The Centennial Medal Award
The recipient of this year's Centennial Medal Award is Susie Ruth Powell.
The highest award bestowed upon a graduate of our school. The recipient of this award has demonstrated excellence and leadership in the practice of law, public service, or commerce; significant legal scholarship; significant participation and leadership in professional organizations or activities; extraordinary commitment and active contribution to the recipient’s community; and consistent involvement in CWRU School of Law affairs.
Susie Ruth Powell (’73) is a retired legal aid attorney and assistant professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law. She received her Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University in 1973 in the first wave of women law students and was one of two black women to graduate in that class.
Career highlights include suing the United States on behalf of poor people living in substandard federal housing in the case Garden Valley Tenants Association v. James Lynn and The United States of America, practicing poverty law in North Carolina by grappling with issues of housing, domestic violence, food stamps, child care and tort defenses, and teaching contracts, trial practice and legal writing at North Carolina Central University School of Law and teaching at the legal clinic at NCCU.
Powell has an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Bennett College for Women, an Honorary Doctor of Laws from North Carolina Central University, and served as a writer on the Emmy Award-winning documentary, “The Loving Story,” which earned Historians' top prize, among a number of prizes. She also worked on the story development for “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” her second documentary film.
The Distinguished Recent Graduate Award
The recipient of this year's Distinguished Recent Graduate Award is James Pasch.
Awarded to a graduate of the law school within the last ten years, whose accomplishments enhance the perception of the profession and of the law school in the eyes of the community. Professional accomplishments, significant participation in professional societies or professional activities, community activities and involvement in School of Law alumni affairs should be considered.
James Pasch ’10 grew up in NY & NJ and graduated from the University of Vermont (cum laude with Honors in Political Science) before enrolling at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. While at CWRU, Mr. Pasch helped lead the Mock Trial team to the National Finals and was awarded the Order of Barristers for excellence in litigation.
Prior to entering the legal profession, Mr. Pasch worked on Capitol Hill, first for Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and then as a law clerk on the Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). He then built a thriving small firm litigation practice in Cleveland.
For five years, Mr. Pasch served first as Senior Gifts Officer and later as the Case Western Reserve Law School’s Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Affairs during the Law School’s Capital Campaign. He helped raise an unprecedented $58 million including a $10 million gift to endow our new Environmental Law Center.
In 2019 Pasch became the Cleveland Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (serving Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania), having previously served on ADL’s Cleveland regional board. He has served in this role during a particularly challenging time with incidents of antisemitism rising 20 percent in Ohio, and 50 percent nationwide in the past year. Mr. Pasch has been highly visible in the media in his fight against discrimination of every kind. “I felt a calling to get off the sidelines in a much more visible way to confront [anti-Semitism and hate crimes] because I think they go to the core of who we are as a local community, as a nation, as a world,” he said in a recent interview. Most recently Pasch launched a pro-bono legal assistance program to assist victims of hate crimes in Ohio.
Mr. Pasch has also distinguished himself as a member of the Beachwood City Council. He has served two terms as a Councilman, including as Vice President and Chair of the Legal Committee. He was recently appointed President of Beachwood City Council. He and his wife, Carly, and their two children, live in Beachwood.
The Distinguished Teacher Award
The recipient of this year's Distinguished Teacher Award is Cassandra Burke Robertson.
This award recognizes full-time, adjunct, or visiting members of the faculty, whose commitment to education and the pursuit of knowledge enriched the personal and professional lives of students. The recipient of this award should be a communicator, a motivator, a scholar, a model and an influence, and a teacher whose personal and intellectual qualities have left their mark on students.
Cassandra Burke Robertson regularly teaches Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility and Secured Transactions, and has also taught Transnational Litigation and Remedies. She directs the law school’s Center for Professional Ethics, whose mission is to explore moral choices across professional lines in a variety of disciplines. Her scholarship focuses on legal ethics and litigation procedure within a globalizing practice of law. She has co-authored a popular casebook in the field of professional responsibility and published articles in the Columbia Law Review, Emory Law Journal and Boston University Law Review, among others.
Within the community, Robertson serves on the board of Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio, a nonprofit organization that works to provide and promote accessible housing solutions for people with physical mobility disabilities. In addition, she serves as one of Ohio’s representatives to the Uniform Law Commission (also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws) and chairs the Appellate Litigation subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Civil Rights Litigation Committee.
Prior to joining the faculty in 2007, Robertson clerked for the Texas Supreme Court and served as Assistant Solicitor General in the Office of the Texas Attorney General. Robertson received a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she also obtained joint master's degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and Public Affairs.
The Joan Gross ’76 Annual Fund Award
The recipient of this year's Joan Gross ’76 Annual Fund Award is Andre Craig (’82).
Established in 2015, and chosen by the School of Law’s Office of Alumni Relations and Development, the Joan Gross ’76 Annual Fund Award is awarded to a member or members of the alumni association at large, who best exemplifies the extraordinary leadership of Joan Gross ’76 through the following award criteria: is an advocate of the law school annual fund, fosters a culture of philanthropy for the law school, volunteers with the law school’s Annual Giving or Development Office, and is a current donor to the annual fund.
Andre Craig ’82 has been employed for the past 30 years as a Corporate Claims Attorney for The Progressive Corporation, providing legal guidance to the New York, New Jersey and Canadian business units. Prior to that time, Andre served as an Assistant Prosecutor and Director of Mediation for the City of Cleveland from 1982 until 1990. He is licensed to practice in New York and Ohio and is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar and Norman S. Minor Bar Associations. He has served the Norman S. Minor Bar Association with its efforts to mentor law minority law students and young lawyers.
Mr. Craig has been a loyal supporter of the School of Law’s annual fund for more than 30 years. He has also provided his time and talent to our students through his work with the Black Law Student Association, by mentoring young attorneys, and in encouraging his company to hire our students as interns.