibilities. “It’s important to think about our role in Myron Taylor Hall, in Ithaca, and in the world, in ways that are demonstrative of the kinds of faculty members we want to be, the kind of faculty members we want our students to think about in the moment and in the future.”

 The 2023 New York Annual Luncheon was sponsored by Allen & Overy; Cravath Swaine & Moore; DLA Piper; Sidley Austin; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Urban American; and the Cornell Law School Admissions Office.

Curia Society Dines on Constitutional Law

After a two-year “pandemic” hiatus, the Curia Society held its 90th Annual Dinner in midtown Manhattan on October 27, 2022, resuming a tradition begun by a group of Jewish law students in the 1930s but open to all Law alumni and their guests. Between opening remarks by Dean Ohlin and closing remarks by Hon. Stephen G. Crane, B.S. ’60, J.D. ’63, the event co-chair, the crowd was treated to a talk by Nelson Tebbe, Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, on “Originalism and the Roberts Court.”

Tebbe, who holds advanced degrees in both law and divinity, spoke about the long history of originalism, its revival in the 1980s, and its current place at the center of the Supreme Court’s majority. He compared originalism to living constitutionalism and plural approaches to constitutionalism, described its advantages and disadvantages, shared examples of rulings on gun rights, reproductive freedom, and religion, and made sure to leave plenty of time for questions.

“It could have been polarizing,” said Laura Wexler, A.B. ’02, J.D. ’09, who sits on the planning committee, “but the conversation that followed was very balanced. Nelson took everyone’s opinion into account, and really connected with the audience, really listened. I came away thinking he must be a really great professor—and I did that without knowing his political affiliation, which says a lot about fairness.”

“Nelson was truly impressive, truly enjoyable,” said Jay Waks, B.S. ’68, J.D. ’71, an – other member of the planning committee, reviewing his highlights of the evening: the new venue—The Century Association on West 43rd—the food, and the pleasures of meeting new people, especially younger alumni who hadn’t attended in the past. “I’ve been going to these dinners for over twenty years, and Nelson’s talk was among the best. The presentation felt very current, because he was talking about how recent Supreme Court decisions comport with the Constitution—plus, we had a really great crowd to watch, with lots of healthy disagree – ment and everyone staying engaged through the end. When I got home, my wife said I was glowing.”

Anyone interested in joining the Curia Planning Committee can contact Kristine Hoffmeister, director of Alumni Affairs at

In Memoriam

William M. Barron ’70
Timothy J. Battaglia ’72
George K. Bernstein, LL.B. ’57
Walter Black ’59
David L. Boehnen ’71
Colin Souther Brooks ’68
Andrew C. Callari ’89
Neil M. Day, LL.B. ’63
James Kittinger Diebold ’67
Joseph Z. Epstein, LL.B. ’66
Lorna Alice Watt Erwin ’63
David W. Feeney, LL.B. ’63
Henry Charles Granison ’88
Charles D. Gray ’77
Richard J. Henry ’73
Gary Edward Humes ’81
Harry Issler ’58
Eleanor Meaker Kraft, LL.B. ’60
Joseph M. Levin, LL.B. ’65
James J. McNamara, LL.B. ’53
Luther W. Miller, LL.B. ’58
Leonard Edward “Ed” Monaghan ’57
Richard H. Pille, LL.B. ’62
Gregory C. Shields ’84
Emanuel Philip Snyder ’40
James “Jim” Wawro ’69