Passing the Baton – Barbara Lewis and Linda Ewald Recognized for Commitment to Law School and Legal Profession

On September 6, 2012, the Brandeis School of Law faculty and staff members paid tribute to professors Barbara Lewis and Linda Ewald and celebrated their extraordinary service and connection to the law school. Typical of their humble personalities, they specifically asked that the reception at the University Club be limited only to faculty and staff, although a few others who heard about it through the grapevine showed up. They also asked that no one roast or toast them.  That was honored for the most part.  

Please contact Becky Wimberg if you would like to share letters and notes about these amazing women.


If you add up the total number of years each has been connected to the University of Louisville and the Brandeis School of Law (counting years as students – both received their undergraduate and law degrees from UofL), they have an amazing total of 80 years of loyalty!  And that service is not just demonstrated in quantity (number of years), but quality (what they did).  Both Dean Lewis and Professor Ewald, along with former Dean Donald L. Burnett Jr., in 1996 undertook to prepare the Sesquicentennial History of the law school – “An Aim High and A Vision Broad.” Linda Ewald also played a major role in preparing two other history projects – “50 Year Journey:  Struggle, Progress and Inclusion” in conjunction with the Graduates of Color reunion in 2001 and the women’s history project, which is reflected in Women’s History Classroom, which was dedicated in 2003.


Barbara Buchanan Lewis, retired in 2007, but she still regularly teaches courses for her alma mater.  As a law student in an era with few females, she not only broke ground for others who came after her, but in 1961, she served as a staff member on the first volume of the Journal of Family Law, the predecessor of our Louisville Law Journal. Her career in legal education began at the University of Oklahoma after work with the U.S. Corps of Engineers and other practice experience.  She served on that faculty from 1975 to 1982 (as dean from 1981-1982), returning home to Louisville as dean of the University of Louisville School of Law in 1982, serving in that position until 1990, after which she remained on the faculty teaching in the areas of estate and gift tax and estate planning, and more recently in the area of family law.  

According to Linda Ewald, “she had a reputation for being tough.  She expected students to be on time and well prepared – and she did not tolerate baseball caps in class.  Despite the heavy demands she placed on students, she cared deeply about their success.  She not only taught them about the substantive law, but also about the importance of professionalism.  She was a role model and a mentor.  The Student Bar Association created a special teaching award in her honor the year she retired and expressed their appreciation and respect for her in a tribute at graduation.”

Read more on page 16 of the Alumni Magazine

Her record includes a number of awards and recognition, including the UofL Outstanding Performance Award for Achievement in Affirmative Action, The Law Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, an award from Presentation Academy, the Kentucky Bar Association President’s Special Service Award, and the Law Alumni Fellow Award in 2010.  During her tenure as dean, she provided strong leadership in raising funds for faculty fellowship endowments to recognize and retain outstanding faculty members for their teaching, service, and scholarship.  She also initiated the Warns Labor and Employment Law Institute in 1983, a program that still provides an excellent full day CLE program balancing practical and academic presentations for attorneys in the region.  

As the first female dean of the law school (becoming dean when there were only five other law schools in the country with women deans), she paved the way for two other female deans, Laura Rothstein (2000-2005) and Susan Duncan (L’91, present interim dean).  University of Louisville is the only law school to have had three women serve as dean as an AALS Member law school.  Both of her successors have found her to be a great mentor to them in their work.


Linda Sorenson Ewald, retired in 2011, but has remained at the law school to complete a number of service projects.  A 1972 graduate of the law school, she began teaching in 1976 after receiving an LLM from New York University.  She served as Associate Dean from 1981-1984; 1991-2004.  Her leadership was significant in the creation of the Greenebaum Public Service Program in 1990 and the naming of the law school for Justice Louis D. Brandeis in 1997.  She also played a significant role in developing the plan to renovate the classroom wing and commons area, assisting in fund raising and in providing the primary expertise in ensuring that the classrooms were all beautiful as well as functional.

Read more on page 23 of the Faculty Scholarship Catalog

The courses taught by Linda Ewald have included professional ethics, civil procedure, and domestic relations.  Linda Ewald’s service has focused primarily on issues of professional ethics and she has long provided service as a member of the Kentucky Bar Foundation Board, the KBA Ethics 2000 Commission, the KBA Ethics Commission (serving as both vice-chair and chair over the years), and by speaking at numerous local, state, and national conferences about ethics issues.  Most recently she was tapped by the American Bar Association to study the death penalty in Kentucky and make recommendations about whether there are valid concerns about how it is being implemented.  

Like Barbara Lewis, she has been recognized at every level with awards for her work.  These include the law school’s Distinguished Alum award in 2000 and its Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011, the Kentucky Bar Association Justice Thomas Spain Continuing Legal Education Award, the University of Louisville Lifetime Faculty Service Award, the Jefferson County Women Lawyers’ Association Member of the Year Award, the LBA Judge Benjamin F. Shobe Civility and Professionalism Award, and the KBA President’s Special Service Award.

In 2003, on the occasion of her leaving the position of Associate Dean, where she had served for 17 years, then Dean Laura Rothstein noted, “I don’t know what I would have done without her service at this critical time.  She provided enormous time, talent and energy…and has left her mark on the law school and the university in many ways.”

In addition to their commitment to excellence and their loyalty to the law school and their humility in accepting kudos for their work, Barbara Lewis and Linda Ewald also have in common a strong devotion to the interests of students and staff members.  Both are excellent teachers.  Both played a significant role in ensuring that staff members had a staff lounge where they could relax and take a break.  They also have both focused substantial effort on ensuring diversity within the profession.  Dean Lewis did so through her service on the CLEO board of directors and a number of other national organizations and task forces focused on equal opportunities for women.  Professor Ewald has done so through her work on histories of these underrepresented groups and in many other ways.

The Brandeis School of Law is fortunate indeed, to have had these two amazing individuals as such a significant part of its community.  Not only have they been extraordinary in their work and service, they have also ensured through their mentoring and legacy that the baton has been passed and that others can build on the amazing foundation that they have laid.

- Laura Rothstein – 9/22/12