Seton Hall Law formally dedicated its newly refurbished Larson Auditorium. To mark the occasion, one of the greatest living litigators in America, David Boies, delivered the inaugural Larson Lecture to a large audience of students, faculty, friends and alumni, including federal judges John Gibbons (ret.) and Anne Thompson as well as United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Paul A. Fishman.
The auditorium, which received aesthetic as well as infrastructural upgrades such as all new seating equipped with electrical outlets and widened to accommodate lap top computers, was refurbished through the generosity of Lee and Peter Larson '74.
In formally dedicating the Larson Auditorium, Dean Hobbs noted with appreciation that “Seton Hall Law School is very fortunate to be blessed with the support of Peter and Lee Larson. They have made our institution a better place and, through gifts such as this great space, will continue to do so long into the future.”
Lee Larson, President of the Larson Family Foundation, noted to the audience that she was “as proud to have Larson in front of the word ‘Auditorium’ as I am to have Larson following my first name.”
Peter Larson, who became one of America’s most successful corporate leaders after graduation from Seton Hall Law, is the current Chair of the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors and the creator, along with his family, of the Charles A. Sullivan and Kathleen M. Boozang Endowed Scholarships.
Speaking for himself and Lee, he remarked: “We’re honored that you would name this wonderful space for us. But you would honor us even more by dedicating and permitting this space to be a place where the spirit of civil discourse is alive, well and consistently observed. By which we mean a commitment to listen thoughtfully, respond respectfully, and recognize that even smart people can have a different and responsible point of view on an issue, in which we believe differently.”
As the Inaugural Larson Lecturer, David Boies, often referred to as “America’s greatest living litigator” and “a modern day Clarence Darrow,” lectured on “The Role of Attorneys in American Society Today.” Named Litigator of the Year in 2011 by The American Lawyer and one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine, Dean Hobbs observed that “David Boies’ list of clients and cases reads like a Who’s Who of American Society, Business and Law. It has, in fact, been said that no lawyer in America has tried and argued on appeal as many landmark cases in as many different areas as Mr. Boies.”
Boies defended IBM against the Justice Department; represented the Justice Department against Microsoft; CBS against General Westmoreland; American Express against Visa and Mastercard; and Al Gore in Bush v. Gore. Other clients include Calvin Klein, Michael Moore, Texaco, the New York Yankees, and the NFL.
Thanking the Larsons for their “leadership in so many areas,” Boies noted that “there are very few professions that offer people as many privileges and opportunities as the legal profession offers us.” But he also noted that “With those privileges come responsibilities. Because each of us has a responsibility not only to our individual clients, but to the justice system itself.”
Boies defended the adversarial system, noting that “it is the ability to decide the most important issues facing our society — in court — peacefully and under the rule of law — that distinguishes this society from so many that have gone before it.”
Later, in responding to a question from a student, Boies posited that the adversarial system works best against equally matched opponents, i.e., resourced v. resourced and non-resourced v. non-resourced. He noted that marked difficulties within the system arise when those who are resourced and highly resourced face those who are not. It is there, Boies counseled the students in the audience, that lawyers may and must serve the justice system itself.
The Seton Hall Law Community looks forward to continued dialogue on issues of national importance through the Larson Lecture Series.
Pictured, from Left: Peter Larson '74, Lee Larson, David Boies, and Dean Hobbs.