Sunday, April 30, 2006

Alumni Weekend: Old Memories, New Friends

This weekend was an exciting time at the Inn. Supported by the Governors and our newest Interns, the Inn was prepared to meet and greet our alumni members. Reminded that the Inn remains their space beyond graduation, alumni enjoyed a wine and cheese event Friday and popped in intermittently throughout the weekend.

The Alumni weekend also gave our current members (and our newest Interns) a chance to meet some of our past greats, share stories, learn about our history and get tips for making the Inn even better next year.

Importantly, this weekend also served as a springboard event for our Capital Campaign. Past members inspected the premises and discovered first-hand some of the physical issues detailed in our latest alumni mailing. Alumni members took note and are now armed to share the Capital Campaign's message with their friends and associates.

But the weekend wasn’t all business and stories. There was fun to be had as well. Friday night found Inn governors about the town with alumni looking to assess the Inn’s tradition of camaraderie and diversion amongst the current membership. Though some details of the evening have been lost, it is certain a good time was had by all.

Clean-up at the Inn!

In anticipation of alumni reunion weekend, a few governors took their weekend to clean up the Inn. This much needed "spring cleaning" removed 1.5 TONS of unneeded material and junk around the house, filling up an entire truck designed exclusively for this purpose. Clean-up efforts included the removal of dilapidated, unusable furniture and rusting, obsolete fitness and office equipment. A priority of the governors was to return the upstairs office to a usable state; this was accomplished with unanticipated benefits.

Office clean-up revealed historic artifacts of Inn life and the variety of personalities that has composed the membership over the years. Additionally, critical financial documents were identified and earmarked for fiscal research and planning. Dated alumni reports helped the governors gain a better sense of the “dismal science” [accounting] behind the Inn – facts not recorded on our Holiday posters but critical nonetheless.

The governors worked hard, but the payoff of these efforts have already been observed by residents and will serve the Inn well in the coming months. Removal of years of refuse clears up valuable space for the members and makes the house more productive. Removal of trash outside the house has also made the space more attractive and opens up the possibility for additional member parking. More to come…..


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Welcome to the Lincoln's Inn Blog

Lincoln’s Inn is not a house. Lincoln’s Inn is a society. It’s a group of students. It has alumni. It has parties. Big parties. But it’s also a mess.

One would have to question whether three sitting Supreme Court Justices, Stephen Breyer ‘64, Anthony Kennedy ’61, and David Souter ‘66, and countless leaders in the legal, business, and academic arenas would still join Lincoln’s Inn today.

Few students realize the important place Lincoln’s Inn holds in the history of Harvard Law School. But ask resident Harvard Law historian, Professor Dan Coquillette ‘71, he was a member. Maybe he will tell you Lincoln’s Inn is approaching its 100th anniversary. He will probably add that the house at 44 Follen St., held by the Inn for 60 years is 140 years old and is included on the national register of historic landmarks.

To commemorate the society’s anniversary, Lincoln’s Inn is engaging in a revitalizing Centennial Capital Campaign, aimed at bringing both the organization and the house to new heights, yet unseen by its members, past or present. The Governors are taking ambitious steps towards modernizing the Inn and rejuvenating the organization, with an emphasis on tradition, fellowship, and, of course, refreshment.

The Governors seek to raise at least $300,000 to revive the house structurally and aesthetically, and reconnect with alumni. Why such a large figure? A brief tour of the historic building demonstrates worn carpets, stained walls, and a heating system that has received inquiries from the Smithsonian. Though many members take pride in the Inn’s gritty image, for the institution to maintain its place as Harvard’s premier social club, it must keep law school students excited about its celebrated space. The Campaign includes plans to update the ailing heating system, repair the leaking roof and replace the ancient, inefficient windows. The Governors also need to restore the basement and its infamous bar to its traditional role: serving the membership, alumni, and their guests.

Impressively, the current membership has operated the Inn without benefit of the traditional alumni board, but the Governors recognize the critical role its past members will play in restoring the Inn to its days of glory. For the first time in years, numerous alumni have reached out to the leadership. Several alumni have offered to join the recently-restored alumni board. The alumni board is critical to preserving institutional memory, providing managerial oversight and steering the direction of the organization. The Governors have also begun actively engaging alumni in the Capital Campaign and have been rewarded with a number of generous donations.

But all this is big talk from a group of leaders that made the excruciating decision to cancel this year’s Winter Dinner due to financial constraints. Rumor has it that the Inn has struggled to deal with the rising obligations of maintaining a house in Cambridge in a manner representative of the Inn’s rich history. Word is that there’s a group of 1L’s looking for answers. However, many understand that they will see the benefits of this fiscal responsibility next year.

Though the immediate news is bleak, alumni and member support have created the promise of a new dawn for the organization. Alumni from the across the country are rallying to support the institution where they found friends and respite from the sting of the Socratic method and the tempestuous atmosphere of Harvard Law School. With hard work, alumni support and a little luck, Lincoln’s Inn will again raise a clamor heard far beyond the reaches of Follen Street.