Students at the 2019 Buffalo Public Interest Law Program’s Auction and Anniversary Celebration.

Students at the 2019 Buffalo Public Interest Law Program’s Auction and Anniversary Celebration

Future Leaders: Embodying teamwork and respect

As alumni know from experience, law school is a full-time job. Yet that has never stopped UB law students from devoting enormous energy outside the classroom to student organizations – groups that enliven the academic year and contribute to the rich mixture of ideas at the school.

This year has been no exception, despite the spring-semester disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In person and online, student groups have made for a jam-packed calendar of events, fellowship and learning.

See Also

  • Federalist Society wraps up a busy year
    Even after the school year has ended, the UB School of Law’s chapter of the Federalist Society is still planning events.
  • A banner year for the American Constitution Society
    One of UB School of Law’s most active student groups is wrapping up a robust year that brought rigorous discussion to bear on some of the toughest issues in law and in society.
Amy Atkinson, Director of Student Life (far right) with Michael Ryman ’20 and Breanna Reilly ’19.

Amy Atkinson, Director of Student Life (far right) with Michael Ryman ’20 and Breanna Reilly ’19

“It’s amazing how much they accomplished this year, especially since we had the shortened in-person semester and despite all the challenges they faced,” says Amy Atkinson, who as the law school’s director of student life coordinates and supports nearly three dozen student groups. “The students remained positive and upbeat throughout the whole year. They’re continuing to plan virtual events, and they’re already ready to tackle plans for next year.

“I’m very fortunate and privileged to work with our students whose interests and passions are widespread. They’re really proving how resilient they are and showing us a glimpse of what great things we can expect from them as future leaders and practicing attorneys.”

One of the hallmarks of UB Law’s student culture is respectful engagement even between groups with deeply felt opposing positions. Two of the most active student groups, the conservative Federalist Society and the progressive American Constitution Society, have modeled that ideal, even co-sponsoring events over the course of the year. (Learn more about the year of activities organized by the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society.)

Abisha Vijayashanthar ’20, SBA President.

Abisha Vijayashanthar ’20, SBA President

Overseeing the majority of the student organizations, and disbursing funds generated through the student activity fee, is the Student Bar Association. Its outgoing president, Abisha Vijayashanthar ’20, says programming has run the gamut this year, from purely social activities to panel discussions to community service.

A special focus has been on student wellness, a priority that Vijayashanthar encouraged as president. “The biggest thing I saw was a need for more focus on mental health, and I wanted to change that,” she says. “We received a lot of student input, and we looked at any ways we could possibly improve the student experience at the law school. I was very inspired by lots of people in our class who showed interest.”

She also noted generous contributions of time and energy from faculty and alumni. “We’ve got some great professors here who are willing to take the time to participate in things like this,” Vijayashanthar says. “They’ve gone out of their way to help students facilitate these events. And the alumni have been amazing in stepping up with what we need. It’s always been such a pleasure to work with a group of people who remember that law school is tough and are always asking what our students need.”

Here’s a sampling of the many events and programs organized by our student organizations this past academic year:

  • American Constitution Society
  • A Conversation with Hon. Jeffrey Sutton, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, organized with the Federalist Society
  • Behind the Curtain: A Discussion with Hon. Eugene Fahey ’84, Associate Justice of the New York Court of Appeals
  • Panel discussion, in conjunction with OUTLaw, on Reproductive Rights in Crisis: A Discussion on Growing Political and Social Challenges, featuring Professors Lucinda Finley and Michael Boucai; Professor Tia Palermo of UB’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health; and Leslie Fineberg of Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York

Alternative Dispute Resolution Society

  • 20th Annual Representation in Mediation Competition

Black Law Students Association

  • Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition tryouts and details
  • Interviewing Success Workshop, with the Latin American Law Students Association

Christian Law Student Fellowship

  • Beds for Buffalo, building beds for children in need

Domestic Violence Task Force

  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff

Family and Children’s Law Society

  • We Need to Talk … Child Victims Act Panel Discussion featuring Bridie Farrell, former Olympic speed skater and advocate for sexual assault awareness; representatives from the Buffalo Rape Crisis Center and the local nonprofit It Happened to Alexa; Professor Christine P. Bartholomew; and state Assembly Member Sean Ryan

Federalist Society

  • A Conversation with U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco
  • 33 Years on the Bench: Reflections and Q&A with Hon. Richard C. Wesley, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • Locked and Unloaded: A Discussion of NYSRPA v. City of New York and the Second Amendment, featuring Clark Neily, of counsel in D.C. v. Heller and vice president for Criminal Justice at the Cato Institute

Latin American Law Students Association

  • Students of Color Brunch with the Black Law Students Association
  • Networking Reception at Ward Greenberg in Rochester, NY

Outdoors Club

  • Hike at Tifft Nature Preserve
  • Letchworth Fall Foliage Hike


  • National Coming Out Day fundraiser
  • 2020 Annual Dinner honoring Hon. Javier Vargas ’92, Kings County Family Court, and Buffalo attorney Roberta O’Toole
  • LGBTQ+ Panel Discussion at Hodgson Russ LLP featuring Jessica Baker ’03, associate counsel, UB Office of General Counsel; Neil Pawlowski ’10, founding partner at Duggan Pawlowski & Cooke LLP; Jay Speroni of the Speroni Music Group; Andrew Freedman ’96, diversity partner with Hodgson Russ LLP; and James Zawodzinski Jr. ’18, associate attorney at Hodgson Russ LLP

Phi Alpha Delta

  • Career Panel Discussion: Stages of the Law featuring Paul Cambria of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP; Kathleen Puscheck ’15 of Gross Polowy LLC; David Wolff ’14 of Cantor & Wolff; Ron Winter ’81, former clerk to Hon. Richard Kloch ’76; and Joseph Canepa ’12 of William Mattar
  • Resume and Cover Letter Workshop with LAWR instructor Patrick Long ’00

Student Bar Association

  • Wellness Week at the School of Law
  • The Supreme Court’s Attack on Voting Rights: An event with the cast of the legal podcast 5-4 highlighting the recent decision of RNC v. DNC
  • Networking Social with the UB Law Alumni Association’s GOLD Group