Donald G. Forgey '77, Partner, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and President of Southwestern's Alumni Association (2009-2011)
Q: When [and why] did you first become involved with Southwestern's Alumni Association?
A: In October 2000, the school called me to participate in a panel discussion. And I thought it had been so long since I connected with the school, so why not? It was a great experience, so I got involved with the Alumni Association.
Q: What are some of the Alumni Board's overall priorities for the coming year?
A: We want to do several things. We want to increase the opportunities to involve our alumni with the law school, the students, and other alums. Another one of our priorities is to continue to plan events, including Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and other networking opportunities. Our organization will also conduct outreach to alums by creating Alumni Chapters in different regions. Then we want to improve/expand our communication online and create new ways to connect to our alumni. And finally, we are also aiming to increase our support towards the continued advancement of Southwestern, in cooperation with the Alumni Office.
Q: What are the goals of the Board's Alumni-Student Relations and Projects Committees? What activities are they planning this year to provide opportunities for alumni and students to network and socialize together?
A: Our goal is to continue to strengthen the relationships between our alumni and our students. We will do this by hosting numerous events and activities, including: multiple alumni regional receptions (in Southern California and throughout the United States), Dodger Day, Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) events, Alumni Resource Network (ARN) Reception, and other alumni-student networking receptions.
Q: What is the Alumni Resource Network?
A: The ARN is an innovative mentoring program which was created to assist Southwestern students in making the transition from law school to law practice by providing them with basic information about the day-to-day practice of law from the perspective of Southwestern's alumni. Since its inception in 2004, over 500 alumni have volunteered to participate in this unique program. It provides students the opportunity to connect with our alums by certain practice areas, but at the same time, ARN also provides our alums the flexibility to control how students may contact them. We understand our alumni are busy and this program has been a great situation for both the mentor and the mentee.
Q: What is the Inn of St. Ives Program, and how can students participate?
A: In 1992, the Southwestern Alumni Association implemented the "Inn of St. Ives" dinners. When a dinner is planned, a topic is identified and six practitioners and six students are invited to dine at the law school and engage in a discussion about the topic. "Inn of St. Ives" gives the students the opportunity to exchange ideas with practicing attorneys and judges in an intimate collegial setting. It is a great program because the students engage in topics that are not necessarily part of their academic curriculum and the experience requires no prepared reading, etc. It is a great forum for the students to practice their communication skills and, at the same time, it provides alumni the opportunity to get involved with the law school. Alumni enjoy the dinners as much as the students. Students interested in participating may contact Institutional Advancement (specifically Alumni Coordinator, Sharon Malolot).
Q: How are funds raised for the Alumni Scholarship Fund?
A: Our annual Awards Recognition Reception in April generates the money for the Alumni Scholarship Fund. All continuing students are given the opportunity to apply for these scholarships. Students who are selected as recipients have a record of participation in community and/or law school activities, before and/or during their attendance at Southwestern, and are in good academic standing. Financial need, as determined by the Financial Aid Office, will be taken into consideration as well. Graduating students may also apply. A committee from the Alumni Board of Directors reviews all applications and nominates students for the scholarship. The Alumni Association Board of Directors then approves the nominations and selects the student recipient(s).
Q: What is the Nickel Club and what goals/activities are you planning for this group?
A: The Nickel Club is an adjunct of the Alumni Association that has been created to better serve the needs and interests of our recent grads. The club consists of all alumni who have graduated within the past five years. The Nickel Club committees provide many educational, networking and social opportunities that aim to enhance a young attorney's professional career. This year they have several "Happy Hours" scheduled in the Los Angeles area as well as the MCLE Program, "Civility and Professionalism," in conjunction with the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).
Q: What CLE courses will the Board offer for alumni this year? Are current students eligible to attend?
A: CLE courses offered for alumni include: "Civility and Professionalism" (through ABOTA,) "Substance Abuse" and "Elimination of Bias" will be offered. Students are always welcome to attend given they RSVP with Institutional Advancement.
Q: How is the Alumni Association helping to increase the law school's visibility within the legal profession and the community?
A: We have such great resources in our alumni base; there are so many Southwestern alums in every field of law. So we plan to increase Southwestern's presence in the legal community through events and programs.