Alumni, students, administrators and even a well-behaved dachshund gathered at Chapman University on March 10 to celebrate the renaming of a student lounge, recreation room and named directorship at Fowler School of Law.
Fowler Law Dean Matthew Parlow officially announced the renaming of the Sam & Ash Student Lounge, made possible by a $1.125M gift from alumnus Samuel Mirejovsky, who co-founded Sam & Ash, LLP, a personal injury law firm in Las Vegas and Newport Beach, with fellow alumna Ashley Watkins. In addition to the lounge’s renaming, the gift’s impact is sweeping, providing support for an in-house bar prep program available to all Fowler Law students, a student scholarship, a named directorship for the law school’s Academic Achievement Program, and Rocky’s Rec Room, named for the jaunty dachshund the alumni humorously call their CEO.
‘They Believe in the Students’
The programs and facilities the gift benefits support the school’s enduring commitment to student success and achievement, Parlow said.
“They don’t just believe in what the faculty, staff and administration do here, they believe in the students. They want them to be successful,” he said.
Acknowledgement of these strengths was evidenced in Princeton Review’s 2020 “Best Law Schools” rankings, which listed Fowler Law among the nation’s most outstanding law schools.
Additionally, the report included Fowler Law in the Top 50 for Academic Experience – a category that measures the quality of a school’s learning environment – and the Professors: Accessibility category.
The renaming honors a six-year gift that began in 2017 and represents one of the largest donations in the law school’s history.
Grateful to Fowler Law
Mirejovsky ’11 (JD ’14) said he and Watkins (JD ’14) were motivated to contribute because they owe their professional success to the preparation and training they received at Fowler Law. For Mirejovsky, that journey began as an undergraduate. In addition to his service to Fowler Law, Mirejovsky serves on the Chapman University Board of Governors. In 2019, the university awarded him a Distinguished Alumni Award.
“I have a tremendous amount of loyalty to Chapman. And I’ve been fortunate that as a consequence of coming here, I’ve done well professionally. And so this to me on a fundamental level is about giving back. I believe in this as a founding principle in my life. If you’ve been fortunate and succeeded, it’s important to contribute in a way that is meaningful so others can do that, too,” he said.
Support for Fowler Law’s bar prep program was particularly important to the partners, as the exam is famously challenging in California, Watkins said.
“You spend three years of your life going to law school and at the end of that you still have to take an exam. That’s your ticket, and you need that. We wanted to make sure that every student that is going through this three-year program is given the greatest opportunity for success so that they don’t have to do it on their own,” she said.
Support for Bar Preparation
Even the lounge and recreation room, which include a bank of refrigerators and microwaves, a pool table and informal seating and gathering areas, reflect that goal.
“This room provides an opportunity and an avenue and arena for collaborative study,” Watkins said. “There’s nothing I want to do more than provide an environment that enhances student success here at Chapman.”
Moreover, those years spent together in law school often serve as the foundation for future professional partnerships, as they did for herself and Mirejovsky, Watkins said. In fact, their Chapman connections led them to co-found Sam & Ash, LLP.
“It was just a natural choice,” she said. “Chapman provides some of the most well-rounded lawyers.”