MARCH 2018

Dean's Dispatch for Alumni

From the desk of Dean Boise

Commencement Speaker Announced!

Join Us for a Celebration! 2018 College of Law Commencement, May 11, 11 a.m., Carrier Dome



U.S. News & World Report Ranking Improves

I am pleased to share that, in the 2019 edition of the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings, the College of Law improved its position from #92 to #88.

Contributing to this rise was improvement in a number of areas over which we have some measure of control. Specifically, the College reported its best-ever rate of employment in full-time, long-term bar required or J.D.-advantaged positions of 74.1% for the Class of 2016; the J.D. Class of 2020 entered with a higher median GPA (3.39) than in the previous year; and our New York State bar passage for the Class of 2016 was 89.5%, the highest rate in more than 15 years.

This year we continued to see tremendous improvement in our bar passage and employment rates for the Class of 2017, with 91.6% of our Class of 2017 first-time bar exam takers passing the New York State bar exam, and—as of March 15—a 79.2% employment rate, besting last year’s rate of employment. We can look forward to these numbers being part of next year’s U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Our improved ranking is a validation that a focus on key components of the rankings is the right strategy. While we should celebrate our new ranking as a positive step forward, my goal is for much greater movement. Already appreciative of everything you do on behalf of the College, I pledge to continue to work with you, our alumni community, to think strategically about how we can improve our ranking even further.

An Update on the Moot Court Program Review

Over the past 15 months, a committee of faculty, students, and alumni have performed an in-depth review of our renowned and distinguished Moot Court Program and advocacy curriculum. The committee has presented me with many recommendations, including structural and procedural changes that address student concerns and ensure that students develop the practical skills today’s courtroom advocates need.

After receiving and incorporating input from a student forum on March 21, 2018, I will adopt a final program structure before the end of the semester, which we will share broadly. Some of the committee’s proposed changes have been piloted this academic year, including new try-out procedures, additional coaches and assistant coaches, and curricular requirements. While it’s hard to say how much these changes have impacted spring teams, several recently advanced to their national rounds (see Students in the News below).

In connection with these changes, I am pleased to announce that Associate Professor Todd Berger, Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic, will become the new Program Faculty Director as of the end of the semester. I want to thank current director Professor Kathleen O’Connor for her years of Moot Court service, for her leadership of the program over the last two years, and in particular for the steps she has taken to facilitate a thorough review of this important facet of the legal education we provide, ensuring that its rigor and competitive strength will endure. At of the end of the semester, Professor O’Connor will turn her attention full time to the launch of our online J.D. program in her role as Executive Director of Online Education.



Other College of Law News

Naturalization Ceremony Set for April 9

For immigrants to America, the journey toward citizenship concludes with a Naturalization Ceremony, a special event that they will never forget.

I am proud to share with you the news that we will host a Naturalization Ceremony for more than 50 new American citizens—including military servicemembers—on April 9, 2018, at 1 p.m. in the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom. We are honored that the Hon. Thérèse Wiley Dancks L’91, US Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of New York, will preside. She has worked closely with the College to bring the ceremony to Dineen Hall.

I encourage you all to attend and see the legal process in action. Let’s all share the pride these new citizens have for our country and make them feel welcome in our community. We will host a reception for the new citizens and their guests following the ceremony, which will be an opportunity to interact with them and to hear their stories. I hope to see you there!

More Than 200 Local High School Students Participate in Diversity Law Day

Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management Denée Page organized an impressive and inspiring Diversity Law Day on February 16. More than 200 local high school students heard from a law student panel moderated by 2L Pthara Jeppe and from young professionals in an attorney panel, moderated by Professor Suzette Melendez and featuring professors LaVonda Reed and Paula Johnson and graduates Kayla Aria L’15 and Alphonse Williams L’17. After lunch, high school students participated as jury members in a Mock Trial in the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom.


The Importance of Good Legal Writing

Director of Legal Communication and Research Ian Gallacher (below, at podium) introduces distinguished guest, the Hon. Theodore McKee L’75 of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on March 1, 2018. Judge McKee addressed the 1L class in the Gray Ceremonial Courtroom, offering wise words about the importance of good legal writing and advocacy.


Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Receives 2018 IRS Grant

Congratulations to Professor Robert Nassau and the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic on the clinic’s receipt of the maximum allowable annual grant of $100,000 from the Internal Revenue Service. Nassau explains that, since 2002, the College has been among approximately 125 law schools, business schools, and non-profit agencies that receive matching grants each year for their work.

Kimberly Harbin Joins the College as an Immigration Law Fellow

Kimberly Harbin joined the College of Law on March 5 as an Equal Justice Works/AmeriCorps Fellow. Kim will be working with the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic and the Criminal Defense Clinic on immigration law cases and community education. Most recently General Counsel and SVP of Business Affairs at The Ad Council, Kim is a 2007 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was the President of, and a Student Attorney for, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Kim has had an interest in immigration law since starting law school and has volunteered as a pro bono attorney for the New Sanctuary Coalition. Please join me and Associate Dean of Clinical and Experiential Education Deborah Kenn in welcoming Kim to the College.


Wohl Family Veterans Legal Clinic Welcomes Chantal Wentworth-Mullin L’07

College of Law alumna Chantal Wentworth-Mullin L’07 has joined the College as the Wohl Family Veterans Legal Clinic Fellow. Chantal brings to the Clinic her experience as an attorney, a military spouse, a community college instructor, and a Department of Veterans Affairs accredited attorney. She has worked as an attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina and Stark, Reagan PC in Troy, MI. At the College of Law, she was a Student Attorney in the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic and a Legal Extern for the Hon. Michael J. Hanuszczak ’80. Please join me and Wohl Family Veterans Legal Clinic Director Yelena Duterte in welcoming Chantal to the College.


Students in the News

Thurgood Marshall Team Reaches National Quarterfinals

The Black Law Students Association Thurgood Marshall National Mock Trial team advanced to the Elite Eight on March 16. An outstanding team of 3Ls Royce Davis and Stephanie Thom and 2Ls Sara Fitzpatrick and Douglas Bullock advanced after winning their regionals in January and preliminary rounds on March 15. Team Coach Professor Joanne Van Dyke L’87 reports that, “They were a great team, and the model of excellence and ethics in advocacy.”

AAJ Trial Team Wins Boston Regional, Advances to Finals

In a superb result for the College of Law, 3Ls Thomas DeBernardis, Annie Millar, Jenny Pratt, and Raul Velez won the Boston Regional of the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition on March 4, 2018. As regional winners, Team Syracuse moves forward to compete in the National Finals in Raleigh, NC, in April. Professor of Practice Erik Teifke coached the team, and 3L Kody Luczak was team clerk/alternate.


College of Law Team Advances to the National Round of the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition

The team of 3L Ryan Lefkowitz and 2L Donya Feizbakhsh won the Manhattan Regional competition of the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition on February 24. Coached by Brady O’Malley L’11 of Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet PC, the team advanced to the National Round in Washington, DC, in April. Feizbakhsh was named second best advocate for the region and Lefkowitz, the sixth best advocate. A second team of 3Ls Aya Hoffman, Jonathan Maddalone, and Veronica Ramirez, coached by Professor Shannon Gardner, advanced to the semi-final round. Congratulations to both!


Gabrielle Bull & Matthew Wallace Win the 2018 Mackenzie Hughes LLP Appellate Advocacy Competition

More plaudits go to 2Ls Gabrielle Bull and Matthew Wallace, who won the 2018 Mackenzie Hughes LLP Appellate Advocacy Competition on March 1. Third-year students Anna Pinchuk and Steven Yurkonis won Best Brief, while best Overall Advocate went to Gabrielle Bull. The Hon. Theodore A. McKee L’75, Hon. Rosemary S. Pooler, and Hon. Diane L. Fitzpatrick were the final round judges. The competition directors—3Ls Melissa Green and Christopher Clark—did an outstanding job running the competition, along with Moot Court Executive Director 3L Ryan Lefkowitz.


INSCT Students Compete in the 2018 National Security Crisis Law Simulation

Crisis simulations are an essential part of national security students’ training, enabling them to put into practice the complex, interdisciplinary theory they learn in the classroom. For three days in early March, a team of College of Law and Maxwell School students—coached by Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism Director William C. Banks and Maxwell School Professor Sean O’Keefe—took part in the 2018 National Security Crisis Law Simulation at Georgetown Law. Team Syracuse consisted of third-year J.D./M.P.A. students Conor Sullivan and Ryan White; second-year J.D./M.P.A. student Kristina Cervi; third-year M.A.I.R/M.S.P.R candidate Stephen Brickey; and 3L Elizabeth Snyder. “It’s fair to say our students performed superbly, more than holding their own against the best from other schools,” says Banks.


Students Take Part in International Tax Law Course

Over Spring Break, alumnus and tax expert Marnin J. Michaels L’96, G’96 (below, lower left corner) and I taught the College’s first-ever International Tax Law course in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Providing students a thorough overview of tax law from the vantage point of a European and world financial capital, students visited law firms, wealth management firms, government offices, and banks, including the Swiss offices of Israel-based Bank Hapoalim, and heard lectures and presentations from more than a dozen law professors, distinguished executives, and practitioners. In between lectures and group assignments, students spent some of their spring break on the ski slopes of the Swiss Alps at Saas-Fee.


LaunchPad and NYSSTLC Students Offer Tech Commercialization Office Hours

In another example of how our institutes provide students with essential, practical experience, campus-based entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad has announced a new collaboration with the College’s New York State Science and Technology Law Center. Third-year tech commercialization students Jennifer Hicks, Lindsey Round, Xiang Tony Qi, and Tom Carlon will hold office hours at the Bird Library to discuss patent searching strategies with University students working on new technologies.

Externship Students Hear from Distinguished Guest Lectures

  • On March 5, Joseph Rutigliano L’86 hosted DCEx students at the Pentagon. Rutigliano currently serves as the Branch Head for the International and Operational Law Branch, Judge Advocate Division, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, as well as the Special Assistant on Law of War matters. He discussed his experiences as a JAG officer, described his path to a career in the Pentagon, and gave students a private tour.
  • On February 12, DCEx program participants joined Dennis Polio L’16 (pictured below) at the Georgetown office location of Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC. Shortly after passing the bar, Polio began his legal career as an associate working in campaign finance, election law, lobbying, ethics compliance, and tax-exempt organizations.



Faculty & Department News

Our faculty continue to contribute to headline issues of national political, legal, and even cultural importance, on subjects ranging from aging and the FISA Court to flight risk, political civility, and the film Black Panther. Please take a few moments to browse these most recent examples of scholarship in action.

For Your Calendar

Alumni Events

Alumni events provide an opportunity for you to experience first-hand the Power of Orange and to network with an incredible, influential group of fellow alumni.

  • June 6—Join me at Syracuse’s famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St., Syracuse NY 13202 to network with fellow alumni and enjoy some ribs and a great atmosphere.
  • July 10—I’m looking forward to meeting Capital Region alumni this July at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant, 425 7th Street NW, Washington, DC.

Please R.S.V.P. here for any of these events and to keep track of upcoming alumni socials. Would you like to host an alumni event in your city? If so, please contact Kristen Duggleby at

SULAA Awards Nominations Deadline: May 15

I am proud to partner with the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association to present the College’s annual Law Honors Awards, the centerpiece of our reunion weekend each year. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend Law Reunion Weekend on September 27 to 30.

You can nominate any member of our extended family for “distinguished achievements in any field of endeavor” and for their service to the College, the legal profession, Syracuse University, or the world at large. Simply fill out the nomination form by May 15, and we’ll take care of the rest. Visit the Law Honors webpage to learn more. I look forward to seeing whom you have chosen!

Volunteer for Law Reunion 2018

For this year’s Law Reunion, I hope you will consider volunteering as a Class Agent, to help spread the word among your classmates, encourage them to return home to celebrate their law school days, and take on other responsibilities that will make the event—your event—a success. To be a Class Agent, email Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby or call her at 315.443.1964.

Professional & Enrollment Events

  • April 6—Entertainment & Sports Law Symposium (CLE Credits Offered)
    The fourth annual Entertainment & Sports Law Symposium will be held at the College of Law on April 6. Attendees will be eligible for up to 5.5 CLE credits in ethics, law practice management, and professional practice. Speakers include DLA Piper partner and College of Law Board of Advisors Member Frank W. Ryan IV L’94; IF Management Talent Representative Kevin John Belbey L’17; and Buffalo Bills Vice President and General Counsel Gregg G. Brandon L’01. Click here for more information and to register.
  • April 12—Meet Admitted Students in Syracuse
    The next Admitted Student Reception in Downtown Syracuse is on April 12. Please let Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management Denée Page know if you can join her team to help persuade the best and brightest to choose Syracuse. Our message is more powerful when it is delivered by successful alums who have experienced the “Power of Orange”! If you know of a prospect who might be interested in Syracuse, please encourage them to contact or 315.443.1962.
  • April 25—A Construction Accident “Deep Dive” (CLE Credits Offered)
    The New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers is sponsoring a CLE in Dineen Hall on April 25 entitled “Safely Falling for the Labor Law: A Deep Dive into Construction Accident Cases.” The event is from 6-8 p.m. Click here for more information and to register.

Alumni Events Review

As mentioned above, during Spring Break I travelled to Switzerland and Liechtenstein for the study abroad segment of the College’s International Tax Law program, which I taught with Marnin J. Michaels L’96, G’96. On March 13, during a busy schedule of events, field trips, and seminars, Marnin’s firm—Baker McKenzie Zürich—graciously hosted a reception for alumni, staff, and students.



Earlier in March, Assistant Dean of International Programs Andrew Horsfall and I visited the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to meet with alumni; representatives from the Saudi Ministry of Education; and the deans of the University of Sharjah, King Saud University, and Dar Al Uloom University. Our Saudi alumni community represents the largest group of Syracuse LL.M. alums. While in Jeddah, I caught up with alumnus Anas Akel L’03 (bottom photo), who has become a prominent lawyer and advisor in Jeddah and throughout Saudi Arabia.



On February 27, Director of Alumni Relations Kristen Duggleby and I joined Aaron M. Tidman L’07 and Edward J. Baba L’03 to help kick off the Bay Area Law Alumni Group at Tacolicious in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA. Thank you Aaron and Edward for helping to establish this group, for planning future alumni events in the greater San Francisco area, and for making sure that when people think “orange” in California, they think of Syracuse University! For more information about this new alumni group, email Aaron at or Kristen at


For More Information

Questions? Please contact Sophie Dagenais, Assistant Dean for Advancement and External Affairs, at or 315.443.4536, or Kristen Duggleby, Director of Alumni Relations at or 315.443.1964.

Contact us at 315.443.1964 or to change your address or to send us your updates!

I’ll keep you updated on our news in future editions of the Dean’s Dispatch, and for those of you who use social media, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram for timely updates and photographs.

You also can connect with me on my own LinkedIn account.

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