JUNE 16, 2011—Lee Mitau (’72) and Karin Birkeland (’87) have enjoyed successful careers since graduating, Mitau as executive vice president and general counsel at U.S. Bancorp for the past 16 years and Birkeland with Faegre & Benson and the University of Minnesota’s general counsel office before turning her attention to family matters and volunteering. "We both owe our careers and good fortune to the legal education we received at the University of Minnesota," says Mitau.
He remembers graduating from the Law School with just a few student loans. "It wasn’t much," he says. "Maybe $8,000 in living expenses." Birkeland, who is married to Mitau, graduated debt-free thanks to part-time jobs and grants.
Until recently, the couple was under the mistaken impression that the Law School receives the bulk of its funding from the Minnesota Legislature. In fact, state funding is fast disappearing. So Mitau and Birkeland made a generous contribution to the Law School’s GENERATIONS campaign. "In light of the pressing fi nancial urgency, we thought it was best to make an unrestricted gift," Mitau says.
Their unrestricted gift will help make it possible for the Law School to attract top talent, minimize tuition hikes, and offer generous grants to promising students. "We want the Law School to continue to be one of the best in the country," Birkeland says. Mitau, a member of the GENERATIONS campaign cabinet, adds, "We’re very grateful to the Law School. We want to help ensure that future generations have the same opportunities we did."