DECEMBER 19, 2011—Jean Hanson (’76), Daniel McDonald (’85), Ralph Strangis (’60), and Harvey F. Kaplan (’64) are all establishing new scholarships to ease the financial burden for current and future students.
Hanson’s initial exposure to the inner workings of the law occurred through the court system when she worked as a probation officer. She gained an understanding of criminal law and came to know many local judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and bailiffs. When she enrolled at the Law School, she expected to litigate as a criminal defense attorney or a prosecutor. But she soon learned "how extensive and broad the field of law is."
Her Law School education took Hanson from clerking for state public defender C. Paul Jones (’50) to New York City, where she worked at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. There she realized how much she enjoyed transactional work and negotiation. Today, she’s a partner at the firm, focusing on corporate securities and restructuring.
Keeping a Law School education affordable is important to Hanson, which prompted her to establish the Jean E. Hanson Scholarship Fund. She was able to take advantage of the President’s Scholarship Match program, a University-sponsored initiative (which expired in December 2010) that matched the payout from qualifying endowments dollar-for-dollar. Hanson was delighted to have her dollars go further and says she is happy to "give back and provide opportunities for others."
McDonald is what’s known as a "double Gopher"–someone who has two degrees from the University of Minnesota. First he earned a degree in engineering. But though drawn to technology, he didn’t want to be an engineer. When he decided to enhance his engineering background with a law degree, he says he “had no idea that ‘intellectual’ and ‘property’ were ever used in the same sentence.” He credits the Law School with helping him uncover the rewarding and challenging career of an intellectual property attorney at Merchant & Gould.
Together McDonald and his wife, Kim, established the Dan and Kim McDonald Scholarship Fund. They hope to "open doors to potential students that might otherwise be closed," Dan says, and feel that funding a scholarship that will help students year after year is "the perfect way to show our appreciation and give back." In addition to easing the financial burden for students who might otherwise have trouble making ends meet, the McDonalds hope their scholarship helps increase the diversity of the student body. Also, because of Dan's law practice, they want to encourage any students interested in exploring a career in intellectual property.
Kaplan and his fellow partner and founder of Kaplan Strangis and Kaplan, Ralph Strangis, are committed to doing what they can to attract the best students to the Law School and ensure that they remain part of the local legal community after graduation. "Without meaningful financial assistance available, the most qualified of applicants will end up going elsewhere because other law schools are giving very significant assistance to the best students," Kaplan says.
Keeping excellent lawyers in Minnesota is one of the driving forces behind the Kaplan, Strangis, and Kaplan Law School Scholarship Fund, established by Kaplan, Strangis, and other Law School alumni employed at their firm. They, too, were able to take advantage of the President's Scholarship Match program before it concluded last December, doubling the funds available.
Kaplan says he hopes the scholarship helps draw worthy candidates who find the "professional, social, and cultural environment in Minnesota to be to their liking," adding that keeping graduates in Minnesota "enhances the quality of our practice in our community."
Both Kaplan and Strangis stress the importance of building a culture of philanthropic giving at the Law School, especially in the shadow of diminishing state support. Above all, they would love to see other alumni follow their lead by giving back to the Law School.