Thursday, April 6, 2006

Arizona State Names College of Law After Justice O'Connor

The ASU press release is here.  As Dean Patricia White remarks:

We believe this is the first major law school in the country to be named after a living person solely on the basis of merit. We are choosing to honor Justice O’Connor, and in so doing we honor ourselves. We believe that our association with Justice O’Connor will help us gain recognition of the ASU College of Law, its accomplishments and what it stands for. We are confident that now and in the future students, faculty and others will want to share in this association.

I suspect Dean White's assessment is correct, both that this is the first naming not based on money and about the positive benefits that will accrue to ASU from this association.  I've opened comments, in the event someone knows of another law school named for a living person who had not donated substantial sums to the school.

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Dean White is careful to limit her statement to so-called "major" law schools, but Texas Southern took a quite similar step in 1976, renaming its law school after Thurgood Marshall.

Posted by: Jon Weinberg | Apr 6, 2006 7:07:33 AM

The U. of Hawaii's William S. Richardson School of Law is named after a long-serving former Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court. See

Campbell U.'s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law is named for the university president who lead the drive to create the law school. See

I also believe that the U. of Arkansas-Fayetteville's Leflar Law Center is named for former professor Robert Leflar (not to be confused with a current professor also named Robert Leflar).

Posted by: Keith Rowley | Apr 6, 2006 7:51:20 AM

I am somewhat perplexed as to why merely naming your school after a respected jurist from your state should be expected to boost the reputation of said school, regardless of the fact that the individual has nothing whatsoever to do with the school itself (aside from an appointment to the board of visitors). I think the naming appropriate, of course, given O'Connors accomplishments, but why should this help the reputation of the school? She went to Stanford, after all. Any thoughts? (I guess this applies to all such moves in academia.)

Posted by: Phillip | Apr 6, 2006 8:21:54 AM

Trademark value?

Posted by: Ann Bartow | Apr 6, 2006 5:43:54 PM

As to the question of the value of such a naming, wouldn't Justice O'Connor have to consent to the use of her name in this sort of context? (I'm not well-read in the subject, but I'd imagine even public figures have some degree of rights in their identities when used for marketing.) If so, her consent might function as a tacit endorsement of the school.

It's a stretch, but marketing is all about impressions.

Posted by: Tony Petro | Apr 7, 2006 8:00:30 AM

Consider Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern. I am virtually sure it was named for Marshall in his lifetime.

Posted by: Craig Oren | Apr 10, 2006 9:57:53 AM

The University of Arkansas School of Law is located in the Robert A. Leflar Law Center named after Dr. Leflar in his lifetime. Current UofA School of Law professor Robert B Leflar is the eldest son of Robert A.

Posted by: Philip AF Leflar | Nov 29, 2006 10:55:52 AM

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