The Fifth Annual Albert A. Destefano Lecture on Corporate, Securities & Financial Law*
Katsoris, Constantine N., Fisch, Jill E., Spitzer, Eliot, Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law
PROFESSOR KATSORIS:1 Welcome to Fordham Law School. Dean Treanor,2 unfortunately, could not be with us. He is in China. The DeStefano Family, unfortunately, could not be with us. But they both send their regrets and their warmest regards.
Tonight's lecture is being sponsored by the firm of Becker Ross Stone DeStefano & Klein. The lecture series bearing Al DeStefano's name has had a most distinguished track record. The first DeStefano Lecture - and this is the fifth - consisted of a panel discussion that dealt with the sec's fair disclosure rules.3 The following year, I chaired the panel that explored the explosive topic, "Enron: What Went Wrong?"4 Two years ago, we retraced the history of celebrating thirty years of market regulation.5 Last year we examined the crisis in confidence of self-regulation in the securities industry.6
Tonight we are most fortunate to have as our speaker the Attorney General of New York, the Honorable Eliot Spitzer. This lecture series, however, goes far beyond its five-year track record. Indeed, its roots are far wider and run much deeper. It all began a hundred years ago, on September 28, 1905, when Fordham Law School was founded. This fall we will be celebrating our centennial anniversary with a series of major events throughout the country. In terms of physical brick and mortar, it all began in a small building on the Rose Hill Campus and migrated to several locations downtown, before settling in its present environment here at Lincoln Center.
As someone who has been part of fifty-two of those first hundred years - as a student, alumnus, and faculty member - I can tell you firsthand that the graduates of Fordham Law School do not think of their school in terms of brick and mortar. Indeed, we think of it in terms of heart and soul.
It is not accidental, therefore, that Fordham Law School is identified with the phrase, "In the Service of Others." I can think of no one who exemplifies this heart and soul better than Al DeStefano.
Al started at Fordham Law School as an evening student, sixty-six years ago. Just think: He was involved in part of Fordham for over twothirds of Fordham's existence. He started in 1939, graduating eight years later, first in his class, after serving his country in World War II. As with many students in those days, Al worked his way through law school, with a variety of jobs, including that of assistant librarian. It was one of those jobs that Al had during law school that more truly defines Al DeStefano. He would create and map out cartoon layouts for nationally syndicated cartoon strips such as Little Lulu, Woody Woodpecker, Andy Pandy, and Gangbusters.
At first I found it quite amusing that during the day Al would be briefing cases for class, doing footnote assignments for the Law Review, and at night he would dream up and create these cartoons. In hindsight, however, his role as a creator of cartoons was perfectly natural for Al, for cartoons, in three or four illustrations, tell an entire story. They communicate a message in a clear, concise, and forthright manner. That is what Al DeStefano has done all his life. As a practitioner for over half a century, he advocated positions and persuaded adversaries to compromise and negotiate in a frank and straightforward and transparent manner.
Yet, despite his busy schedule, Al DeStefano found time to come up and teach as an adjunct professor. He taught an oversubscribed course on mergers and acquisitions. Students loved him for his professional skills and knowledge, but more important, for his devotion to the students, and his ability to put things in perspective.
Fordham has always prided itself on its efforts to produce not only the well-trained and skillful professional, but the well-balanced person as well. Buried in Al DeStefano's resume are just some of the humanitarian activities that speak to his compassion. For many years, he was a member of the Board of Fellows of Gallaudet University in Washington, D. …