WMU-Cooley Law School presented 36 Juris Doctor and nine Master of Laws degrees to graduates following the law school’s summer term. The ceremony was held Sept. 30 at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
During the ceremony, Antoine Cato, a Lansing campus student, who was chosen by his classmates, presented the valedictory remarks; Joseph Kimble, WMU-Cooley distinguished professor emeritus provided the keynote address; Danielle Lofton was presented with the President’s Achievement Award; and Brian Cox was acknowledged as the summa cum laude graduate.
Cato spoke about the sacrifices that law school graduates make in order to become lawyers. He told his fellow graduates that success is an achievement accomplished by the hard work and the perseverance of the individual, but it is with the support of a community.
“There’s a pervasive saying in our society that celebrities, superstars and athletes alike commonly say and that is they are self-made and accomplished their dreams on their own,” said Cato. “I would challenge that notion because nobody is self-made. We made it with support of our fellow classmates, we made it because we encouraged each other, and most importantly we made it because of the support of our friends and family.”
Kimble, who taught research and writing and advanced researching and writing before his retirement from WMU-Cooley, began his presentation remembering the law school’s founder Thomas E. Brennan who died the evening before graduation.
“We are all of us pretty lucky that, in 1972, Justice Thomas Brennan decided to found a law school that gives an opportunity to a broad and diverse group of applicants," said Kimble. "So it's appropriate that on this day, graduation, a day he loved, we remind ourselves of the debt we owe this man."
During his remarks Kimble congratulated the graduates for crossing the law-school finish line, and with applause from the audience a video projection of fireworks was displayed on a screen behind the stage.
“Lawyers are paid professional writers and speakers. We deal in words, in language, the instrument of thought and surely the greatest of all our inventions,"stated Kimble. "We ought to pride ourselves on being clear."
He then asked the graduates, “Will you please, please, please write in plain language? Will you please write so that your clients can understand? It takes a willingness to improve on the turgid, impenetrable forms that you will be tempted to just recycle. WMU-Cooley, to its great credit, has always been committed to clear, plain expression in its writing program. But this is a lifelong assignment, to write well. You have to read widely, read forensically, practice, and crave editing.”
Ending his remarks by sharing the saying from a card he received from a memorial Kimble attended last summer, Kimble said it summed up his remarks well, “Words to remember: Live honestly. Forgive generously. Be kind. Punctuate properly.”
Each class at WMU-Cooley bears the name of a distinguished member of the legal profession. The summer 2018 graduating class is named after Levi Woodbury, who served the country in various capacities, including: associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, senator from New Hampshire, the ninth governor of New Hampshire, and a cabinet member in three administrations in the 1800s. President Andrew Jackson appointed Woodbury to serve as secretary of the U.S. Navy in 1831.