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Amid fierce competition for top talent and dwindling funds from traditional sources, law schools across the country are using full-throttle fundraising to fill the financial gaps. To help boost faculty pay, improve facilities and woo promising students to their programs, law schools say they are bolstering their development programs and relying more than ever on contributions from their graduates. “An arms race has been under way,” said Christopher Edley Jr., dean of the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, a state-funded school. That arms race, Edley said, has upgraded the quality of schools but has meant that they have increasingly relied on private contributions to cover the costs of improvement. The move toward reinvigorated fundraising appears to be part of a larger movement in higher-education fundraising. Last year, contributions to colleges and universities reached $24.4 billion, a 3.4 percent increase from 2003, according to the Council for Aid to Education at Rand Corp. Nearly half of that amount came from individuals, the survey found, an increase of 9.7 percent compared with 2003. Alumni giving rose by 2 percent and gifts from nonalumni donors rose by 21.5 percent. Harvard University raised the most, at $540.3 million. Stanford University came in second, at $524.2 million. A FIGHT FOR RANKING Taking the dean’s job at Berkeley last year, Edley is heading an ambitious fundraising drive to come up with $100 million initially for the school to help pay for more faculty, research centers, financial aid and a new building. Edley, who said state funding for the school has plunged by 40 percent in the last five years, took the job at a time when its ranking in U.S. News & World Report had fallen from seventh to 13th. The improvements are expected to raise the school’s placement. The annual rankings are a big part of what is driving the fundraising movement, said several deans at public and private schools contacted for this story. Remaining at the top, or scrambling to get there, requires schools to improve student-faculty ratios, scholarship programs, clinical programs, teachers’ credentials, facilities and career services for students. Those changes help the quality of education, they said, but exact a big price. “Law schools now spend much more money on programs to differentiate themselves,” said David Yellen, the new dean at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Formerly the dean at Hofstra University School of Law, Yellen worked to boost that school’s ranking by 12 points, into the top 100 schools, during his three-year stint as dean. Loyola Chicago has just launched a $20 million capital campaign and is looking to Yellen to lead that effort. Raising money is a dean’s “No. 1 job,” he said, adding that “a law school cannot advance without major fundraising successes.” The obvious source for much of that money is a law school’s alumni base, a pool that institutions are tapping apparently more than ever. James E. Rogers said that he is on the mailing list. Last month, he gave $10 million to the University of Southern California (USC) Law School, where he received a master’s degree in tax law in 1962. His contribution is the largest in the school’s history. Rogers said that heightened competition has created a “whole new culture” of fundraising at law schools. He recalled that the annual donation from his graduating class several years ago was $54.65. “I still don’t know who gave the 65 cents,” he said. President of Sunbelt Communications, Rogers also donated $137 million to the University of Arizona and its law school, which is now the James E. Rogers College of Law. He received his juris doctor degree from the law school. Rogers also gave $28.5 million to the University of Las Vegas, located in his hometown. Idaho State University received $1 million. Rogers’ company owns a television station in the state. STATE FUNDING PLUNGES The increased emphasis on fundraising is not restricted to smaller law schools, or schools struggling to improve their rankings. Harvard Law School is in the midst of a $400 million drive, double its previous campaign. And while the private school is known as the grandfather of all fund-raisers, other law schools, whether public or private, have their own ambitious plans, including a $202.7 million campaign at the University of Virginia School of Law, a state school, and a $12 million campaign for scholarships alone at privately funded Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. A decline in state funding for public law schools is a pattern across much of the country, Rogers said, which is making those institutions rely on fundraising to compete with their private counterparts that generally have more experience with drumming up dollars. “You can take the legislatures of Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and interchange them,” he said. “They are slowly weaning those systems off at about the same rate.” He added that “law schools are out there preaching that graduates have to pick it up.” Since making the donations, Rogers’ phone lines are regularly lit with calls from schools seeking his generosity, he said. The law firm Cozen O’Connor also gets its share of calls, said Chief Executive Officer Patrick O’Connor. Two years ago, his Philadelphia firm pledged $2 million to the University of Pennsylvania Law School to create a chair on behalf of the firm’s former CEO, Stephen Cozen. The firm is in the process of completing the endowment. After news of the gift emerged, other schools, including O’Connor’s alma mater, Villanova University School of Law, upped the fundraising pressure. The firm’s contribution, O’Connor said, was a special event to mark his partner’s lifetime achievements. “This is not our day job,” he said, adding that he did not expect to make contributions of that size routinely. “If I started that practice, I’d go broke.” A MATTER OF PRIDE While Cozen O’Connor’s gift was to honor one of its own, part of what prompted Rogers to donate his money was a desire to keep the schools that he attended competitive in the rankings, he said. The prospect of watching his schools fall behind was an issue of pride, he added. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and, for me, I don’t want to see my law schools drop,” he said. The “glory” of Rogers’ contributions is that the schools can spend the money the way they want to, said Tom Tomlinson, USC law school associate dean. The institution has plans to hire more faculty, expand its library and add scholarships, among other things. But some have raised concerns about strings that may come with donations to law schools. One fear is that fundraising frenzy may create an environment where contributors hold sway over law schools in everything from faculty selection to courses taught. Another concern is that law school deans, whose success and job stability depend on their ability to raise money, may have interests that fail to mesh with the mission of their schools and the vision of their professors. The issue is part of an ABA conference scheduled at the end of this month. At the Conference on Law School Development for Deans and Administrators, the legal and ethical limitations of law school fundraising is one of the topics that attendees will address during the four-day event in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Because individual and private contributions are making up larger portions of law school budgets, “the law of averages” dictates that the opportunity for diverging interests between schools and their contributors will escalate, said Rod Smolla, dean of the University of Richmond School of Law. Smolla is a panelist during a session on fundraising ethics. Although it is “perfectly appropriate” for contributors to give directions on how a school may use their donations, administrators must be vigilant in protecting the vision of the school, which does not always comport with the interests of those who might be generous to it, he said. Smolla said that contributors seeking to gain advertising “cachet” from a gift is acceptable and expected, but trying to influence a school to take a particular issue on social issues is not. “The art is to make the match,” he said. Making that match occur requires the staff to do it, which itself costs money. USC law school, for example, has seven full-time staffers working on development, compared with one such employee in 1998, Tomlinson said. “The more people you have asking, the more people you have making the case,” he said. The alumni base is the obvious fundraising target and law schools generally look to three categories of graduates, said Yellen, dean at Loyola Chicago. Often, major donors are graduates who now run businesses, such as Rogers, and personal injury attorneys. In addition, law firms, especially those with a high concentration of a particular school’s graduates, are a growing source of money, Yellen said. Kirkland & Ellis of Chicago, for example, has given millions to Harvard Law School, Northwestern University School of Law, the University of Chicago Law School and the University of Michigan Law School. Other firms making donations in the last few years include the Omaha, Neb., firm McGrath, North, Mullin & Kratz, which gave $1 million to Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, and Houston’s Vinson & Elkins, which has given millions to the University of Texas. Those donations raised concerns that the university was directing its legal work to the firm because of the contributions. The approach to fundraising is “multipronged,” Yellen explained. With individual alumni, schools want to appeal to their “loyalty and desire to see their alma mater build its reputation,” he said. But law firms, a growing source for fundraising efforts, often want to endow a professorship or make some other kind of contribution to solidify an important relationship with the school and “to give something back.” Other fund sources, such as foundations and government entities, mainly are interested in supporting particular programs, such as child advocacy clinics or civil rights programs, he said. As the new dean, Yellen said that this fall will be “rolled out” to Loyola’s alumni community in a series of networking events. “This is your best chance to articulate your vision and goals for the school,” he said.

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