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Building a Strong Platform

Graves believes new building will meet technological demands of legal education 

School of Law rendering of outside of building

From Bell Tower - 2018

When Linda Graves entered law school in 1975, she termed herself a reluctant attendee. She had not grown up wanting to be a lawyer, but her father, Ronald Richey, ba ’49, jd ’51, h ’89, pointed her in that direction.

This was one of the first years that there was a noticeable jump in women attending law school. Graves, jd ’78, believed most of her female counterparts were committed to practicing law, so she said she felt like an outlier and was concerned about her ability to perform.

“Washburn helped me find a voice that I didn’t know I had,” she said. “Particularly in the 1970s, you didn’t run into female attorneys – that was the exception. I had no peer group. However, my father saw no reason for limitation. He thought I was setting my expectations far too low.”

Linda GravesShe knew from her father’s advice that even if she didn’t practice law for a single day, law school was a great course in common sense and would serve her well for any career she chose to pursue. Graves did practice law though and made major strides for women. She graduated with honors, was a member of the Washburn Law Journal and was pushed academically in ways she had not been as an undergraduate. She grew to love her law courses because professors would make the lessons so intriguing. Graves was to become the first female partner in the Kansas City law firm Levy and Craig, P.C.

She also used the voice she gained in law school to build a platform and have an informed opinion when her husband, Bill Graves, was elected governor of Kansas and she became first lady of Kansas in the 1990s.

“If it weren’t for law school, I don’t know if I would have had the bandwidth to take on the restoration of the governor’s residence, understand board governance for a non-profit organization, or to make financial asks of a significant nature and shape a capital campaign,” she said.

When she looks back on her legal education, she noted the building was well before the Internet age – they were dealing with hard copy books in the library, so today, she can certainly see the need for a new building and the need for a new technological infrastructure. This is why she chose to make a significant gift to Ideal Place: The Building Campaign for the Washburn University School of Law.

“That building now represents the equivalent to a rotary dial landline,” she said. “You have to have an educational setting that plays forward.”

She hopes the new building will be the 21st century state-of-the-art facility it needs to be for the future of legal education, but knows the true essence of Washburn Law will stay the same and grounded in the common sense legal education she received.

“The world doesn’t need another bad lawyer,” she said. “We need really outstanding, creative lawyers who are fully-equipped to learn the skills necessary to deal with the issues we have today. The new building will help create the setting where that occurs.”

Jefferson bench

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Phone: 785.670.4483
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