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Simon Foundation Gift Boosts Law School’s Oral Advocacy Program

05/10/12
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By Reid Oslin | Chronicle Staff

Published: May 10, 2012

A $1 million grant from the William E. Simon Foundation of New York City will be the cornerstone of an enhanced Oral Advocacy Program at Boston College Law School.

The gift will support an on-going program to help participating students sharpen their public speaking skills and develop the ability to argue legal matters passionately and persuasively. The program will be named the Simon Oral Advocacy Program in honor of the late William E. Simon Sr., former US Treasury Secretary and Chairman of the US Olympic Committee who established the educational and benevolent foundation.

"Oral advocacy is a vital part of a Boston College Law School education," said BC Law 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. We're grateful to the Foundation for their vision and support."

“The Oral Advocacy Program has been a hallmark of Boston College Law School for many decades,” said Bill Simon Jr. JD ’82, co-chair of the William E. Simon Foundation. “Literally thousands of top-flight litigators first learned their skills in the various competitions at the Law School. 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 Peter Donovan and many others remain with me to this day over 30 years later.

“My parents recognized the importance of being able to argue passionately and persuasively, and thought very highly of the Oral Advocacy Program,” Simon said. “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.”

A team from BC Law first won the National Moot Court Competition in 1968. In 1974, BC Law student Joan Lukey won best oralist in the National Competition. In 2008, Lukey became the first woman to be elected president of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

In the past decade, the Law School has added an Intellectual Property Moot Court Team in response to the growing complexity of this field of law and a corresponding interest in related career paths. A European Union Moot Court team has also been formed in recognition of the increasing globalization of legal studies. Participation in this team provides BC Law students with an opportunity to compete not only against other schools across the United States, but also in Europe before judges from European boards and courts.

Last year, student representatives won the National Immigration Moot Court Competition and the Religious Freedom Moot Court Competition, where a BC Law student was named best oralist. A team of first-year Boston College Law students also advanced to the semifinal round of the ABA Negotiation Competition; BC was the only school to send first-year participants to this event.

In addition to the gift from the Simon Foundation, the University will initiate an advancement campaign to fully and permanently endow the Simon Oral Advocacy Program at BC Law School.