Law Links - September 2015

Phillips Lytle partner to head School of Law advisory board


A veteran Buffalo attorney and involved alumnus has been named to chair the Dean’s Advisory Council of UB School of Law.

Douglas W. Dimitroff, who graduated cum laude from the School of Law in 1989, was invited to the position by James A. Gardner, the school’s interim dean, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Bridget and Thomas Black Professor. Dimitroff succeeds Texas attorney Thomas E. Black ’79, who will remain a member.

The change in leadership will be marked formally at the spring Dean’s Advisory Council meeting, tentatively scheduled for April.

“Doug’s willingness to lend his leadership and expertise to enhance the quality and reputation of the law school at this critical time is deeply appreciated by me and all of us at the Law School. Over many years he has shown his commitment and dedication to the law and to the law school by helping us educate lawyers we can take enormous pride in graduating.”

As its name indicates, the Dean’s Advisory Council provides input to the dean and other administrators in developing policies and plans for the Law School. These areas include curriculum, development, alumni relations, governmental relations, public service and administration.

The group’s role may take on added importance as the law school works through a time of transition between permanent deans. It typically meets twice a year – once in Buffalo and once in another city with a significant population of Buffalo-trained lawyers.

Dimitroff, who is in his fifth year as a member of the Council, is a partner with the Buffalo law firm Phillips Lytle. There he focuses in the areas of commercial real estate and telecommunications law, and leads the firm’s Project Development, Telecom and Unmanned Systems practice teams.

He says the Dean’s Advisory Council plays a crucial role in building and maintaining relationships between the School of Law and its close-knit network of alumni. “It really is a two-way street,” he says. “Our role is not just to let the leadership of the law school understand what the alumni are thinking, but for the alumni to understand what is happening at the School of Law and the challenges that it faces. I don’t think I have ever been to a DAC meeting where the question wasn’t asked, ‘What can we do to help?’ ”

As an example of the ways that input can help shape the school, he cites a recent initiative to rethink the area of cross-border legal studies. A group of alumni practicing in immigration and cross-border arenas met with Professor Meredith Kolsky Lewis to talk about enhancing the law school’s training. The result was a reinvigorated and newly renamed Cross-Border Legal Studies Center, which Lewis directs, a Cross-Border Concentration, and now a proposal to SUNY administration that the School of Law offer a master of laws degree in cross-border legal studies. The group also has been active in advocating for SUNY Buffalo’s status as New York State’s only public law school.

Dimitroff, who describes himself as “a passionate believer in the Law School,” previously served as a founder and chair of the UB Law Alumni Association’s Graduates of the Last Decade. He notes that the DAC comprises a mixture of public and private practitioners, judges, business people and leaders of community organizations. The group is geographically diverse as well, with members from the West Coast, D.C., New York, Chicago and elsewhere. It totals about 45 members.