Eager second-year law student remembered for sincerity, empathy

Media Credit: Photo courtesy of Kristen Tassone.

Gregory Levine with friend and GW Law School classmate Kristen Tassone. Classmates said they would remember Levine, who was found dead on Nov. 13, as a loyal friend and strong student.

Updated: Nov. 17, 2014 at 2:28 p.m.

Media Credit: Photo courtesy of Kristen Tassone.
Gregory Levine with friend and GW Law School classmate Kristen Tassone. Classmates said they will remember Levine, who died Thursday night, as a loyal friend and and strong student.

Gregory Levine always had time to give his friends a hug or word of encouragement, and was there to actively listen to anyone who needed advice, his classmates said.

The second-year law student was found dead Thursday night in his Jefferson House apartment. Friends and professors remembered the 27-year-old for his kind spirit and dedication to those he loved. When not in class, Levine could be found debating legal issues with enthusiasm and an open mind.

While studying at University of Oxford, he always made sure that no one was left behind, said second-year GW Law School student Kristen Tassone, who studied abroad with Levine this past summer.

“I walk slower than most of our friends, and usually lagged behind, but he would always match his stride to mine to make sure I wasn’t walking alone,” Tassone said. “I don’t really think it ever occurred to him to stay with the group and let me catch up on my own.”

Levine, who lived in Woodmere, N.Y., was interested in international criminal law, including space law. He was a member of 11 student organizations at one point, including the Military Law Society, the Space Law Society and Criminal Law Society. He was also externing with U.S. Army JAG in Fort Belvoir, Va. this semester.

Levine’s family did not yet wish to comment.

Second-year law student Farin Robinson had taken all of her classes with Levine last year, and said they became part of group of a close-knit friends they referred to as the “nerd crew.” She also studied abroad with him in England.

Robinson said Levine was always there for her, whether it was arriving early for oral arguments to calm her down with tea and tai chi or letting her take him to plays around London, even when he had little interest in going.

“He was the only boy who would be like, ‘Yeah, I’ll go see Othello, again,’” she said.

She said in the law school community, it was difficult to find someone who was both as driven and as genuine as Levine. Robinson said she and other friends gathered in an apartment Friday afternoon to talk about Levine and share their favorite memories.

“We all sat around the table and talked about how we were going to miss him and how loved he was,” she said.

Robinson said the first time she and Levine met, he recognized an anime label on her backpack, immediately struck up a conversation and recommended her a list of anime titles.

Last year, Levine participated in a mock trial competition with another law student in the same year, Nnamdi Okoli. But when the results were posted, only Levine’s name was on the board, which meant Levine won but his teammate did not.

Instead of celebrating his own victory, Levine told Okoli that he wished both of them had won.

“He figured that since we were a team, we’d succeed together or fail together,” Okoli said. “But I wanted him to be happy with his victory.”

Okoli said whichever organization Levine joined, he dedicated himself 100 percent to it.

“He knew what he was good at and he was applying it to make the world a better place,” Okoli said. “I should hope that I could be as talented and passionate as he was.”

Before Levine began attending law school in fall 2013, he and his mother stopped by David Johnson’s office to ask if he could participate in the school’s Public Interest and Pro Bono Pre-Orientation program.

“I think that reflects the attitude he brought to law school,” said Johnson, who runs the service-based program.

Levine was scheduled to participate in a mock trial competition sponsored by the American Bar Association this weekend with three other GW students. Johnson said Levine was excited for the event and had stopped by his office several times over the course of the semester to discuss the competition.

“Greg was the driving force behind this team, full of energy and enthusiasm,” Johnson said. “He was a sweet young man, and he will be sorely missed.”

Levine was also the historian of the American Constitution Society for the past two years.

“He was a really great guy, and a really terrific part of our board,” society president David Seidel said. “We will all really miss him.”

Levine was a 2010 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he studied philosophy. He volunteered at the New York Aquarium for about four years and taught at the Aston English School in China during another year.

Dean Blake D. Morant invited members of the law school community to gather in the school’s Faculty Conference Center on Monday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to remember Levine.

“I have spoken with his parents, offered our deepest sympathies, and our desire to provide whatever support is necessary,” Morant said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gregory’s family, his loved ones, and friends.”

The Metropolitan Police Department notified the University about the death and is investigating the case, according to a statement GW released Friday. “At this time, we have no indication that the incident was the result of a criminal act,” the statement read.

The Division of Student Affairs is offering support to Levine’s family and “reaching out directly to support those students most affected by this devastating loss,” according to GW’s statement.

Members of the community can contact the University Counseling Center at 202-994-5300.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly attributed quotes to associate professor David Fontana. It was actually Assistant Dean for Pro Bono & Advocacy Programs David Johnson. We regret this error.

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