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by Peter Roth, QC
Peter Roth
Peter Roth QC, GLí77,
was a visiting associate professor at Penn Law School in 1987 and is a former vice-president of PLES.

When a diverse group of lawyers associated with the Law School gathered for dinner in one of Londonís historic Inns of Court in 1983, none imagined that the occasion would plant the seed of what is now the flourishing Penn Law European Society. The occasion was the appointment of Penn Professor of Law John Honnold as the Goodhart Visiting Professor at Cambridge University. Several of his recent LL.M. students decided to celebrate this distinction by holding a dinner in his honour. The Alumni Office provided a list of all those from the United Kingdom who had an association with the Law School. Some had disappeared without trace, but a search through both legal and telephone directories tracked down most of them. The result was that 20 lawyers based in Britain, and one from the Netherlands, gathered with John and Annemarie Honnold in Lincolnís Inn for what was intended as a one-off occasion. When the Inn butler asked what time the dinner would end, I said that it would surely be over by 11 p.m. since most of the guests had never met before. At midnight, when everyone was still talking merrily at the dinner table, they had to be asked to leave so that the Inn staff could go home.

Hon. John Colyer
Hon. John Colyer QC, former PLES President
There was a demand to repeat the occasion the following year, albeit without a visiting Penn professor to celebrate. Annual dinners followed, the event rotating between Lincolnís Inn and the Middle Temple. Those attending were not only alumni Ė British and Irish LLMs as well as American JDs (and a few LLBs) who had come to work in London. There were also those who had taught at Penn (such as John Colyer QC Ė now Judge Colyer) and those who had lectured there (such as Sir Sydney Kentridge QC, an Owen Roberts lecturer in years past). When the ABA held its conference in London in 1985, this group hosted a large reception for visiting American alumni in the Reform Club, which many senior British legal figures attended.

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