More than 300 guests joined Georgia State University College of Law faculty and staff to celebrate and recognize the exceptional service of Sylvia Caley (M.B.A. ’86, J.D. ’89), Cheryl Jester-George, Paul Milich and Roy Sobelson, who are retiring this year.
Caley, clinical professor and co-director of HeLP Legal Services Clinic, has served 11 years as the director of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP), a medical-legal community collaboration among Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the College of Law and the co-director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic, which she helped found.
“Sylvia Caley is a truly gifted teacher, a multi-talented lawyer, an invaluable public servant and an outstanding contributor to our community. She’s earned the trust and respect of everyone she has worked with,” said Charity Scott, the Catherine C. Henson Professor of Law and a founding leader in HeLP.
“Her abilities are unparalleled. With an innovative vision and through years of dedicated effort, Sylvia created the Health Law Partnership with our community collaborators. She made HeLP a national model for medical-legal partnerships, winning praise and awards for the positive impact it has had serving hundreds and hundreds of low income children and their families in Atlanta and throughout the state,” Scott said. “On top of all that she’s run a legislation program giving our students practical experience with nonprofit partners, working on actual bills and legislation. This was just Sylvia’s way of ensuring that the problems of our most vulnerable citizens are resolved on a much broader, system-wide and state-wide basis.”
Caley said the university and College of Law helped make her dreams come true. “Here I received a first-rate education, and was provided the tools necessary to create change,” Caley said.
She also expressed gratitude for her students. “You have enriched me and given me so much more than I have given to you. You helped me fulfill my dreams and in the process helped me touch so many more people than I could have on my own. I will miss all of you, and this wonderful community that we have here; you have given me so very much.”
Sobelson, professor of law and director of the LL.M. Program joined the College of Law faculty in 1985 and served as associate dean for academic affairs. He teaches Professional Responsibility, Civil Procedure and Evidence and has long served as one of the college’s Mock Trial team coaches.
Emily Pittman (J.D. ’05) said she was terrified on her first day of law school, but soon found a wonderful gift in her first year—Professor Sobelson.
“He patiently listened to all my civ-pro questions, he patiently listened as I freaked out over whether I would make Law Review and which law firms to apply to,” she said. “But after he patiently listened to me, he calmed me down and gave me thoughtful and honest advice. He took the time to listen, and that made all the difference.
“I value his advice because I’ve witnessed the way he lives his life, the love that he has for his family and the love that he has for the entire school and legal profession.”
Pittman said Sobelson embodies the traits of a true educator and is compassionate, ethical, loyal and kind. “He is someone who selflessly gives his time and his wisdom to help others shine.”
Sobelson has inspired countless others to exhibit those same traits, Pittman said. “Think of all the people who have mentored others because Professor Sobelson mentored them, think of all the people thinking back to Professional Responsibility class and hopefully making better decisions, and all the people out there who are being a little more kind and a little more compassionate because professor Sobelson showed them that same kindness. That’s his true professional legacy.”
Sobelson said he hopes in some small way he did make law school more bearable for his students. “My former students, you are the music of my life. Just because I’m leaving doesn’t mean I’ll stop listening to that music.”
Milich, professor of law and director of Lawyering Advocacy has been a faculty member at Georgia State Law for 34 years.
Steven J. Kaminshine, professor of law and former dean, read a poem about Milich’s influence at Georgia State Law and beyond.
“It is Evidence and Contracts for which he soon became known, to the Bar he’s ‘Mr. Evidence,’ king of the throne … If one word were used, to explain Paul’s passion and drive, he’d say ‘students, my students, my students must thrive’ … A builder, a lawyer, a man within reach, who is there for his students, and boy did he teach.”
Milich said it’s been an honor to be a part of the College of Law for so many years.
“I’ve always thought of myself as more of a trainer than a professor,” Milich said. Some students may seem him as a tough professor, but he’s hard on them for the benefit of their future clients, he said.
Though he loves teaching, Milich said he’s stepping back from the classroom now that he’s in a position to be able to spend more time with his family and friends. “I’m a happy man and I have had a happy life,” he said. “Here’s the secret to a happy life … put family first.”
Jester-George, senior director of admissions, has served on many panels regarding law school admissions, retention and pipeline initiatives during her more than 30 years of college administration experience in student affairs.
“Dr. Jester-George did a phenomenal job recruiting the best and brightest students and creating a diverse and intellectually strong class year after year. She understands that diversity and quality are synonymous,” said Tanya Washington, professor of law.
Washington said Jester-George goes above and beyond because she loves the students. “She is willing to do any and everything to make sure that their transition and their experience in law school is as positive and enriching as possible. Cheryl is a marvelous person with an infectious personality that makes people feel they are capable of accomplishing anything. What makes Cheryl truly exceptional is her compassion and her enormous capacity to love and bless others with her tremendous talents and gifts.”
Jester-George said law school is about getting to know the people and understanding what the needs are of society.
“Over 36 years of my life has been… becoming a part of each and every one of your lives. If you tell me your name, I can almost remember something about you in your application,” she said. “This has been an awesome experience.”