Lawyers lead Congress, our statehouses, and our businesses. Lawyers are the leaders of our society, defenders of our Constitution, and agents of change. Lawyers have helped to make our lives safer and helped us live longer. Babies no longer suffocate when their heads get stuck between the rails of their cribs, cars do not explode as often when gas tanks rupture on impact, and women no longer risk death or sterilization because of unsafe birth control devices. We are all free to live our lives as we see fit — not as others demand. Thank a lawyer.

The vast majority of lawyers serve their profession, country and clients well. At MSLAW, we encourage our graduates to not simply follow, but lead. Our graduates aspire to the highest levels of professionalism and civility, and to speak forcefully and courageously for those whose voices would not otherwise be heard. We strongly believe it is our responsibility to the legal profession to educate law students appropriately so they can play the vital role our society expects of them.

It has been said that to those who have “been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” This is especially true of those entering the legal profession. Presidents, paupers, and people from all walks of life turn to lawyers with their darkest secrets and most troubling problems when those matters are simply too much to bear. A good legal education develops the intellect, skills, and confidence to boldly address those problems. The courage to defend the indefensible comes from within, but not without great preparation and education.

At MSLAW, we look to develop the lawyer who is a skilled advocate, a proficient partner, and trusted expert. A lawyer should be a sage advisor, strategist, and wise counselor. Law schools should develop those skills in its students. Abraham Lincoln said, “As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.” At MSLAW, you will learn how to pursue accommodation and compromise while practicing principled professional behavior. You will learn litigation skills and other adversarial strategies but not at the expense of a fair compromise or justice.

I have had the honor of being a member of the legal profession for over thirty years. Practicing law for over thirty years has provided me opportunities both professional and personal that are beyond compare and expectation. Enter the legal profession for the right reasons, remember that service to others is a lawyer’s first responsibility, never forget the path that led you to this profession and you – like those whose footsteps you follow – will be a great lawyer. Enjoy the journey.

Our community of academics, judges, practicing professionals, and experts welcomes you to this honorable profession. We encourage you to claim your place in the next generation of great lawyers and leaders.

Michael L. Coyne