U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week helped Thomas Jefferson School of Law dedicate its new building along with former members of the Brazilian and French high courts.
In January 2011, TJSL moved into its new home in downtown San Diego's East Village, a gleaming eight-story, 380,000-square-foot building that just recently received Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
"To make a fine law school, of course, it takes more than just LEED Gold state-of-the-art housing and equipment," Ginsburg said. "It takes a dedicated, creative faculty determined to educate students to regard law not simply as a trade but as a public calling."
Hon. Carlos Ayres Britto, former chief justice of Brazil's Supreme Federal Court; Hon. Noelle Lenoir, a former justice of the French Constitutional Court; and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria also were present for the dedication, which was held at the Balboa Theater.
Gloria called the new facility a "real game changer in a neighborhood that was looking for a change. It turned the neighborhood around overnight.
"To have a law school of this caliber is a signal to San Diego, the world really, that East Village is on the rise."
Plans for the new building began in 2005 when TJSL Dean Rudy Hasl and TJSL board chair Sandy Kahn attended an American Bar Association conference on law school architecture in Seattle.
TJSL officials had been looking to move from its Old Town campus, which was deteriorating and the school had outgrown.
Early in the construction of the new building, workers found fossil remains of a mammoth, an ancient whale and a bed of unique scallop shells. Hasl said the find was appropriate considering the man the school is named after, Thomas Jefferson, is known as the father of American Paleontology.
The fossils are on display on the fourth floor of the library while a collection of Jefferson's written and signed documents is in the lobby.
"All of you have contributed in meaningful ways to the creation of a finely designed building," Ginsburg told the assembled crowd, which included faculty members, alumni and community leaders. "As you rejoice in the spacious new quarters and take pride in the innovative education that occurs here, may each of you participate and thrive in the shared adventure of legal education. And may that adventure, led by a talented and caring faculty, flourish in the grand facility we dedicate this evening."
The school also used the ceremony to announce the members of its 2013 Hall of Fame. The new inductees are San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (outstanding practicing attorney); retired Superior Court Commissioner Gary Bloch (outstanding judicial officer); and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander (outstanding alternative use of a J.D.).
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