Before the festive ceremony, the distinguished alumni and their families gathered at an intimate reception in Columbia University’s Butler Library to reminisce and reconnect, though the warm bonhomie and spirited conversations they shared made clear that many have remained in touch over the years and miles.
“We wore hose and heels every day, and the men wore jackets and ties,” remembers Elaine S. Reiss, one of 11 women in the Class of 1964’s 280 students. “We used to say Jerome Greene Hall looked like a toaster—a broken toaster!”
Allen B. Breslow, who graduated from Columbia College before entering the Law School, fondly recalled when the Morningside campus had tennis courts, before the construction of the engineering center at Amsterdam Avenue and 120th Street.
What hasn’t changed in five decades is the Law School’s renown for influential scholarship and outstanding graduates. The Class of 1964 went on to careers as rich and varied as the times they helped shape.
Reiss became general counsel of the non-profit Environmental Simulation Center and has served in various roles across New York City government, while Breslow has enjoyed a distinguished career in labor and employment-relations law, inspired by his union leader father.
Peter J. Giovine entered general practice, handling “everything from criminal cases to zoning and planning,” he says, before becoming a Superior Court judge in New Jersey. Voluntarily recalled after his formal retirement, he continues to serve the Garden State on the bench.
Alan L. Bain, originally from the United Kingdom, spent several years frequently on the road as a mergers and acquisitions attorney before departing to create a new company that fills a neglected market niche: the need of travelling businesspeople, especially before the Internet, to have temporary offices with the services and convenience of home. In 1970, Bain founded World-Wide Business Centres (WWBC), which now operates around the world.
Susan B. Lindenauer became a staff attorney and eventually general counsel at the Legal Aid Society, in addition to serving as president of the Columbia Law School Association. In what she calls her “so-called retirement,” she continues to mentor women and advocate for low-income people.
Lindenhauer explained why, after 50 years, her relationship with the Law School is deeper than ever.
“The Law School has broadened its focus to more interests and career paths,” Lindenhauer says. “There’s a wonderful loan repayment program now that enables people to enter public interest and do pro bono work.”
Also in attendance at the Class of 1964 anniversary celebration were Howard E. Berman, an attorney in private practice who specializes in estate planning, wills, tax matters, commercial real estate and civil litigation; and Marilyn A. Schiff, a constitutional law expert. As the group of former classmates mingled, they stepped away one at a time to don Columbia regalia—caps, gowns, and sashes denoting their role of honor in the ceremony. Then, they joined the procession march as “Pomp and Circumstance” played, carrying the 50th anniversary banner and fond memories of their own graduation a half-century ago.
“I ran into a former courtroom adversary of mine, who was a few years ahead of us at the Law School,” Giovine says. “He told me that I just had to come march because it’s such great fun.”