New endowment strengthens Advocacy Institute's trial teams

Photo of Charice Thompson and family.

UB School of Law’s trial competition teams will continue to flourish thanks to a major gift

Moving advocacy forward

John J. Fromen Jr. ’87 says he made the $100,000 donation after serving as a judge in the Charles S. Desmond Moot Court Competition and recognizing the law school’s growing strength in legal advocacy training. The gift will establish an endowed fund, the John J. Fromen Jr. ’87 Family Fund for Advocacy, providing a permanent income stream to pay for expenses such as airfare and accommodations for our trial teams when they compete nationwide and internationally.

Sitting on the bench for three rounds of the moot court competition, a part of the law school’s Advocacy Institute, was an eye-opener, Fromen says. “I got to see firsthand what these kids were doing with their skills,” he says. “I came away extremely impressed with the skill of these students. Some of them could walk into a courtroom in Erie County or State Supreme Court today and be just as effective advocates as some of my colleagues who have been doing this for years.”

Based on conversations with law school staff, Fromen says, “what struck me as being very impressive is that students who went through the advocacy program had a greater passing rate for the bar exam than those who didn’t.”

The fund bears the name of his family, Fromen says, in recognition of its long involvement with UB School of Law. His late father, John J. Fromen Sr., was a 1966 graduate of the law school and founder of John J. Fromen Attorneys at Law, P.C., a boutique personal injury firm in the Buffalo suburb of Snyder. Fromen Jr. and his stepbrother, Michael T. O’Connor ’87, were law school classmates and both practice with the firm. Daughter Haley Fromen ’18 is the most recent graduate, and her brother Lucas Fromen ’21 is a current second-year student.

Lucas Fromen, his father reports, is part of the school’s appellate advocacy program, and finds it “very demanding but very rewarding.”

The gift is the latest example of alumni support that’s building the overall endowment for the Institute and further enhancing its mission - developing students’ practice-ready skills in trial advocacy, appellate advocacy and mediation.

Fromen says his own years at UB School of Law were “a great experience,” but included just one trial technique course. He learned his litigation skills in working with his father at the firm he now runs. “I focused on those courses which were practical for taking the bar exam, like New York CPLR and Evidence,” he says. “Had they had the advocacy program back then, I certainly would have taken it up.

“Some of the top law schools in the country have these advocacy programs,” he says. “This gift is a way of giving back to a law school that my whole family has gone through and also to help with the advocacy program, and specifically the trial teams.”

Published January 18, 2021