The 93-year-old former physicist didn’t make the trip. He was now living in Germany with his third wife, having outlived two. The former mayor of Durham did, however, as did the Harvard psychologist. Ann was tired from working on an immigration matter late into the evening before but coaxing from her classmate convinced her to overcome her shyness and join the celebration.

I’d booked my flight from Omaha to Boston; booked before I had gotten my booster, but I knew we’d all be vaccinated. This was a group that had been thinking about others for decades.

Since before the pandemic, Don Green had been investigating our whereabouts and wrangling us to get together. Previously a Boston cop, he’d managed to uncover who was dead, who was vaccinated, and who would be willing to make it to the South End for the 40-year reunion of the Northeastern University Law School class of ‘81.

Don is one of those wonderfully relentless connectors who doesn’t give up on gathering people who think themselves too busy or too tired to try. Instead, they take the thought “We should get together some time” and magically make it happen for the rest of us.

A public interest law school, Northeastern attracted those eager to do good. Many were launching a second career. It was 1978 when we arrived to a class that had more women than men. Our freshman year we took over the dean’s office to demand greater diversity in the school’s hiring practices. (I’m the one wearing the hat in the photo above.) There was no class ranking, but here was a requirement to have 12 months of full-time legal experience to graduate.

In between the lobster roll and the chocolate mousse, triumphs and heartbreaks were met with congratulations and condolences. John, who joked he was working at a dump (a recycling center) when he started law school, went on to negotiate millions for those whose lives had been stolen by wrongful convictions. Barbara, who’d lost her sweet son to suicide at twenty-two shared, “You’ve got to talk about it.”

Some became judges. Others advocated endlessly for the homeless. Many like me found other meaningful paths after the practice of law. Each inspired me to be more like Don and exercise a bit more grit to surround myself with those who fill me with enthusiasm of a first-year law student just wanting to do good.

Thank you, Class, of ‘81.

Coach Koenig

Who have you been thinking about connecting with?

Do you remember a time of your life when you were filled with extreme enthusiasm?

How do the people around you inspire you?

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