2019 Society of Benchers inductees include 12 alumni and a justice

Tuesday, June 25, 2019  /  Rate this article:
Photo of the 2019 Society of Benchers inductees

On June 20, 2019, Case Western Reserve University School of Law honored the achievements of 12 distinguished alumni and a prominent member of the Cleveland legal community who were inducted into the Society of Benchers – the law school’s alumni Hall of Fame. Established in 1962, each year the Society inducts new alumni members, as well as a faculty member and public member, on the basis of extraordinary achievement and dedication to the highest principles of the legal profession. Attended by nearly 300 society members and guests, the 2019 induction dinner was held at the Linsalata Alumni Center at Case Western Reserve University.

At this year’s event, we honored retired law professors Leon Gabinet and Lewis Katz, who emceed the benchers induction ceremony for many years. They appear in the photo with the inductees.

We are pleased to announce the 2019 inductees:

Tom Callahan (’85), Partner and Chair of Thompson Hine’s Tax Practice Group, and the incoming Chair of the ABA Section of Taxation, which has 16,000 members and regularly provides comments to the Department of the Treasury and the IRS regarding Treasury Regulations and other administrative guidance.

William M. “Chip” Carter, Jr. (’98), Professor of Law and former Dean (2012-2018) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Formerly a litigator at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and Ropes and Gray, and a professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and Temple University Beasley School of Law, Carter is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading experts on the Thirteenth Amendment and racial discrimination.

Mike Cherkasky (’75) is currently the Executive Chairman of Exiger. A pioneering figure in the world of financial crime, fraud, corruption and money laundering enforcement and compliance, Mike has held senior leadership roles with some of the most esteemed law enforcement agencies and multinational corporations in the world.

David R. Cohen (’91) has been appointed as Special Master by 18 different federal judges in over 30 different complex cases, including six multidistrict litigations. He is currently serving as Discovery Master in In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation, which has been described as the most complex litigation ever prosecuted in federal court.

Natalie Finn (’72) began her career as a prosecutor in Fairbanks, Alaska, and then spent four decades as a judge in Anchorage. Since recently retiring, she has been a pro tem judge, presiding over cases in communities large and small around Alaska.

Bill J. Gagliano (’80) is a partner with Ulmer & Berne LLP, where he has served as Chairman of the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group and a member of its Management Committee. He has also served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross.

Michelle Gon (’85) is a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Shanghai, and has previously served as Principal at Baker & McKenzie Shanghai; Managing Partner of Baker & McKenzie’s Taipei office; Chief Legal Officer of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation in Shanghai; and as an International Attorney for McDonald’s Corporation.

Charles E. Hallberg (’77) is the founder of several health care companies including MemberHealth, LLC, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits management companies, which was acquired by CVS. A nationally known philanthropist focusing on children’s issues, Hallberg has served as executive vice president and general counsel at General Computer Corporation, and corporate counsel for Revco D.S., Inc.

Margery B. Koosed (’74) is the Aileen McMurray Trusler Professor Emeritus at the University of Akron School of Law. She teaches Criminal Law, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, and seminars on mistaken convictions, and her writing focuses on death penalty litigation issues. She has served as a commissioner on the State Public Defender Commission and as Coordinator of the Ohio Death Penalty Task Force.

Jack McConnell (’83) is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, and serves as a member of the Committee on Codes of Conduct of the Judicial Conference of the United States. Before becoming a federal judge, Jack was a trial attorney for 25 years, during which time he represented persons injured by exposure to asbestos, states that sued the tobacco industry, and children poisoned by lead paint.

Jay Shapiro (’80) has practiced law for almost forty years, half of which was spent in the public sector. A New York City prosecutor for two decades who focused on white collar crimes, Jay is now a partner at the New York office of White and Williams LLP where he represents clients in complex civil litigation and investigations, including corporate internal investigations and criminal and regulatory enforcement and also serves as co-chair of the firm’s Cyber Law and Data Protection Practice Group.

Kathryn S. Mercer (’83) is Professor of Lawyering Skills at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where she teaches Legal Writing; Leadership, Experiential Learning, Advocacy and Professionalism; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Mediation; Special Issues in Family Law: Child Welfare. She is also coach of the school’s award-winning ABA, National, and VIS moot court and commercial arbitration teams. In addition to experience in legal practice, she has worked for the federal and state courts as mediator, arbitrator, and family conciliator. And in 2018, Katy was national curling champion.

In November of 2018, Melody J. Stewart made history as the first African-American woman elected as a Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Stewart served as a judge on the Eighth District Court of Appeals for a dozen years. Although she is not a graduate of our law school, she earned her PhD across the street at Case Western Reserve’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and began her career as Director of Student Services at Case Western Reserve University School of Law before attending law school and becoming a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

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Comments on article "Remembering Saif Alameri"

Saeed Al Ali

12/16/2016 4:53 PM

Saif studied law at United Arab Emirates University, the university that I and most UAE LLM and SJD students studied in. He is older than me and began studying in UAEU before me, I saw him there several times, but because the age and classes are different, I didn’t interact with him there in UAE.

On the first day in Cleveland, I saw him. I remember him saying his name, my name is Saif, S … A … I… F. He was funny, even in a very serious situation. Saif helped me many times and acted as brother to all of us, even though we didn’t know each other before July 11. Saif is very kind. He smiles, and says hello to everyone. I visited him in his apartment, and actually lived there for a couple of days before my apartment was ready. That was the first week of law school. He didn’t know me well but he refused to make me live in hotel and he said, "your brother is here." I noticed also that he has a good relationship with his neighbors. He knows all of them and always says hello to them and asks them if they need any help. He was a special person.

At the end, we lost one of our brothers. We know that we can’t return him back to life again, but we have hope and confidence that our embassy attorneys will make every possible effort to get his right to punish his killer. My last final exam is on Friday and my flight is on the same day. The first thing I will do after I arrive and see my family is to visit my brother's family.

Jihanne (Jane) Flegeau

12/17/2016 2:07 PM

Saif is the first person I met when I arrived at Case Law School. I had been dreaming of this day for the past few months, yet I was stressed and anxious. On my way to the first LLM meeting, I stumbled upon Saif. He was sitting on the bench, the one we all love. The perfect spot when it's sunny. We talked a little, he made me laugh, smile and realize that everything will be all right.

This is how I will remember him. As a bright and kind man.

Saif was about to have a glorious life, filled with joy, friends and love.

I still find it difficult to acknowledge that it really happened. I'm heartbroken and traumatized, as we all are. But I made myself the promise that I will never forget Saif, his kindness and this terrible and unfair end. I will carry him in my heart from now on. I will be thinking of him on our graduation day because he was going to be with us, celebrating our American degrees. I will take his memories with me when I will go back to France. I'll talk about him with my friends and family so no one will ever forget that nothing in life is granted.

All my thoughts are going to his family and close friends. I know how hard it is trying to find a sense to something that just doesn't make any sense...

Please be strong and take care.

Arsalan Alvi

12/19/2016 11:47 AM

I met Saif, along with many other friends from UAE and all over the world, during the orientation week when I was struggling to find an accommodation. Saif was one of those few friends who first reached out to me and tried to help me. Over time, our friendship grew in school and outside as we met everyday and shared many beautiful memorable laughters that I shall remember him by and cherish forever.

I remember the last time we met after a class. We were both on our way home and when he caught me worried about my exams (my natural reaction to exams), he said, "You will get honors, wait and see. You are smart."

Things will not be the same again without his shining smiles and valuable insights in our conversations, but I am certain that he will be looking down on us and smiling on graduation day when all his friends in LLM will make him proud.

Ali Alblooshi

12/20/2016 3:30 AM

I have had the privilege of knowing Saif since May 2015. We have a scholarship from ADNOC. We were supposed to join together in the national service and then work in the same company. But his death was closer than all of that.

I miss his humor, and the beautiful smile, which greeted us every morning and evening.

It's hard merely to think that we will not meet again with our friend, but Saif's memories will live on in our hearts, our prayers, our conversation and in every corner and place we met with him.

Saeed and I met with Saif's family yesterday, and we transfered these condolences to them. They thanked us for our feelings about Saif's death.

At the end, I can only mention as I believe: "We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return."

May Allah have mercy on him.

Hamad Aleissaee

12/20/2016 5:36 PM

Saif and I took most classes together in law school in the UAE, but I never had the chance to talk with him. Last year, we studied English in the same university in PA. We had been communicating a lot every day and hanging out because he was my roommate for one semester. Saif was very very kind and friendly to me and to anybody he met with. So, that is why Saif had a lot of friends in PA. Saif liked to help his friends any time they asked him for help. Saif and I and his friends had amazing moments together even when we moved to Cleveland. He had many friends as he had a wonderful personality.

Actually, sometimes I feel that I'm in a dream. I could not believe his death. It is hard to forget all the memories we had together. Saif will be in my mind as long as I study in Cleveland, especially at CWRU, as I really considered Saif one of my brothers.

May Allah (god) have mercy on him.

Ernesto Biternas

12/21/2016 1:50 AM

I can just say that I loved Saif, and that I hope he is in that better place that he believed to be real... Rest in peace my beloved left my heart in mourning.

Ernesto Biternas

12/21/2016 2:26 AM

I don't know if this was Saif's favorite song, but he sure listened to it a lot.

Elizabeth Hornberger

12/21/2016 11:51 PM

This past summer, I had the privilege of teaching a small group of incoming LLM students. I was lucky enough to have a great group of individuals (Group #1!), and lucky for all of us, Saif was a part of our group. Teaching over the summer was terrific. Every single one of my students brought a different background, perspective, personality, and understanding of American law, and each student was intelligent in his/her own way.

Saif always stuck out in my mind because of a particular class during the second week of the summer semester. Prior to class, I ran into him in the hallway. Due to our lucky encounter, I told on him that I was going to call on him first. He became flustered and explained that he was not wholly prepared and begged on me not to call on him.

When we started class that day we began covering one of our Property Law cases, Pierson v. Post. That case was between two parties-- one who began chasing a fox and one who saw the other chasing the fox and took the opportunity to kill and take away the fox before he did. The entire issue in the case was determining whether the fox was the property of the "chaser" or of the party that killed it.

I did not call on Saif for the beginning of the class as we went over the majority ("winning") opinion. But after reviewing why the majority ruled as it did, I asked the students who they would have decided for. The entire class agreed with the majority- Saif was particularly sold by the majority's reasoning. I remember him breaking down the analysis into "you capture it, you win."

With the lopsided vote in place, we then reviewed the dissenting ("losing") opinion and its reasons. I began trying to play devil's advocate, asking questions from the chaser's side (i.e. "But I put in all the work! Why does someone else get what I worked so hard for?!"). The students sat there quiet for about 30 seconds and I noticed that Saif sat in the back grasping his head while he thought. Then his eyes lit up and he immediately raised his hand. When I called on him, he said, "I agree with the dissent!" When I pushed him on why he changed his mind, he explained some great policy considerations to the class.

While that day does not seem like a great big deal or is not a particularly funny story, it stuck with me because Saif did not come prepared to class that day. Yet, he still caught on quickly and broke down the arguments into his own words. He was brilliant and always exhibited that brilliance with humility and charm.

I only taught the LLM students for four weeks, but my students continue to say "hello" and keep me updated about their lives and schooling. Saif was a particularly bright spot in the law school and my day because he was so personable and always made me laugh. The Arabic luncheon that he and other LLM students hosted a few weeks ago was one of the coolest moments during this past semester for me. The food was terrific, but the best part was how excited all of the hosting students were to show off their cultures and backgrounds. Saif had a huge smile on his face during the luncheon and it was so cool to see all of the LLM students enjoying themselves and teaching me things about their lives back home.

I am so thankful for the short time I had to get to know Saif. I continue to read and hear things about him that make me laugh and smile. All of the stories are so "Saif-like" because they are funny and bring a smile to my face.

I wish Saif's family and friends warm thoughts during this difficult time and want them to know that Saif was a meaningful member of the CWRU law community.

GuzeI Sаkаevа

1/4/2017 10:57 AM

There’s no word that can express how sorry we are to hear about the death of your friend Saif. We were very stunned to hear this news and still can’t believe that it really happened.

Saif was a person who was always ready to help.

I remember these moments when I am coming late, running into a classroom or trying to find a vacant seat. Saif always gave his place to me. When I forgot my books, he always lent me his books.

Last time I saw him studying in the Coffeehouse, he told me: "Good luck on your exams; enjoy this wonderful time!"

I will miss his warmth and humor. My thoughts and prayers are always with him.

Siyuan Yu

2/21/2017 9:26 AM

We are with you. We are here for you.

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