University of Wisconsin–Madison

UW Law commemorates first 150 years with October celebration

What began 150 years ago with just two part-time law professors and 15 students has grown into a renowned institution of legal education that has conferred more than 21,000 law degrees.

In 1868, the University of Wisconsin Law School operated out of a room the governor supplied in the state capitol. The Law School moved several times before landing at its current site on historic Bascom Hill, once reportedly holding classes above a downtown bar.

But location is only part of UW Law’s story, says Dean Margaret Raymond. “In preparing to celebrate our first 150 years, we’ve been thinking about all the things that make our law school unique — our influential scholars, our law-in-action teaching tradition, our pioneering experiential learning programs, and our alumni who are making a difference all over the world,” she says.

UW Law will commemorate its 150th anniversary throughout the 2018-19 academic year, with a special homecoming celebration and all-class reunion planned for Oct. 19 and 20. According to Raymond, the weekend will have something for everyone: “There will be opportunities to learn from alumni doing great work, tailgate and cheer on the Badgers, support our third-year students as they make their traditional cane toss at Camp Randall, dance to a live band, and try out our signature anniversary ice cream.”

That ice cream flavor, the product of a competition that drew over 400 entries, will be unveiled at a festive Friday lunch. The ice cream will be made specially for the occasion by Babcock Hall Dairy Plant.

Other events scheduled for reunion weekend include:

  • UW Law Talks. Distinguished Law School alumni present a series of ten-minute talks on their work in cutting-edge fields, everything from #MeToo law to prison reform. Confirmed speakers include Debra Katz ’84, Rick Raemisch ’88, and Everett Mitchell ’10.

  • Anniversary luncheon. Dean Raymond hosts a barbecue lunch, featuring UW Law’s anniversary ice cream and a surprise guest.

  • Tailgate and Badger homecoming game. Before the Wisconsin v. Illinois homecoming game kicks off at 11 a.m., UW Law puts on its annual tailgate for students and alumni. Alumni are invited to wish our third-year students well as they carry on the cane toss tradition before the start of the game.

  • Kastenmeier Lecture. This year’s lecture features retiring Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson (S.J.D. ’62) in conversation with Judge Barbara Crabb ’62 of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

  • Decades Dance. The weekend concludes with a family-friendly dance with live music, refreshments and prizes.

“Our alumni are great examples of what UW Law has accomplished in the past and great supporters of what we’ll achieve in our future,” Raymond says. “I’m excited to welcome them back to campus to celebrate this milestone with faculty and students, to reflect on our legacy, and look forward to the next 150 years.”

For the latest 150th anniversary news and events, including registration details, visit

Submitted by Law School News on September 12, 2018

This article appears in the categories: Features

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