Edward H. Pappas
Chair, Professionalism Advisory Committee
When I was President of the State Bar of Michigan in 2008-2009, I made professionalism the theme of my administration. Part of my effort to improve the professionalism of lawyers included reaching out to law schools to find ways to communicate to law students the importance of professionalism in our legal careers. Cooley Law School immediately reached back to partner with the State Bar to pilot a program during its orientation for incoming students.
That pilot program brought State Bar member lawyers and judges to the school to meet in small groups with entering law students to talk together about the real professionalism issues and ethical challenges those students might face while they are in school and when they graduate. We lawyers and judges also use that opportunity to impress upon the students our commitment to professionalism, and attempt to inspire them to incorporate that ideal into their education, their conduct, and their relations with others.
Following the pilot, Cooley immediately began offering the "Professionalism in Action" orientation program at all of its campuses during each of its three orientations per year, and continues to do so, discovering that it is the students’ favorite part of their law school orientation. I am able to report just this year that all of the other Michigan law schools are also offering this program.
As a result of the partnership between Cooley and the State Bar of Michigan, I took note of Cooley’s significant emphasis on professionalism and ethics and was pleased to learn that professionalism is ingrained in the School’s culture and has been since 2002 when Cooley adopted its Professionalism Plan. After studying and appreciating Cooley’s substantial efforts to positively impact the hearts and minds of its students, I was pleased to join Cooley Law School’s Board of Directors.
I am equally pleased to Chair Cooley’s newly established Professionalism Advisory Committee. I hope to learn from all of you what the professionalism issues are that Cooley should anticipate its applicants will bring from their undergraduate education, and what professionalism challenges its graduates will encounter as they leave law school and enter the work force. I anticipate that the committee’s work may very well extend beyond Cooley Law School and lawyers to other areas of higher education and other professions. I also look forward to working with you to identify approaches to prepare Cooley law students to address those challenges and become positive and ethical members of the legal profession who will work toward its constant improvement.
I appreciate your help and your commitment to professionalism, and welcome you to this inaugural meeting.