Just as the UMKC School of Law laid the foundation for their legal careers, Grant Davis (J.D. ’87), Scott Bethune (J.D. ’88) and Tom Jones (J.D. ’88) are hoping their contribution to the E.E. (“Tom”) Thompson Courtroom renovation project will lay the foundation for future graduates to contribute to their alma mater.
The trio, who formed the DBJ law firm in 2001, didn’t hesitate when the Law School sought donations for the $2.3 million project. The firm’s $200,000 gift named Litigation Hall in the courtroom entrance.
“Our goal is to provide opportunities for law students who eventually go to practice, hopefully in the local community, and contribute back to the School as alumni,” Bethune says.
The updated courtroom features state-of-the-art technology, including a large-screen, rear projection video monitor equipped to display documents and video images simultaneously, and equipment to record multiple actions that can be played back, edited for classroom discussion or broadcast via the Internet.
The new courtroom is tri-functional, serving as a working courtroom complete with a jury (and, if needed, the ability to be used for mock and legally binding trials), a classroom and an auditorium for public functions. “The courtroom, built in 1979, needed to be updated and rearranged,” Bethune says. “With the renovations, the new facility will enhance UMKC’s relationship with the Missouri Court of Appeals – Western District and is anticipated to renew working relationships with the Circuit Court through its use as a working courtroom.”
Some of the major technology enhancements include a contemporary audio system (recording, conferencing and presentation), video evidence presentation system (for the display of advanced visual media) camera coverage and a large rear-projection video screen. Bethune explains, “It’s more like the courtrooms practicing lawyers use, and will better prepare students. “UMKC provided us with the foundation and tools to go out and make a difference in people’s lives,” he adds, “so we’re proud to invest in the future of Kansas City’s legal community.”