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The recent murder of a 17-year-old girl who was abducted near the Los Angeles campus of Southwestern University School of Law has sent shockwaves through the law school. The victim’s mother, Deborah Drooz, a partner at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, had just finished a summer course as an adjunct professor at the school. “This has hit all of us very hard,” said Leslie Steinberg, assistant dean of public affairs at the law school, whose own daughter went to school with the victim, Lily Burk. “We’re in shock. The community is a very close family. On a personal level, all of us are feeling this, and our hearts go out to Professor Drooz’s family. We also want people to understand that this is an extremely unusual situation, and that none of us have ever seen anything like this here.” Burk had just picked up some paperwork at the Southwestern Law School’s building for her mother when she was abducted on Friday afternoon, according to recent press reports. During the next hour, Burk called her parents, asking how to withdraw cash from an ATM using her credit card. Her beaten body was discovered in her car Saturday morning at a downtown parking lot. A 50-year-old transient, Charles Samuel, who had entered a drug treatment program near the law school’s campus, has been arrested for her murder. This week, the senior lead officer at the Los Angeles Police Department for the area that includes Southwestern has been working with school officials and is planning to be on campus to talk about safety in the area, Steinberg said. Drooz, an adjunct professor at Southwestern since 2001, had just finished finals last week for a summer course she was teaching called “Defamation, Privacy and Publicity,” Steinberg said. About two dozen students from the class hosted a candlelight vigil on July 27 for Drooz’s daughter. “The dean has been in touch with her, and other members of the community have been in touch with her and her family, and we’re certainly sending our condolences,” she said. “Students are very, very concerned about her and upset that this happened to their professor, whom they developed a nice relationship with.” Drooz, who received her J.D. from Southwestern in 1984, works in the Los Angeles office of Denver’s Brownstein Hyatt. She specializes in First Amendment and defamation law and has represented public figures including Martha Stewart, Kevin Costner, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Steve Wynn. She also handles intellectual property, appellate and entertainment transactions. Drooz did not return a call for comment. Bruce James, managing partner and chief executive officer of Brownstein Hyatt, issued a statement: “As a parent, I cannot begin to imagine what Deborah and Greg are going through. Deborah and her family are in our thoughts and prayers. We will do whatever we can to support them throughout this heartbreaking tragedy.”

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