The Proof of Friendship

A friendship of nearly 25 years ended in February 2020 when Joan Lavine, a frequent visitor to the LMU Loyola Law School Rains Law Library, passed away. 

Lavine was a general practice lawyer. In 1994, she met Daniel Martin at monthly meetings of the Malibu Bar Association. Their friendship deepened through the years, especially after Martin was named director of the Rains Law Library and professor of law in 2005. Lavine often worked on state and federal appeals and frequently used the Rains library for her research. During her visits, Lavine clearly learned much about the law school: One of her final acts was a gift — a $10 million bequest to Loyola Law School.

Martin says Lavine’s gift was not intended to honor herself but to help others.

Lavine, Martin says, “liked what we were doing at the law school — the social justice clinics and the library.” She valued the law school’s hands-on, practical education that prepares students to practice law immediately after graduation.

“A gift to the library, which is central to the law school experience, is a gift to every member of our community,” says Cheryl Kelly Fischer, dean of the Rains Law Library and clinical professor of law. “Gifts such as this help sustain the Rains Library’s ongoing efforts to provide exceptional service alongside physical spaces and online resources.”

Michael Waterstone, dean of the law school, believes the Lavine gift will transform much of the law school’s work. “Ms. Lavine’s legacy will live on at Loyola Law School in perpetuity,” he says. “It will fuel the continued success of our clinics and strengthen our law library and scholarly mission, allowing us to grow the impact of our services and work. And as these investments allow us to continue living out our ambition, they will inspire others to do the same.”

To Elizabeth Bluestein, director of the LLS Social Justice Clinics and associate clinical professor of law, the Lavine bequest will impact clinic programs that carry out the school’s social justice mission. “Bequests like this one,” Bluestein explains, “provide sustainability for our programs and enable us to make longer term commitments to the communities we serve.”

Martin says Lavine not only wanted to support the law school but to honor her father, Morris Lavine, who died in 1982. The elder Lavine was a well-regarded and sometimes controversial Los Angeles defense attorney whose clients included Mickey Cohen, an associate of Bugsy Siegel, and the kidnappers of Frank Sinatra Jr. But the elder Lavine, Martin says, also was a friend of Joseph J. Donovan, S.J., a legendary regent of the law school for nearly 45 years. Joan Lavine told Martin that Donovan even traveled to Washington, D.C., to watch her father argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are grateful to the Lavine family for their enduring legacy through their philanthropy,” says Peter Wilch, senior vice president, University Advancement. “The gift will benefit generations of law students and strengthen the Loyola Law School impact. Mr. Morris’s life and career were transformed by his legal education and the generosity of his daughter Joan will benefit the law school for generations to come.”

Martin says his friendship with Lavine deepened as her health declined in her final months. Her gift, he says, was not intended to honor herself but to help others. “I was pleased that she was able to help Loyola, and I’m glad that we were able to help her make it happen.”

To learn more about and support the LMU Loyola Law School, contact Jamal Barakat, Director of Development, at