The clock is creeping near 9 a.m. in Superior, Colorado, a former mining town squatting midways between Boulder and Denver. MacKenzie, a 3-year-old Siberian Husky, and Monty (short for Mountain King), a 7-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, are getting antsy for their morning outing.
As he does most days in his Western digs, Laurence Rose, professor of law emeritus and director of Miami Law’s Litigation Skills Program, prepares for 30 minutes of mayhem as walking two dogs with different agendas can be.
Lonny Rose with wife Amy in Colorado
A Lifetime Specializing in Litigation Skills
Rose is used to balancing two sides of any agenda as he has had one of the most esteemed careers in litigation skills preparing for both sides of any argument. He was President/CEO of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy from 2007-2010, after having served as NITA's executive director from 1999-2006 and associate director from 1986-1992.
Rose even received the Robert B. McKay Law Professor Award, given by the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, the most distinguished award given to law professors who have shown commitment to the advancement of justice, scholarships, and the legal profession, demonstrated by outstanding contributions to the fields of tort and insurance law.
Since Childhood, Drawn to Nature and the Law
While the tranquil Rockies seem like a far cry from Rose’s career as a litigation skills expert, Lonny, as he is called by friend and foe, is a nature boy for life. Growing up in East Meadow, Long Island, he spent as much of his youth as possible at the beaches 10 minutes from home base. “We surfed, we fished, we did anything that kept us at the shore,” he says. But he long had it in his mind to pursue the law.
"I always, always knew I would be a lawyer,” he says, “though because I had such great role models in public school in New York, I also thought I would like to be a teacher. It wasn’t until law school that it dawned on me that I could do both.”
Rose stayed close to home for his bachelor degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and not much farther for his J.D. from New York University School of Law, where he was business editor of the NYU Law Review.
A clerkship with Chief Judge James S. Holden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont exposed Rose to the wonders of living in wild and natural places.
“I always loved downhill skiing,” says the Sam Elliot lookalike, “but in winter, you could strap on cross-country skis and be out the front door and through the trees most anytime you had 30 minutes to spare.”
Move from Private Practice to Teaching Law
After a stint in private practice, Rose served on the faculty of the University of Kansas School of Law for 14 years, leaving New England behind and trading his skis for lake sailing.
At one point in his tenure, he connected with the incoming athletic director and spent four years on both sides of the net: half-time teaching law and the other half as an assistant athletic director working on NCAA compliance issues, reviewing contracts, personnel decisions and anything else legal the perennially top-ranked Jayhawks needed from him.
In 1990, Miami Law came calling, where he served as vice dean for the law school from 1995 until 1999, during which he was awarded the 1998 Richard S. Jacobson Award for Excellence in Teaching Trial Advocacy from the Roscoe Pound Foundation.
Leading and Transforming Miami Law’s Lit Skills Program
In 2010, he was named director of the Litigation Skills Program, an idea germinated by Professor Michael Graham. With Rose at the helm, the program has grown to an adjunct faculty of more than 75 highly experienced trial attorneys and judges, from both state and federal courts, who assist with lectures, demonstrations, trial, and pre-trial courses.
Unlike most law schools that typically teach trial advocacy as an intensive course delivered over a short period of time, Miami Law's Lit Skills Program offers a comprehensive litigation skills course open to all students who wish to participate, Rose says, including both trial and pretrial skills and far more hours. Almost seventy percent of Miami Law students enroll in the courses.
Life Between Miami and the Mountains
Miami Law seems far away some days but Rose is engaged daily by phone and email, positioning for the Spring semester that looms ever nearer, and he darts in and out of Miami often seeing his granddaughter, son, daughter-in-law, and daughter (Miami Law’s own Emily Horowitz).
Colorado has always beckoned since a first visit there decades ago. “I loved Vermont but, in winter, it has limited sun. Here it is sunny year-round, and the skiing is miles better,” he says. “But Colorado and Vermont share a very similar outdoorsy and mellow vibe.”
At day’s end, Amy, Lonny’s wife, is back from her day as a nurse practitioner. From their open-air porch, the sun is starting to sink over the Rocky Mountains, 60s rock is playing on the Spotify, Grey Goose vodka is cold in the glasses, and a couple of dogs are tuckered at their feet.