Profile in Giving : L. Howard Adams '79

What is it that you enjoy the most about your law practice?

In tax law, I find the structuring of transactions most interesting and fulfilling.  The education I got at Columbia, particularly the tax courses I took, gave me the background to structure transactions successfully.  I’m very grateful to Columbia for the education I received.

What interesting things have you worked on recently?

I work primarily on M&A transactions ,  spinoffs, partnerships  and  other joint ventures.  The ones in the news recently were transactions involving JP Morgan Chase, for example  its  acquisitions  of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, and the  splitoff  from   its   Chase Paymentech  joint venture.  I was on the teams  providing tax advice.

What was your favorite memory of Columbia Law School?

A bunch of us played hooky one day and went to the Yankees opener.  This was the year after Reggie Jackson finished off the World Series by hitting a home run, so at the opener they passed out candy bars called Reggie Bars.  The first time he came up to bat he hit another home run.  Reggie Bars were raining down on field – orange wrappers were everywhere.

Who was your favorite professor at Columbia?

Hans Smit.  He was amusing and enthusiastic, and emphasized that the correct answer to most questions in the practice of law is "Why do you want to know?"  I also enjoyed his anecdote, from his days at Sullivan & Cromwell, about a partner asking him whether he was ill one day because he had worn brown shoes.

Do you have any specific hopes or dreams for Columbia Law School’s future?

To continue the good things the law school is doing.  I’m very happy with the education I received and the friends I made there.  My hope isn’t for the law school to do great things that they haven’t been doing, but for it to continue to do great things they already have been doing.

What inspired you to double your gift this year, especially given the state of the economy?

Those of us who are still in a position to provide financial support are needed all the more when the troubled economic times come.  I thought I was in a position to do that, others may not be.  Also, I’m a reunion co-chair, and co-chairs feel a special responsibility to make a financial gift.

What is your favorite legal fiction book or movie?

The movie To Kill A Mockingbird.

What makes you most proud to be a Columbia Law School alumnus?

Not only does Columbia provide a great education while you’re there as a student, but perhaps more than other law schools, it makes an effort to keep alumni connected to the law school.  I served on the reunion committee, I was on the Columbia Law School Board, I’ve participated in deal roundtables.  In addition I go to arts events with Columbians through CAAL, the Columbia Alumni Arts League.  They get together for plays, museum outings, harbor cruises.  Alumni are  encouraged to stay connected.  I’m proud of that.

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