This donor profile is from the Fall-Winter 2012 issue of Nexus.

By Karen Gross and Lucianna Ciccocioppo / photography by Nigel Dickson

When Jeffrey Leon graduated from law school in 1977, he couldn’t know that 35 years later his own daughter would do the same. But that’s exactly what happened, and now both of them are proud alumni of the Faculty of Law.

“It comes around,” says Leon, a partner and co-head of litigation at Bennett Jones LLP. “We need to enable future generations to benefit the same way we did.”

Leon describes himself as a reluctant law student in the mid-1970s who entered law school after completing a master’s in sociology, feeling unsure and undecided about what he wanted to do next. His legal education gave him a solid grounding and the inspiration to pursue and establish what has become a very successful career in litigation. In particular, he credits Mary Eberts and Bernard Dickens as professors who motivated him—and lit a critical spark.

Back then, he says, the old, cramped buildings were just part of the package.

“It was dated even then,” he remembers. “But I guess it had a certain charm to it. Some of the classrooms had no working heating or air.” Students and faculty accepted their surroundings without question in those days. But they don’t anymore.

“Times have changed,” Leon says. “The traditional educational system that we grew up in has progressed a long way. I think you have to keep pace or you become irrelevant.”

Jeffrey Leon and Stephen BowmanBennett Jones