Returning the 'naked Brandeis' trophy to its rightful owner
Last Friday, March 9, I had the distinct pleasure of returning the “naked Brandeis” to its rightful owner, namely the firm of Frost Brown Todd. The “naked Brandeis” is in fact a small replica of Rodin’s “The Thinker” statute — the very same that sits in front of the university’s main administration building, Grawemeyer Hall.
Why the name, why the “naked Brandeis”? The story is that one of my predecessor Dean Susan Duncan’s children endearingly referred to the replica — our trophy for the winner of the annual Law Firm Challenge — as “naked Brandeis,” logically enough associating the school’s name with the unclothed statue. And the moniker stuck.
The Law Firm Challenge is one of the law school’s signature fundraising events. Thirty law firms and more than 400 Brandeis School of Law alumni compete in different categories to achieve the highest percentage of alumni giving during a fiscal year. Gifts of any size qualify for the challenge and toward a firm’s participation rate.
In Spring 2017, Frost Brown Todd outpaced its rivals with an innovative campaign that tapped new donation sources. Under Frost Brown Todd’s leadership, they firm raised more than $16,000 for the law school. In a perfect world, it seems, the trophy would have been theirs by the summer. But at about that time, Dean Duncan bid goodbye to head south to lead the law school at Ole Miss. My colleague Lars Smith then took over as interim dean and I did not start until January. Somehow, in all of the tumult, the “naked Brandeis” was lost. But our interim director of development, the intrepid Justin Leighty, tracked it down and I was, finally, able to present it to Frost Brown Todd partners and associates, and to share thoughts about the future of the law school and the legal community here.
For now, then, the naked Brandeis is at home with Frost Brown Todd. But just for now — the Law Firm Challenge will soon be underway anew. This time, I hope, we will keep tabs on our prized trophy!