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December 20, 2008

Naming innovations at law school

The National Law Journal has this interesting article, headlined "Fla. law school takes 'naming rights' concept to a new level."  The piece discusses one law school's innovative approach to naming rights.  Here are some excerpts:

While all law schools seem to be launching naming rights campaigns to raise funds these days, St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami has taken the concept to a new level.

Not only is the small private law school selling naming rights to its school for $10 million, it is also offering donors the opportunity to have their names plastered on the student center, law library, conference room, annexes, breezeways, classrooms, instructor's offices, and a new "Center for Global Justice and Dialogue." The bathroom, however, is not for sale.

"The genesis of this is the law school is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, and this is the first serious concerted fundraising effort we have launched," said Al Garcia, dean of the law school.

The naming rights fundraising campaign was launched one year ago.  And while the big enchilada — the naming of the law school for $10 million — is still up for grabs, the school has had considerable success selling off pieces of the school, raising some $600,000 so far....

[L]ast month, alumnus Alex Hanna donated $250,000 to name the school's law library. Hanna previously donated $25,000 to name the law school's main entrance.  Other donations include $50,000 from attorney Pat Cordero for a breezeway, $25,000 from Phil and Denise Gerson for the law school conference room, $10,000 from Miami-Dade Judge David Gerstein for the moot courtroom atrium, $10,000 from Sean Greene for the law school walkway and $10,000 from Michael P. Rudd for the student affairs walkway.

Other, smaller gifts will be used to name classrooms and faculty suites, said Mark Casale, director of alumni affairs and major gifts.....  But hasn't the economy hit lawyers?  Apparently not, according to Casale. "The economy is hitting hard everywhere, but there are attorneys in all walks of life doing well," he said.

Especially because I teach at a named law school and hold a named professorship, I am not inclined to be critical of law schools selling "naming right."  In fact, this article leads me to wonder whether (or when) law school might start getting extremely aggressive in this arena.  Administrative offices, copy centers, bulletin boards, seats in classrooms, and even books in the law library all have naming potential. 

Is there any reason law schools should resist "selling" rights to any and every commodity it can imagine?

Posted by DAB

December 20, 2008 in The mission of law schools | Permalink


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There's nothing really new or innovative about assigning naming rights to classrooms, centers, and so on--I think most, if not all, law schools do it. It's a routine part of capital campaigns to develop a "case statement" with a whole menu of available rooms and spaces waiting to be, with price tags assigned to each one. And library books have proudly displayed name plates identifying donors for generations.

If anything, those prices at St. Thomas are cheap. $250,000 to name a law library? That should be at least $1 million.

What might be innovative would be to assign naming rights for virtual spaces. I remember a discussion on the law-lib listserv some years ago asking whether any law school library would consider assigning naming rights for their online catalog (the Hodgson Russ Online Catalog?)

Posted by: Jim | Dec 20, 2008 11:30:12 AM

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