MSL Community,

As we finish our first week apart working towards our shared and personal goals in ways none of us expected, it is especially important to remember that the hardships everyone faces are real but we can use current events to examine life’s possibilities and as an opportunity for reflection, improvisation, and improvement.  

The legal profession is a profession in service to others. We provide a voice to those whose voices would not otherwise be heard. Those voices are too often marginalized by society. To serve that goal requires deep commitment and sacrifice.  We are all learning new ways to do what we do in service to others. We all can improve what we do, learn better,  and ultimately improve our service to others.

Ours has always been a service industry. Whether we are a law student, law professor, lawyer, or other individual in the legal field, these events provide us opportunities to experiment, revisit modalities of communicating, learning, serving, and improving our service to those in need and even ourselves.

So let’s embrace this new era, share our experiences and best practices, and recommit to doing what we all set out to do before we were up to our rear end in alligators… provide the highest quality of service to others whose voices would not be heard. It takes hard work, courage, commitment and knowledge to speak up for the disenfranchised. How we face these times and how we use this time tells us more about how deep that shared commitment is than the extent of the troubles we face from this momentary setback.

At the end of the day –whether that is a month of days or many months of days — this will end. At the end of this, service to others will be more important than ever. Our commitment now and then must be as deep as that of the nurses, doctors, and all the other emergency personnel working on the frontlines. We will get through this together. We always have.

Being old gives one perspective. Times have been harder. Harder times will follow. Even when this crisis is past, future “insurmountable” challenges will come. That’s life. How we face those challenges determines our quality of life and the contributions we choose to make over our lifetime.

Every decade has faced challenges that brought us together and made us stronger. As a  child growing up in the 60s, we saw churches torched, people craving the rights we take for granted were hung, students shot at Kent State, and poor young men and women were sacrificed on foreign fields—people of modest means too often soldier on and face that fate in every decade. With each of those challenges, it sure seemed like the end of the world was upon us. It wasn’t. It isn’t now. War on Drugs. Cold War. Nuclear War. Been there. Done that. They even tried to burn MSL down when we were in our infancy but that’s a story for another day.

So I hesitate to share this story with you but I will. I opened up my email this morning and one subject line caught my attention. It read, “Is the bookstore open this week?” You can picture my first reaction. The request though was a simple one. She needed an MSL polo shirt. See, the student’s Dad just died but was so proud that his wife was a lawyer and MSL graduate and she was an MSL student that he wore it all the time. He wanted to be buried in it. Professor Hetu came to the rescue and made things a bit better. 

So we will keep working hard to overcome the bumps along the road while improving our service to you even if it’s in different ways than it was just a few short weeks ago. Hopefully the next few weeks will bring greater clarity to the situation. Soon enough, when it is safe to do so, we will be back together doing this better than ever with all of us recommitted to a life in service to others. Until then, be well.

           Dean Michael L. Coyne