Even if you didn’t become a tax lawyer, if you graduated from UB School of Law before 2009, there’s a very good chance that you know the difference between a revocable and irrevocable trust. Ken Joyce saw to that.
Joyce, whose teaching career at the School of Law spanned nearly 40 years and an estimated 12,000 students, has been enjoying his retirement years in his native Massachusetts. This month, he’ll pay a return visit to Western New York – and a cocktail party in his honor will provide an opportunity to reconnect with one of the School of Law’s most beloved professors.
Three law firms – Belluck & Fox LLP; The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C.; and Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC – are sponsoring the evening as a way of thanking Professor Joyce for his influence. “Ken Joyce was a beacon of light,” says John Comerford ’95, a partner at Lipsitz & Ponterio. “His unmatched humor and humility made his classes so enjoyable.”
Indeed, it became a kind of Commencement tradition for Joyce to receive the Faculty of the Year award. (He was awarded it at least 12 times.) The Professor Kenneth P. Joyce Excellence in Teaching Fund provides resources for current faculty to hone their teaching skills. There’s no charge for the Sept. 27 gathering, but donations toward that fund are welcome.
His students have plenty of Ken Joyce stories to tell, and his faculty colleagues have their share as well. Distinguished Professor Emeritus Alfred S. Konefsky – a longtime colleague who shares with Joyce a love of Red Sox baseball – says Joyce set a standard for classroom engagement in a subject area that otherwise could be a little, well, dry.
“Tax was required at that time, and I cannot imagine the number of law students who may have looked upon it with dread. But he made it totally accessible. It was a combination of teaching the basic concepts and principles of tax, mixed in with tax policy insight and connected to a very hard-headed, real-world sensibility. You learned a lot about law and how to think about law, which could then be applied in other courses unrelated to tax issues.”
In addition, Konefsky notes, Joyce served as executive director of the New York State Law Revision Commission and was able to bring insights from that law reform mission into his lectures.
And beyond the day-to-day work of leading students through the tax code, Konefsky credits Professor Joyce with creating “a culture of appreciation of the importance of pedagogy as a core mission of the law school. You would talk to other faculty members about what was going on in their classrooms, what you encountered and how people did their preparation. We were in and out of each other’s offices all the time.
“He was smart without being intimidating – engaging, warm, funny, human and humane all at the same time.”