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December 2020

DEAN'S COUNCIL SPOTLIGHT

David G. Koch | Class of 1994 | The Koch Law Firm | Baton Rouge, LA

You were born in Texas but have spent most of your life in Baton Rouge and have invested heavily in the community with your time and talent. In the mid-’90s, though, you went to Boston University to earn your L.L.M. in Taxation — a very important credential for a tax attorney. You were first in your class there and we’re sure there was no shortage of opportunity for you on the East Coast. Were we ever in any danger of losing you? What brought you back to Baton Rouge?

My wife Tracey and I enjoyed my school year in Boston. There were opportunities to stay in New England, but we wanted to come home to Louisiana.  I interviewed with firms in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge. I accepted a position with Watson, Blanche, Wilson and Posner because I had the opportunity to work with some brilliant legal minds  — Harvey Posner, Bob Roland, Felix Weill, and Richard Dunn.

You came to LSU Law with an accounting degree from LSU, which is great preparation for a tax and estate planning career path. What areas of law interested you the most, and were there any other career paths you considered during law school?

I worked as an accountant at Ernst & Young before I went to law school which piqued my interest in tax. However, at LSU, I realized too how much I enjoyed estate planning in Successions, my Common Law Decedents and Estate's course taught by Professor Lucy McGough, and Estate Planning taught by Sid Blitzer.

 Who was your favorite professor and why?

Professor Susan Kalinka. She made tax classes fun and making the internal revenue code fun is tough to do. She brought so much energy to the classroom and inspired so many of us to pursue tax as a career.

You are an enthusiastic supporter of LSU. You’re engaged with the Law Center, you’re a donor, and you’re raising some second-generation Tigers. What would you say to students who are considering law school at LSU, as well as those who are at LSU Law today and are pursuing their law degree during these challenging times?

LSU is the top law school in the state. I finished first in my class at Boston University, finishing ahead of law students from Stanford, Cal-Berkley, Michigan, Emory, and many other highly ranked schools because my LSU professors prepared me. An LSU law degree prepares you not only for the legal profession but also for any other career you may choose.

My advice to law students is to find your passion. After 25 years of practicing, I love what I do. I get to help people and businesses solve their IRS tax problems and assist families with their estate plans.  The law has provided a nice life for my family and me. I would not trade it for any other profession nor would I go back and do anything different, except I should have found a way for my wife and I to go to the Aix en Provence program for summer school. When they lift travel restrictions, take advantage of your travel opportunities with the law school.

As one of the area’s preeminent tax and estate attorneys, philanthropic strategies are among the tools with which you have great familiarity. Why do you include LSU Law among your philanthropic priorities?

The common core of all of the up-and-coming cities in America, like Austin and Nashville, are the academic centers in those cities. If we want to continue to attract the top students and professors, and if we want outstanding judges, and district attorneys, we need to personally support LSU, the flagship in our state, through scholarships and endowed professorships. I will continue to be a member of the Dean's Council and will make the law school part of my estate plan knowing that the LSU Law will continue to provide a first-rate education to its students.

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December 4 Dean's Council Zoom Meeting Recap

Interim Dean Lee Ann Lockridge hosted a Zoom call on December 4 for members of the Law Dean’s Council. Including the dean, 45 members were on the call: John Costonis, Brooksie Boutet, Robert Kleinpeter, Cordell Haymon, Bobby Reeves, Frank Neuner, Jim Roy, Lisa Avalos, Rock Palermo, Olivier Moreteau, Alex Rankin, Ed Walters, Geoffrey Kay, Michael Mengis, Mike Patterson, Pat Ottinger, James Brown, Marilyn Maloney, Scott Willis, Robert Lancaster, Blake David, John Buselener, Mark Bodron, Pat Vance, Merritt Chastain, Kristin Wall, Hampton Carver, Katherine King, Troy Keller, Randy Young, Phyllis Cancienne, Justin Mannino, Armin Moeller, Minor Pipes, Jeff Raborn, Tim Daniels, Tom Hayes, Karen Soniat, Gigi Gauthier and Bobbi Zaunbrecher participated. Jeff Brooks, Alex Byo, Miles Garrett and Matt Pham were also on the call.

Council Chair Minor Pipes was detained, so Dean Lockridge opened the call with a tribute to Gene Fendler, who was a long-time Dean’s Council member and president of the Alumni Board of Trustees. He died in a plane crash on Oct. 21. Gene was a former managing partner of Liskow & Lewis. Members of the Board of Trustees are working to create a scholarship in Gene's memory. Trustees are being solicited and the entire alumni body will be invited to participate.

Dean Lockridge reviewed the summer and spring semester:

  • Our 1L class was again outstanding. This class holds the distinction of having been recruited to campus without visiting.
    • 1,025 applications received
    • 206 students enrolled (20 percent of the pool)
    • 76 colleges and universities, 23 states, and two foreign countries represented
    • 64% from Louisiana
    • 11 from the 3+3 program
    • 53% are female, 47% are male
    • 19% are students of color
    • Median LSAT is 155, and median GPA is 3.48
  • A combination of in-person and online classes were offered. Some professors taught “double classes” (split their classes in half and taught each class twice) in order to make this work.
  • Students are largely compliant with masking requirements. This has resulted in a relatively low incidence of positive cases (15 students identified). There was a cluster in the 1L class that had socialized in an off-campus situation.
  • Registration for fall occurred before school closed in the spring which complicated rescheduling for fall term. Registration for spring term was a little less complicated.
  • Apprenticeship Week will be held in January and Trial Ad will be incorporated into that week’s schedule.
  • Faculty/staff changes: Susan Tanner has joined the Legal Writing department. Her scholarship is in the structure of legal opinions. We have an offer pending for another faculty position. Wendell Holmes will retire at the end of the calendar year. Jake Henry has been promoted to Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. Daphne James is the new Director of Admissions.
  • Classroom to Courtroom construction is nearing completion on Room #107. W220 (Bruce Macmurdo Classroom) is next, but we can’t start until summer because all available classroom space is needed to facilitate social distancing.

Dean Lockridge concluded her presentation with a story about students helping victims of the hurricanes. Samuel Ducote, who is from Lake Charles, identified Hackberry as an area that could use more help, so he rallied students to the cause. They gathered supplies, inviting students, faculty, and staff to contribute, then delivered and distributed the supplies themselves.

Bob Lancaster, Assistant Dean for Experiential Learning, and Jeff Brooks, Director of External Placements and Advocacy Programs, talked about experiential learning. Bob talked about clinics. There are many kinds of experiences available. There is a lot of emphasis on criminal – both defense and prosecution. We need to add a transactional clinic when we can. We just received a grant of nearly $500,000 from the Department of Justice to implement the Wrongful Conviction Clinic in partnership with the Innocence Project New Orleans. Thanks to Frank Neuner for suggesting the partnership.

Jeff reports that the advocacy program has moved online until we can travel again – hopefully next fall. One benefit of Zoom competitions for Flory and Tullis is that out-of-town alumni were able to judge. We streamed both competitions live on Facebook. More than 200 people viewed it. Another benefit of online competitions is that Jessup offers expanding pairing opportunities – like Australia and China. Thirty-five more competitions are coming in 2021.

Bobby Reeves asked about the status of the Energy Program.

  • Dean Lockridge has been exploring the options for the Nesser Chair. Some of the program standards have been revised. The required hours are now 16 rather than 18 and the requirement of a higher grade point average for admission to the program has been eliminated. New drawings for the space are out for bid. Keith Hall has been named the Director of the program. One programmatic element that needs more attention is summer placements. We have scholarships that were designated specifically to support these placements and we need to convince students that it is a worthwhile investment of their time. Jeff Brooks added that there are now three energy-themed competitions in which students may participate.

James Brown asked about the summer program in Lyon.

  • We are holding out on that decision for as long as possible. We’d like to go ahead with it, but it just may not be possible until the summer of 2022.

Blake David asked about Trial Ad.

  • For this year only, it will be a part of Apprenticeship Week. It will not be required. Forty-one students have enrolled voluntarily.

Bobby Reeves also asked about the process for naming a permanent dean.

  • It is contingent on the outcome of the presidential search. If Tom Galligan doesn’t return to the position, there will be a national search. It’s a win/win for the Law Center. If Tom returns, it’s good for the Law Center. If he doesn’t, we will have an advocate in the president’s office who understands how law schools operate and what we need to continue to provide an outstanding legal education.

Minor Pipes concluded the meeting with thanks to those attending and to our leadership. He noted that this is the time of year for many people to renew their giving and encouraged everyone to consider not only renewing but increasing their gifts. Our next call will be held in early June. Best wishes to all for a safe holiday. We are looking forward to the day we can be together in person again.

The call ended with a chorus of support for the day we can gather again.