Closing Argument

Issue: Winter 2022

Letter from the President Summer 2021

Virtual vs. In-person: Where do we go from here? 

If you had told me in January of 2020 that soon I would be spending a good part of each day working and socializing on Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams and other videoconferencing platforms, I would not have believed you. I’m not sure I had ever done a video conference before the pandemic. And those of you who know me know that I have been referred as a Luddite more than once. So it was no easy transition. But I did it. You did it. Even cat lawyer did it (sort of). And here we are. But what is next?

I have very mixed emotions about going back to work in the office. I am sure I am not the only one. I don’t like “home schooling” but I love seeing my kids more during the day. I don’t enjoy “attending” conferences virtually, but it is much more convenient. I miss my co-workers, but I love working next to my two dogs (two votes for staying home).

As the number of vaccinated people (get your vaccine) rises across the U.S., we are all preparing to “go back to work” and figure out the new normal (I am really starting to hate that term). And in assessing the pros and cons of a socially distanced life over the past year, a new question now rises: What should be keep from our lifestyle in the COVID-19 era?

For example, I always look forward to the College of Law’s annual alumni dinner. It’s a chance to gather together with old friends and celebrate the law school. In 2020, we of course had to cancel the event and this year we did a virtual event in combination with some retirement parties. We managed to celebrate and connect as a broad S.J. Quinney community through a series of virtual events over the course of the year. I suspect that we will keep some of these virtual events while introducing in-person events.

A personal highlight for me was participating in my class reunion (go class of 95!) online with a number of classmates who I hadn’t seen in years. A virtual format allowed us to connect online, and a number of participants would not have been able to attend the reunion had the pandemic not brought people together via Zoom. It was truly a great chance to visit with classmates and have some good laughs about “back in the day.” I hope we keep can some aspect of these online reunions so everyone can participate.

Another successful element during the pandemic has been fundraising for the College of Law. At the beginning of the pandemic, I assumed that fundraising would be difficult. I was wrong. You all came through. Campaigns hosted on social media for scholarships have helped law students navigate a difficult time.

So here is my top five “to keep” list:

  1. Working in pajamas all day
  2. Dogs at work
  3. No traveling for depositions
  4. Walks around the block
  5. And, of course, cat lawyer (court costume day?)

Here is top five “can’t wait to ditch” list:

  1. Scrounging up lunch from the fridge (are these leftovers from this week?)
  2. Dogs barking during zoom calls
  3. Children barking during zoom calls
  4. Grown up household members barking during zoom calls
  5. The most exciting part of my day being when mail arrives

I am hopeful as I end my time as president of the Board of trustees that we can continue with the successes that we’ve had in both hosting virtual events and fundraising events to elevate students as they work to become the next generation of lawyers.

I invite you to join me as we work together as an SJQ community to build on the successes we found during the pandemic’s virtual experience. And I can’t wait to see you all in person. Let’s go to lunch!