UB Law Alumni to Honor Six at Annual Dinner

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: April 10, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Five graduates of the University at Buffalo Law School will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards for their contributions to the legal profession and community at the 41st annual UB Law Alumni Association meeting and dinner, to be held at 6 p.m. April 30 in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

The alumni association also will recognize a non-alumnus, New York State Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz (D-Cheektowaga), who will receive a special award for "outstanding service to the university and community."

"Paul Tokasz is an outstanding legislator," said Dean Nils Olsen. "His leadership is instrumental in contributing to the continued success of the University at Buffalo. Western New Yorkers owe him a large debt of gratitude."

Prior to being appointed as majority leader, Tokasz served as chair of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development, where he advocated for both arts and tourism interests. He initiated several statewide policies to help realize the connection between arts, tourism and economic development. He also is known for his support of important environmental issues.

In addition to Tokasz, awards also will be presented to:

o The Hon. Hugh B. Scott '74, U.S. magistrate judge, who will be honored for his "conscientious and diligent performance in the judiciary." Scott was the first African American to become assistant attorney general in charge in Western New York, the first to become assistant United States Attorney, first assistant corporation counsel, and the first assistant county attorney. At age 32, Judge Scott was elected to the Buffalo City Court. He was re-elected to another 10-year term before leaving the position to become the first African American to sit on the federal bench in the Western District of New York. Scott resides in Buffalo.

o Lawrence H. Wagner '49, who recently retired as a partner from the Buffalo-based law firm of Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP, will be honored for his "leadership by example as a private practitioner." Known in Buffalo as "the dean of civil trial lawyers," Wagner's career has been devoted to civil litigation is a variety of areas, including appeals, product liability law, insurance coverage and legal malpractice law. He resides in Snyder.

o Michael Wolford '68 will be honored for his "many contributions to the betterment of our community." Managing partner of the Rochester law firm, Wolford & Leclair LLP, he has involved his eight-attorney firm in a good deal of pro bono work; working with the American Board of Trial Advocates, of which he was president, to set up a mentoring program for young trial attorneys; and working to revitalize the Rochester chapter of the UB Law Alumni Association. He resides in Victor.

o Hon. Barbra A. Kavanaugh '83 will be honored for her "commitment to public service." Kavanaugh is assistant attorney general in charge of the Buffalo regional office, named by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in 1999. Prior to that appointment, she served as a Common Council member-at-large for the City of Buffalo. Before making the run for office, she worked as an attorney for 12 years, concentrating on housing, bankruptcy and public benefits law in a legal services practice. She resides in Buffalo.

o David F. Smith '78, president of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp., will be honored for his "exemplary performance in business." Smith joined National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. in 1978 after working for the company during law school. He became president in 1999 after serving as president of National Fuel Resources Division and then as senior vice president of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. National Fuel Gas Distribution is the utility subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Co. that provides natural gas service to some 732,000 customers throughout Western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. He resides in Tonawanda.

Individual reservations are $35 per person for graduates of 1998 or later; $50 per person for non-alumni or graduates of 1997 and prior; and $75 per person for dinner patrons. Patrons names will be listed prominently in the dinner program.

Corporate or firm tables are available for $500 for a table of 10. Firm patron tables are $750. Firm patrons also will be listed prominently in the dinner program.

For reservations or questions, call the UB Law Alumni Office at 645-2107 or send a check payable to the UB Law Alumni Association to 312 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, N.Y. 14260. Credit card numbers can be faxed to 645-5940.

The dinner will mark the end of the UB Law Alumni Association's membership drive for 2003-04. Alumni who have not renewed or joined the association for this year are requested to send in their $45 dues to the Alumni Office, 312 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, N.Y. 14260.