WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus conferred 29 juris doctor degrees during graduation ceremonies at the University of South Florida Marshall Center on August 17.
Commencement speakers included WMU-Cooley President and Dean James McGrath and valedictory speaker Lenny Rodriguez. E. Keith DuBose, shareholder at Matthews Eastmoore Trial Lawyers in Sarasota, provided the keynote address. The Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Professor Renalia Smith DuBose.
Pictured: Associate Dean Daniel Matthews (left), Professor Renalia DuBose, and President and Dean James McGrath (right).
While addressing the graduates, McGrath spoke about the support each has received while attending law school.
“Your family, your support system, anyone and everyone who helped you get through law school, they know how committed you are to achieving your goals.” said McGrath. “You are joining a great profession with so many options to do good and do well for yourself.”
Chosen by his classmates to provide the valedictory remarks, Rodriguez spoke about how, as attorneys, each of the graduates will be able to impact the lives many individuals.
“Tomorrow will be about service. It will be about discovering what’s needed in our respective communities, taking a look around and providing practical, proactive knowledge and support in just about every fact of personal and professional life,” said Rodriguez.
Speaking about attorney reputations, DuBose shared why it is important for new attorneys to establish themselves as ethical professionals.
"You all have invested too much time and energy to be ashamed of anything. You should be proud to be lawyers. You should be proud to be members of the bar. You should be proud to tell anyone that you're a lawyer at any given time," said DuBose. “Don't let being a lawyer define who you are. Let who you are define the lawyer you become. Hard work, ethical practice, integrity, moral character, respect for others and compassion.”
Each class at WMU-Cooley bears the name of a distinguished member of the legal profession. This graduating class is named after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Freeman Miller. On July 16, 1862, Miller became President Lincoln’s second appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. During the Civil War, Miller upheld the war-time suspension of habeas corpus and trials by military commissions. His tenure on the court lasted 28 years. It is believed that Miller wrote more opinions than any other justice on the court.