The series is named after Charles R. Clason, a prominent local attorney and member of the U.S. House of Representatives who held the position of Dean of the School of Law from 1954 to 1970. At that time, Western New England University provided part-time legal education only. During Clason’s tenure all classroom instruction was provided by adjunct faculty who were eminent practitioners of the law. Clason worked to ensure that the faculty developed as academicians, while not forsaking their mission to provide practical legal education.
A resident of Springfield, Clason spent most of the 1920s in the Western Massachusetts District Attorney’s office, first as Assistant, then as District Attorney. A Republican, Clason represented the Second Congressional District of Massachusetts from 1936 to 1948. He was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1970 in recognition of his many years of educational service to Western New England University. Charles Clason passed away in 1985 at the age of 94.
Today, as an ABA-accredited, AALS member law school, Western New England University School of Law uses the Charles and Emma Clason Endowment Fund to provide funding to host speakers who enhance the academic environment of the faculty and student body of the School of Law.
Over the years, the series has broached topics pertaining to contemporary legal issues; i.e., Decision-making in Capital Cases, Mothers and Crime, Beyond the Privacy Principle, and Lawyering for Poor Communities in the 21st Century. In addition, historic perspectives on the law have included: legal ethics and fugitive slaves, the debate over the central meaning of the Fourth Amendment, emblems of federalism, and reflections on mistake and the law.
Noted speakers have represented educational institutions from across the United States including: Boston College Law School, Columbia University School of Law, Cornell Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard University Law School, University of Southern California Law Center, and Yale Law School.