Alumni Return to Campus for Reunion 2023
On a picture-perfect June afternoon, with sixty years of Cornell Law alumni gathered in the Purcell Courtyard, Jens David Ohlin stepped up to the microphone. “It’s no exaggeration to say our students receive the finest legal training available anywhere in the world,” said Ohlin, Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, setting the tone for Reunion 2023.
“From our superb classroom teaching to our numerous legal clinics to our nationally renowned legal writing program, we take special pride in the quality of our instruction.”
Keeping focused on the faculty mission, Ohlin talked about the three pillars of a Cornell Law education: training students to become lawyers in the best sense, conducting research to advance society’s understanding of law, and practicing for the greatest good. For Ohlin, that’s why Cornell grads go on to prestigious careers in their chosen fields, why they engage in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, and why they keep returning for Reunion, remembering the place where it all started.
“Cornell Law School was a transformative experience for me, said Chris Chang ’78, back on campus after fortyfive years. “As a kid from Queens and a child of immigrant parents, having the opportunity to come to Cornell Law School opened my eyes and changed my life. Leapfrogging here made all the difference in the world. It opened the doors for everything else.”
On Reunion Friday, that everything else included viewing a program on the University’s “To Do the Greatest Good” campaign, raising a glass to the Finger Lakes at a regional Reunion Wine Tasting, and attending CLE classes on “Truth, Lies & AI: Legal Information and Responsibility in GPT” and “The Enterprise Data Privacy Program: What, Why, and How.” For their celebratory dinners, the classes met downtown, Cayuga Heights, and on campus—the lucky Class of ’73 had the rare privilege of eating in the Law Library—before coming together on the Arts Quad, where Reunion Tent Parties rocked the crowd until the wee hours of the morning.
Cornell Law School alumni enjoyed a weekend of reminiscing and reconnecting with fellow classmates during Reunion 2023.
Then, rolling out of bed on Saturday morning, the party moved from the Reunion Breakfast in the Landis Auditorium to the Reunion 5K at Cornell Botanic Gardens, the Dean’s State of the Law School Address, the Professional Clothing Drop in Myron Taylor Hall, the live-streamed Conversation with President Martha E. Pollack, and a lunchtime return to the Purcell Courtyard to celebrate the close of the Reunion Campaign. The good news? Tallying results from nearly 400 alumni, the Law School raised more than five million dollars, with three Reunion classes— the 40th, 50th, and 60th— taking home trophies for contributing more than one million dollars apiece.
“Our goal was to raise $200,000, and we raised over a million,” said Sally Mulhern ’82, attending as an honorary member of the Class of ’83. “That’s how amazing this class is. No matter how far away they are from one another as the years pass, the Class of ’83 has a sense of community that never wavers. Ever. It’s not just Reunion. It’s magic.”
“They’re my people,” agreed Leslie Wheelock, J.D. ’84/M.B.A. ’84, another honorary member of the Class of ’83, trying to explain the special sauce that holds this class together. “The Class of ’83 had an attitude that law school was going to be more than just hard work. We had clambakes. Intramural teams. Softball tournaments. We actively sought out people who wanted to enjoy themselves, people with a lot of heart. We found each other, and to this day, we’re still really close.”
Members of the class of 2023 with Adjunct Professor Mohamed Arafa
Then, after savoring that last bit of Dinosaur barbecue, Reunion pressed forward with a Library Collections Open House, a CLE class on Justice, Equity, Democracy & Inclusion, and guided tours of the Law School before everyone settled down again for an All- Class Celebration and Buffet Dinner.
Between bites, the memories kept coming: about hours spent studying in the library and hours spent relaxing in the gorges. About arriving on campus just before the start of classes or arriving years earlier as the child of Cornellians with a third generation yet to come. About professors and mentors, about gratitude and giving back. About friends lost and found, and about friendships rekindled and friendships deepened.
“It’s a real joy to come back here,” said Robin Blackwood ’78, who started her legal career in the U.S. Navy and finished at Verizon. “When I came back five years ago, I found it very meaningful, but it’s kept growing deeper. I’ve been building closer relationships with my classmates, and as I find out more about them, and as I’m inspired by the stories they tell me, I understand more about what binds us all together.”
Members of the Class of 1983.
For Jeff Estabrook ’83, the key is all that shared experience. “Cornell Law brings people together for life,” he said, with the sound of dueling pianos in the background. “That first year is competitive, no doubt about that. But going through that crucible first year makes you a better lawyer, and it makes you a better person. Our class had a great ability to set aside that competition and get everyone together. It was there from the beginning, that ability to set things aside. And it’s still there. Just look.”
Kasey Ashford ‘19; Seth Crockett ‘18; Marcel Michelman, LLM ‘18; and Hisayo Kushida Nadal Michelman.
Jeffrey Estabrook, A.B. ‘80, J.D. ‘83; Kiki Wolfeld; Warren Wolfeld ‘83; Steven R. Miles, J.D. ‘83, M.B.A. ‘84; Leslie Wheelock J.D. ‘84, M.B.A. ‘84; and Katherine Ward Feld, M.B.A. ‘82, J.D. ‘83.
Around the courtyard, alums and families continued to mingle, taking time for one more glass of wine and making connections across the years, from the oldest classes to the youngest. “This has been one of the most dynamic, most meaningful years of my life,” said Akash Gahlawat, LL.M. ’23, taking a break from studying with classmates to celebrate his zero-year reunion. “My year here was overwhelming at some points, but always rewarding, and from the time I arrived, it all happened very, very quickly. It was the best I could have ever asked for, and I loved it. I loved it beyond everything.”
At the start of their 1L year, Henry Granison, Mary Beth Grant, and Cyrus Mehri found themselves assigned to Section G, where they became fast friends. Nearly forty years later, with Granison newly gone and Grant a widow, Mehri dedicated his CLE course on “Justice, Equity, Democracy & Inclusion” to Henry’s memory.
“I wanted to honor Henry, who would have loved to be part of this conversation,” said Mehri ’88, who based the class on land- mark settlements with Coca-Cola, Texaco, and the National Football League. “I wanted to bear witness to him being in Constitutional Law, falling in love, marrying Mary Beth, raising two wonderful daughters, and serving on the Tompkins County Legislature. He knew how to connect the dots across law and politics, and we’re going to miss his wisdom, all of us.”
Over the decades, as Granison and Mehri grew closer, Henry practiced law in Boston and Minneapolis, returned to Ithaca to join the Law School’s admissions team, and taught at Tompkins Cortland Community College. In all that time, he never lost his passion for justice-or for Cornell Law, classmates, the New York Mets, reading, celebrity gossip, movie soundtracks, musical theater, volunteer work, Ithaca sunsets, and family.
“I had no idea Cyrus was going to dedicate his talk to Henry,” said Grant ’88, whose friends made sure she arrived at the be- ginning of the presentation. “I knew some of Cyrus’ stories, because we’ve been sharing them for years, and we’d talked the night before about getting a photo. But when Henry’s picture went up on the screen, I was completely surprised. Of course, I started crying, and of course, everybody started patting me on the back and giving me hugs. It was really sweet. Really beautiful.”
The Cornell Law School Alumni Association is comprised of approximately 13,000 graduates who hold an LL.B./ J.D., LL.M. (general), LL.M. in Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, M.S.L.S., or J.S.D. from Cornell Law School. Giving voice to the interests of these graduates is an alumni board of directors that meets quarterly to ensure alumni participation is a key component of the Law School. The board’s objectives are to foster a closer association between the Law School and its alumni and among its alumni. Members of the board promote the interest and welfare of the Law School and promote the practice of law and the highest standards of learning and ethics in the legal profession. Joining the ranks of the Cornell Law School Executive Board of Directors for a three year term (2023–26) are Juliana Dowling ’20; Desi Fernandez ’08; R. Kent Roberts ’94; Marc Rubenstein ’89; Pallavi Sharma, LL.M. ’05; and Vanessa Yen ’07.
Juliana Dowling ’20
Juliana Dowling is a litigation attorney with experience in a wide range of complex commercial matters, including securities, antitrust, mergers and acquisitions, and SPAC litigation. Juliana previously worked as a litigation associate in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis. In 2021, she clerked for the Honorable Paul B. Matey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She has been published in the Illinois Law Review Online and Securities Regulation Daily.
During her time at Cornell Law School, Juliana served as vice president of speakers of the Federalist Society and copresident of the Business Law Society. She also served as a teaching assistant and research assistant for Professor George Hay’s Antitrust Law course and as an editor on the Cornell International Law Journal. In 2018, Juliana interned for the Honorable Anne M. Patterson ’83, associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and was selected for the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, the Georgetown Center for the Constitution’s Originalism Summer Seminar, and the Heritage Foundation’s Federal Judicial Clerkship Training Academy.
Juliana graduated magna cum laude from New York University in 2017, with high honors for her double major in Italian Studies and Politics, where she was also a University Honors Scholar and recipient of the NYU College of Arts and Science Dean’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò Award for her honors thesis.
Juliana fenced sabre on the Varsity Fencing Team throughout her time at NYU, earning the Student- Athlete Academic Achievement Award as well as University Athletic Association Winter Sport All-Academic Honors.
Juliana is currently enjoying every moment with her infant son, Philip. She lives in New York City with her husband, David Dowling ’20, and son, and is an active member of the Central Park Conservancy Women’s Committee and the New York City Young Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society.
Desi Fernandez ’08
Desi Fernandez is a managing director for Trustpoint.one headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Trustpoint is one of the largest integrated legal solutions providers in the country, serving the Am Law 400 and the Fortune 2000.
Desi has worked with law firms and corporations to meet current industry and organizational privacy goals. He provides expertise that helps organizations futureproof against potential legal, regulatory, and market changes driven by ongoing pressure from consumers to protect their personal sensitive information.
Desi has significant experience in legal services. He has a proven track record of main taining high-level accounts across the country. His unique combination of legal knowledge and business acumen enables him to structure creative strategies that deliver highlevel services to clients in the most effective manner.
Prior to working at Trustpoint. one he worked in the corporate practice group of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders and Ruder Finn, a top-tier public relations firm. He provided consulting expertise to the Brazilian and Colombian governments on foreign direct investment initiatives in China.
R. Kent Roberts ’94
R. Kent Roberts is a partner at Hodgson Russ. Although based in Buffalo, New York, Kent can be found working from the firm’s New York City and Toronto offices. He regularly advises technology companies (based in the United States and elsewhere) in connection with the protection and commercialization of intellectual property, particularly related to software, electrical, and mechanical technologies. His work includes patent, trademark, and copyright prosecution, negotiation of software licenses and IP license agreements, infringement analysis related to patents, trademarks, and copyrights, and providing advice regarding trade secrets. Kent’s clients regularly include those in the medical, biometric, software, electrical, mechanical, electro-mechanical, and communications industries, among others.
Before focusing on intellectual property law, Kent’s practice was grounded in M&A, tax, trade secret protection, and employment agreements. Kent’s business law experience as well as his unique engi neering education (separate degrees in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering) and experience are utilized in his tech-focused practice. Prior to law school, Kent worked as a process engineer and a designs engineer providing analysis and technical support to optimize various oil refinery facilities. Following law school, Kent practiced in Connecticut before relocating to his wife’s (JD ’93) hometown, where they raised three children. Despite encouraging all three children to attend Cornell as undergrads, only one did so. And, despite strongly encouraging those three to consider careers other than law, two are now attending law school.
Marc Rubenstein, A.B. ’86, J.D. ’89
Marc Rubenstein is co-managing partner of the Ropes & Gray office in Boston, co-chair of the firm’s life sciences and healthcare industry group and co-chair of the firm’s emerging company and venture capital specialty group. Marc focuses on representing clients in the biotechnology, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries in a wide variety of transactions, including license and collaboration agreements, public and private securities offerings, and mergers and acquisitions. He has extensive experience representing life sciences clients in structuring and negotiating collaborative research, development, and licensing arrangements. In these transactions, Marc has represented both licensors and licensees, and has negotiated early- and late-stage product agreements and platform and drug discovery deals. In addition, he has broad experience negotiating supply and manufacturing agreements, distribution and co-promotion agreements, university license agreements, sponsored research agreements, and other commercial agreements that arise regularly in the life sciences industry.
Marc regularly represents publicly traded life sciences companies in securities matters, including IPOs, PIPEs, at-themarket offerings, and other types of financings, as well as advising these companies in ongoing reporting matters. He also represents venturebacked life sciences companies in financings and ongoing matters, and has extensive experience advising public and private life sciences companies in mergers and acquisitions, including tender offers, mergers and asset acquisitions, and sales.
Pallavi Sharma, LL.M. ’05
Pallavi Sharma is an assistant general counsel at McKinsey & Company in New York. In this role she acts as a legal and risk advisor to partners and senior partners of the firm. She provides commercial and strategic counsel on all transactional matters with a special focus on technology and private equity. Pallavi has over fifteen years of experience advising on technology transactions.
Before joining McKinsey, Pallavi was part of the legal team at Accenture supporting its technology media and telecom practice, preceded by her role at the Born group (formerly Group FMG), a portfolio digital media company where she headed the legal and compliance department globally and also worked closely with the private equity fund that owned the portfolio. She served as the Americas legal lead for 3i Infotech where she managed their technology transactions and supported multiple M&A transactions as an in-house counsel. Pallavi has also worked with a top tier law firm in Mumbai, India, where she primarily supported the M&A, capital markets, and project finance practice areas.
At present, Pallavi is the editor of McKinsey legal blog ‘In the Balance’ and in her free time enjoys writing, walking around New York City, and meditation.
Vanessa Yen ’07
Recognized as one of the Top 100 Women Leaders of New York and Top Women Attorneys with nearly twenty years of work experience, Vanessa Yen is an IP litigation partner at King & Spalding whose practice focuses on complex patent litigations and disputes in the life sciences, including Hatch-Waxman and Biosimilars litigations, medical devices and technologies disputes, IPRs, licensing disputes and arbitrations, IP counseling, prelitigation diligence, and strategic assessment of IP for mergers and acquisitions.
Vanessa has never lost a trial on behalf of a client, and she has been commended for “exceptional skill sets and profound insights” (IAM Patent 1000, 2019).
Named as the U.S. Rising Star in IP (LMG Life Sciences, 2021), Vanessa handled one of the top litigations and disputes (Financial Times) and achieved a patent litigation victory named Hatch-Waxman Impact Case of the Year (LMG Life Sciences). She was part of a team that obtained the first IPR victory for an Orange Book-listed patent dispute involved in a parallel federal district court litigation.
As an MIT graduate, Vanessa has deep experience handling matters for clients in the life sciences and tech industries, as well as academic and nonprofit organizations. These including: Bristol Myers Squibb, Netgear, Alexion, GSK, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, GW Pharma, Sword Health, Sunovion, Novartis, Galderma, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Temple Health, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, WARF, and IPO.
Experienced with bench and jury trials before U.S. district courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and IPRs before the PTAB, she is experienced in handling IP matters in various technologies, including cancer, HIV/ AIDS, cannabis medicine, dermatology, femtech, prostate disorders, genetic vectors, molecular cloning, musculoskeletal disorders, and smart WiFi photo frames.
Vanessa is currently on Intellectual Property Owners Assoc. (IPO)’s Amicus Briefing Committee, regularly speaks and writes on developments in patent law and DEI matters, is the partner co-chairperson of her firm’s Asian affinity group, and is committed to DEI as an active member of multiple national bar associations and organizations dedicated to the same.
Prior to law, Vanessa spent years conducting breast cancer research and genomic research while at MIT and Cold Spring Harbor Lab. She also worked at a top strategic management consulting firm serving Fortune 500 companies.
Cornell Law School is grateful to all the dedicated alumni volunteer leaders who continue to unite and foster the vibrant network of graduates and uphold the mission of the school—“to do the greatest good.”
Mark E. Arroll, JD ’59
Jacob A. Bloom, JD ’66
Jonathan W. Cuneo, JD ’77
Arthur H. Downey, LLB ’63
Charles H. Githler II, AB ’55, LLM ’61
Laura Judith Goldin, JD ’79
Bruce I Goldstein, LLB ’67
Lewis J. Gould, LLB ’57
Edward T. Hanley, LLB ’54
Peter J. McCue, AB ’73, JD ’78
F. William Meservey, LLB ’54
Robert C. Miller, AB ’62, LLB ’65
M. Bruce Miner, JD ’63
James Conklin Moore, BS `61, LLB ’64
Morton Moskin, LLB ’50
Horace L. Nelson, JD ’10
James E. O’Donnell, JD ’85
Gerald L. Paley, JD ’64
E. George Pazianos, AB ’56, LLB ’61
David Albert Pierce, JD ’92
Frederic W. “Bud” Rose, AB ’55, JD `60
Edward Andrew Rosic Jr., MBA ’82, JD ’83
Victor J. Rubino, AB ’62, LLB ’65
Stephen W. Sommerhalter, JD ’74
Peter R. Sprague, JD ’57
Mary A. Walsh, JD ’82
Keith H. West, JD ’73
Joyce A. Wilder, JD ’74
Frank L. Wiswall Jr., JD ’65
Robert K. Wrede, AB `66, JD ’69