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Adjuncts fund scholarships
Generous adjuncts help fund tuition for law students
2L Brian Barner
1L Jue Wang
The generosity of nearly 30 adjunct professors at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law has prompted the creation of a new scholarship program that will reward deserving students with full in-state tuition.
The first two Adjunct Faculty Scholarships have been awarded to Brian Barner, a second-year student from Peoria, Ariz., and Jue Wang, a first-year student from Qingdao, in northeastern China. Each will receive $16,289 to help offset the cost of tuition and fees in the 2008-2009 academic year.
"I was just thrilled," said Barner, who has an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University. "My parents were able to pay for Georgetown, but they said, `You're on your own after that.' It's a real help not to have to graduate with so much debt."
The program was funded by some of the College's 2007-2008 adjunct professors, who are judges and lawyers from the private and public sectors in Maricopa County. They include two Arizona Supreme Court justices, a former Chief Judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals, a former chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents, the managing partners of two of the Valley's largest law firms and the managing partner of an international accounting firm.
The adjunct faculty members enhance the College's curriculum by teaching a variety of legal topics, including patent litigation, Arizona media law, evidence, health law, employment law, estate planning and many others. In exchange, they each receive an honorarium.
This year, 29 of them waived nearly $80,000 in honoraria, which was made available to Dean Patricia White to use for guest speakers, school awards and the Adjunct Faculty Scholarship Program.
"The College of Law is particularly proud of the efforts and generosity of our distinguished adjunct faculty, and we are proud to establish these scholarships in honor of their contributions," White said. "We hope this is the first year of an annual tradition."
Gary Birnbaum, the College of Law's Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Program Development, who has been an adjunct at the College for about seven years, worked with White to establish the scholarship program.
"It's another unique program designed to assist students who have outstanding academic credentials and perceived economic need," said Birnbaum, managing director at Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedlander, P.A., in Phoenix. "We feel these scholarships are an appropriate means to recognize the contributions of the adjunct faculty members to the university in general and the College of Law in particular."
Geoffrey Sturr, an attorney at Osborn Maledon, spends most weekends preparing for the Professional Responsibility course that he teaches every Monday night at the College. Despite the time commitment, Sturr said he has enjoyed the experience, especially getting to know his students, and he strongly supports the Adjunct Faculty Scholarship program.
"I think of waiving the honorarium as doubling the return on my investment," said Sturr, whose degree is from the UCLA School of Law. "I happily devote time to teaching because it is such a rewarding experience. It helps improve my knowledge and experience, and gives me a chance to meet and get to know some very bright and talented students. And, given the area that I teach, I hope I have an opportunity to leave a mark on young lawyers entering the profession.
"Being able to direct the honorarium that I would otherwise receive toward scholarships and other worthwhile programs is an added bonus."
Programs such as the new scholarship fund are needed to make it possible for more law students to go into public-interest law or government work, Sturr said.
"Law school debt is affecting the choices people make in their professional lives," he said. "Anything that we, as professionals, can do to help students receive a legal education without accumulating too much debt is something we all should be doing."
Deana Peck, whose practice at Quarles & Brady focuses on commercial litigation, began teaching her first course, Complex Litigation and Rule 23, at the College this semester. Her students have been "prepared, energized and energizing," she said.
"This is a wonderful use of these funds," said Peck, a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law. "When I was in law school, finances were always a struggle, and I'm really glad I can in this small way add to a fund that will be used for scholarships."
Wang, who holds a bachelor's degree in law from Wuhan University in China, came to the U.S. in 2006 with her husband, Chunpeng Zhao, a Ph.D. student at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. In addition to the expense of law school, Wang has survived the challenges of being a first-year law student with a significant language barrier.
"Our professors in China teach more about the theory of law, where here we get to actually read cases, so it's a big difference," she said. "It's a lot of pressure to be a second language learner and be at law school, but I feel excited to learn new things and to see myself improving."
Wang said the scholarship will help her with that pressure, too.
"It's kind of hard for me to pay out of state tuition, and it's a big help that I won't have to take out loans next year."
Shelli Soto, the College's Dean of Admissions, said Barner and Wang were selected because of their superb academic accomplishments and financial need.
"They represent the best that this law school has to offer," Soto said.
In addition to Birnbaum, Peck and Sturr, those waiving the honoraria are: Arizona Supreme Court Justices W. Scott Bales and Andrew D. Hurwitz, John R. Becker of Becker & House PLLC, Jim Belanger of Cheifetz Iannitelli Marcolini PC, David J. Bodney of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Howard Cabot of Perkins Coie Brown & Bain PA, Jean-Jacques Cabou of Osborn Maledon, Anthony W. Church of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Larry J. Cohen of the Cohen Law Firm, David Feigal of NDA Partners, Stanley Friedman, retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Andrew S. Gordon of Coppersmith Gordon Schermer Owens & Nelson PLC, sole practitioner Brock Heathcotte, Jon E. Kappes of the Law Offices of Steven G. Lisa Ltd., Donald J. Karl of BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona, Steven G. Lisa of the Law Offices of Steven G. Lisa Ltd., Marcy E. Mills of Greenberg Traurig LLP, Roger N. Morris of Quarles & Brady LLP, sole practitioner Stephanie Nichols-Young, Daniel J. Noblitt of Noblitt & Gilmore LLC, Jones Osborn II of Osborn Maledon, David A. Paige of Quarles & Brady LLP, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea, Gary L. Stuart of Gary L. Stuart, PC, and Anne L. Tiffen of Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedlander, P.A.