Aviva Abramovsky - UB School Of Law

On Target with Penny Wolfgang
Sunday, November 26th

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

This is on target with penny Wolfgang a program that takes an inside look at what is happening in Western New York with the news features and special guests. Now here's your host honey Wolfgang. Hi everybody. I am your host spinning Wolfgang you are listening to on target and we are here every week to talk about subjects that we think interesting and important in topical for all of us who live here in the western new York community and to introduce you to people who are making a difference here in western new York and that is what we intend to do today. We're good you're going to meet somebody kind of new to community. But who has. A great impact on what she does in her position. And what's happened in the past what's happening in the future and you're going to be so excited because I am introducing you to the dean of the law school but this more like you be her university of buffalo earlier Yang as that is not what's the name but basically. She's the dean of the law school. And just pretty new to community which we find out about and of course why im so excited why are we so interested besides being the law school which is. Very important to all of us here in Western New York. Because it's the first she is I guess she is the first woman dean. Of Alaska and so that is quite a distinction that gash she has to set an example for everybody in the future. And I'm hoping that when you meet her and talk to her like I have you going to be so impressed you're going to know. That hard dean is going to make a difference in every woman's life here in Western New York so. Let me tell you that a diva. I Vermont ski has been here a couple of months that she is already. Like a well known figure in the community admit or like to a three times at different community events it's been really instinct. Not just at the law school like. In around the women lawyers and can't think of the other and community activities and she's having. Moves giving talks and explain the law no law school to. Members of different groups in hosts here she is an untidy thank you so much for coming with joining us. I'll thank you so much Kenny and I have to tell you when I was in college at Cornell I actually had my own little Sunday radio show under the DVR. No wonder yourself comfortable earlier thinning hair Glock didn't look look at the microphone and said. Okay I'm ready here at well not quite but it is in had a goal of a lifetime to be interviewed. And I and shot. A true fan of radio so it's probably my favorite medium. I don't know if I could agree with that the one thing is it's easier than television 'cause you don't have to look. That's right I like it better because you know doing the daily buzz 716. Which tied the plug every week too I'll listen as. And that they could latch unknown WD VD TV at 10 o'clock Monday through Friday. On channel five on me TV however. It's a lot more work because people like look at you NEC would you know face in your hair and I don't know if it's to have a case for any ads and not sister I was thinking too and you know. Like when you come here. Obviously when you're on the radio I mean I have shown up like with you know no make up and my pajamas right Jim. But it's. Two dead yet dimmed it definitely that's this and skip that this story actually is. I was usually recorded in pajamas and at that we have western art program that is for hello wake up these flash just glanced fled snapped. But. Anyway I am so glad to have you an eye on as aghast because I wanted their community and our listen is to get to know you pollute. A little bit that I have already because so impressive your background of how you got to be a and also your ties to west and him if he's always care. About how everywhere everywhere and ended up here or what ties they have because they're very parochial. Even though I still having your accent I feel like guns and need. So tell us could you start from the day you were born absolutely. I was I don't really remember that there is food don't story. Actually starts before I was born. So. I keep telling people and I think it's true action was built but buffalo so my parents met here when they were students. My mom was getting her BF today in the late sixties and my dad was a young strapping handsome lawsuit and he graduated UB and in the class of 1970. And this is where they met and fell on. So in every way that matters I was filled by buffalo. Now. This is an not an X rated program so we can have an eagle chance at to be fair my parents never gave me that graphic details but. I'm assuming it was the old fashioned way. It's fair it's for our. Family so Waylon yes toothless and then what so. So it in in my father graduated class of 1970 and this guy and I have my understanding that sadly my father passed away about ten years ago. Otherwise I'm sure I would be full of even more you know the great stories at most and for my mom. But he went on to do a couple different degrees act Columbia. And I'm pretty sure he practiced here for a bit of time in buffalo either and I think before it's cracker is. Then he went off to become a law professor at the University of Toledo so I am following in the fine footsteps of my family. He then it became a professor in a couple different places ending up at Fordham law school for very long time. Now like all law professors we all believe that the law is the greatest of professions so he persuaded minds charming artistic mother to also go to Moscow. Which she did just and it's interesting because when she was a young girl she did her BofA here but she actually wanted to be an architect. But she said that back in those days it was rare for women to be architects so she did fine arts and then did a variety of other things. Ands. You know leader went to law school now she too would have a pretty good career so I always liked tell people that I was inspired to found a lot not just by my father. That he is classic 1970 from UB lob but also by my mother went to case Voskuhl. So she was a do I mean it's a little bit about her corporate OK okay we wanna know everything. Well we're like page six of the post. Like if the first to bring you news. I really do love my mother. So. An and she was when I was growing up she was working as torts attorney plaintiff attorney. In New York City and so she was working for F. Lee Bailey. So I remember her or with epic in August. I would is remembered being a kid and going to the Empire State Building in the eighties and we had this crazy big. Gold Lincoln Town Car you know very eighties fabulous. And that like a big leather couch basically is is all the seats. And then going for it for that. There and it didn't riding up the elevator to her office I think there was like a cafe somewhere up top we get hot dog and I remember thinking wow you know and it's just so impressed. That my mom you know is this is this attorney in in the Empire State Building which is iconic. And you know my father's a law professor he was criminal law professor says he specialized in and he did a lot of cases in criminal defense work. He was a passionate advocate for the accused. And I remember thinking even at a young age that you know that's who has a career that it's important that is meaningful. And I kind of excited and a couple of but I don't think you thought to an end of the dean of the law school that I do not a different it's almost two different pants. Do before you took the pants so you're. Practicing at some point and teaching yet as simple exactly yes so. So I went to. And went to Cornell undergraduate with and the industrial labor relations schools I was like to tell people studied work for three years before I graduated sent an expert at it. Which isn't a fabulous school in Seoul has such a good reputation that it is well known it is and then I'm ever really was an amazing. Education so I'm. And I was raised right there with a degree in industrial labor relations and a strong advocate for the labor movement in unions. So after college I went to law school I actually do and a brief stint at. Columbia journalism school the way I left that program and went to law school before graduating. Because like I said when I was in university I really thought I mean I was playing around with the idea of being a reporter to have my own studio like best interview. Fascinating I hope they'd be nice in this one that we weren't it's now a television so nobody knows you know she's and so I didn't hit it adequately why I'm a beautiful studio. I have been yeah I and out added I mean I'm medium telling secrets here that actually is quite elegant. Felt we had nothing like this act old college radio station. In fact I think we are still putting taped together with Scotch tape you know in the big old machines. You know so I like to think that I'm old school trained. So that I went to law school. And you know I love the law decided to study the constitution in. Philadelphia but that would be romantics and went to the University of Pennsylvania law school and I'm aware that that's how people can choose their law schools at the time where is it. What's the romantic notion of self and went and and I graduated and I worked for a law firm in New York City called Anderson Killen elect. It was primarily. Insurance coverage. And at the time when I first took that summer associate position I did not think I wanted to be an insurance like. I thought like my father and my grandfather that I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. And well it just its first summer made of this my collar work you know and I was. You kind of arrogant in my idea that that you know only criminal defense is too you know where it was gonna go with you know I was it was pretty radical back in the day and and and then like I did this case. You know when I was working as a summer's us yet and it looked into it and we were representing that accompany against. The writing insurers and like so fascinating. I loved suing insurance companies now thank goodness for it and it. And I really decide you know necessarily everybody's bag tied it sparked a passion in me and I was lucky enough to be extended an offer. So I joined the firm and I. Work their first three years. And then the thing is that so interesting is that you did practice and then. So you know what it's like to be in the trenches and then somehow viewed or off or work your way up four and Matt sure how to phrase it into the academic. Fields so being the daughter of an academic you know it's always kind of there in years in the back of your mind vote but what really made me decide to pursue a career in academics and in particularly insurance lock that was my area of expertise assurance on commercial law. It was bad that you tragedy on on nine elevenths so I was a young associate at the time. And it's. This was a period in coverage work where insurance became you know just more import. And my law firm did and I did you know quite a bit of pro Bono work. There are a lot of serious and interesting decisions that. Had to be made an analogue. That a brand new to. The American discourse. This is the first time people started thinking about things like terrorism insurance and how would network and what is the likelihood of this wrist how we we really it's hard to remember but we really didn't know at the time how large abuse. Potential loss is not just of life but as you know. Defeat you were called for an also the towers and the issue that you Noah Blake who is responsible and wasn't built right and was there into effect in all of those coming in your carry and and was it should just be one occurrence two occurrence is all of these are multibillion dollar questions. I didn't work on the case but we obviously followed it so there are a lot of things going on and I and I thought to myself you know. I love practicing I really do and I still have worked you know. Throughout my career and an expert and I I love the practice of one and an incredible. Deep respect for all working lawyers. But I know that my idea was that this would be a really good time to publish some things in insurance. That really just haven't been out there in the academic discourse and maybe make a difference. In the entire. Development of an area of law. Because that's one of the things he could do is a professor that's distinct in kind. And we all hope is a working lawyer that you're gonna make on a big case to get cited you know and it will change things and you know that's the ambition for all of us. But through teaching and through publishing there's an opportunity to us who developed the whole field. And that's one of things I did I sort of working on a lot of different treatises. You know doing a few articles and being engaged in the conversation of the development a lot from academic career. I just flew in champ Trevor and Casey just change in the fascinating person and I am talking to here and on target. Is the new newly appointed pretty newly appointed dean of the law school here in buffalo a visa. At Vermont ski and we are talking about ten about her her career and how she the path that she took a hash came to Latin. To be here in this position and have hope yours cheers and cities as I am because. And it's very rare that somebody. Well you know that saying hey I don't be mad at me but those who can do in those who can't teach. Pretend I didn't say that fact is okay it's very rare that we have somebody who has. Become the dean of the law school who has actually has experienced in the trenches so to speak as well as a professor and then you know. A dean I think it's unusual out thank you can't accept. Now we didn't get to in all of this fat career where apt to going to academics but we haven't yet touched upon the. Then the elephant in the room the woman part. How does that work all along up until now. So I have always been a woman so we just. Yes and I am I I I just think about that because truthfully most of the time. As I was progressing in my care and really thought about it you know in in that sense. Although I'm an advocate and the strong feminist and then making. You know in an insurance particularly in commercialize a highly. Male field did you notice that I was gonna tell you and then it when you said you an intimate feel I was going to. Askew wasn't very rare and unique honestly because they just don't. You know picture women even though as many attorney says there are nowadays and as they have in the past. You think of them truthfully in matrimonial law. Family law. I don't know even of other. The social kind of as opposed to commercial up. And it's in LA and into senate and I was rebelling remember from criminal law so maybe that's why the appeal was psychologically. Now an and a secure I had a cohort of you know feisty other young women attorneys so I wasn't exactly. Alone but today general industry of law especially at higher ranks the partner level or you know judicial level. Does tend to be heavily skewed male were making a lot of strides in that and changing that. I hum. You know but. There's more work to be done and the way it starts is by encouraging more people. Both male and female to apply to law school and then choose this is an education but I do particularly speak to some of the women students now. I want everyone to know I love all the areas of practice of law but in my own field sometimes. People will say to me but then you know young men and women. I don't really know and lied about economics or finance I don't I didn't have that background is it too late for me. To think about doing immense and I tell them no that's the point of education educated is what you wanna be at the end at the beginning. You know com's study with me it's too late to fit and I late it is certainly not too late when you're going into school like the point of the education is to become educated. There's a myth out there that's always exist in eight or you have to be an expert in everything before you go to graduate school that's not true. Right we do a really good job of teaching people things spring is there so we'll take a long. So I encourage every want to try it out right come take a commercial course that I was sick days to teach commercial transactions for example. You know sit through it I know it doesn't seem instantly the most intriguing of courses but. Try it out see where we get with it and I find you know don't some anomalies and don't self limit. Don't say because I haven't done something specially since so many BC news or are pretty young. You know I'm 25. This you know it's all over now like I did definitely not sure you get your whole life ahead of via. So don't self limit explore lots of different types of things you never know. What type of laws gonna call you you'd you don't know. We are your passion for justice will be found you know in in insurance for example there's a lot of economic justice issues. That people either don't have access to insurance or they do but they don't have money to filed a claim appropriately. What's going on right now with the hurricanes is a good example. These are life and death issues for an enormous number of people the capacity to rebuild their homes. It's one of the reasons why. You're skipping ahead I guess a little bit and so happy day at the university is doing could be doing a clinic involved in Puerto Rico. To assist amongst other things with insurance claims that generally be on the ground there. To help the people who suffered this great tragedy. And I think that frames the idea that I try to articulate to people interest to penalize you really can do so much with it. And the law is never what you thought it was going to be before you went to law school. It's much much richer and much much broader than people think because they. Where they learned they mostly to see television shows right. You know absolutely wouldn't and it's Tyler and everything Illinois Lotto rider. It's my favorite and before that trophy at the way and that we used electrical layers of the handsome good looking guy there was some payments. Matlock yes that and others do but yes it is how we all learned LO ID Dolan school but yeah. Yeah that. It's it's it's I'm so glad that you can't read people's minds of the person like sitting opposite you. I mean you laying people in general convention is saying like commercial transactions could be silly to sing I'm thinking of myself and law school. That hate Haiti and its subjects so much Scott I think oh my goodness they flicks kissing me thinking that however there. Speaking of law school is changed in your lifetime and now up to your becoming the dean. Have you seen night a lot of changes and if so what kind changes in the the way you of the way law school is dressed for the way the students are taught. Chair so the fundamentals of legal education and never gonna change rides the idea that we need to make people dangerous mines is always going to be critical. The first year learning analytical reasoning argument that is eternal. But what has changed in a lot of ways not just for legal education but also for the law legal practice. Is there's an enormous and I disruption because of technology. When most people think of lawyers you think of a lot of paper you know we're printing up for killing a lot of trees. And there's been a movement into online filing. So that change and having any computer literate generation coming into Barack. Is different is fundamentally different in scope and impact a lot of the ways in which can only do we think about. Teaching but also their practice upon graduation. And I think they types of you mentioned of course there are the basics I mean. As you said you have to do learn analytical thinking you have to learn content constitutional all of this in this. But some of the other courses. Besides the technology even that of a law schools have begun addressing. That are more. Them more interactive more related to society that kind of thing yes we. We've seen throughout legal education and movement towards making sure there's more experiential learning opportunities and that's when things university of buffalo does X runners well. Especially with its history of social justice and can activity with the community. It's extraordinary range of opportunities available to the student but this idea. And dad's. The study of law passed to be both a dot trying to field but also have opportunities for sheen's get their hands on. Different types of real experiences. We vause has seen a big change that movement. Throughout legal education and I can take a lot of different forms all of which are interest. I don't know who Tony this thing at Annan's Cindy says there was a course in law school analyzing. There was that. TV program. Not criminal minds but when the wind the TV program. I'm homeland but something like that and I feel like well precedent seeing approach speaking of TV value at this. It's I believe in diversity education and hit it cantv eclipse public fears I studio when I taught ethics you know when you the best way I think sometimes it teach. As students about the choices you have to make as a lawyer in professional ethics is a show movie clip. If someone has legal drama say what you think what would you do our area and this is the right thing to have done to die even the correct answer to your advantage think it was. And now I think it's that murder program how to how to. Handed commit murder a death is certainly an actor they offer from any day as she is fair and I'm sure you don't relate to that I hope you don't think presidency do terrible things that I have I have. Never killed anyone to know and I think if you ever seen it but I know I'm sure you have well that's that's saying is saying that though. It reminds me of a vis the it's the ethics issues you know as things have changed in that regard too so much for a law school because. When you have to teach now only teach ethics but all the advertising in all the ways send him attorneys have to now. Present themselves to make a living. They have their own supposedly because of it median because the engine and so forth that has to be the difficult and a guideline or difficult road to hoe to walk. Yeah well it is also it's the entire content of ethics itself is complicated. You know and again the media has done a law any grade fevers and its portrayal lawyers or judges. Because the reality is is that the vast majority of us are passionate advocate for our clients' interests and believe in upholding the rule of law. So all lawyer jokes aside you know we fulfill an important critically important societal function. But the students don't always know that which is into securities and want to self select their ready to go to law school so you think that they would feel at least right from the beginning and it's a noble profession. But sometimes they ask questions or they think you know what I get pressured to work. You know there's a one of those you know they cheated television show that smoking gun document. And I suppose a shred it. You know and I tell them the answer to that is definitely know. That's an easy one I guess compared the cities of time is I don't know maybe not. 'cause you have. Again a fine line that you have to be teaching between what it means she represents somebody to the best of your ability. You know to be an advocate for somebody as opposed to. Still if this difference between that and you know following the law. Absolutely and I actually what you're on a responsibilities. Are to to the client system. Prides the idea that you know we there's always in that in the movie. You know a point where that that or this frequently in the movie apart record to see why I write incorporated. Comes as a surprise to finance it's totally not acceptable actually hit it. A you know a BS thing is when you mentioned event lawyers now being held in the past. And ten years at least you know that the function jokes and being held in low esteem and I I think you know how what's. What is ten. Lawyers is drowned to hit a good so don't start or whatever but I can't they can think. That that isn't really joke folks but I don't write me and call me Intel link Apatow Brian I'm just trying but the point is that I think. As far as the law school goes do you find that their less people applying to law school and then I think I heard it somewhere less. It's less of a desirable. You know further education and career pass and so forth. And so there there was. A pretty long period Karabakh downturn applications and it's you know it's speculation for us to try to figure out exactly why. If it was you know an economic calculus of the cities for jobs or if it was because of the general sense that they don't want to necessarily be a lawyer for various reasons. But actually think we're back Kenny. And the big bags you know. That the change in the disruption in the news. In the last two years we've seen and coverage of courts these major decisions. You know where there's a renewed interest began and that concept that the law can act not just as a sword for powers for vested powers. But actually is a shield for them vulnerable. And it is that concept of being Michelle for the vulnerable that I think is also important for us to consistently. Articulate. I always tell people you know when the world is against you. When the entire power of the state is against you when your reputation can be in tatters or or something really important happening in your life for directing me losing. Custody of the child or something like that. Who do you have the answer is at the end of the day. You have cost you and your lawyer. And with so is it very very potent words were going to have to say good bye to Eugene and thank you so much. For joining us and for meeting our audience on target. And I'm sure you have enjoyed listening to this conversation to and you will join us again next week on earned target for more scintillating conversations although I can't. Guarantee it's going to be as good is talking to west. Dean I'd be back at Vermont ski who we were talking to today. Join us again however next week we look forward to seeing you have a good week and by everybody. You've been listening to one target with many Wolfgang. A program that takes an inside look at Western New York in our community. If you have any comments or suggestions please rate depending Wolfgang it's 500 corporate parkway suite 200 Amherst New York. 114 to six.