No laughing gas needed

Lawyers for Jacksonville residents and ExxonMobil Corp. are back in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Thursday and Friday for pretrial hearings on the experts the plaintiffs are seeking to use in the upcoming gas station leak trial.

(The most recent start date for the trial was Monday, but that has been postponed until the end of November.)

Thursday’s hearing began with some discovery motions filed by The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos PC, which represents approximately 450 individuals and 150 households in Jacksonville. Lawyers for the plaintiffs wanted documents about the remediation effort from Kleinfelder, which worked on the spill site.

A lawyer for Kleinfelder said the documents would be available by next week. When pressed by the plaintiffs as to the amount of information, Judge Robert N. Dugan jumped in.

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UB Law’s $10 million man

Back in March, I wrote about the University of Baltimore School of Law reaching the $15 million plateau in private fundraising it needed to supplement the $92 million in state money it’s receiving for a new law school building.

Thursday, we found out how the law school reached the magic number: a $5 million donation from Peter G. Angelos. The announcement comes two years after Angelos made a $5 million matching dollar-for-dollar pledge.

UB President Robert L. Bogomolny admitted that without Angelos’ $10 million commitment, it might have taken several more years to reach the $15 million goal considering the economy.

“The fact he stepped up when he did is very positive for our project,” Bogomolny said.

But, in typical Angelos fashion, he did not want his donation publicized. Bogomolny said the donation was made in the spring, but it was only with some cajoling from the president that Angelos finally agreed to its disclosure.

“He really doesn’t want the spotlight,” Bogomolny said. But “from the standpoint of momentum for our capital campaign, it’s very important to show big gifts.”

Groundbreaking for the new John and Frances Angelos Law Center is set for the end of August, and bidding is underway for foundation and facade work.

Law school buys naming rights to stadium

In a very unusual promotional deal, a law school in Michigan has bought the naming rights to a minor league ballpark. The Lansing Lugnuts (goofiest-sounding team name ever) will now play at Cooley Law School Stadium.

Quoting Cooley President Don LeDuc, The National Law Journal writes:

“It’s a little bit unique, but this is just one example of how we do marketing to get our name out there,” LeDuc said.

Cooley has long taken a different approach to marketing than do most law schools — it has advertised on billboards and sponsored television and radio programs, for example.

“People like to pretend that education isn’t competitive, but it is,” LeDuc said. “You’ll probably see more things like this in the future.”

With 3,600 students at campuses in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Auburn Hills and Ann Arbor, Mich., Cooley is the largest law school in the country and attracts a large number of part-time students. Cooley has been expanding steadily, but just keeping the student body at its present level requires getting its name out into the public, LeDuc said.

Can you see anything like this ever happening with either of the two law schools in Maryland? I’m thinking no. However, if UB Law ever does decide it wants Oriole Park at Camden Yards to be known as “University of Baltimore School of Law Oriole Park at Camden Yards” (or something like that), perhaps its most prominent alumnus can float a discount.

UB law debuts new building

Say hello to the new $107 million John and Frances Angelos Law Center (left), scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2012 and hold its first classes in the spring semester of 2013. The image is looking north from the intersection of Charles Street and Mt. Royal Avenue.

The rendering, plus floor plans and a 3-D model, were displayed three times Thursday – first receiving rave reviews from the state’s Architectural Review Board and Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel and finally during a community briefing Thursday night at UB’s student center (where I saw it).

Stefan Behnisch, whose German architecture firm is teaming with Baltimore’s Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc. on the project, took community members through the 12-story glass building. The law school will hold 1,100 students and will feature lots of open and public space to promote interaction, as well as an atrium the full height of the building. It will also be LEED certified, although the exact level of environmental friendliness has yet to be determined.

The glass facade will control the amount of sunlight entering the building and will make the building look different to passersby depending on the time of day, Behnisch said.

The building will become the first landmark visible to people leaving Penn Station, Behnisch said, so the goal was to make it both blend in and stand out in the neighborhood.

“I think it defines…the urban fabric,” he said.

Steve Cassard, UB’s vice president for facilities and capital planning, said the project remains on schedule and within the budget.

Hot stove league reaches courtroom

There was a pause toward the end of yesterday’s pre-trial hearing in Parkton residents’ lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination from a neighborhood gas station.

Judge J. Norris Byrnes broke the silence with a comment.

“I want to know if we signed a .400 hitter or a long reliever,” he said.

The comment was timely for two reasons.

First, the residents are represented by Peter Angelos, also known as the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. The judge’s comment was directed toward H. Russell Smouse, who was sitting in the courtroom gallery. Smouse is the Orioles’ general counsel.

Second, baseball executives and personnel have converged on Indianapolis this week for the annual Winter Meetings, the official start of the off-season wheeling and dealing commonly referred to as the Hot Stove league.

As the lawyers in the courtroom smiled, Smouse replied.

“We’re hoping to sign you,” he told Byrnes.

The judge chuckled. He is retired and specially assigned to the Parkton case.

“I am a long reliever,” Byrnes said.