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The law firm Ruden McClosky Smith Schuster & Russell was finally able to realize a return on an investment that dates back to 1997. Broward County, Fla.’s largest law firm made an endowment to the Florida State University law school more than four years ago at the urging of Ruden McClosky partner and FSU alumnus Terry Russell. But the money was not doled out until recently, when the school got a $50,000 matching grant from the state. FSU used the stipend to reward a star professor, Robert Atkinson, who is being wooed by a variety of law schools. He will be a visiting professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., this spring. Atkinson, who teaches professional responsibility, ethics and law and literature, is receiving the money as a gift in addition to his regular salary from FSU. A recognition ceremony was held Tuesday at Ruden’s downtown Fort Lauderdale offices to introduce Atkinson to his benefactors. While 60 of the firm’s lawyers and guests, including Broward Circuit Judge John Luzzo, munched on cold sliced salmon and stuffed grape leaves, Atkinson jokingly likened himself to a debutante being presented to society. He and Donald Weidner, dean of the FSU law school, were also presented with Ruden golf shirts. Since Ruden’s gift, several other law firms have offered up endowments, said Weidner. The donors include Steel Hector & Davis and Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, both of Miami. Some law firms designate what they want the money used for, while others leave it up to the administration to decide. “Ruden McClosky took an important leadership role,” Weidner said. “Terry Russell has been a great supporter of ours.”

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