In a career of many momentous days, Thursday evening's Alumnus of Distinction dinner must have struck the honoree, Robert H. Traurig, JD '50, as a particularly important occasion, one to remember with fondness.
The award, given by Miami Law's Alumni Association to some of its most notable and accomplished members, was conferred upon Traurig – a founder of the Greenberg Traurig law firm in 1967, now one of the largest in the United States – during an elegant dinner at the Biltmore Hotel that was attended by hundreds of his friends, colleagues and admirers, and with his family close to his side.
"He is a most worthy recipient of this award," said Jerry M. Markowitz, JD '74, chairman of the Alumnus dinner and former president of the Law Alumni Association, describing the "tremendous career of a fabulous human being."
Miami Law Dean Patricia D. White had a surprise for Traurig when she announced that, thanks to a substantial gift from the Greenberg Traurig firm, the law school's Graduate Program in Real Property Development will be renamed in his honor. The program, designed for recent law school graduates and for practitioners interested in fine-tuning their practice, is to be called the Robert Traurig/Greenberg Traurig Graduate Program in Real Property Development.
Dean White said that Traurig, whose specialty was land-use matters, had made an "extraordinary contribution to this community," and that it was essential that Miami have a great university "that produces people like Bob Traurig."
In a video about Traurig's career, he was called "the dean of zoning," someone who "influenced every significant land-use case in Miami." The term "Magic City" was born in the wake of his efforts, the video's narration said.
Finally, with applause echoing off the walls, Traurig made his way to the podium. "This is a glorious evening," Traurig told the crowd. "It hardly seems possible that more than 40 years have passed since we formed this law firm."
Then, as is customary with this modest man, he deflected the attention, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson's dictum, "All are needed by each one; Nothing is fair or good alone," from the poem "Each and All." Traurig said that any success the law firm might have enjoyed was "the result of hard work and diligence and teamwork," and thanked all those who had "done so much for the firm." He also expressed his gratitude to the administration and staff of the law school.
"Thanks to all of you who have meant so much to the law school and to me personally," Traurig concluded, prompting a standing ovation from the crowd, whose tables and menus were decorated with something dear to the honoree – planning maps.