Reunion 2002 brightened the weekend of September 20-22, beginning with a Friday evening dinner cruise in Boston Harbor for members of classes ending in two and seven. With autumnal colors flaming, the Law School welcomed more than 400 alumni to Saturday night's individual class dinners at Boston's Seaport Hotel. Old friends reminisced, professionals networked, and everyone shared memories.
On Sunday, the Dean's Brunch was held in Stuart House with a panel discussion, "Issues Pertaining to National Security." Congressmen Michael E. Capuano '77 and Edward J. Markey '72 were guest speakers. A special recognition event was also held for the Class of 1952 to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. Afterward, Dean Garvey led a tour of the Law School campus, wrapping up the weekend of merriment, erudition, and nostalgia.
The Reunion Committee has already begun to plan next year's gathering..
Goodbye, Good Friend
Richard Kaner '81, a principal at Ogden Financial in Boston, died of cancer April 5, 2001, at the age of forty-seven. Classmates David W. Ellis and Ruth Kaplan shared these remembrances of him.
From David Ellis, Chicago, Illinois:
Rick was a "kidder" and that endeared him to many of us. I also remember him telling a lot of stories. One concerned a job interview where the interviewer spilled water on his chair. Lacking a paper towel or handkerchief, he picked up Rick's resume and used it to soak up the water. "At that point," said Rick, "I knew my chances of getting a callback were zilch."
During law school, Rick bartended at a dive in Cleveland Circle. We often left the library late at night to help him close the bar at 2 a.m. We'd then go to IHOP for breakfast and sleep through our 9 a.m. classes. Rick was the center of our social life for a good part of our law school experience. After we graduated, he stayed in touch with a lot of people and kept us abreast of each other's activities. When my daughter, Madelaine, was born, Rick called, excited that we two friends hundreds of miles apart should pick the same name for our daughters.
Rick will remain an indelible part of my BC Law School experience and he will remain a true friend.
From Ruth Kaplan, Brookline, Massachusetts:
It is both easy and difficult to write about my dear friend Rick Kaner. Easy, because there is so much positive to remember. Difficult, because the loss is so profound. I have so many fond--and humorous--memories. We hooked up with each other on the first day of class and became inseparable, clinging together for dear life to survive year one "boot camp" at law school.
Rick was such a funny guy. I remember the first day when we discovered that all our courses were in Stuart 315. In other words, we weren't going anywhere; we would be stuck in the same room for the whole shebang. We settled into our permanent spots in the next-to-last row and there we sat the whole year. Four other guys became part of our friendship circle, David Donnelly, Frank Lynch, Mark Dost, and Mike "Doc" Livingston. We took turns getting trays of lousy coffee for each other during breaks.
Rick was incredibly warm, funny, fun-loving, loyal with a capital L, grounded, fair-minded, and solidly rooted in reality. Often when we were discussing a case, Rick would ask, "So what's the bottom line?" So much so that we actually employed the initials "B. L." to signify the bottom line when we wrote our case summaries.
Rick's spirit and sense of fun will remain with us always. He was one of a kind, and our world is diminished without him.
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A Woman of Many Firsts
The Honorable Sheila E. McGovern '60, first justice of Middlesex Probate and Family Court, died November 12, 2002. One of only three women in her graduating class, she went on to become the first woman president of both the Boston College Law School and the Boston College alumni associations. She also served as president of the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers.
For embracing the ideals of leadership, justice, and public service, McGovern received the 1975 BC Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Public Service and the 1980 Judge of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. BC Law also honored her with the 1988 St. Thomas More Award. She had the additional distinction of being the third woman appointed to the probate court.
Her portrait hangs in Stuart House on the Law School campus.
Remembering Holly Riley '02 -- Class Creates Fund
The Class of 2002 has created the Holly Riley Loan Forgiveness Fund in honor of late classmate Katherine Holly Riley. Riley, who died last fall after a long illness, was a native of Wellesley, Massachusetts, and a 1991 cum laude graduate of Georgetown University. After entering law school in 1999, she worked at the Hale & Dorr Legal Services Foundation in Jamaica Plain and served on the Board of Directors of the Waukeela Foundation to raise funds for summer camp scholarships.
The goal is to raise $100,000 to endow a fund to help graduates working in public interest jobs pay back their loans. "We very strongly believe the Class of 2002 will meet the goal within five years," says Lisa Tenerowicz '02, a member of the organizing committee. The class raised nearly $70,000 in its first year. Riley's interest in and dedication to public interest law inspired her classmates to honor her memory in this way, Tenerowicz says.
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'I'm Not the Norm' -- Martin Ebel's Remarkable Story
Martin Ebel '94 loves a good story, which is why he loves his job. Ebel practices employment and discrimination law, a field in which cases are won or lost less on the legal fine points than on the strength of the tale that gets told. "The stories are all so different," says Ebel, with a twinkle in his brown eyes. "It keeps your attention."
Of course, no story is as different or as attention-grabbing as Ebel's. For starters, the forty-four-year-old lawyer is a double amputee, having lost both legs in a fluke accident when he was twenty-five. A front-end loader he was using to clear sand from his grandmother's lakefront property in Michigan malfunctioned just as he was dumping the last bucketful into the lake. Ebel was pitched over a retaining wall and into the water; the machine landed on top of him.
"I was pinned for forty-five minutes, up to my neck in water," Ebel recalls. His condition was critical. One leg was virtually severed; the other developed gangrene.
According to his doctors, Ebel's story should have ended there. But Ebel thought otherwise. To hear him tell it, a lot of his drive was born the moment his head had popped above the water. "When you've accepted that you're going to die and you don't, you get a totally different perspective on everything."
Back From The Brink
Ebel fought his way back. He learned to use a wheelchair and to walk with crutches and prosthetic legs. He finished college. After working his way up the corporate ladder at a structural steel company in his native Michigan, he decided to move east and enroll in law school. He met his wife Michelle Ahmed, a BC graduate, the summer before the bar. They were married in Trinity Chapel on the Law School campus. "I walked down the aisle with a single cane," he says. "Not bad for a guy with no knees."
After spending three years in commercial litigation at Peabody and Arnold, Ebel decided to venture out on his own. But it was not until working an employment suit with BC Law classmate Jay Shepherd '94 that Ebel felt he'd found his niche. In 1999, the classmates started their own employment and discrimination law practice, Shepherd and Ebel.
But that's hardly the end of the story.
Ebel is also a passionate golfer, though he admits relearning how to play the game without legs was "incredibly frustrating." Hitting the ball from his wheelchair or standing in prosthetics proved clumsy, so he started showing up to golf courses on a three-wheel scooter. It wasn't perfect--the scooter would tip up on two wheels during big swings--but it was workable.
Still, this was pre-American Disabilities Act, and golf courses had no idea how to handle him. "I had to sweet-talk them into letting me play," he says.
Ebel now plays with a golf cart ("car" in industry parlance) designed for disabled golfers. While it's less of a visual standout than the scooter, it still raises eyebrows. "I'm not the norm on the golf course," he says. "I mean, I'm driving a car into sand traps." He gets scowls and stares, but most people "think it's a wonderful thing, that there's a machine that will let somebody like me continue to play golf."
Golf has also worked its way into Ebel's law practice. In part because of his profile, a number of golf courses have hired his firm to help them craft anti-discrimination policies. Right now, the firm has just a handful of golf-course clients. But with a flurry of new regulations that would affect golf courses in the legal pipeline--including one that would require every public golf course in the country to stock the type of specially modified golf cart that Ebel now drives--it wouldn't surprise Ebel if that number shot up dramatically in the not-too-distant future.
Even in his off-time, Ebel is working hard to ensure that the future of disabled golf looks a lot different from its past. He is an active member of the National Amputee Golf Association, and the founding president of the United States Disabled Golf Association -- two organizations that expose large numbers of disabled Americans to the sport, and provide them with the resources and support they need to play it.
The hope, Ebel says, is that the sight of a disabled golfer on the green will someday be commonplace, not exceptional. "If the USDGA didn't have a need to fill anymore, then that would be a great outcome," says Ebel. And, of course, a great story.
UN-'PRESIDENTED'- - Six Alums Head Bar Associations
In what may well be a first for BC Law, six alumni are currently presidents or chief officers of area bar associations. "BC should be so proud of this feat," says Gretchen Van Ness '88, president of the Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts.
Joseph Vrabel '73 is president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Classmates Marjorie O'Reilly '94 and Joseph Hernandez '94 are president of the Black Women's Bar Association and the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys, respectively. John Affuso '93 is co-chair of the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association. John Tarantino '81 is serving as president of the New England Bar Association.
"With so many BC Law grads in these positions," Van Ness says, "it shows that no matter where we are in our careers and practices, we all share what we learned at BC--to serve, to reach out to those who need law, and to improve the human condition."
From Lawyering to Acting -- All's Well That Ends Well
When Rhona Silverbush '92 approached adulthood, she did as her parents bid her to do; she relegated theater to an avocational role in her life and earned degrees in psychology and law, practical choices with which she could earn a living. But an odd thing happened on her way to a sensible career. She got sidetracked by Shakespeare.
Silverbush's life hasn't been the same since she realized in the fall of 1997--while practicing immigration law in Manhattan and taking theater courses at New York University in her spare time--that younger students in her classes had nothing to help them understand how to do Shakespeare. When she shared the observation with her former Brandeis University drama classmate Sami Plotkin, the friends immediately hit upon an idea: to create a tool kit for actors preparing the Bard's monologues for classwork, auditions, or the stage.
Soon they had a sample chapter and a prospective publisher, but it took almost three years of winnowing down nearly 500 monologues to a select 152, of neglecting husbands and friends, and of working every day, often into the wee hours curled up in pajamas at the computer, to complete Speak the Speech! Shakespeare's Monologues Illuminated.
Published last September by Faber and Faber, the 1,028-page paperback is written with scholarly accuracy but with a style and sense of humor that take the intimidation out of auditioning with Shakespeare. A chapter explaining how to work with the playwright's meter, for example, is called "What Is This Stuff?"
The book is also full of fun-to-read asides about characters, history, and language that provide ready context and understanding. In their commentary about a Queen Margaret monologue from Henry VI, Part Two, the authors explain, "Here is a fun piece if you wish to dish, if you've an urge to purge, if you're out to pout and shout. Margaret feels she's been had: nothing about being the Queen is as she's imagined it--her king is a dud, she has bothersome responsibilities ."
The approach, Silverbush says, is intentionally accessible. "When we sat down to write, we asked ourselves what we'd wished we had when we were preparing monologues." This means that, among other things, each selection is annotated and comes with a timeline and a note on the frequency with which the monologue is used in auditions.
Today, Silverbush's professional life is an eclectic jumble of coaching (professional actors), teaching (at Columbia University's Teaching College), and writing (she's working on books on rage and on funding terrorism and considering a volume of monologues from Restoration-era comedies).
Ironically, her BC Law course in legal reasoning, research, and writing is one of her own most valuable artistic tools. It taught her to write with clarity. "My friends see law school all over [the book]," she says, "and I give BC Law School full credit."
Your Life and The Law-- Maintaining a Balance
Have you ever found it difficult to strike a balance between your practice and your personal life? President of the BC Law Alumni Association Joanne Locke '87, in reaching out to students and young alumni, recently gathered a group of seven lawyers to speak on just that conflict. The conference, "Your Life and the Law: Is it Possible to Maintain a Balance?" was held on campus and moderated by Professor James Repetti '80.
Panelists offered hints and strategies for maintaining a satisfying life outside of law while remaining committed to one's profession. Locke advised, "It is essential to look at how a firm puts it's abstract ideal into practice." Julianna Rice '93 suggested, "You need to get more comfortable leaving some things undone."
Joanne Romanow '80 suggested that making one's family priorities clear at the outset is imperative. "You have to say, 'This is my commitment.' I tell my clients up front so they know what to expect," she said.
One final piece of advice from Lorry Spitzer '81 drew laughter and applause from the seventy attendants. "Marry and have children with another BC Law grad."
Auction Seeks Support -- PILF Bids on Alumni Help
Organizers of the annual Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) auction are inviting alumni to become involved early this year by donating items and then by attending the April 3 event.
The PILF auction, now in its fifteenth year, raises money for the summer stipend program that enables students to gain legal experience working in public interest jobs.
PILF is seeking a variety of donated items, everything from weekend stays at a ski resort to boating lessons to original artwork to baked goods. Last year, the auction raised more than $22,000.
The silent auction will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the live auction will start later than usual in the afternoon to better accommodate alumni's post-workday schedules. The event will be held in the Law School's Snack Bar.
Interested in donating or attending? Please contact Rachel Shannon Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or call PILF at 617-552-0916.