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Tulane Law School Hall of Fame to add seven honorees

March 21, 2014

Journalist Cokie Roberts will be a special Hall of Fame luncheon guest to accept the 2013 award for her father, Hale Boggs (A&S ’35, L ’37).

Journalist Cokie Roberts will be a special Hall of Fame luncheon guest to accept the 2013 award for her father, Hale Boggs (A&S ’35, L ’37).

Seven Tulanians, including a towering leader of the maritime bar, a pioneering law professor and a transformative law school dean, have been selected for 2014 induction into Tulane Law School's Hall of Fame.

Honorees Robert Acomb (L '53), Cynthia Ann Samuel (L '72) and former Dean Paul Verkuil will be special guests at the April 25 Tulane Law Alumni luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Marriott Convention Center in New Orleans. Inductees Charles Erasmus Fenner (L 1855), Professor Mitchell Franklin, John D. McCollam (L '59) and Dorothy Wolbrette (L '45) will be recognized posthumously.

Journalist Cokie Roberts, who provides political analysis for ABC News and NPR, is set to highlight the event in accepting the Hall of Fame award for her father, the late House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (A&S '35, L '37), a member of the inaugural class in 2013.

Selections for the Hall of Fame are made by an alumni committee, in consultation with the dean, based on the nominees' distinguished professional achievements and enduring dedication to the mission and students of Tulane Law School. The Hall of Fame was created in 2012 with the support of an endowment gift by by Mike Veron (A&S '72, L '74), founding partner of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson in Lake Charles, La., and his wife, Melinda.

Luncheon tickets are $60 per person, $480 per table of 8. They can be purchased online or by calling Nicole DePietro, 504-865-5909.

Note: This post was updated from the original on 3/26/14. 

Living honorees

Robert Acomb, Jr. 

Robert Acomb, Jr. (BBA '51, LLB '53): Maritime lawyer

A leading national authority on maritime law and litigation, Acomb is a retired partner of the Jones Walker firm and has taught for decades as a Tulane Law School adjunct professor. The author of two case books on admiralty law, Acomb was honored by the New Orleans Bar Association as its Distinguished Maritime Lawyer for 1996. He has chaired the Tulane Admiralty Law Institute, is a member of the Dean's Advisory Board and has served the university in many roles, including as a Board of Tulane member and Alumni Association president. His leadership in the Catholic Church includes being a board member of the Bethlehem University Foundation, and Pope John Paul II named him a Knight of St. Gregory the Great.

Cynthia Ann Samuel 

Cynthia Ann Samuel (L '72): Tulane Law School professor

The first woman on Tulane Law School's tenure-track faculty, Samuel also was influential in reforming Louisiana property law. She joined the law faculty in 1975, held the John E. Koerner Professorship and the W.R. Irby Chair in Law and helped to lead the school as associate dean for academic affairs in 1984-87. Her scholarship focused on civil law relating to families — community property, successions, donations and trusts — and she developed expertise in copyright law. Through her service on committees advising the state Legislature and governor, she helped improve Louisiana law and make it more equitable.

Paul Verkuil 

Paul Verkuil: Tulane Law School dean

A renowned scholar in administrative law, Verkuil was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009 as chair of the Administrative Conference of the United States, a public-private partnership whose members devise consensus-driven recommendations to improve government operations. Verkuil also is an educational leader who, as dean from 1978 to 1985, helped raise Tulane Law School's national profile and powerfully energized its research mission. He frequently is called upon to testify before Congress, and he has been president of the College of William & Mary (his alma mater), CEO of the American Automobile Association and dean of Cardozo School of Law.

Posthumous honorees

Charles Erasmus Fenner 

Charles Erasmus Fenner (L 1855): Louisiana Supreme Court justice 

Soldier, lawmaker and judge, Fenner also helped make Tulane history. After graduating from the Department of Law at the University of Louisiana, Tulane University's predecessor, he practiced with Lewis E. Simmonds. Fenner also was a decorated Confederate Army artillery officer, active in the defense of Port Hudson (1863), the Atlanta campaign (1864) and the battle of Nashville (1864). He served in the Louisiana Legislature and later was a state Supreme Court justice. He was president of the Board of Tulane and in 1894 helped lay the cornerstone for Gibson Hall and Tulane's Uptown campus.

Mitchell Franklin 

Mitchell Franklin: Tulane Law School professor

A Tulane Law School legend for both his scholarship and his demanding yet colorful teaching style, Franklin was instrumental in reviving interest in Louisiana civil law during his era. He was born in Montreal, educated at Harvard Law School and joined the Tulane law faculty in 1930. During 37 years at Tulane, Franklin taught contracts and Roman Law and was a leader in comparative law, helping to found the Institute of Comparative Law (now the Eason Weinmann Center for International and Comparative Law). He also was widely considered an innovative and influential scholar of U.S. constitutional law.

John McCollam 

John M. McCollam (L '59): oil & gas lawyer

The Tulane Law Review editor as a student, McCollam later taught oil and gas law at Tulane from 1963 to 1987, at the same time developing a practice as a preeminent lawyer in Louisiana. After a decade at the Milling law firm, he helped found Gordon Arata McCollam Duplantis & Eagan in New Orleans in 1970. McCollam litigated oil and gas disputes and also served as an arbitrator and mediator in cases. One of his greatest legacies was in instructing countless young attorneys in the best practices of lawyering, both as a teacher and by his example as a tenacious but gracious competitor in the courtroom.

Dorothy Dowling Wolbrette 

Dorothy Dowling Wolbrette (NC  '42, LLB '45): Litigator and administrative law judge

As a student, Wolbrette served as editor in chief of the Tulane Law Review, graduated first in her class and received the law school's highest awards. The New Orleans Bar Association recently honored her as the 23rd woman lawyer licensed in the city, where she initially practiced with Duke & Porterie. She then worked as a Louisiana assistant attorney general and in 1968 argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Duncan v. Louisiana, a key case that defined when a potential criminal penalty triggers the right to a jury trial. From 1976 to 1988, Wolbrette was an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration, retiring as chief judge.


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