NEW YORK—Marking Fordham University Law School’s 100th anniversary, United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will speak on Sept. 30 at a two-day conference examining his 30 years on the nation’s high court.
The first-ever comprehensive discourse on the jurisprudence of Justice Stevens will feature prominent scholars and former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks from throughout the nation. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1975, Stevens, 85, has the second longest tenure of any current justice, and is the court’s oldest member.
“Over the past century, Fordham Law School has always strived to advance the legal scholarship of its day,” said William Michael Treanor, J.D., dean of Fordham University School of Law. “ In light of Justice Stevens’ long history on the Court and the extraordinary quality of his decisions , a thorough study of his jurisprudence will be a great service to our generation and generations to come .”
The conference is part of a yearlong calendar of events commemorating the Law School’s 100th anniversary. On Sept. 25, alumni receptions around the world will simultaneously help usher in the centennial year, followed by an opening gala on Sept. 28 at Gotham Hall in Manhattan. The most notable among the centennial initiatives will be a yearlong campaign for students and alumni to amass 100,000 hours of community service, an effort that is reflective of the Law School’s long-standing commitment to the service of others.
This tenet of the Law School’s philosophy can be traced back to its first dean, Paul Fuller, who had a unique appreciation for the plight of the disadvantaged. He had grown up as a homeless orphan in New York City before being taken in by Charles Coudert, a retired teacher living in Westchester County. He was home schooled and at the age of 12 began helping out at the law firm of Coudert’s three sons. He became a partner in the firm in 1877 and, by the turn of the 20th century, he was considered one of the world’s preeminent international lawyers.
Fuller served as the dean of Fordham Law School until his death in 1915. Shepherding the school through its fledgling first years, he saw the student population rise from 13 to more than 400. By all accounts, Fuller lived a humble life, and despite his wealth and success, he quietly devoted much of his time to pro bono cases, aiding orphanages and other causes.
After his death, Fuller’s legacy lived on through the work of the numerous scholars who helped shape the legal and political landscape of their time. Malcolm Wilson, LAW ’36, was the 50th governor of New York, and Louis J. Lefkowitz, LAW ’25, served as the attorney general of New York for 22 years. John D. Feerick, FCRH ’58, LAW ’61, was a principle author in the drafting of the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution. He served as dean of Fordham Law School from 1982 to 2002.
As the law school has grown through the past century, so too has the impact of women in shaping the face of the school’s legacy and the greater legal community. First admitted to Fordham Law in 1918, women still accounted for less than 10 percent of the class of 1970. In 2004, they comprised 53 percent of the graduating class.
Some of the accomplished female graduates of Fordham Law School include Ruth Whitehead Whaley, LAW ’24, the first African American woman admitted to the bar in New York and North Carolina; Geraldine Ferraro, LAW ’60, the first woman nominated on a major ticket for vice president of the United States; and Marilyn Hall Patel, LAW ’63, the first woman to serve as judge of the United States District Court for the northern district of California.
Fordham University School of Law was founded in 1905, and has more than 14,000 alumni practicing in all 50 states and throughout the world. Over the past 100 years, Fordham Law School has secured a place as a national leader in corporate law, international law, alternate dispute resolution, legal history, human rights law, clinical education and legal ethics.