William McDowell, LLB 1986This donor profile is from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of Nexus.

When William McDowell, LLB 1986, attended law school in the mid- 1980s, the classrooms were either incredibly cold, or, if they were near the boiler room, unbearably hot.  "It's part of the common experience for generations of students at U of T," says McDowell, a partner at Lenczner Slaght. "When you get together for class reunions, people talk about this."

That may be a fun topic of conversation among old classmates and friends, but McDowell says for current students and professors, it's hardly pleasant. Charming they may be, but Falconer Hall and Flavelle House aren't very practical. "For one thing, the place needs more light," McDowell says. "Studying law is incredibly stressful and absorbing, and if you can do it with more light, and a sense of air, that's definitely a good thing."

McDowell and his colleagues at the firm have a personal stake in the new building as well. Many of them lecture at the school and participate in other events on the law campus. Graduates populate Lenczner Slaght at every point—from entry-level articling students to senior partners.

"At U of T it's hard to find a weak law student in any given class," McDowell says. "It's just an amazing centre for legal thought. And we're the beneficiaries."

Practicalities aside, McDowell predicts the new building will be a definite architectural draw, blending in with the old heritage houses, but standing out at the same time.

"One of the gateways to the university is on that curve at Queen's Park Circle," he says. "To have this jewel of a building sitting there will be wonderful."