Why I give
“… [I]n thanks and recognition for what Duke Law gave to me in forming me as a person and a lawyer…”
Robert P. Riordan ’84: If I had to single out one reason over any other, it would probably have to be in thanks and recognition for what Duke Law gave to me in forming me as a person and a lawyer, and to honor those individuals who had such key roles in doing so. Professors like Sara Beale, Ken Pye, Jim Cox, John Weistart, Richard Schmalbeck, and George Christie both challenged and inspired, with a lot of emphasis on the ‘inspire’ part of it. They’re just special people who ignited sparks all over the place for me and my classmates.
I also give to create, in some small way, opportunities for other people to have the same experience and to open some of those same doors. And for the good of the profession generally, as I think Duke Law turns out excellent graduates who go out and promote the good of the profession generally. I am proud to help support that.
I want to help Duke Law continue to be excellent and continue to strive for excellence. I am both proud, and the tangible beneficiary of, that excellence.
“In order to facilitate change, you have to stay involved.”
Nwa’ndo Ume-Nwagbo '02: First and foremost, being able to come to Duke was possible, in part, because I got a scholarship. If I didn’t get a scholarship, there’s a very good chance I would not have gone to Duke. It’s as simple as that. I know that to get a scholarship, people obviously donated money to the Law School in one form or another. So for that reason alone — that I got a scholarship from the Law School, I need to give back because there are people coming behind me who would love to have that same opportunity. As an African American woman, I believe very strongly that receiving a quality education really is the main way for a lot of people to get ahead today. So for me to go to this amazing institution and have the opportunity to get the quality of legal education and then not turn around and make some effort to give back in order to help another young African American woman to get that same opportunity just would seem selfish on my part.
I also want to stay engaged. I loved my time at Duke. I made wonderful friends; friends who I believe will be friends for the rest of my life. But my time at Duke wasn’t perfect. There were a number of incidents that occurred while I was at Duke Law that definitely forced me to re-evaluate how I look at situations, how I look at confrontations about race. It forced me to realize that things still needed to change even at Duke Law and that I wanted to have some part in helping such change occur. And in order to facilitate change, you have to stay involved. Giving back is one way — the easiest way — to ensure that I am involved.
“My consistent giving is playing forward the hand up that was extended to me in my time of need.”
Charles Axelrod ’66: Jack Latty got me a full boat scholarship to Duke Law School and my wife a job in the Law School library without which I could not have attended. This was a part of Jack’s campaign to make Duke a good law school rather than a good Southern law school, which some felt was a contradiction in terms. So Jack reversed the historical paradigm by filling his carpet bags with greenbacks and heading north. My consistent giving is playing forward the hand up that was extended to me in my time of need. Also the ‘Latty Boys’ that Jack recruited — and we were a virtually all-male class — were a really a diverse yet class act and have hung together throughout the years.
"It is what you do when you are a part of a family."
Judge David H. Allard ’56: When I decided to attend Duke Law School in 1953 and was accepted, I made a lifelong commitment to Duke University and particularly the Law School. So I think of myself as being a member of the Duke family; in my professional career I was known as a Duke Law School lawyer and judge. All this seems as natural to me as my last name. Why wouldn’t I keep in touch and support the Law School? It is what you do when you are part of a family. More important, there always has been a certain dynamic about the Law School that is exciting. It started happening soon after my graduation when Jack Latty became dean. And look where Duke Law School is now and where it is going. To be honest, I envy the students at Duke Law School now; they get all the advantages of a relatively small law school, yet personal relationships still are important and the opportunities are seemingly unlimited. And the Law School stretches beyond the campus, beyond the U.S. and now worldwide!
While my career was in the public sector I wanted to support measures like the Barrister Donor Society and this year, through the generosity of Stanley Star [’61] and his wife, my wife Hildred and I have established an endowed scholarship. It just seems the natural and right thing to do when you are part of the Duke Law School family.