First thing Monday morning, as usual, I went to Pilates with Claudia. Afterwards, we spent the morning planning for several important events happening at the law school that day.

The first was the dedication of the Bobby McDaniel Trial Practice Classroom, room 342 of the law school. This was a really important event for the law school community because Bobby has been such a wonderful friend to us. We had many legal luminaries attend the event, along with his two sons Bret McDaniel, our alum, and Dustin McDaniel, the Arkansas attorney general. Bobby’s mother, Imogene McDaniel, attended as well. Others present were Woody Bassett, Paul Byrd, Sid Davis, Allen Gordon, Robb and Christina Helt, Ann Henry, Courtney Henry, Paul Henry, Bobby Jones, Kent Rubens (who flew over with Bobby McDaniel), Bobby Odom, Miller and Jordan Williams, Judge Bill Wilson and many, many more legal dignitaries and a number of students. The room was packed.

It was such an honor and a privilege to recognize Bobby’s many contributions to the law school and to the legal profession. Having the Attorney General present to be a part of this event made the occasion all the more special. Dustin has also been a tremendous friend to the law school and were it not for legislation he sponsored to help significantly increase funding to both law schools, we would not be in this wonderful facility that we have today.

The dictionary defines generosity as the willingness to give of one’s money or time. Over the course of his career, Bobby has given of both and many, many lives have benefited because of it. He is indeed a role model and inspiration for all of us and we are very proud of him. Judging from the number of lawyers of note in the room it was clear that in addition to all that he’s accomplished, he has gathered many friends and admirers over the course of his career. Their presence at the dedication spoke volumes about the lives he’s touched and the change agent he has been, from his time here as a student and articles editor of the Arkansas Law Review, to his recognition as one of the Best Lawyers in Arkansas.

We all got a special treat when he shared with us some of the technology that he uses in trials. It was fascinating and it certainly made it clear that if you have this technology, you are at an advantage in the courtroom because it really helps the juries to literally see what it is that you’re trying to prove. With this technology one can show simulations, blow up documents, highlight specific language, and include video footage and photographs. It’s an extraordinary powerful tool. We are excited about exploring possibility of exposing our students who have an interest in trial practice to this technology with Bobby. The School of Law is certainly very grateful for his continued generosity and support.

That afternoon, the law school Pro Bono Awards Presentation was held in the courtroom to recognize each of the students who gave pro bono service over the year. I’m very proud to say that the number of students who have participated in this program has doubled in the last year. Students volunteered by mentoring children at the Boys and Girls Club, assisting CASA with its fall festival and Project Playhouse, researching for attorneys and judges and helping victims of Hurricane Katrina. They also assisted with many other events such as Race for the Cure, The American Heart Walk and the Peace at Home Shelter. In total, the students volunteered 1,987 hours of community service, both legal and non-legal.

Thanks very much to the speakers who joined us including Lee Richardson, Director of Legal Aid of Arkansas; Professor Tim Tarvin, Legal eSource; Professor Carl Circo, Habitat for Humanity Wills Project; and J. Paul Batson, E.D., HIP Mentoring for Children of Prisoners Camp War Eagle Mentoring Program. We are grateful to each of them for working with our students and we’re very, very proud of the students who gave pro bono service to the community. If you are a devoted bloggie, you’ve read about Dean Goldner’s speech highlighting the need for pro bono services. This occasion allowed us to demonstrate all the ways in which our law school is rising to that challenge.

Two of our pro bono programs have received national recognition. The first is the Legal e-Source, and it recently won the Innovations in Outreach and Engagement Award from the University Continuing Education Association. The award recognizes programs that demonstrate the mutual exchange of intellectual resources and expertise between the university and the much broader external community of government agencies, businesses, nonprofit organizations, community groups and individuals. Also, Carl Circo’s Habitat for Humanity Wills Project was recognized by the Pro Bono Committee of the American Bar Association‘s Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law Section, which has posted our Wills Project handbook to the committee’s web site as a resource for other Habitat Wills Projects around the country.

That evening the students, sponsors and speakers attended a lovely pro bono service dinner held at University House as a way of saying thank you to students who gave an extraordinary number of hours. We’re looking forward to having the room filled next year with even more students. There was no program, just a relaxing dinner. Thanks again to our visitors who attended—Paul Batson, Lee Richardson, Hollie Greenway, Susan Purtle and Bruce Schlegel—and to all the members of the faculty who attended both the event and the dinner. Thanks also to Susan Williams, the School of Law’s pro bono coordinator, for all her hard work on the pro bono project and the excellent program she put together, and to Professors Janet Flaccus, Judith Kilpatrick, Mike Mullane, Lonnie and Amy Beard, Carl and Bobbi Circo and Ned Snow for attending. It was a full, but great, day.

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