On the Cutting Edge

UW Law Dean Margaret RaymondThis issue of the Gargoyle comes to you as we say goodbye to the Class of 2016. At their hooding ceremony, they got to hear remarks from former US Attorney General Eric Holder and former Governor Tommy Thompson ’66, who received an honorary degree from UW this spring. The ceremony, as it always is, was a true commencement, the beginning of our graduating students’ lives in the law. Our graduates embark on the world of practice ready to make a difference, and years later, we remain astonished and inspired by what they accomplish.

It should not be surprising that our graduates come away from UW Law ready to change the world; they learn it from our faculty, who are deeply engaged in the same kind of transformative work.

This issue celebrates some of our faculty and graduates who are having a profound impact on our world. Those include my colleagues in the Wisconsin Innocence Project, who got an unexpected jolt of fame recently through their connection to the Netflix series, Making a Murderer. We also feature faculty member R. Alta Charo, whose scholarship on bioethics makes her a nationally recognized expert on critical questions about what our future looks like. And we highlight the work of graduate Rick Raemisch ’88, whose commitment to prison reform as the executive director of the Colorado prison system has earned well-deserved national attention. And, with the upcoming general election, a look at Professor Rob Yablon’s research on election participation is exciting, relevant, and timely.

This work is meaningful to all of us. Our faculty’s commitment to research that is intellectually demanding and that has real-world significance is part of what makes UW Law School so special. That connection between rich research productivity and its broader implications for the state, the nation, and the world is the embodiment of the Wisconsin Idea. And what it brings into the classroom or the clinic is an education both in why law makes a difference, and how, armed with a law degree, a practicing lawyer can help make that difference.

One colleague who made a tremendous difference to our law school and our community was Meredith Ross ’90. I am sad to report that Merry, as we knew her, passed away this spring. A memorial remembrance of her is included in this issue. Her colleagues here and in the practice, as well as the many graduates who learned from her and grew under her tutelage into remarkable lawyers, all grieve the loss of this extraordinary lawyer, teacher, and friend.

We could not do all that we do at the Law School without our donors, whose support enables and enriches all our work. For example, Professor R. Alta Charo, featured in this issue, was recently named the first recipient of the Sheldon B. Lubar Distinguished Research Chair in Law. This chair, created by our great friend Sheldon Lubar ’53, recognizes, through a competitive process, faculty
members whose scholarly work merits a special period of dedicated time and effort. Professor Charo will take a leave semester next year to work on a book manuscript exploring nontraditional approaches to some classic bioethics dilemmas. We look forward to the work she will produce, and we are profoundly grateful to the Lubars for creating this kind of opportunity for our faculty.

The Lubars are hardly alone; we have many friends who help support us. In this issue we recognize a special cohort: our legacy donors, those who have expressed their intent to give to the Law School through their estates. These donors are members of our Law School Legacy Society, and we are profoundly grateful for their commitments. Their expressed support matters to the Law School and our students in the future; it helps us reach our goals for the comprehensive campaign we’re immersed in; but perhaps most important, it enables us to show our appreciation to those donors during their lifetime, and to make sure we know their intentions with regard to their gifts, so we can put them to work as the donors would wish.

All your giving is meaningful to us. If you’re thinking about a legacy gift to the Law School (or if you’ve already created one in your estate plan), we’d love to know about it, and we’d love to show you how your giving makes you a part of all that happens here.

My best,

Dean Margaret Raymond