A Letter from Dean Ferruolo

​Giving to USD School of Law

Dean FerruloWe welcomed our new students this year during the week following Charlottesville. As I told the students in my welcoming remarks, they are arriving at a time when many thoughtful people are asking the question of what kind of a society we want to be. Legal expertise on immigration and refugee law, human rights, discrimination, religious freedom and constitutional powers has never been more essential to our democracy. Protecting the environment has never been more important or more challenging. Moreover, disruptive technologies require greater legal sophistication to structure deals and protect intellectual property rights, and issues such as cybersecurity and privacy, genomics, and genetic engineering are raising complex legal and ethical issues that only the expertise of lawyers can solve.

At orientation, I asked our new students the following question: "Which of these challenges inspires and motivates you?" I want to ask you, our alumni and donors, the same question: What inspires you? What would motivate you to get involved in and increase your commitment to USD School of Law?

I am an ardent believer in the importance of our noble profession. That is why I left practice to become dean. In his prayer, St. Thomas More, the patron of USD School of Law and of lawyers, asks to be "able in argument, accurate in analysis, strict in study, candid with clients and honest with adversaries." Those are the skills and values that we seek to imbue in our students at USD. To do so, we must not merely sustain our previous investments, such as the legacy of our strong clinical legal education program, but also continue to find resources to be innovative in both what and how we teach our students.

The Experiential Advocacy Practicum, which we introduced last year, is an example of such innovation. We are now teaching essential litigation and transactional skills, such as interviewing clients, drafting and negotiation to students in their first year. What is unique about our program is that these skills are taught by many of San Diego's leading practitioners. What better way is there to learn the practical skills needed to be a successful lawyer? The legal job market is demanding graduates with relevant, practical, hands-on legal experience to meet the challenges in both public service and private practice, and at USD we are committed to providing that training.

We would not have been able to launch the Experiential Advocacy Practicum without the generous gift from alumnus George Strong, '74 (JD), and his wife, Annsley. In addition to raising additional funds to sustain the Practicum, our goals as part of Leading Change: The Campaign for USD include actively seeking additional partnerships and finding new sources of external funding to support continued innovation and provide the resources needed to train our students to address the challenging issues of our time.

The School of Law's Leading Change goals include:

  • Infrastructure and Technology.
    With aging buildings and outdated technology, we are at a crucial tipping point with respect to the law school's facilities. Our classrooms need improvements to be effective teaching environments and for us to remain innovative and competitive with our peers. We need your support to invest in vital capital projects, including renovating the first floor of Warren Hall to add a large, interactional class/conference room and improved student services. This is a great opportunity for capable donors to leave a permanent legacy at the School of Law by naming our signature new class/conference room, other updated classrooms, or collaborative learning or student organization space in memory of your family, your firm, your favorite law professor or someone else you admire.

  • Faculty and Academic Program Support.
    USD has long been known for its outstanding law faculty. Sustaining the School of Law's reputation for excellence in teaching, scholarship and public service has never been more critical. At a time of budget cuts, we need your support to retain our best teachers and replace those who retire or leave. The Fellmeth-Peterson Chair in Child Advocacy and the Class of 1974 Professorship in Trial Advocacy being established in honor of Professor Darrell D. Bratton are examples of ways you can support our faculty in your preferred area of law or practice.

  • Legal Clinics and Centers.
    At USD, we prepare students to address society's most pressing challenges through the hands-on experience gained in our 13 legal clinics and 10 specialized centers and institutes. Through these programs, students learn practical legal skills while serving our society's urgent needs, including counseling immigrants and asylum seekers, assisting lower-income workers with employment and discrimination issues, and providing legal and policy expertise on sustainable environmental solutions. Our clinics and centers need donor support to continue to provide these services and to prepare future generations of students to be great lawyers and leaders in their communities.

Although we experienced an increase in applications and enrollment this year, the competition to recruit and retain qualified students has grown even more intense. Increased scholarship support remains our top fundraising priority. Offering competitive scholarship is essential to maintaining the quality, academic strength and diversity of our student body. Since 2013, the Dean's Scholarship Initiative has raised more than $4M for law student scholarships, and the law school has increased the number of privately funded scholarships from 35 to 90, with a new campaign goal of at least 100. This scholarship support also means that students graduate with less debt, enabling them to pursue the legal careers of their choice. In addition, programs like the Loan Repayment Assistance Program and the Graduate Jobs Initiative complement scholarship support by assisting those graduates committed to public interest law or serving their communities.

I personally know that scholarships have a very real impact on our students' lives. Inspired by the students who have received the scholarship we have funded for the past three years, my family has recently established a new Legacy Endowed Scholarship to be known as the Julie M. Robinson Endowed Scholarship. This Legacy Endowed Scholarship, in honor of my wife, includes a current use scholarship award of $5,000 per year, plus a commitment to endow the award in perpetuity. I hope that you will consider supporting one of our endowed scholarships or establishing a new scholarship either by making a multi-year commitment of at least $5,000 or establishing your own endowed fund. Funding either a multi-year or endowed scholarship is a meaningful way for you to show your commitment to the law school, to the legal profession and to our community.

As this academic year begins, my seventh year as dean of USD School of Law, we have less than $7M to raise to meet our goal for the Leading Change campaign. I hope you will consider which of the law school programs or initiatives speaks to you and make a gift to USD. With your support, I know we can reach and exceed the campaign goal this year.

With my sincere thanks and best wishes,

Dean and Professor of Law

P.S. You can put your gift to work immediately by making your donation online at law.sandiego.edu/gift.