GAINESVILLE, Fla. — U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will speak at the dedication ceremony for the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law on Thursday, Sept. 21.
A 1948 graduate of the UF law school, Chesterfield Smith was founder and chairman emeritus of national law firm Holland & Knight and president of the American Bar Association in 1973. The classroom was funded through a leadership gift from the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Justice Ginsburg—along with UF President Bernie Machen, Levin College of Law Dean Robert Jerry, and dignitaries from Holland & Knight—will address lawyers from Holland & Knight, UF alumni, faculty and staff at the 11 a.m. dedication.
This is a private event and is not open to the public. Space is available for a limited number of media representatives. Media tickets can be reserved through the law school’s Communications Office. For media who wish to cover the dedication remotely, a satellite feed of the dedication ceremony will be available at the coordinates SBS 6 Transponder 13, slot A, at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21. (The downlink frequency is 12002.0 Horizontal. The symbol rate is 3.9787; the FEC is 3/4.)
The event also will be streamed live over the Internet, and available through a link on the UF Law homepage, www.law.ufl.edu. Still photographs and a release will be available upon request from the UF Levin College of Law Communications Office after the event.
Media representatives should arrive at 10:30 a.m. to set up before the dedication begins. Internet access will be available for reporters wish to file their stories from the law school. Parking restrictions will be lifted in the law school parking lots during the event.
To reserve a ticket or arrange for a press kit, contact Jim Hellegaard at 352-273-0650 or firstname.lastname@example.org. NOTE: Media representatives must be escorted by law school communications personnel into the classroom. Look for the “media” sign outside the classroom prior to the event.
Please note that Justice Ginsburg will not give individual interviews, and there will not be a question-and-answer session. All guests, including the media, must have a valid ticket to be allowed access to the event, and must pass through a security checkpoint and submit to a search.
The founder of Holland & Knight in 1968, Chesterfield Smith (1917-2003) was one of the country’s most prominent lawyers, and his name remains one of the most revered in national legal circles. Smith’s legendary act came in 1973 when he had been president of the American Bar Association for only a month. In what was instantly dubbed the Saturday Night Massacre, President Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal, prompting the nation’s attorney general and top assistant to resign. Almost immediately, without a protracted debate or consensus among his peers, Smith spoke out, telling the nation and the president, “No man is above the law.” Smith went on to lead the ABA’s effort to call for an independent counsel to investigate Nixon. His early voice of leadership altered history by becoming a catalyst in the president’s ultimate resignation.
The classroom that now bears his name is the result of a collective effort to honor Smith’s legacy by his law firm and his many friends and admirers, and serves as a main location for conferences and workshops in the law school. Justice Ginsburg, who is attending the event because of her personal friendship with Smith, is one of more than 400 donors to the classroom project.
Smith first met Ginsburg in 1978 on an American Bar Association trip to China. They became good friends. In 1993, Smith wrote a key U.S. senator to offer his support for her nomination to the court. Expressing appreciation for Smith’s gesture, Ginsburg sent him a hand-written note: “All my life I will try to be the person you described. With so much appreciation, Ruth.”
In 2002, Justice Ginsberg presented Smith with the Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award in a formal ceremony conducted in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg praised Smith’s life-long contributions to the legal profession and his leadership in creating a firm dedicated to public service. “He has devoted his extraordinary talent and enormous energy to the improvement of the legal profession—to making the profession more honorable, more responsive to the people law and lawyers serve,” Ginsburg said. “He is, in sum, among the brightest, boldest, bravest, all-around most effective lawyers ever bred in Florida and the USA.”
About Holland & Knight LLP: Holland & Knight is a global law firm with more than 1,150 lawyers in 17 U.S. offices. Other offices around the world are located in Mexico City, Tokyo and Beijing, with representative offices in Caracas, Helsinki and Tel Aviv. Holland & Knight is among the world’s 15 largest firms, providing representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law. Its interdisciplinary practice groups and industry-based teams ensure clients have access to attorneys with the best expertise, regardless of location. www.hklaw.com
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