College of Law | Spring 2023
Season 2023 Episode 19 | 1h 43m 25s | Video has closed captioning.
College of Law - Spring 2023 Commencement Ceremony from Breslin Center.
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Season 2023 Episode 19 | 1h 43m 25s | Video has closed captioning.
College of Law - Spring 2023 Commencement Ceremony from Breslin Center.
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
(light jazz music) - Graduates, families, and friends, it is my distinct honor and privilege to welcome all of you to the 2023 commencement of the MSU College of Law in this our 132nd year of continuous operation.
Founded in 1891 as the Detroit College of Law, MSU College of Law was the first law school in Detroit.
Detroit College of Law affiliated with Michigan State University in 1995.
The law college achieved full integration with MSU in 2020.
This is the 26th year that we have held commencement ceremonies on the MSU campus.
Today, we welcome our 2023 Juris Doctor, Master of Laws, Master of Legal Studies, and Master of Jurisprudence graduates to our MSU law alumni ranks.
- [Attendee] Yeah!
(audience cheering) - Absolutely.
We thank all who helped them to reach this day.
We do live in unusual times, but your faith in the future brings us hope today and tomorrow.
We collectively acknowledge that Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg - Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples.
In particular, the university resides on land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.
We recognize, support, and advocate for the sovereignty of Michigan's 12 federally recognized Indian nations for historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those who were forcibly removed from their homelands.
By offering this land acknowledgement, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold Michigan State University more accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous people.
(audience applauding) The national anthem.
And now our national anthem will be led by a very talented member of the graduating class, Kendall J. Freeman.
(audience cheering) Will everyone please stand?
♪ O', say can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight's last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ That our flag was still there ♪ ♪ O' say does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O'er the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home of the brave ♪ (audience cheering) Please remain standing.
Thank you, Kendall, that was fantastic.
Today we bring together our graduates along with their families and friends to honor you and your accomplishments.
We gather today while being mindful that our community is still mourning the violence our community experienced on February 13th.
It may feel uncomfortable to celebrate while that occasion still consumes so many of our thoughts and feelings.
We are dedicated to supporting everyone who was affected by this event, including the students who were injured, who were witnesses to the violence, the families of those who were injured or died, as well as all of us in the MSU community.
As we begin to shift to a celebration of your accomplishments, let us pause for a moment of silence to consider how we can live our lives in a way that honors all Spartans, including those who are no longer with us.
You may be seated.
I'd like to begin our ceremony by recognizing the College of Law community.
I will start with the faculty who have dedicated their professional lives to the education of our students and who helped make this day special.
They have been our graduates' constant intellectual and professional guides and their mentors.
Our faculty is remarkably accomplished.
Their teaching is rigorous and their scholarship distinguished.
They are also committed to professional and public service and serve as role models for our students.
We have been honored to have you as our students.
In time, your faculty will become your colleagues, your friends, and we are confident, like family, who eagerly await news of your journeys.
Will the members of the faculty on the stage today please stand and be recognized.
(audience applauding) We are also honored to have Interim Provost, Thomas Jeitschko, who oversaw the integration of the College of Law, previously a private school, into the university as a full college in 2020.
Thank you for being with us today.
(audience applauding) Also on stage are our keynote speaker for today, the Honorable Judge Sean Cox, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
He is a 1983 graduate of our law college.
The school was renamed when it moved to Michigan State University in 1995.
Please stand, Judge Cox.
(audience applauding) Also with us is Courtney Gabbara, graduate of the class of 2012, who is an associate attorney in Cole, Stoker, and Toski and also president of the MSU Law Alumni Association.
(audience applauding) And last but not least, we have the proud representatives of the class of 2023.
(audience applauding) Thank you, you may be seated.
I'm pleased to say just a few words to this amazing graduating class.
Last year as I delivered my first commencement remarks as dean of this remarkable College of Law, we were all still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 impacted people in different ways.
Unlike any other class before it, you began your law school experience entirely online when you were hoping to come together as a class, but you were home as individuals, many of you alone during this challenging time.
When we returned to face-to-face instruction in fall 2021, our circumstances were still constrained.
We were unable to have the kind of face-to-face social and community events that are part and parcel of a rich legal education.
Nonetheless, you not only survived, you thrived.
And slowly but surely week by week, you connected as law school classmates do.
You began to study together in our common spaces and spent time getting acquainted with your interests in law and in life.
And I'm so glad that you did because the legal profession is a community.
A community that comes together to provide access to justice.
Lawyers use their knowledge, skill, and trust to help resolve disputes, move beyond stalemates, dispel tensions, and bring resources together.
You built this foundation at MSU Law.
And while here, you did amazing things.
You obtained asylum for a Cuban family that was fleeing political persecution.
You represented two families that are seeking asylum in Chicago from Afghanistan.
You obtained lawful permanent residence for four Cuban clients and two from Mexico.
You taught high school students about the First Amendment and about the practice of courts citing slavery cases in their contemporary decisions.
You argued in moot court competitions in New York City, Newark, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, DC, and closer to home in East Lansing.
You also participated in arbitration competitions.
You hosted an expungement fair and academic conferences.
You conducted research on exonerations.
You represented clients in court to help them avoid evictions.
You completed externships with state and federal judges, legal aid clinics, and public defender offices.
One of you will be a fellow at the California Tribal Families Coalition.
(audience cheering) You've received awards from organizations such as the Wolverine Bar Association, the Women's Bar Association, and others.
You are to be congratulated and you are now on your way to amazing professional success as lawyers.
And our country and our world need you in this moment more than ever.
There are many problems and opportunities that my generation left yours to solve.
We have some obvious ones that aren't going away and will continue to preoccupy law and society.
The meaning and scope of equal justice under law in the context of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, and poverty, just to name a few areas.
We mourned that it took the recorded eight minute murder of George Floyd to remind us that race and police use of deadly force remain critical issues in America.
There are other issues.
The right to make reproductive decisions, the line between permissible and impermissible speech, the regulation of healthcare systems, as well as the obligation to assess the inequities that exist in those systems.
Climate change, the regulation of the environment.
These are the existing issues and they remain.
But there are emerging issues for your generation of lawyers and you will be the leaders who help us to decide how we go forward in new areas of law.
The creation and regulation of new forms of energy, such as tidal and wave power, ocean thermal, and energy from sewage byproducts, methane, big data issues including bias, informed consent, and privacy, and the ownership of data.
The data divide, an inequity between those who have the resources to use complex data sets and those who do not.
And I didn't forget the ongoing challenges in the regulation of financial institutions and market new technology such as blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
You will solve these challenges together.
You will define the future legal landscape for these new challenges and many more.
If past is prologue, you will go on to careers in business, public service, government, and educational institutions.
Your work will take you to over half the states in the United States as well as to Canada and other foreign countries.
You'll be involved in civil rights, public defense, prosecution, immigration law, legal services for the poor, and those with disabilities, environmental law, and many areas of business and corporate regulation.
Law firms from small to large have already welcomed you to their offices.
And I know that some of you are thinking even now about opening your own practice.
Six of you will work in the federal service as federal clerks in the United States Department of Justice Honors Program, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the Internal Revenue Service.
Stay in touch with us, stay in touch with each other, celebrate your successes and lean on each other and on us in the difficult times.
We are so proud of you.
Remember that it is a privilege and an honor to serve as a member of the legal profession.
Remember that you have an obligation to be the best that you can be in that role as well as an obligation of pro bono service to your community.
You came to us as outstanding individuals and we have done our best to prepare you for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Embrace that, but don't forget that we need your involvement as alums to be the best that we can be as a college of law.
With you as an enduring part of our Michigan University, Michigan State University College of Law community, the best is yet to come for Michigan State University College of Law.
(audience applauding) Thank you, thank you.
It is now my pleasure to introduce Interim Provost, Thomas Jeitschko.
Interim Provost Jeitschko played an integral role in the full integration of the College of Law into Michigan State University.
(audience applauding) - Thank you, Dean Greene.
It's a pleasure and an honor to join you today as we celebrate this capstone moment with our newest Michigan State University College of Law graduates.
Congratulations to each of you.
Our congratulations are accompanied by an intense feeling of pride.
Your impressive scholarly achievements culminate today in the conferral of a degree along with the conferral of our great faith, our hope, and our pride in what you will now do with your knowledge and capabilities.
Over the course of your studies, you have demonstrated admirable perseverance, commendable poise, and undeniable academic prowess, earning your degree during a time that presented our university community with a number of unique challenges.
We hope that your education and experiences here at MSU will have given you a strength of character that you will carry long into the future and that prepared you well for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
Much like your college and its storied history, each of you have come a long way.
You have been forward thinking as you have expanded your horizons and because of your drive and vision, you have a bright and promising future.
Each of you will forever be part of the College of Law and Michigan State University, both of which are committed to fostering academic excellence and making a transformative impact for the greater good.
As you all know by this point, the caliber and capabilities of the faculty, staff, and fellow students you have learned from and with during your studies here at MSU are what make our collective future and your individual future bright.
You, our newest graduates, now continue the college's legacy extending your new knowledge in ways that will advance the greater good and work to address the world's most pressing problems.
The world needs you and the skills you have acquired during your course of study and all of us at MSU look forward to learning about your many future accomplishments.
Each of you is now an ambassador of MSU and the College of Law, representing our missions, our values, and our aspirations as you enter the next chapter of your lives.
As you take your next step, the value of your MSU degree will be an asset that serves you well now and throughout your career in whatever direction it may take you.
And while we all recognize that the degree that you have earned is an academic mark, being a graduate of the MSU College of Law means much more because of the connections that you've made here with your fellow students, with faculty and staff.
Indeed, you now join a much larger family of worldwide Spartan graduates, over half a million in total, living Spartan graduates.
And I encourage you to stay engaged with the life of the university and to come back often to visit.
As we send you forth into the world, we are counting on you to tackle the seemingly intractable challenges we face both locally and globally.
We have every confidence in your abilities as we honor your scholarly success on this auspicious day, your graduation from the Michigan State University College of Law.
Best wishes to you all and go green!
(audience cheering) - Thank you so much.
Judge Sean F. Cox was nominated by President George W. Bush in September, 2004, and he began his career as a United States District Judge on June 12th, 2006.
He has served as chief judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan since February 21st, 2022.
A native of Detroit, Judge Cox earned his Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law, now MSU College of Law, in 1983.
He went on to become an associate in the prominent Detroit law firm of Kitch, Suhrheinrich, Saubier & Drutchas.
Indeed, he was hired by Richard Suhreinrich, who has a long, prestigious connection with the Detroit College of Law and played a critical role in bringing the Detroit College of Law to the MSU campus.
In 1990, he joined Cummings, McClorey, Davis, and Acho in Livonia, where he became a partner and specialized in medical malpractice, products liability, and other cases.
In 1996, Michigan Governor Judge Engler appointed him to a vacancy on the Wayne County Circuit Court where he won retention elections in 1996, 1998, and 2004.
In his time on the federal bench, he has been involved in several high profile cases, including one that started in 1997 when the federal government sued Detroit Water and Sewage Department to stop the sewage treatment plant from polluting the Detroit River.
Eventually, Judge Cox was asked to mediate these issues after Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013.
His work helped establish the Great Lakes water treatment.
His work helped establish the Great Lakes Water Authority, which now oversees water and sewage treatment for Detroit and southeast Michigan.
Judge Cox is a former president of the Livonia Bar Association and served on the state bar of Michigan Judicial Qualifications Committee from 1992 to 1996.
He served as chair of the disciplinary panels for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission and wrote opinions on disciplinary issues.
He has also served as a visiting professor of evidence at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and is a member of the Board of Trustees for Detroit Catholic Central High School.
Please join me in welcoming Chief Judge Sean Cox, welcoming him home.
(audience applauding) - First of all, good morning.
You don't sound awake.
Let's try it one more time.
- [Audience] Good morning.
- Hey, this is a big day for you, you gotta enjoy it.
First of all, thank you, Dean Greene, for that very kind introduction and I am truly honored and humbled to be here on this very special occasion.
I say honored because I'm a proud graduate of this great law school and have tremendous respect for MSU's record of producing excellent lawyers who lead change and transform lives.
I say humbled because I was not exactly at the top of my class, just your average law student.
Quite frankly, I'm sure some of my old law professors are rolling in their graves right now with the thought of me giving a commencement address here.
(audience chuckling) So perhaps there's a kernel of truth in the old adage.
A students become law professors, B students become judges, and C students go out and make a lot of money.
(students cheering) So let me begin by acknowledging the reason why we're all here today.
You, our remarkable graduates.
This is a tremendous achievement and you should all be very, very, very proud of yourselves.
(audience applauding) I would also like to recognize the family and friends of our graduates.
Last year, I sat where you're seated right now attending my son's graduation from law school and I know and I share in the immense pride that you are feeling here today.
So congratulations family and friends.
(audience applauding) To the faculty and staff that are behind me here today and out in the center, I think our graduates would agree that they are where they are today in large part because of you, because of your commitment to mentoring and supporting them as they pursue their dreams.
And to the MSU leaders, the Board of Trustees, and other honored guests such as my old friend, my good friend Eric Sabree, it's wonderful to share and celebrate this special day with you.
Forty years ago, I graduated from our school.
It was a bit different back then.
Not only did it have a different name, but it was also located in a different location, downtown Detroit.
But what has remained constant through the years is this school's commitment to access and opportunity.
MSU's history of offering an excellent legal education to people of all backgrounds and experience connects with the history of my own family.
Like some of you, I was the first in my family to complete college and law school.
I came from an immigrant working class family.
My mother and father had very limited educational opportunities.
Both of my parents came from the united, came to the United States from Ireland.
It took my father several attempts before he was finally accepted into this country.
And for my father, it was not the easiest of transitions.
My father left his homeland because he was discriminated against because he was a Catholic.
Six months after his arrival, he found himself fighting on behalf of his new country at the front lines of the Korean War at times in knife-to-knife combat and often with snipers picking off members of his squad.
My father made it back from the war, but he still experienced discrimination because he was foreign born.
At that time, if you were foreign born, many felt you were a communist.
Unfortunately, too many of our immigrants still experience discrimination here today.
Nevertheless, like many of you, he found what here, what he lacked in his home country, the opportunity to build a better life for himself, and more importantly, for his family.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to impose order on a past that was uncertain and unclear at the time.
But because of my father's experiences, I believe he, in part, put me on the path to a legal career even if he didn't know it and I didn't know it at the time.
My father exhibited so many qualities that would serve any lawyer well, including being a very hard worker and having boundless curiosity.
Not only did he work six to seven days a week, 12 hours a day as a carpenter, starting with when he was age 14, but he was also a a unique type of construction worker who could make historical references about Winston Churchill, who could cite the poetry of Robert Burns and Kipling.
In fact, my dad would read Kipling to my brothers and me.
I credit my father with helping to cultivate the work ethic, the curiosity and resilience needed to succeed in the law.
And yet, despite all his wisdom, he couldn't fully prepare me for law school.
The truth is, I had a very little idea of what I was getting myself into when I went to law school.
Maybe some of you had felt the same way when you started law school as well.
In fact, for me, the first lawyer that I met was the first law professor that I had during my first day of law school.
Coming from a family of construction and factory workers, I found myself navigating a new and unfamiliar social and professional landscape.
At times, maybe some of you felt the same way.
I felt disoriented and uncertain and I still felt that way around the time of my graduation.
Again, some of you might feel apprehensive today.
I did when I graduated as well.
So if you will indulge me, I'd like to share a little bit more about myself with you and, in particular, several lessons that I've learned during my career about what it takes to be a successful lawyer.
Let me begin by telling you what you don't need to be a successful lawyer.
You do not have to graduate at the top of your class and I can confirm that with firsthand experience, okay?
As I suggested earlier, at times I struggled during law school and I didn't always get the best grades.
But I addressed my challenges head on with hard work, studying long hours, and further developing an attitude of toughness and resilience.
I believe a strong work ethic is a common denominator amongst successful lawyers, not raw intellect.
Again, I believe that a strong work ethic is a common denominator amongst successful lawyers rather than raw intellect.
Over my long career, I've seen so many great lawyers who came from the bottom or the middle of their law school classes.
To be sure some of the best lawyers I work with did graduate at the top of their class.
And for those of you who have achieved this, who have graduated at the top of your law school class, you should be very proud of yourselves and I commend you.
But my point is that hard work will open a world of possibilities for each and every one of you no matter if you graduated Summa Cum Laude or, like me, without any laude after your last name at all.
All right, second lesson, draw on the rich diversity you will bring to our profession.
Your law school education has undoubtedly prepared you well for your future, but I also believe there is wisdom to be found in everyone's unique experiences and identities.
Now again, I came from a blue collar immigrant family.
After graduating from both high school and college, I followed in my father's footsteps and worked construction.
I know that some of my sons and daughters are listening to me right now, but I know they had a hard time, or have a hard time imagining me working on a construction site, right?
I'm sure many of you do, too.
I had long hair, a very unkept beard.
I wore flannel shirts and jeans and boots all the time.
Not exactly my attire as a federal judge, right?
So, but that experience and, in particular, working with the groups of guys that I did after college, taught me lessons that have carried me throughout my legal career.
For one thing, these guys helped prepare me for the challenges of law school, which at least in my day, my time, was the first year they scared you to death, right?
The second year they worked you to death and the third year, right, they bored you to death.
So I may have been bored at times, but I was never scared or intimidated by my law school professors or the Socratic method.
Many of my construction coworkers and friends had been to prison so there was gonna be no law professor or later lawyer or judge who was ever gonna intimidate me.
Yes, I did have a bit of a chip on my shoulder, but more importantly I credit these guys with helping me better appreciate the complexity of the law.
While most of them had done time, none of them were at their core bad people.
In fact, I found them to be good people and I liked them all.
But they came, a lot of them came from dysfunctional homes, found themselves in bad situations and faced systemic inequities.
These guys taught me that there is little place for a Manichean mindset or seeing the world in dualities through the lens only of good versus evil, a lesson which I think is critically important in today's ever polarized society.
So as you embark upon your careers, always remember there is wisdom in the diversity that you will bring to the law in addition to the excellent education that you have received here at this great, great law school.
Third, always follow your ethical compass.
Again, always follow your ethical compass.
When I was graduating from law school, I was offered a great job that paid well and that job could have really have launched my law career.
But as I did my due diligence, I learned that this particular law firm was engaging some practices that I believe breached the code of professional conduct.
At the time, it wasn't easy for me to turn down this opportunity.
I didn't have a job, I didn't have money.
I was about to get married and I needed to make a living.
But in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do and I believe my choice demonstrates that I think all of you know already, there are no shortcuts to success in the law.
At some point in your career, I promise you, at some point in your career, you will find yourselves in a similar situation, whether it's with an unscrupulous client, a dishonest partner, or a biased judge.
I can't tell you exactly what to do in that particular situation.
But what I do know is that if you draw on the ethical training you have received here and listen to your heart, you'll be more than okay.
Yes, you will take an initial hit, but I assure assure you it will pay off in the long run.
Last lesson, be decisive.
This may be a theme of for those of you who, God forbid, become judges, but I'm a firm believer in making a decision and not equivocating for fear of being wrong.
In 2010, as Dean Greene referenced, I took over the longstanding clean water lawsuit involving the Detroit Water and Sewer Department.
This lawsuit had been filed in 1977.
Remember, I took it over in 2010.
Year after year, decade after decade, the DWSD languished under court supervision.
Decisions were being made that led to mismanagement, actually no management.
And in from there were, we had consultants and all that was going on was these consultants were enriching themselves, not doing anything to help the Detroit Water and Sewer Department.
So the first thing I did is I fired all the consultants.
That caused a bit of an uproar.
And I also had to make other controversial decisions such as reducing the the department's workforce, which led to a major strike.
But in the end, the DWSD was more efficient and was able to get out from the thumb of federal court administration and become a viable department serving not only the citizens of the city of Detroit, but most of southeast Michigan.
To be clear, by emphasizing being decisive, I do not wish to suggest that you should not engage in the complexity of cases.
You should listen carefully to all sides, gather all the facts, and analyze the situation, the case carefully.
But as with the Federal Court Administration on the Detroit Water and Sewer case, there is a real cost to procrastination and equivocating.
So be confident in your abilities.
Be decisive and if someone thinks you're wrong, they can appeal.
It's all part of the job, and in my opinion, shows real leadership.
Let me conclude by saying the profession that you will soon be entering is both similar and different to the profession I graduated into 40 years ago.
When I was a young lawyer, advocacy skills were very important.
That is still true today.
The ability to put a case together, to present it in a clear and cogent manner is quite simply invaluable.
But in other ways, the legal landscape has changed.
It's more uncertain and complex.
From issues around the First Amendment to challenges around social media and artificial intelligence.
So, my charge to all of you is this, take what you've learned from this great law school, the knowledge and skill sets you have acquired, apply that learning to today's challenges with hard work, ethical behavior, decisiveness, and the wisdom of your experiences.
If you can do that, I am confident that you will go far and help build a better world for us all.
Congratulations and welcome to the profession.
- [Attendee] Go white.
(audience applauding) - Judge, thank you for your speech today and those powerful words of wisdom.
Each year the Alumni Association chooses from its own ranks a member of the alumni whose accomplishments within the profession bring honor to our institution and whose commitment and devotion to the school have been exemplary for students and colleagues alike.
This morning, Courtney Gabbara, president of the Alumni Association, is with us to present the 2023 recipient of the Honorable George N. Bashara Jr. Class of '60 Distinguished Alumni Award winner.
(audience applauding) - Thank you so much, Dean Greene.
On behalf of the Alumni Association, it is my great honor and privilege to be here with you all today to congratulate our graduates.
This ceremony marks a momentous milestone in your professional careers, one that you have worked very hard for and one that you should be very proud of.
With that in mind, this is your friendly reminder that as graduates of the law college, you are not alone once you walk across the stage or out of those doors.
Rather, you are joining a network of over 11,000 individuals who are dedicated to your success.
Our graduates, myself included, are very, are here to support you.
This leads me to why I am here, to help honor one such alumni, Mr. Eric Sabree.
Each year the Alumni Association selects one alum to receive the George N Bashara Jr.
Distinguished Alumni Award.
This award was established to recognize outstanding alumni who exemplify what it means to be a Spartan.
Recipients, past and present, all have demonstrated outstanding personal service to the law college, participated in and contributed to alumni affairs, and accomplished personal successes that have assisted in the enhanced reputation of the law college.
Eric Sabree has been the Wayne County Michigan treasurer since 2016.
Working on behalf of 43 municipalities, he is responsible for the receipt, custody, investment, and disbursement of county funds with an emphasis on the collection of delinquent property taxes.
A 1996 graduate, Eric Sabree attended the Detroit College of Law at night while working full-time and raising a family.
Through his volunteerism, fundraising initiatives, and acts of community cultivation on behalf of the law college, he has been an enthusiastic ambassador of the law college ever since.
In fact, two of his three children, all of whom are amazing, are also College of Law graduates and serve as judges for the 36th District Court in Detroit, Michigan.
In recognition of his inspiring career, volunteerism, and devotion to the continued success of the law college, I am proud to present the George N. Bashara Jr.
Distinguished Alumni Award to Eric Sabree, class of 1996.
(audience applauding) - Thank you so much.
I want to thank the MSU College of Law Alumni Association for this great honor.
I really appreciate it.
I thank God for everything and I thank my wife, Badriyyah, for all her support.
She's the real superstar of our family.
I also want to thank Dean Greene, the faculty and staff of the law college and especially you, the graduates, for allowing me to share this special moment with you today.
And thank you Judge Cox for such a wonderful message.
And lastly, I wanna say happy Mother's Day to all the mothers.
(audience applauding) Thank you very much.
- That was good.
Class of 2023, you have selected impressive class officers.
Your Juris Doctor class president, Richard E. Harris, (audience cheering) will introduce the faculty award and present the class gift.
Your class officer, Kennedy N. Potts, (audience cheering) will present the staff award.
And your class officer Claire Moore will present, (audience cheering) will present the class speaker.
You can cheer them all.
(audience applauding) Great.
- Good morning, class of 2023, faculty, staff, family, and friends.
My name is Richard Harris and I am this year's class president.
(audience cheering) I am pleased to announce this year's faculty award winner, Barbara O'Brien.
Professor Barbara O'Brien graduated from Bowdoin College receiving her Bachelor's degree in Economics.
She attained a JD from the University of Colorado and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan.
Professor O'Brien began her legal career as a state appellate defender for the State of Illinois and went on to clerk for two judges in the Central District of Illinois.
She then began her role as a professor at Thomas M. Cooley School of Law where she served as an adjunct and in the renowned Innocence Project.
Professor O'Brien's primary area of scholarly interest examines the factor of race and other roles in the criminal process and capital punishment.
She has authored several works on such matters in various law review articles around the US.
She was named editor of the National Registry of Exonerations in 2016.
There she applies an empirical approach to legal issues such as identifying predictors of false convictions.
Recently, she and another esteemed MSU law professor noted that modern reforms must reflect cognizance of racism's existence at multiple levels.
Michigan State College of Law was blessed to have her join in 2007.
I am fortunate to be able to speak personally to Professor O'Brien's teaching abilities, especially teaching a joint class online.
Her passion is so radiant and her character, which humanizes the law, are just a few of the qualities that stand out.
It is without a question that Professor O'Brien had an impact on us all and the Michigan State College of Law is a better place because of it.
Please join me and congratulating Professor O'Brien.
(audience applauding) - Thank you so much.
So, no job is perfect and I don't, certainly don't love every aspect of mine, but not you guys.
Seriously, teaching you, engaging with you, seeing you blossom is consistently and reliably the most fulfilling and brightest part of what I do.
It is such a privilege to teach you.
I thank you.
This means so much to me.
I cannot wait to see what you're all gonna do next.
(audience applauding) - Good morning, everyone.
My name is Kennedy Potts and I'm also a class officer and I have the honor of announcing the recipient of the Staff Award that was voted on by the class of 2023.
This individual is an advisor in the Career Services Office and helps students navigate their legal careers all the way from the start of 1-L all the way to the end of 3-L.
I personally have had the pleasure of getting to know this individual throughout my law school career as she has always made an effort not only to reach out and help her students with internships and careers, but she has made an effort to get to know us on a more personal level.
She has been my starting point for the various questions I have had throughout my law school career.
And even if she couldn't answer my question, she always pointed me in the right direction.
This person is so kind, so knowledgeable, and clearly cares about her students.
Therefore, it is my pleasure to introduce this year's Staff Award winner, Kristina Bilowus.
(audience applauding) Thank you so much.
- Thank you so much, Kennedy.
And thank you so much, the class of 2023.
This is an extreme honor for me and a moment I will always treasure.
I joined the law college in 2020, like so many of you, and so this is a moment that I would call a full circle moment.
I have been so privileged to share in your successes, share your disappointments, and stand in awe of all that you have accomplished.
I am so proud of you and I can't wait to see what you will do next.
So please, celebrate today, this is your moment.
Always go green.
- [Audience] Go white!
- There we go.
And thank you so much.
Congratulations, class of 2023.
(audience applauding) - [Attendee] Woo!
- Again, good morning, everyone.
My name is Claire Moore and I'm one of the student elected officers for the class of 2023.
(classmates cheering) Thanks, guys.
As much as I would love to tell you all about myself and if you know me, you know that's true, but my two minutes of fame up here are to tell you about our class speaker.
I told Joe for probably about month and a half now that I was going to throw a bunch of random stuff into this that may or may not be true, but frankly I just wanted to keep him on his toes.
So know that Joe really has accomplished all that I'm about to say and more.
If you looked at Joe McCarthy's resume, I can tell you right now a few things you would see.
He received his bachelor's from University of Michigan while also running track.
He redeemed himself by coming to Michigan State for law school.
(audience laughing) He ran track for MSU, again while competing, while completing his first year.
He is the outgoing executive editor of Michigan State Law Review.
And then he, along with his incredible team, placed second at the ABA National Arbitration Competition last fall.
And then also he may have even gotten excited and already added that he was class speaker at Michigan State College of Law's class of 2023 graduation.
Who really knows?
But Joe sounds pretty great on paper so far.
But his resume doesn't even mention that his arbitration team randomly needed a third person due to one of their amazing members unfortunately getting COVID.
But Joe had about a week to read the problem, memorize his part, and get everything down for regionals.
And this team placed first.
Joe will make you laugh, feel special, he can run really, really fast.
(audience chuckling) He is an amazing brother to his three little sisters.
I put a disclaimer in here because I can see them right now and I did not ask them for any comment on that.
But I think they'd agree.
And I, along with so many others graduating today, can confirm he is an amazing, amazing friend.
I've said it once, I'll say it again.
Joe has a killer resume, but he also has the kindness, humor, character that makes even that amazing resume pale in comparison to the actual man who is about to address you with what we are all hoping and surely will be a speech that beautifully wraps up the multiple years we have all spent together while hopefully simultaneously not boring us all to tears.
(audience chuckling) Graduates, friends, families, faculty, staff, please join us, join me in welcoming our class of 2023, our class speaker, Joseph McCarthy.
(audience cheering) - Thank you, Claire, for those kind words and your friendship.
It has meant the world to me.
Ladies and gentlemen, family, friends, faculty, staff, and my fellow graduates of the Michigan State College of Law graduating class of 2023.
From talking with my classmates over the past three years, I've realized that we all independently shared a similar experience about three years ago.
That was the time we were applying to law school.
We, of course, spoke with our family and friends in the field seeking advice on the matter.
And a lot of us received the same piece of advice.
Don't go to law school.
(audience chuckling) Law school will be hard.
It will be demanding, it will be unyielding.
Nevertheless, all of us chose to disregard this piece of advice and we came anyways.
Maybe we came because we wanted to follow in a family member's footsteps.
Maybe we came because we wanted to help those less fortunate.
Maybe we came because we wanted to make a difference in the world.
Whatever the reason, we all signed up and we arrived virtually on campus that first day in 2020.
These past three years have been hard.
They have been demanding.
They have been unyielding, but they've also been great.
My friends often comment that during these past three years we've been living in a TV show.
And I'm here to say it's been the greatest TV show ever written.
We've watched as the characters in this show, our friends, fell in love.
We've also sadly watched as they've fallen out of love.
We've seen classmates get engaged and get married.
We've seen classmates start families by having a child or perhaps the surprise set of twins.
(classmates cheering) We've had to say goodbye to beloved characters as they found out that this crazy law school journey wasn't the right one for them.
We've also said goodbye to friends who have transferred away from MSU to pursue their own dreams.
We've taken our passions and turned them into student organizations that will last long after we're gone.
We've met the friends who we'll be standing next to and across from us that day we say, "I do."
We've celebrated our classmates' accomplishments, both in the classroom and outside.
We've laughed and, Lord knows, there's been a fair share of crying, too.
For better or maybe for worse, in some situations, we've created stories that will last our lifetime.
We've developed not only as future lawyers, but also as human beings, as we've battled the antagonist that is law school and we won.
We finally reached the series finale.
Don't go to law school.
I'm glad that I chose to disregard this piece of advice.
If I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to meet so many amazing people.
So thank you, class of 2023, for making my life better.
And I know I'm not the only one who feels that way today.
Now, graduation speeches usually end with some cliche piece of advice.
Find what you love.
Always remember where you came from.
I don't want to fall into this cliche.
Who am I to be giving you advice about the future?
But I do wanna leave you with something.
Take the risk.
Sometimes, not always mom, but sometimes it is good to disregard those thoughtful pieces of advice your friends and family members may give.
You might just find yourself in the greatest TV show ever written.
So, thank you.
And go green.
- [Attendee] Go white.
(audience applauding) - Good morning, again, class of 2023, staff, faculty, and loved ones.
One of the many duties class officers are tasked with is deciding what the graduating class gift should be.
When Kennedy, Claire, and I were brainstorming ideas for this year's class gift, we realized that students greatly rely on the MSU library.
The cost of books have increased and students are left to find ways to obtain these necessary tools for legal education.
We decided that we wanted to focus on ways to make such tools accessible to our fellow MSU law students.
Therefore, our project aimed to provide first year class textbooks to the library for their benefit.
I'm happy to announce that we have raised over $1,800.
We believe having many books for students to borrow will significantly assist their ability to obtain books for class.
Their availability aims to offset the rising cost of textbooks, lack of availability, and to help the financial wellbeing of the law student and body.
We would not have achieved this goal on our own.
So thank you very much to the class of 2023, faculty, staff, and families for donating and supporting this cause.
Dean Greene, on behalf of the graduating class of 2023, I present to you our class gift.
(audience applauding) - Thank you, thank you, thank you.
This is a fantastic gift.
It's a wonderful gift to current and future law Spartans and we should be inspired by this gift to offer more support to our cherished students.
Thank you, thank you.
(audience applauding) At this time, it is my pleasure to present the candidates of the graduating class of 2023.
We will begin with the Master of Laws, Master of Legal Studies, and Master of Jurisprudence candidates and then proceed to the Juris Doctor candidates.
Professor Catherine M. Grosso and Professor Glen Staszewski will announce the names of the graduates and members of the faculty will bestow the graduation hoods on our graduates.
And please feel free to applaud briefly and respectfully for each candidate as the names are called.
- [Catherine] So am I going down this list?
- [Glen] I don't know how many, but 15 or 20.
- [Catherine] Yeah, something like that?
The ones, do you wanna do the ones, want me to do the ones?
- [Glen] Sure, why don't you go ahead.
- [Catherine] But then I, I'm supposed to say this part.
- [Glen] Oh.
- [Catherine] Should we wait a minute.
What do you want to do?
- [Glen] I'm going, yeah, but they're, are they the JD?
- [Catherine] This is the only one that's coming.
So this is what we're gonna do first, it's these guys.
- [Glen] So do we say?
- [Catherine] And then after they're done, we wait for them to sit down and then I'm supposed to say that.
- [Glen] Okay, so what do we say to introduce them?
- [Catherine] Nothing.
- [Glen] Oh, okay.
- [Catherine] I think she might have already said.
- [Glen] Okay, all right.
- [Catherine] You ready?
We don't have any cards ready.
- [Glen] I'll introduce, do these and then I'll do that.
- [Catherine] Mohamed Ahsan.
(audience cheering) Benjamin Curich.
(audience cheering) Claudio Valerio.
(audience cheering) Deedee Jim.
(audience cheering) Suzanne Jenkins.
(audience applauding) Allison Elaine Watkins Slaybaugh.
(audience cheering) Wendy Begala.
(audience applauding) - [Glen] This is the start of the JDs.
- [Catherine] Chelsea Harrison.
(audience cheering) Rachel Kneebone Warden.
(audience applauding) I'll do the announcement and then you start.
At this time, it's my pleasure to present to you the candidates for the degrees of Juris Doctor, the graduating class of 2023.
Please feel free to applaud briefly or as long as you want for each candidate as their name is called.
(audience applauding) The first name is not a man.
But the first name is not a man.
- [Glen] Is this?
- [Catherine] Yeah.
- [Glen] Jacob Boudreaux.
- [Attendee] All right, Jacob!
(audience cheering) - [Glen] Dylan Arruda.
(audience cheering) Natalie Louise Glitz Grumhaus.
(audience cheering) Reagan McGuill.
(audience cheering) Molly Anderson.
(audience applauding) Taylor Wallace.
(audience cheering) Maya Pascal.
(audience cheering) - [Catherine] Addison Stanley.
(audience applauding) Nathan Wood.
(audience applauding) Clark Johnson.
(audience applauding) Dylan Vogel.
- [Attendee] Yeah, Dylan!
(audience cheering) Jake Hendrix.
(audience applauding) - [Glen] Justin Rabine.
(audience cheering) Caleb Carter.
(audience cheering) Juliet Watson.
(audience cheering) Diana Arellano.
(audience cheering) Christina Martinez.
(audience cheering) Paige Whitener.
(audience cheering) Cody Fowler.
(audience applauding) - [Catherine] Ashton Holland.
(audience cheering) Alicia Louise Caloredrus.
(audience cheering) Mohamed Zaza.
(audience cheering) Robert Sharara.
(audience cheering) Matthew Calderwood.
(audience cheering) Elena Benjamin.
(audience cheering) Taylor Shens.
(audience cheering) - [Glen] Serena Saravi.
(audience cheering) Noah Thalen.
(audience cheering) Andrea Marty.
(audience cheering) Albert Chang.
(audience cheering) Ronald Eligan.
(audience cheering) Asia Siv.
(audience cheering) Mackenzie Kramer.
(audience cheering) Kylie Koall.
(audience cheering) Colin Brannigan.
(audience cheering) - [Catherine] Breanna Bollig.
(audience cheering) Annalynn Gabler.
(audience cheering) Jared Nathaniel Sabina.
(audience cheering) Kendall Freeman.
(audience cheering) Clay Conkell.
(audience cheering) Jenna Howard.
(audience applauding) - [Attendee] Jenna!
- [Catherine] Shelby Martinee.
(audience cheering) Taylor Mills.
(audience cheering) - [Glen] Hannah Cone.
(audience cheering) Francesca Louise Parnam.
(audience cheering) Benjamin Fink.
(audience cheering) Benjamin York Sherman.
(audience cheering) Franklin Arthur Mackenzie, IV.
(audience cheering) Andrew Hussie.
(audience cheering) Rebecca Sutton.
(audience cheering) Madeline Jones.
(audience cheering) - [Catherine] Brett Becoye.
(audience cheering) Sidney Parrish.
(audience cheering) Ryan Madar.
(audience applauding) Bailey Painter.
(audience cheering) Benjamin Waldman.
(audience cheering) Chandler Weraztec.
(audience cheering) Jack Clayton Bernheimer.
(audience cheering) Michael Pifer.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Way to go, Michael, way to go!
- [Group] Go, Michael!
- [Glen] Thomas Teed.
(audience cheering) Robert Miller.
(audience cheering) Damon Anderson.
(audience cheering) Joseph Vacanti.
(audience cheering) Lauren Ruehle.
(audience cheering) George Wilson.
(audience applauding) Nicholas Masanino.
(audience cheering) Niko Spilson.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Love you, Nico!
- [Glen] Noy Mizrahi.
(audience cheering) Noah Klinsky.
(audience cheering) Kayla Ziada.
(audience cheering) Michael Caustic.
(audience cheering) - [Catherine] Robert Mocchio.
(audience cheering) Jack Bennett Chaban.
(audience cheering) Sarah Feldpausch.
(audience cheering) Lauren Nicholson.
(audience cheering) Connor Hoffman.
(audience cheering) Wade Weaver.
(audience cheering) Henry Fitzgerald.
(audience cheering) Samantha Diamond.
(audience cheering) - [Glen] Tony Lee.
(audience cheering) Nicholas Edward Zarelli.
(audience cheering) James Gaydos.
(audience cheering) Anthony Leo.
(audience cheering) Jonathan Trump.
(audience cheering) Trent Cunningham.
(audience cheering) Kelly Bowman.
(audience cheering) Sarah Minelle.
(audience cheering) Anna Henson.
(audience cheering) Shelby Ostrom.
(audience cheering) Carrie Sheldon.
(audience cheering) Clyde Woods.
(audience cheering) - [Catherine] Michael Reingold.
(audience cheering) Haley Weiner.
(audience cheering) Yari Wilson.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Yay, Yari!
- [Catherine] Jennifer Lee Sheray.
(audience cheering) Alex Anhalt.
(audience cheering) Austin James Budeau.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Way to go, Austin!
- [Catherine] Evan Kukowski.
(audience cheering) Matthew Malone.
(audience cheering) - [Glen] Chase Thomas Bierbower.
(audience applauding) Alexander Zelensky.
(audience cheering) Adam Green.
(audience cheering) Alyssa Kozlowski.
(audience cheering) Sophia Ruff.
(audience cheering) Katrina Crane.
(audience cheering) Britney Marie Hefner.
(audience cheering) Rena Gomez.
(audience cheering) Emily Gerds.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Yay, Emily!
- [Glen] Rowan Heider.
(audience cheering) Ofra Ganad.
(audience cheering) Nicholas Spainower.
(audience cheering) - [Catherine] William Wise.
(audience cheering) Gunner Matherly.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Way to go, Gunner, way to go!
- [Catherine] Alex Warren-Green.
(audience cheering) Joseph Jaylie.
(audience cheering) Kimberley Parrish.
(audience cheering) Britney Macadino.
(audience cheering) Jonathan Fang Lu.
(audience cheering) Marielle Dunn.
(audience cheering) Kaz Ashton.
(audience cheering) Paige Petroski.
(audience cheering) Navjit Gill.
(audience cheering) Bria Lasseter.
(audience cheering) - Woo!
- [Catherine] Audra Dacco.
(audience cheering) (audience chuckling) Patrick Marr.
(audience cheering) Bradley Davis Varner.
(audience cheering) Patrick Navin.
(audience cheering) - [Glen] Benjamin Thomas Baker.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Baker!
- [Glen] Thomas Forgione.
(audience cheering) Christopher Murphy.
(audience cheering) Michael Calvert.
(audience cheering) Victoria Orent.
(audience cheering) Skylar Steele.
(audience cheering) Alicia Tedesco.
(audience cheering) Sun Q. Lee.
(audience cheering) Roxanne Steinhoff.
(audience applauding) Brooke Rasmussen.
(audience cheering) Renee Maring.
(audience cheering) Luke Daniel Douglas Barbrick.
(audience cheering) Dylan Clark.
(audience cheering) Kyle Walters.
(audience cheering) Alex Padla.
(audience cheering) Samantha Wiser.
(audience cheering) - [Catherine] Caroline Storms.
(audience cheering) Hugh Theut.
(audience cheering) Francesca Rowan.
(audience cheering) Brianna Nurenberg.
(audience cheering) Whitney Ingram.
(audience cheering) Olivia Ann Courogen.
(audience cheering) Caitlin McEwen Lapka.
(audience cheering) David Klein.
(audience applauding) - [Glen] Andrew Guan.
(audience cheering) Richard Kent.
(audience cheering) Ahmad Adnan Abed.
(audience cheering) Jordan Self.
(audience cheering) Benjamin Hendrickson.
(audience cheering) Ibraheem Khalifa.
(audience cheering) Justin Gresser.
(audience cheering) - [Attendee] Yeah, Justin!
- [Glen] Zachary Wolffer.
(audience cheering) Nathaniel Boone Sholl.
(audience cheering) Marcus Richard.
(audience cheering) Luke Stainy.
(audience cheering) Emily Rossberg.
(audience cheering) Tom Delano.
(audience cheering) Mackenzie Caller.
(audience cheering) Danica Bebble.
(audience cheering) Cassandra Remus.
(audience cheering) - [Panelist] Congratulations.
- [Catherine] Jennifer Anton.
(audience cheering) Francesca Salimida.
(audience cheering) Julia Salumi.
(audience cheering) Destiny Sykes.
(audience cheering) Morgan Ward.
(audience cheering) Taylor Hall.
(audience cheering) Jambrielle Gill.
(audience cheering) Akina Johnson.
(audience cheering) Illena Krishen.
(audience cheering) Rosemary Anna Kuerbitz.
(audience cheering) Alyssa Alcorn.
(audience cheering) Elizabeth Sachs.
(audience cheering) - [Dean Greene] Congratulations.
- [Glen] Camille Day Lewis.
(audience cheering) Morgan Brooke Henry.
(audience cheering) Christopher Mauredis.
(audience cheering) Richard Harris.
(audience cheering) Joseph McCarthy.
(audience cheering) Savannah Claire Moore.
(audience cheering) And last, but certainly not least, Kennedy Potts.
(audience cheering) - Great.
I now ask all of the Masters of Laws, Masters of Legal Studies, and Masters of Jurisprudence candidates to rise for the conferment of the degrees.
(audience cheering) By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University and by the statutes of the State of Michigan, I confer upon each of you the degree of Master of Laws, Master of Legal Studies, and Master of Jurisprudence, and declare that you are prepared to ensure that equal justice under law is available to all people in the State of Michigan, this country, and the world.
You may be seated.
(audience applauding) I now ask all the Juris Doctor candidates to rise for the conferment of the degree.
(audience cheering) Woo.
I just have to say a few more words.
By virtue of the author-, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University and by the statutes of the State of Michigan, I confer upon each of you the degree of Juris Doctor and declare that you are prepared to ensure that equal justice under law is available in the State of Michigan, this country, and the world.
(audience cheering) Congratulations.
You may be seated.
You may be seated.
Friends and family, thank you for joining us today as we celebrate the achievements of our graduates.
Graduates, you may have already begun to celebrate, but it is official now.
But it's not just your opportunity to celebrate, you and all of those who supported and empowered you also deserve to celebrate.
A universal proverb says that if you want to go fast, go alone.
But if you want to go far, go together.
You have lived it and you have my very sincere gratitude for the privilege of being your dean.
The entire future of our legal profession is in excellent hands.
Your entire law school community, faculty, and staff cannot wait to hear about your accomplishments in the years to come.
On behalf of the entire law school community, accept our congratulations and good wishes.
With all here in this arena, join me in one last round of applause for the class of 2023.
(audience applauding) Hey, we all deserve it.
You and your families deserve this applause.
The platform party will now recess, followed by the graduates.
Will the audience remain seated until the platform party and all graduates have left the arena?
Please meet your graduates at the Hall of History where there is space to mingle and take pictures.
- [Band Director] One, two, three.
(percussion music) ("Celebration" by Kool & the Gang) ♪ Celebrate good times, come on ♪ ♪ Celebrate good times, come on ♪ ♪ There's a song to last through the years ♪ ♪ So bring your good times and your laughter, too ♪ ♪ We're gonna celebrate with you ♪ ♪ Come on, celebration ♪ ♪ Let's celebrate and have a good time ♪ ♪ Celebration ♪ ♪ We're gonna celebrate and have a good time ♪ ♪ It's time to get together ♪ ♪ Everyone around the world, come on ♪ ♪ Oh, yeah ♪ ♪ Oh ♪ ♪ Oh, yeah ♪ ♪ Celebrate good times, come on ♪ ♪ Celebrate good times, come on ♪ ♪ We're gonna have a good time tonight ♪ ♪ Let's celebrate ♪ ♪ It's all right ♪ ♪ We're gonna have good time tonight ♪ ♪ Let's celebrate, it's all right ♪ ♪ We're gonna have a good time tonight ♪ ♪ Let's celebrate, it's all right ♪ ♪ We're gonna have a good time tonight ♪ ♪ Let's celebrate, it's all right ♪ ("Celebration" by Kool & the Gang) ♪ Celebrate ♪ ♪ Celebrate good ♪