October 14, 2010

Retiring law professor to discuss ‘lessons learned’

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Professor Leonard Gross of the Southern Illinois University School of Law will deliver a lecture on his lifetime in the legal profession later this month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Gross will present “Lessons Learned: A Life in the Law,” at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building auditorium. Sponsored by the law school’s Student Bar Association, the lecture is free and open to the public.

The “Last Lecture” series will challenge a law school faculty member, nominated by the Student Bar Association, to answer one question: ‘If this were your last opportunity to speak in public, what would you say,’ said Patrick R. D. Sullivan, Student Bar Association vice president.

Gross, a member of the law school faculty since 1983, will retire from SIUC in December.

Gross said he plans to discuss some lessons he’s learned from teaching and practicing law that might be beneficial.

Dean Cynthia L. Fountaine said she likes the idea of the lecture series and that Gross is presenting the inaugural lecture.

“We have several lecture series and programs through which we bring nationally recognized experts to SIUC, and those are great opportunities for our students, faculty, and members of the community,” she said. “But our students and alumni really love to hear from their own professors, and this series is a great way to do that.”

Fountaine noted Gross’ 27 years of teaching classes at the law school.

“We have already had requests from alumni who can’t attend to have it recorded. I am looking forward to it and think it will be well received,” she said.

Gross earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and his law degree from Boston University School of Law. He practiced corporate litigation law with the Shearman and Sterling law firm for six years before coming to SIUC. His law school courses include legal profession, agency and partnership, corporations, federal income taxation, interviewing and counseling and, legal writing and evidence. Gross has also taught at Washington University School of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law, St. Louis University School of Law, and the University of San Diego School of Law.

Gross’ community service includes being a member and former chair of the Southern Illinois Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, former member of the Carbondale Elementary School District Board, and current president of the Jewish Federation of Southern Illinois, Southeast Missouri and Western Kentucky.

Sullivan, a second-year law student, said Gross’ “excellence in the field of law,” along with his “tireless commitment to community service and dedication” prompted the decision to honor Gross on his pending retirement. The registered student organization’s purpose is to serve as liaison between students and the faculty and staff, and coordinate between five and seven social events for students each year.

The lecture series seemed “like a perfect marriage between those two missions,” Sullivan said.

“Many of our students will never have the opportunity to enroll in one ofProfessor Gross'classes as a student,and members of the community at large will never have insight intohis personal reflections” on Gross’ successful life, Sullivan said.