The Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame opened in Klein Hall on Sept. 9. The project of the Alabama-based Trial Lawyer magazine and The National Trial Lawyers will honor skilled courtroom minds from around the country throughout history.
Sharon Boothe, executive director of the hall, said the purpose is to “build an archive of speeches and closing arguments made by inductees as a place for students to do further research.”
The space in the front entrance of Klein Hall will include two new interactive kiosks for that purpose, Boothe said.
The Sept. 9 opening ceremony was attended by notable lawyers including new inductees Elaine Jones, the first female president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and Bobby Cook, the lawyer who inspired the TV show “Matlock,” starring Andy Griffith.
Other inductees include Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Johnnie Cochran, who defended O.J. Simpson during his murder trial.
The interactive kiosks display the different hall of famers and their accomplishments.
Lawyers honored in the hall have advocated for safety issues like mandatory airbags in cars and tobacco regulation. Some were part of the first successful suing of the Ku Klux Klan.
The project was funded mostly through donations from individual donors with some sponsorship dollars from Trial Lawyer Magazine.
“The range of contributions that these lawyers made is enormous,” JoAnne Epps, dean of Temple’s law school, said.
Epps said that once Trial Lawyer chose to house the hall of fame at Temple, it was her goal to make sure the commemorative exhibit was well-integrated into the law school. She added that it was “crucial” students utilize that space.
First-year law student Jasmine Campbell said she has done much of her work sitting in Klein Hall, but hasn’t interacted with the hall of fame.
“A lot of people stay all hours of the night to do their work [in the hall of fame],” Campbell said.
Campbell said it is too soon to know if her peers will fully engage with the facilities.
“Most people just pass through and observe it, but I did not have much of a reaction to it,” Campbell said.
Researching the subjects in the hall is essential for law students, Epps said, so they can “expand their horizons” beyond Philadelphia and learn more about lawyers from other parts of the country.
“We want to be able to provide some of the knowledge and experiences we have here to a greater range of people,” she added.
Epps said she is “hopeful that the inductees will come here [and] bring their families, so that they will know more about [Temple’s] law school.”
Rachael Clark and Joe Brant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org