By Kathie Ragsdale
Law classes were held in a former bull barn in east Concord, the exterior painted flamingo pink. Children and pets were welcome, and a dogfight interrupted at least one professor’s lecture.
Owing to the smell that still permeated the barn, the dean carried what one student called a “weapon of mass destruction” — a fly-swatter.
Despite their humble beginnings, the graduates in the Franklin Pierce Law Center Class of 1978 went on to distinguish themselves as few others have, with their ranks ultimately including a federal judge, a state Supreme Court justice, a state Superior Court judge, a Superior Court marital master, a municipal judge and several high-ranking federal and state government appointees.
Theirs was only the third graduating class at Franklin Pierce — affectionately called “Frank’s” by its denizens — and the students were some of the last to take classes in the barn before the law school moved to an insurance building in downtown Concord. It merged with the University of New Hampshire in 2010 and is now known as the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
But nostalgia for the old bull barn on Mountain Road abides, as evidenced May 18 and 19, when the class gathered for its 40th reunion. Class members joined the 2018 graduates in procession for UNH Law School’s 43rd commencement ceremony, viewed an oral history video of their class, and heard classmate Carol Ann Conboy address the convocation.
Conboy, who retired in July 2017 as an associate justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, explained part of what made the Class of ’78 so unusual.
“We were quite the assortment,” she told the crowd. “Veterans returning from the Vietnam War, middle-agers wanting to make dramatic life changes, parents of children who would make this journey with us, daring non-poli sci types who hoped to make that law/science connection.
“We all, in our disparate ways, heard the siren call of a law school in its infancy.”
Read more in the July issue of the New Hampshire Bar News.