Trial lawyer Tom Keefe may have had a rocky start as interim dean at Saint Louis University School of Law, but he appears to buying some goodwill. 

Keefe—appointed in August after former dean Annette Clark resigned abruptly following clashes with University President Lawrence Biondi over law school finances and control—is footing the bill for American Bar Association memberships for all 836 of the school’s students.

The move makes Saint Louis one of five law schools in which each student belongs to the ABA’s Law Student Division, according to an ABA spokesman. Previously, just 20 percent of the school’s students were ABA members, the law school said.

“My hope is eventually this becomes part of our school’s culture and becomes a real selling point to potential students,” said Student Bar Association member Clif Martin. “This gives us the ability to showcase what SLU law students are about and what we’re made of on a grand scale.”

Keefe, a Saint Louis alumnus, caused a minor stir following his appointment by announcing that he would continue his lawpractice and would donate his dean’s salary to the university. He also told Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly that he was not Biondi’s “butt boy,” in response to criticism that he was brought in specifically to do the university president’s bidding.

The ABA memberships will cost Keefe about $14,212—individual students pay $25 a year, but entire-school rates are available at $17 per student. The memberships allow students to seek ABA grants and participate in ABA committees and sections.

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