Missouri Supreme Court Judges and National Judiciary among Featured Speakers at Orientation 2016

WashuLaw-150th Convocation - August 22, 2016

The Missouri Supreme Court judiciary shared insightful and energizing commentary with the 150th entering class  a Convocation Ceremony in Graham Chapel. The ceremony officially launched a 16-month celebration of  Washington University School of Law’s 150th anniversary. 

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  • 150th Entering Class Photo Download  

Dean Nancy Staudt, the Howard & Caroline Cayne Professor of Law, greeted the incoming class, which represents 41 states and 30 countries. “You are an incredibly talented group,” Staudt said, urging the law students to “learn together, lead together, and change the world together.” 

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton provided historical highlights about WashULaw, including the school's early commitment to a strong and diverse entering class. “From the earliest years, we have had a common commitment to excellence,” Wrighton said. “You are an example of our bright future and our commitment to training an accomplished and diverse student body.”

Wrighton joined Provost Holden Thorp in presenting each member of the Missouri Supreme Court with a medallion, commemorating their visit and offering appreciation for their  dedication to justice and the legal community. In turn, each justice offered words of advice to the incoming class.

  • Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge praised the school’s commitment to diversity as well as its clinical programs. “I urge you to embrace Washington University’s sense of collegiality and collaboration, which will be crucial to your success,” she said. 
  • Judge Zel M. Fischer reminded students that the law was not just a job but a calling. He also stressed the importance of being open-minded about science and its contribution to justice. “I want your heart to yearn for justice,” Fischer said. “You can make a difference, even as a law student.”
  • Judge Laura Denvir Stith urged students to seek a sense of civility and to cling to the ideals that led them to pursue a legal career. “It will help you keep your perspective. It will help you experience the satisfaction of being of service to others,” she said. “It’s not too early to think about the legacy you want to leave.”
  • Judge George W. Draper III, whose daughter, Chelsea Draper, graduated from WashULaw in 2012, offered three pieces of advice: Avoid procrastination, push beyond your comfort zone, and build a strong foundation in the basics. “You cannot play jazz until you master the scales,” he said.
  • Judge Richard B. Teitelman, JD ’73, recalled his days at WashULaw when professors, notably David. M. Becker, help him, as a legally blind student, achieve success. “Know that this school has wonderful services. If you need them, seek them out. The professors are there for you,” he said.
  • Judge Mary R. Russell suggested that students stick to their moral code and remain flexible on their career path. As a first-year student, Russell said. “I was certain of one thing: I never, never, ever wanted to be in a courtroom. … Now 30-plus years later, I’m still in a courtroom. Keep an open mind about opportunities that will present themselves to you while you’re here at law school. … And never say ‘never.’ ”
WashuLaw- JD Orientation - August 22, 2016

Members of the incoming class seemed to take the advice to heart. As a native of East St. Louis and graduate of the University of Missouri, Kayla Loveless said she was most inspired by Judge Draper’s words. “I think this will be a great place to stretch my comfort zone and push beyond my limits,” she observed. 

Claire Raycraft earned her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., so Judge Fischer’s focus on technology resonated with her. “Sometimes, you think science is removed from the law,” said Raycraft, who plans to focus on intellectual property. “It’s nice to hear that it’s essential. His message was powerful.”

Caleb Trimm, a graduate of the State University of New York - Purchase College, found a recurring theme in each of the judges’ messages that hit home. “Know your moral values,” he said. “And stick with them.”

WashuLaw- JD Orientation - Missouri Judges - August 22, 2016

Another major highlight of the day was small group discussions with other prominent members of the judiciary, facilitated by faculty members and upper-class student ambassadors. Participating judges were: Justice Richard Bernstein, Michigan Supreme Court; Justice Michael Cherry, JD ’69, Supreme Court of Nevada; Judge Audrey Fleissig, JD ’80, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri; Judge Raymond Gruender, BS ’84, JD/MBA ’87, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; Judge Jean Hamilton, JD ’71, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri; Judge Mark Hornak, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania; Judge Carol Jackson, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri; Judge Catherine Perry, JD ’80, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri; and Judge John Ross, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

At the end of the sessions, the judges and entering students convened in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom, where the student ambassadors recapped highlights. Student presenters were:Ben Shantz, Jacob Franchek, Jessica Quintero, Elizabeth Garcia-Dominguez, Nick Goldin, Jim Havel, Sasha Arnold, Emily Hutson, Caroline Spore, andSarah Noonan

Professors Daniel Epps and Rachel Sachs also gave inspirational advice to the entering students. In addition to Epps and Sachs, faculty facilitators for the small group sections included Professors Daniel Keating, Pauline KimNeil RichardsAdam RosenzweigHillary SalePeggie Smith, and Karen Tokarz. As members of the Judicial Clerkship Committee, Epps, Richards, and Sachs helped coordinate the day's events. 

By Kathleen Nelson, Fall 2016; Photos by Mary Butkus