Legal Grounds

Investing in the future of law SCU: Meet the new Charney Hall

The way Howard Charney MBA ’73, J.D. ’77 sees it, given the changing landscape of legal education, universities have three options. One, get out of the market. Two, stay the course. Three, double down.

Santa Clara made the call to double down—and to make the legal education the University offers vital and unique. And Charney helped.

With its sleek design and state-of-the-art facilities, the Howard S. and Alida S. Charney Hall of Law is a bold investment in the future of law at Santa Clara University. Funded in part by a $10 million lead gift by the Charneys, the 96,000-square-foot building broke ground in August 2016 and, with its steel beams rising, the building is already staking its claim in the SCU skyline, on track for a 2018 opening.

“We believe that it will be a new 21st-century home for a law school in Silicon Valley,” Charney said at the groundbreaking.

The new facility is designed to serve up to 650 J.D. and 100 non-J.D. students. It is open and flexible, a modern, eco-friendly interpretation of the University’s signature Mission-style architecture. Charney Hall will offer collaborative spaces for integrated learning and research including a digital Knowledge Center, the Panelli Courtroom, and Distinguished Interview Rooms for students to meet with employers.

“As the local economy and the world economy have evolved to high tech, so has Santa Clara Law,” President Michael Engh, S.J. says. “Charney Hall will raise its visibility. It’s going to strengthen its competitiveness, and it’s going to help Santa Clara Law lead at the intersection of law, technology, business, justice, and ethics.”


Howard Charney MBA ’73, J.D. ’77 is an executive at Cisco. Illustration by Kyle Hilton

With mindful architecture and green technology, the building will actually reduce operating costs, Charney points out, but it’s an investment all the same. The law school’s vision—embodied in its new home—is a commitment to what thrives at Santa Clara: expertise in the complexities of the digital age, the expanding reach of bioengineering, and the unfolding possibilities of nanotechnology. “We’re focusing on areas that we believe the law school can be without peer in the United States, if not the world,” Charney says. “We believe in our heart of hearts that they will serve us well as we go forward.”

Its physical footprint puts Charney Hall in good company. It brushes shoulders with the Leavey School of Business and Vari Hall, home of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the political science department. And it’s in the same location as the third site of Mission Santa Clara in the 1780s.

“It’s on a spot that’s historic and looks to the future in terms of the advance of legal thought, education, technology, and greater collaboration,” President Engh says. “This new professional district will encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation as well as greater opportunity for engagement with the community.”

post-image Topping off Charney Hall: The new home for the School of Law. People involved in planning and construction were invited to sign the ceremonial beam. Zoom in to see the names! View full image. Photo by Joanne Lee
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