$1M Gift to University of Arizona Law Launches Fundraising Effort to Transform Advocacy Program

May 17, 2021

The gift comes from Kevin R. Boyle, a 1997 alumnus of the James E. Rogers College of Law and a founding partner of the Los Angeles-based firm Panish Shea & Boyle LLP.

Mock Trials Downtown Courtrooms

A University of Arizona law student participates in a mock trial in a downtown Tucson courtroom.

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law has launched a $6 million fundraising initiative in support of its advocacy program. The initiative, dubbed "A New Day in Court," will raise funds to renovate student courtrooms, establish an endowed faculty chair of advocacy and support student experiential learning.

The initiative also includes renaming the program to the Thomas Mauet Advocacy Program, in honor of Professor Emeritus and renowned trial expert Thomas Mauet, who retired as advocacy program director in 2016.

The advocacy program prepares students for careers in the courtroom, with a strong emphasis on experiential classes that allow students to act as litigators and try cases against each other. The program also teaches core advocacy skills such as client interviews and fact gathering that are essential for any lawyer, even those not practicing in court.

Kevin R. Boyle

Kevin R. Boyle

Kevin R. Boyle, a 1997 alumnus of University of Arizona Law and a founding partner of the Los Angeles-based firm Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, has contributed $1 million to the effort, establishing the Kevin R. Boyle Trial Courtroom, which will take the place of the college's current trial courtroom and a classroom. When renovations are completed, the Kevin R. Boyle Trial Courtroom will be a modernized space with room for 50 observers in the gallery and a space that can serve as a jury room or a conference room.

"Kevin Boyle has had an incredible career and we are so grateful that he has chosen to leverage his success by making a gift that will benefit future generations of law students," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "His work as an advocate and his commitment to the University of Arizona  are inspirational, and we are proud to have him as a member of the Wildcat family."

Boyle specializes in resolving large, high-profile plaintiffs cases by trial or settlement. His notable victories include an $800 million settlement with MGM Resorts on behalf of the families and victims of the 2017 Las Vegas music festival shooting and a $13.5 million settlement with Boeing following a helicopter crash in Iraq, which is the largest known settlement for military personnel injured during the Iraq war.

"I am honored that University of Arizona Law presented me with this opportunity," Boyle said. "I am hopeful that this state-of-the art courtroom will attract talented students interested in trial practice, and help set them on their way to all forms of successful trial careers."

Spaces that Reflect Modern Legal Practice

The practice of law has evolved tremendously since the college's current courtroom spaces were built in 1977, with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating change even more. With the "A New Day in Court" initiative, University of Arizona Law will create fully functional, state-of-the-art spaces that give students experience in modern courtroom settings.

In addition to the new Kevin R. Boyle Trial Courtroom, the planned renovations will overhaul the college's existing appellate courtroom to become a flexible space that doubles as a classroom. The lobby space adjacent to the courtrooms will be renovated to provide a view of courtroom activities plus new study spaces and enhanced audiovisual capabilities.

"We already have one of the country's top advocacy programs, and this initiative will ensure that our students and professors have the learning spaces and resources to match the quality of the program," said Marc Miller, dean of the College of Law. "Advocacy is a fundamental skill for all lawyers – not just litigators – and with this renovation, we're literally putting it front and center in our law school. These investments will give University of Arizona Law the ability to offer students the best possible education in advocacy."

Continuing a Legacy of Advocacy

The advocacy program holds an "A" ranking from PreLaw Magazine. Mauet, the founding director, is one of the most influential litigators in the country, thanks to his books "Trial Techniques and Trials" and "Pretrial," which many trial attorneys consider essential courtroom guides. 

Other successful alumni also have given back to the college. The current trial and appellate courtroom spaces were named for the alumni whose gifts made them possible: 1956 alumnus Stanley Feldman, who served 21 years as an Arizona Supreme Court justice, including as chief justice from 1992-1997, and Burt Kinerk, a 1962 alumnus whose more than 50-year civil trial career has spanned the local, state and federal levels.

"The advocacy program we have today stands on the shoulders of these and countless other incredible advocates who have long been leaders and key contributors in our community, as faculty, graduates and donors," said Barbara Bergman, director of the advocacy program. "It's exciting to continue expanding on their great work and carry this program into the modern era."

Gift from All-Wildcat Tucson Firm Advances the Cause

The all-alumni Tucson firm of Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian is supporting the “A New Day in Court” initiative with a $250,000 gift toward the lobby renovation. Founding partner and 1977 alumnus Ted Schmidt is rallying more classmates and peers to join the effort.

"Our firm wants to ensure that the University of Arizona remains an elite institution that is equipped to train the next generation of successful trial attorneys," said Schmidt, who is a member of the fundraising initiative's steering committee. "We envision the future Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian Lobby to be a place where Arizona Law students gather in study groups, watch their classmates perform in court sessions, and engage in those invigorating discussions that make law school so interesting."

Giving Students "A New Day in Court"

In addition to the $4 million needed for the building renovations, the "A New Day in Court" initiative is raising $2 million for an endowed chair of advocacy, an endowed professorship, and an endowment fund to support student experiential advocacy activities, such as travel to trial competitions.

The "A New Day in Court" initiative is particularly meaningful because training advocates is the core of Arizona Law, said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation.

"I'm moved to see alumni and friends uniting around this cause as a tribute to Thomas Mauet and making worthwhile investments in the students who will become our society's most powerful advocates," he said.