Dean’s View

This issue is about legacies

UW Law Dean Margaret RaymondMy desktop dictionary, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, defines legacy as “something received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past,” or as “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property.” Both definitions are important to us, and both are recognized in this issue.

The first definition of legacy is honored as we mourn the passing of our giant of a colleague Professor Emeritus James E. Jones Jr. and recognize his extraordinary impact on our law school. Professor Jones was the moving force behind several signature programs that continue here at University of Wisconsin Law School. His leadership in developing and sustaining the LEO program means that today we have more than 1,500 LEO graduates bringing their talents to law practice, the judiciary, government service, business, and nonprofits in Wisconsin and around the country and the world. His vision of a fellowship that would help bring diversity to the law professoriat created the Hastie Fellowship program, which to date has graduated more than 25 Fellows who are faculty members at 24 law schools around the United States. In this issue, we celebrate Professor Jones’s remarkable legacy and reflect on its impact on our profession, our community, and our future.

Our graduates bring their own legacies to their clients and communities. One I think you’ll enjoy reading about is our 1949 graduate Cody Splitt, who was one of the first women to practice law in Outagamie County. Splitt was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Midday Women’s Alliance and honored as the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Leader in the Law by the Wisconsin Law Journal. Her commitment to serving others and her passion for law as a helping profession are an inspiration and create their own legacy.

These extraordinary members of our community could not have thrived without resilience — the capacity to bounce back from life’s challenges and difficulties. Resilience is a critically important component of a successful professional life. On page 16, you’ll see how we’re working at the Law School to help our graduates develop this resilience, enabling them to be flexible, respond to change, and achieve their goals.

I don’t want to forget the second definition of legacy, which has to do with giving. Our law school is honored, from time to time, with bequests from graduates who are appreciative of the doors that their legal training opened for them. Sometimes when these bequests come to the Law School, they are a complete surprise to us. While surprise bequests are profoundly appreciated and very welcome, they mean that we missed our opportunity to express to the donors our gratitude for their support, to consult with them about how they want us to use their gift, and to encourage their engagement with the Law School.

I’d like to recognize these legacy donors while they’re still with us, to honor their intention in the same way we honor other donors to the Law School, and to invite them to be engaged with us in the life of our community. To do that, we’ve rejuvenated the University of Wisconsin Law School Legacy Society. Members who tell us that they’ve made a commitment to the Law School in their wills receive regular updates from me as well as a special gift of recognition, and they are invited to our annual Dean’s Summit. We’d be delighted to welcome you to our Legacy Society. If you have made plans through your estate or are contemplating a bequest, charitable gift annuity, or other planned gift to the Law School and haven’t made us aware of your plans, please contact Eric Salisbury at 608-630-2514.

Thanks for all you do every day to show the value of your University of Wisconsin Law School education.

My best,
Dean Margaret Raymond