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Supreme statements at opening of UB’s new law center

While U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan acknowledges the precarious state of legal education today, she believes there are law schools that will make it through these times even stronger.

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan speaks with Ronald Weich, dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law (center) and Brit Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, at the opening of the new law school building.

“If I were taking bets around this in Maryland or around the country, [University of Baltimore School of Law] would be high on my list,” Kagan said.

Kagan along with Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) spoke at the grand opening of the University of Baltimore’s 12-story John and Frances Angelos Law Center on Tuesday night.

Kagan said she is a big believer in buildings.

“Ideas are great but it turns out you need great buildings to do great work,” she said.

Kagan said she understands the difficulties of building a new building since she had also done that while she was dean of Harvard Law School.

“I was walking around and I was thinking, ‘I wish I’d thought of that,'” Kagan said. “I wish I had gotten one of those.”

The $114 million building also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier in the day and a preview celebration with Vice President Joe Biden two weeks ago.

Tuesday was the first time students and the public had a chance to tour the 190,000-square-foot building at the intersection of Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue.

Ground was broken on the building, whose facades are lined with windows and whose center is home to winding maple staircases, in August 2010. It will replace the old law school, also named for Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos’ parents, on the other side of Charles Street.

The environmentally-friendly building has six terraces, a library, student gathering places, a moot court room, classrooms and faculty offices and will bring the law school’s clinics and programs under one roof.

The first classes will be held in the building at the end of the month.