Law school announces gift from alumnus

Snyder gives $1 million to University of Baltimore

May 22, 2000|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

The University of Baltimore announced a gift of $1 million from Steven L. Snyder yesterday, the third-largest gift in the history of the school.

The money will go to the university's law school to underwrite the Steven L. Snyder Center for Litigation Skills, which will focus on the courtroom arena where Snyder has made himself one of Baltimore's wealthiest attorneys.

"It's a wonderful gift from a long-term and committed supporter of the school," said law school Dean John Sebert. "The new center will build on the law school's strong expertise right now in teaching litigation skills."

The announcement was made at the law school commencement at the Lyric Theatre, where 266 degrees were awarded, including one to Snyder's son Michael. Snyder, the commencement speaker, received an honorary doctor of law degree.

"I graduated from the University of Baltimore Law School 30 years ago, almost to the day," said Snyder, 53, before the ceremony. "I have had a lot of good fortune, and I wanted to give something back to the legal community."

A plaintiff's attorney who began with medical malpractice cases, Snyder has more recently won a number of business litigation cases, most notably a $185 million settlement last year from the Ernst and Young accounting firm over its role in the bankruptcy of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc. clothing chain. Snyder's firm received a fee of $71 million from that case.

"He is an alumnus who is an outstanding trial attorney," Sebert said of Snyder last week.

Snyder said he wanted to focus the gift on his specialty -- trial litigation. "A lot of people get out of law school and don't know how to try a case," he said. "It really takes a certain kind of personality."

Sebert said the center will allow the school to bring in legal experts to teach skills needed in the courtroom and discuss issues facing the litigation system.

In his speech, Snyder told the graduates that he knew of only one member of the class who had a job -- his son Michael -- but that they should not worry about starting out at the bottom.

"You will learn a lot," he said. "It's not about humiliation, it's about humility."

Snyder noted that his son Mark, who is in his firm, also holds a University of Baltimore law degree.

The only two larger gifts to the university were $1.75 million from Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos and $1.4 million from entrepreneur William Thumel Jr.

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