The Columbus School of Law (Catholic Law) is honored to have such a supportive and committed alumni base. Our alumni are an active part of the Catholic Law community and share a commitment to academic achievement and the pursuit of justice, mercy, and humble service. Our alumni find ways to engage with the Law School for the benefit of our current students and our community.
Each year, Catholic Law recognizes and honors its distinguished alumni. The purpose of the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards is to recognize outstanding alumni for their individual achievements, contributions to their industries or professions, service to their community, and demonstrated loyalty to Catholic Law.
The alumni interviewed below were honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards during Reunion Weekend 2020. The recipients represent a talented group of individuals who have contributed to their professions and the communities they serve. Each took time out of their busy schedules to discuss their career paths, great challenges, and favorite memories from Catholic Law.
Meet the 2020 William Callyhan Robinson Alumni Award Recipient Michael F. Curtin ’65
Fifty-eight years ago, Michael F. Curtin ’65 made the decision to attend law school. From the moment he set foot in the 18th Street building (where Catholic Law was located until 1967) in the fall of 1962, he knew he had made the right decision in attending Catholic Law. “The Law School has been integral to my life as a lawyer and as a person.” Now, after receiving the William Callyhan Robinson Alumni Award, Curtin looked back on the lessons he took from his Catholic Law education and how they put him on the path to success.Learn More
Meet a 2020 Columbus School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient J. Michael Hannon ’80
Sometimes, the career you start out in isn’t quite what you expected. For J. Michael Hannon ’80, that’s exactly what he experienced in his first career as a high school English teacher and swimming coach in Montgomery County, Maryland. Hannon had enjoyed teaching and coaching high-caliber swimmers, but after returning to high school teaching post master’s degree, “he became restless with the education bureaucracy […and] concluded that the modern public school system was no longer in the business of education.” It was then that he decided that his next step would be to go to law school.Learn More
Meet a 2020 Columbus School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient Patrick M. Regan ’80
Four decades. That’s how long it has been since Patrick M. Regan ’80 began his relationship with Catholic Law. From student to active alumni to adjunct professor—he has shown his deep love and support for the Law School in an enumerate number of ways. As a recipient of the Columbus School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award, Regan—humbled by the celebration—reflected on his 40 years within the Law School community and the gifts they have shared with one another.Learn More
Meet a 2020 Distinguished Public Service Award Recipient The Honorable Diane Kiesel ’85
“I attended law school for two reasons. First, while working as a newspaper reporter, I fell in love with covering the Supreme Court; it was interesting and intellectually challenging. Unfortunately, I was not knowledgeable enough to be able to do the kind of thorough analysis of pending legal issues necessary to do the job right [ …] The other reason I attended law school is because of Professor Harvey Zuckman.” This thirst for knowledge and high-level teaching is what set Distinguished Public Service Award Recipient the Honorable Diane Kiesel ’85 on her course from journalist to judge.
Meet a 2020 Distinguished Public Service Award Recipient Assistant District Attorney Deborah Watson-Stokes ’90
“I thought being a great homicide attorney was going to be my legacy. However, my legacy turned out to be mentorship. I have had the privilege to mentor so many young attorneys—African American attorneys, female attorneys, and others. Now, I’m like a proud mom. My attorneys are everywhere. They’re everywhere.” Deborah Watson-Stokes ’90 has been working in the public service sector for three decades. Now the Supervisor of the Municipal Court Unit and Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Watson-Stokes spent 30 years as a prosecutor, 18 of those years serving in the Homicide Division. She has tried more homicide cases than any other female prosecutor in Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania, earning herself the playful epithet, “The First Lady.” Watson-Stokes’ hard work and desire to serve each community of which she is a part has provided her with opportunities to build her impressive career.Learn More
Meet a 2020 Distinguished Recent Alumni Award Recipient Commissioner Brendan T. Carr ’05
“When opportunity knocks, most people don’t have their bags packed.” This is the advice Commissioner Brendan T. Carr ’05 heard during his time in law school, from then-Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell. These words have shaped Carr’s career, and it is the advice he often shares with law students and young lawyers today. For Carr, who’s held a number of positions in both the public and private sectors—including his current role as a commissioner at the FCC—change can be daunting. “Every time I had the chance to move into a new role, I could come up with a number of reasons why it was not the exact right time to make a change. It was always tempting to just stay put—it was comfortable, I knew the people, I could do the work.” However, Carr’s willingness to leave his comfort zone has provided him with a stream of wonderful opportunities throughout his career.Learn More
Meet a 2020 Distinguished Recent Alumni Award Recipient Jennifer Pierotti Lim ’10
“I remember reading a bunch of books about all the different careers you could go into with a law degree and I think so many people assume, ‘Oh I need to do something in a law firm or in a judicial position.’ But there are so many amazing opportunities, especially in D.C., in the policy space.” For Distinguished Recent Alumni Award recipient Jennifer Pierotti Lim ’10 going to law school was never about getting the “right job” and taking the “right path” to get there. It was about pursuing her passions and finding the “right fit” for her; putting her JD to use in a less traditional way.Learn More