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Hearsay: Talking about BC Law

Q&A with Joseph M. Vanek ’87.


Over his 35-year legal career, Joe Vanek has insisted upon giving back as much as he received during his time at BC Law. Vanek, a partner at Sperling & Slater PC, reflected on his support for BC and how BC Law grads can meet the challenges facing the world today.

What brought you to BC Law in the first place? I went to my undergraduate school with the goal of becoming a lawyer. Having lived on the East Coast a bit growing up, BC was a very attractive option.

What inspired you and your family to establish the Vanek Family Scholarship Fund? The benefits of my education at BC Law and a desire to give back. Having the money go to scholarships is really a statement about our concern over the rising cost of education and the lack of affordability. I’ve been very active over the years in helping BC Law grads get jobs. My involvement is really focused on helping the students, which is reflected in the purpose of the scholarship.

What led you and your wife, Laura, to make a planned gift to BC Law?
We found planned gifts from a retirement account to be attractive for a number of reasons—they’re a tax-efficient way to support a meaningful cause and ensure a structure exists to make sure our charitable goals are realized.

Do you find it rewarding to stay involved with BC Law and support students? I really do—it helps me give back a little bit and gives me a better understanding of all the very interesting and good things the school is doing. Not only for the students, but also the global community. I feel like I get personally enriched as a result of thinking and learning about things I would otherwise never have considered.

What’s it like working alongside BC Law grads? Terrific! Currently, I have three BC alums I work with. They have a good sense of the purpose of lawyers and the ethics of serving as an advocate for their client, while remaining mindful of their role as an officer of the court.

How can BC Law graduates meet the challenges of the country and the world today? An unfortunate impact of cell phones is that people stay in their own world more, and that world can be self-reinforcing as the algorithms feed individuals material that only supports and doesn’t challenge their views.

BC Law grads can help by maintaining and encouraging the practice of civil discourse and rational argument. It’s the process of discourse, letting everyone express their views and hearing out their arguments, that will solve the world’s problems—both the issues of today, and those of tomorrow. It’s about fostering the dialogue that occurs on campus and bringing that beyond BC.

Joe’s decision to make a planned gift to BC Law allows us to celebrate his generosity during his lifetime through membership in the Shaw Society. To learn more, please visit or contact the Office of Gift Planning at 877-304-SHAW or