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Back(pack) To Where It All Began

By Lauren Karch

Jim Rice, Michael Anderson and Bill Barney helped the University of Dayton School of Law reach new heights while they were students there.

But what really connected them were other kinds of elevations they navigated.

“Because we couldn’t afford lavish vacations in law school, we started backpacking,” said Anderson.

A lot has changed for the three friends in the more than 40 years since, but what hasn’t are those annual treks.

"We have a very long-standing friendship that culminates each year with us putting our backpacks on and climbing up high to some lake in Colorado or somewhere," said Rice.

Before they were backpacking buddies, Rice, Anderson and Barney were classmates. They began law school in the fall of 1974, the year the University of Dayton Law School re-opened. The University had previously operated a law school in the 1920’s and 30’s.

“It was so small and intimate, you got to know a lot of people,” said Rice, of the first graduating UDSL class.

He and Anderson met as Moot Court partners, helping to launch UDSL’s first competitive Moot Court team. The two won the regional competition, which had previously been dominated by teams from Case Western and Ohio State University, and won the divisional round in 1976. In 1977, Rice and Anderson won the divisional conference and placed third in the national Moot Court championship, a competition of 140 law schools judged by Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White.

“Us going to nationals and performing well, it really put UD on the map as a new law school,” remembered Anderson.

Rice and Anderson were recognized at their graduation by Dean Richard Braun for their work in Moot Court, and Anderson was the recipient of the Outstanding Law Student award for the class of '77.

In addition to spending time in the classroom with each other, Rice, Anderson and Barney worked together in the summers on Barney’s family’s home in Nantucket. Soon the three began traveling to other locales and that’s when the backpacking tradition started.

Their first trips led to travels across the western states, into the Canadian Rockies, and to Cape Cod and other fly fishing destinations. Many of the backpacking trips were to Colorado, with a recent trek to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Over the years, the backpacking trips grew in size, with the three men bringing along other classmates, spouses and family.

“We have our own businesses and live on other ends of the country, so we do these trips to stay together,” said Barney. “We always exchange little emails for this and that, go to each others’ children's weddings and the occasional birthday, but it’s nice to get away.“

All three men say their outdoor adventures gave them a chance to stay connected as their careers went in different directions.

Bill Barney resides in Troy, Ohio and serves as a director with Auman, Mahan & Furry in Dayton. His practice focuses on workers' compensation cases for area hospitals, manufacturing facilities, utilities and service companies. He’s been with the firm for 26 years and plans to retire this spring.

Michael Anderson practiced law briefly after graduation, before going into financial work. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago then served as president of a family-run energy company for several years before entering the investment industry. He worked in limited partnerships and later mutual funds. In 2008 he retired from Fidelity Investments, where he ran offshore and pension programs internationally. Anderson also served on UDSL’s advisory board with Dean Lisa Kloppenberg, and advocated fiercely for UD’s unique Two-Year J.D. program.

Anderson credits his experience at UDSL for his fascination with the Socratic Method.

“The analytical thought process and knowing how to advocate both sides of an issue really helped me in the business world,” he said.

Jim Rice worked for a Dayton law firm upon graduation, then moved to Oregon to pursue civil litigation and later worked on police cases for the City of Portland. Today, he works for Multnomah County, Oregon as a litigation manager.

Rice encourages law students and new lawyers to continue pursuing interests and studies outside of the law -- especially those areas that rely on narrative.

"I think trials are like short stories: you have a beginning, middle and end - and great opening lines in a lawsuit are really important,” he said. “I'm putting on a small play with no firm script, only an outline.”

For these three former classmates, the story is one of a lifelong appreciation of adventure and friendship.

“It’s something we all love, and it’s a challenge,” said Anderson of their hiking tradition. “Plus, we see a lot of Millennials on the trails, and we’re still beating them up the mountain.”

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