A Passion for Debate
Boston College Law School students will receive enhanced opportunities to develop the persuasive legal skills needed in the courtroom and boardroom thanks to a $1-million grant from the William E. Simon Foundation, which includes board members William E. “Bill” Simon, Jr., JD’82, P’13; J. Peter Simon, P’16; and Leigh Simon Porges ’79.
The newly named William E. and Carol G. Simon Oral Advocacy Program builds on the school’s existing preparation and, through a variety of internal and interschool competitions, helps students negotiate simulated courtroom situations. They advise clients, sharpen their public speaking and research talents, and develop their ability to argue legal matters effectively before a judge.
“Oral advocacy is a vital part of a Boston College Law School education,” says Dean Vincent D. Rougeau. “The Simon Foundation’s generous gift will anchor our program for future generations of law students, providing them with invaluable hands-on experience as they prepare to begin their careers.”
The gift honors the Simons’ late mother, Carol, and their late father, William E. Simon, Sr., former secretary of the Treasury and president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, who established the charitable foundation. The couple enjoyed their connection to BC and esteemed the school’s legal training.
Bill Simon, Jr., co-founder and co-chairman of the investment firm William E. Simon & Sons, LLC, feels that the Oral Advocacy Program has been a decades-long hallmark of a BC Law education. “Literally thousands of top-flight litigators first learned their skills in the various competitions at the law school,” he says. “I am proud to have participated in the Grimes Competition and as a member of the National Moot Court Team. The lessons I learned from Professor Peter Donovan and many others remain with me over 30 years later.”
During the past two years, BC Law students have won a variety of interschool contests, including national moot court competitions in immigration and in religious freedom, with a BC participant earning “best oralist” in the latter.
“My parents thought very highly of the Oral Advocacy Program,” says Simon. “So it is entirely fitting that the family foundation they established should make this gift in their name, thus ensuring that future generations of students will continue to have the same great opportunities to hone their public speaking skills.”