Party Line: Students kick up heels at opening of new University of Memphis law school

Law student Joe Pehanick showed off the new school to his mom, Darlene (left) and Allison Riley.

Law student Joe Pehanick showed off the new school to his mom, Darlene (left) and Allison Riley.

The new Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law turned into Rock 'n' Roll Law School for a night as students sipped cocktails and danced to music played by deejay Robert Raiford.

Instead of carrying law books, students and other guests in formal attire carried plates of food from area restaurants as they roamed the soon-to-be hallowed halls on a rainy Saturday night at the black tie gala celebrating the opening of the new University of Memphis law school at 1 North Front. The front of the building appropriately was bathed in blue light.

Commenting on the transformed Italianate-Revival-style building, which dates to the early 1880s, a beaming U of M President Shirley Raines said, "This building is a wonderful example of what you can do with a historic building and make it come to life for the future."

In his remarks, U of M Law Dean Kevin Smith described various rooms. Commenting on the fourth floor reading room, which gives a view of barges on the Mississippi River and Downtown traffic, Kevin said, "From our place in this building we can see that we truly are part of a very large and very complex world. And at that point I'm reminded that our mission here is to train our students to make their places in that world."

The Historic Courtroom on the third floor reminds him "that our mission here is to train our students for their roles in the continuing quest for justice."

U. S. Dist. Court Judge Bernice Donald summed up what probably was on many guests' minds: "It's the most beautiful law school. It makes me, frankly, want to go back to law school."

In addition to Robert Raiford, entertainment during the evening also was provided by Alexis Grace, Kallen Esperian with Tom Bryant, The Gene Rush Trio, Chris Parker and Kelley Hurt, Knight Brass and students from the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music.

U. S. Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo and Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Robert "Butch" Childers were gala chairmen.

To see a video of the law school's grand opening gala, go to

Evening with 'Jersey Boys'

Bob Gaudio, founding member of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and his wife, Judy Parker, were special guests recently at the home of Anne and Pat Halloran, president of the Orpheum.

Bob, a songwriter, musician and record producer, wrote the music for "Jersey Boys," the story of The Four Seasons that will run Jan. 27 through Feb. 14 at the Orpheum.

Also at the party was Joseph Leo Bwarie, who will play Frankie Valli in Memphis. Joseph said one of his 1960s-looking outfits will be a two-button jacket over a lavender shirt with a skinny tie. With that he'll wear Navy blue tuxedo pants with black shoes and black socks.

The Four Seasons' 1960s music, which includes "Working My Way Back to You," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man," was "still classic parking music in 1972," recalled chef Mac Edwards, who provided smoked pork with barbecue aioli, Sicilian potato salad and other cuisine from Pa Pa Pia's for the party.

Contact Michael Donahue at 529-2797 or e-mail

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